25th Anniversary of ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ comes to Ohio prison where it was filmed

25th Anniversary of ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ comes to Ohio prison where it was filmed
People tour the west cell block at the former Ohio State Reformatory, Sept. 29, 2002, in Mansfield, Ohio. The castle-like prison, opened in 1896, closed by the state in 1990 and reopened for tours in 1996, is one of a handful of prisons enjoying an afterlife as a tourist destination. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak) (Source: TONY DEJAK)

MANSFIELD, Ohio (WOIO) - Few things any of us do become iconic or indelibly etched into lore as one of the best ever.

Few 25-year anniversaries of a film are greeted with a packed parking lot of fans and the tears of a curator after being given one of the essential props used in the movie.

But that is what The Shawshank Redemption did during the silver anniversary celebration at the site where the movie was filmed, at the old Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio.

25th Anniversary of 'The Shawshank Redemption' comes to Ohio prison where it was filmed

Frank Darabont wrote the screenplay and directed the The Shawshank Redemption starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman.

“It goes beyond whatever one might draw from it politically or what’s happening with prisons today. It was never really meant to be timely commentary on any of that stuff. It was what I inferred from Stephen King’s story was this beautiful message of hope will get you through,” Darabont tells 19 News.

The Shawshank Redemption may not have been intended to be commentary about criminal justice in the U.S. or the prison system. But given what’s happening today, 25-years later at the Cuyahoga County Jail, it’s still relevant.

As we have extensively reported, a report by the U.S. Marshal’s calls conditions there “inhumane.” 9-inmates have died in the last year. Over 24-hundred inmates are packed into a jail built to hold 17-hundred.

Bob Gunton, who plays the twisted and cruel warden at the Shawshank Penitentiary says there’s plenty of lessons and messages to be gleamed from the acclaimed film.

“We’re in a state where we’re re-evaluating again the what benefit there is in jailing people for non-violent crimes. That there should be a way to process people who have gone astray in a way to bring them back into the fold,” Gunton says.

The film saved the old prison from the wrecking ball. Today it’s a museum as tourists flock to the spot where Hollywood descended for a brief time a quarter century ago to make a film about friendship, loyalty, and redemption. And yes, it’s director will admit a few lessons about how we deal with those removed from society.

“A little bit of kindness goes a long way. I think we can use some more of it. A little bit thinking of the other person’s feelings concerns as well. That may sound sappy to people. But that’s what the movie is reminding us,” says Darabont.

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