If you happen to be in central Ohio this weekend, you may want to swing by the town of Mansfield for their Shawshank Redemptionreunion weekend. It was 15 years ago that the Hollywood production, lead by stars Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, descended upon their tow, attracted by the prospect of using the Mansfield Reformatory prison for a bulk of the shooting. Other locations used in the film include the Wyandot County Courthouse and nearby Malabar Farm.
According to an article in the Plains Dealer, none of the film’s main stars are expected to attend. Instead the weekend is for the locals who worked on the film and anyone else who wants to walk the cell blocks and other locations where the film was made. You can find more information at the event’s website.
There are those who say that visiting a location used in a movie breaks the illusion of reality that the film creates. I find the opposite to be true. I have repeatedly stood at various filming locations and in my mind’s eye, replayed the scenes shot there, suddenly gaining a more vibrant reality as those scenes run in my mind. And, for a brief moment, I can also see myself in the film. I have been in the Red Bank, New Jersey convenience store used by Kevin Smith in Clerks and been treated poorly by the counter help. I have stood outside the Ghostbustersfirehouse in New York, have expecting to see Ecto-1 come screaming out of the bay door on its way to a call. I have stood outside the Upper West Side apartment of Holly Golightly and the The House On 92nd Street on the Upper East Side, wondering what was going on behind their doors. When I walk by City Hall in downtown Philadelphia, I can’t help but look up to see if there are any lions on the roof as there were in Twelve Monkeys.
And perhaps this weekend, some folks will walk through an old prison in Ohio and make a similar connection.