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The Wild Reason China Once Banned Online Searches For The Shawshank Redemption

Of all the best Stephen King book-to-movie adaptations to reach the big screen, 1994's "The Shawshank Redemption" deserves its place among the greats. Directed by Frank Darabont long before his dramatic firing from "The Walking Dead," the tale of Andy Dufresne's (Tim Robbins) escape from prison after being convicted of a crime he didn't commit is captivating. The performances are strong all around, the story is full of twists, turns, and memorable moments, and the feature's overall message of hope is inspiring. Unfortunately, all of that couldn't prevent the film from being banned from the Internet in China for a brief period.

In 2012, "The Shawshank Redemption" was censored from Internet searches in China thanks to one man: Chen Guangcheng. The blind civil rights lawyer was under house arrest in the village of Dongshigu when he hatched a plan to escape. He managed to do so under the cover of night on April 22 of that year, evading recapture and obstacles to eventually reach the United States embassy in Beijing. After lengthy negotiations between the U.S. and Chinese governments, he and his family eventually relocated to the U.S. His Dufresne-esque escape was highly publicized, resulting in the online search terms "Shawshank," "blind man," and "embassy" being blocked for a time.

There's no denying the inspirational nature of what has been dubbed "The Dongshigu Redemption," as well as the film it's named after.  In fact, everyone from average people to world leaders has found the themes of hope, perseverance, and determination in "The Shawshank Redemption" impactful.

Shawshank Redemption is undeniably inspirational

The overarching narrative of "The Shawshank Redemption" is one that individuals from all walks of life can connect with. No matter what form of adversity is thrown in front of you, even if it's undeserved or placed in front of you wrongly, with enough time and dedication, you can overcome it. That universal message naturally led to comparisons between Andy Dufresne's prison break and the escape of Chen Guangcheng, in addition to allowing it to stay relevant and celebrated for 30 years. In that time, it has touched the hearts of just about everyone who has seen it.

"I swear to God, all over the world — all over the world — wherever I go, there are people who say, 'That movie changed my life,'" forgotten Marvel movie star Tim Robbins said to Vanity Fair of the Oscar-winning film and its ability to leave a lasting impression on audience members. He also claimed that even the late Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa, a staunch anti-apartheid activist, and a prisoner for 27 years, was amazed by the movie. "When I met [Nelson Mandela], he talked about loving 'Shawshank,'" Robbins added. If that's not a glowing endorsement, then what is?

Though attempts were made to push it into the peripherals during the Chen Guangcheng house arrest escape, not even the government of China could keep 'The Shawshank Redemption" out of hearts and minds. It has limitless reach and will be remembered for generations to come as a result.