I remember liking it when I saw it. I had always liked Tim Robbins, I remembered and liked Morgan Freeman from The Electric Company, and I knew James Whitmore from long back (he and I shared a birthday!). Plus the story is exactly the kind I like: not too flashy, deep with plenty of scenes you can watch and re-watch, and a twist ending.
In 2001 I moved back to the States to a little town in Indiana; in 2005 I moved to Columbus. I don't remember when I learned that the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio, was the location where they filmed 80% or so of the movie, but it must have been close to immediately after moving here! So for nearly six years I've wanted to take the day-long trip North to visit the site. It was just always too far, or I was too busy, or my daughter wasn't around, or something....Until now. Yuko didn't go back to Japan this summer because we are all going to go back together in the winter, so she has been trying to find things to do and places to go on the weekends. We went to pick blueberries one week. We went driving to hunt down covered bridges another. Next week we're going to the Twins Festival in Twinsburg (yes, it's true the oddest town names are in Ohio!). So I naturally said: We're going to Mansfield.
Mansfield is about an hour-plus directly northeast of Columbus. It's a basically straight shot on 71 North. Once you get off the highway it's a winding ways around the town of Mansfield to get out to the outskirts where the former prison is. Have you ever gone on one of those country drives and you're following the directions and are *just* thinking that you might be lost when... BAM! you turn a corner and find what you were looking for? That's exactly what happened to us. Right as we were about to say "it's got to be around here somewhere....!" we literally turned a corner and saw this:
Wow! It looked like some Evil Queen's castle....and we were all giddy that we had made it! We got there at about 12:00, but the gates didn't open until 12:30 and tours didn't start until 1 PM, so we had to get in a line of cars full of people already waiting. We spent the time reading the pamphlets available at the gate, anxiously waiting for them to open.