10 Movies That Prove 1994 Is The Greatest Year In Film History

5. The Shawshank Redemption (1994, Frank Darabont)

the shawshank redemption

Synopsis: Despite his claims of innocence, Banker Andy Dufresne is sentenced to life in Shawshank Penitentiary for the murder of his wife and her lover. Over the next two decades, Andy learns to cope with prison life, and befriends fellow prisoner Ellis ‘Red’ Redding. He also becomes a key player in a money laundering scheme being run by corrupt prison warden Samuel Norton.

Memorable scene: One particularly memorable moment is told through the eyes of one of Andy’s fellow prisoners – Brooks Hatlen. Hatlen is paroled after forty-nine years of incarceration, and tries to make his way in the modern world. But with no support system, and no one to turn to on the outside, Hatlen ends up taking his own life after penning one final letter to his friends. This is a powerful scene that shows the effects of institutionalisation, and what the cost of freedom can ultimately mean.

Trivia: Despite now frequently appearing on many ‘Best Film’ lists, The Shawshank Redemption was a box office dud on its initial theatrical release, earning only $16 million. It was rereleased after winning multiple awards, and being nominated for seven Academy Awards, and eventually went on to make $58.5 million.


4. Leon: The Professional (1994, Luc Besson)


Synopsis: After her entire family are murdered by corrupt DEA Agent Norman Stansfield, twelve-year-old Mathilda is reluctantly taken in by professional hitman Leon. The pair soon form an unconventional relationship, as Mathilda asks Leon to teach her how to be a hitman, so that she can take revenge on the man who killed her family,

Memorable scene: “I like these calm little moments before the storm,” says drug addled DEA Agent Norman Stansfield, as he cracks his neck, pops a pill, and then casually goes on to murder an entire family. Blasting his shotgun at anything that moves, this memorable scene shows the brilliance of this almost cartoonish, but incredibly psychotic villain, who is played brilliantly by Gary Oldman.

Trivia: Leon is the film debut of Natalie Portman, who would go on to become an Academy Award winner. Portman was cast from over two thousand other girls who went for the part, and was only eleven years old at the time. Portman was originally turned down by casting director Todd Thaler because she was too young, but she was called back when the search expanded. She performed the scene where Mathilda laments the loss of her brother. Besson was so impressed, he gave her the role.


3. Chungking Express (1994, Kar Wai Wong)

chungking express

Synopsis: Chungking Express follows two lonely and melancholy Hong Kong policemen. Cop 223 has broken up with his long term girlfriend, and buys a tin of pineapples everyday for a month with an expiration date of the first of May, hoping that by the end of that time he will be back together with his love. Cop 663 is also dealing with breaking up with his girlfriend. Both begin tentative new relationships: one with a mysterious female underworld figure, the other with a beautiful and ethereal server at a late-night restaurant he frequents.

Memorable scene: In one scene, Cop 663 drinks coffee in slow motion whilst Faye motionlessly watches but the people around them still move in speed. This shot was slowed down even more in post-production, making the scene even more visually effective. This scene shows the beautiful and innovative cinematography and identity of the film perfectly.

Trivia: The title of the film comes from two famous ‘landmarks’ in Hong Kong. The first one is Chungking Mansions – a drug-filled rundown hostel. The second is Midnight Express – an Indian fast food restaurant.


2. Three Colours: Red (1994, Krzysztof Kieslowski)

Three Colors Red (1994)

Synopsis: The final part of Kieslowski’s Colours Trilogy, Red deals with fraternity. It follows three sets of characters whose lives gradually become closely interconnected, with bonds forming between them in unexpected ways.

Memorable scene: A frenetic and fast paced opening sequence establishes the film’s theme and tone instantly. Someone punches a number into a phone keypad, and then the camera follows the electric code as it rushes along the cable and into the wall. The audience hears a cacophony of voices, as the cable rushes into the sea, and then out again. This scene is over in a moment, but is full of energy and engages the audience immediately.

Trivia: Director Kieslowski announced that he would never make another film after Three Colours: Red, which proved to be true after his sudden death in 1996.


1. Pulp Fiction (1994, Quentin Tarantino)


Synopsis: Two hit men, Jules and Vincent, are out to retrieve a suitcase stolen from their employer, mob boss Marsellus Wallace. Wallace has also asked Vincent to babysit his pretty, young wife Mia whilst Wallace is out of town. Butch Coolidge is an aging boxer who is paid by Wallace to lose his fight. Pulp Fiction tells the story of these seemingly unrelated people, and of criminal Los Angeles.

Memorable scene: In Tarantino’s highly stylised crime thriller, where the audience sees tough criminals, drugs and violence aplenty, we are suddenly treated to a fun and seemingly random dance scene. In this dance scene, John Travolta’s character Vincent and Uma Thurman’s character Mia, get up and dance to Chuck Berry’s ‘You Never Can Tell.’ The fact that the scene stands out as so different from the rest of the film, makes it instantly memorable. This dance scene has since gone on to become not only an iconic dance scene, but an iconic film moment as well.

Trivia: The scenes during ‘The Bonnie Situation’ in which Tarantino appears as Jimmie, were directed by none other than an uncredited Robert Rodriguez. The pair would go on to collaborate on Grindhouse, and From Dusk Till Dawn.

Author Bio: Cara McWilliam-Richardson is a writer with a passion for films and filmmaking. She has written several screenplays, and is currently working on her first novel. Her favourite genre to write is fantasy and science fiction.