Editor’s Note: Dad, Hope, and Andy Dufresne

Editor-in-chief Liz Vaccariello reminisces about her father's favorite movie and the lessons it imparts.

editors note
Steve Vaccariello for Reader’s Digest

My dad’s favorite movie was The Shawshank Redemption. Must’ve watched it two dozen times if he watched it once. He never tired of the storyline, the bromance between Andy and Red, or the breathtaking plot twist.

I loved pretty much anything my dad loved. Over time, I came to appreciate the film for its humor, its quotable quotes, and its message of hope. Dad wasn’t as specific in his assessment. I asked him once why he liked the movie so much. Perhaps it was the theme of redemption and freedom? “I suppose,” he said. “It’s just a very, very good film. Besides, I’d watch Morgan Freeman in anything.”

Who wouldn’t?

Today, four years after my dad died, if I’m missing him or feeling blue, I will rummage through the cable listings and settle in. I’m inevitably captivated. I don’t remember when I learned what I should have known all along: that the movie is based on Stephen King’s novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. (I’m a writer, for crying out loud!)

I was thinking about all of this as we sorted through years of remarks by Stephen King for our new column, Choice Words. Every month, Choice Words will feature a curated chat with a renowned figure who has a lively mind and a way with words. I believe one of the most popular and prolific writers of our time—not to mention the guy who wrote the story that became my dad’s favorite movie—fits that bill. Enjoy the romp, and do write me with any suggestions for future subjects.

Until then, I give you this, my favorite quote from the film’s Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins): “Remember, Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

It reminds me of Dad.

—Liz, @LizVacc[email protected]

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