- The Shawshank Redemption
name = The Shawshank Redemption
caption = Theatrical release poster
writer = Novella:
Stephen KingScreenplay: Frank Darabont
Morgan Freeman James Whitmore
Tim Robbins Morgan Freeman Bob Gunton William Sadler Clancy Brown Gil Bellows
Columbia Pictures(1994-1999) Warner Bros.(1999-present)
September 23, 1994
runtime = 142 min.
language = English
budget = $25 million
gross = $28,341,469
amg_id = 1:133417
imdb_id = 0111161
"The Shawshank Redemption" is a 1994 American
drama film, written and directed by Frank Darabont, based on the Stephen King novella, " Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption". The film stars Tim Robbinsas Andy Dufresne and Morgan Freemanas Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding.
The film portrays Andy spending nearly two decades in Shawshank State Prison, a fictional penitentiary in
Maine, and his friendship with Red, a fellow inmate. This movie exemplifies the potential gap between initial box office success and ultimate popularity. Despite a lukewarm box office reception and barely enough to cover its budget, "The Shawshank Redemption" received favorable reviews from critics and has since enjoyed a remarkable life on cable television, home video, and DVD. It continues to be hailed by critics and audiences alike, fourteen years after its initial release, and is frequently ranked amongst the greatest films of all time.
In 1947, a young banker named Andy Dufresne (
Tim Robbins) is convicted of murdering his wife and her lover based on strong circumstantial evidence[He asserts he merely followed his wife (who was cuckolding him) to her lover's house and waited outside with a loaded gun, but then changed his mind, drove back to his house and on the way threw his gun into a river. The public prosecutor convinces the court that Andy is lying because the river was searched for three days and the gun was never found] , and is sentenced to two consecutive life sentences at the notorious Shawshank Prison in Maine. At the prison, inmate Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding ( Morgan Freeman) is rejected for parole after having served twenty years of his life sentence.
Andy gradually becomes acquainted with Red's circle of friends, and Red himself, who is known for cleverly smuggling in
contraband. After a month of adjusting to his new life, Andy approaches Red and orders from him a rock hammer, so as to pursue his hobby of rock collecting. One day, while tarring the roof of Shawshank's license plate factory, Andy overhears one of the prison guards, Captain Hadley ( Clancy Brown), discussing the taxes he will have to pay on an inheritance he will soon receive. Although he nearly gets thrown off the roof, Andy's knowledge of financial matters proves valuable to Hadley.
As other guards begin to come to him for financial help, Andy sets up a makeshift office to provide tax and financial services and his "clientele" grows to include the entire prison staff, guards from other prisons, and even Warden Norton himself. The warden capitalizes on Andy's skills and devises a program to put prison inmates to work for local construction projects, exploiting the prisoners' free labor for his own personal
profit, with Andy acting behind the scenes as a money launderer. To keep Andy happy, the Warden lets Andy keep an inordinate amount of contrabandin his cell, including carved rocks, a rock blanket, and various posters. During this time Andy is continuously beaten to an inch of his life by a gang called 'The Sisters' led by Bogs and Rooster. However, at one time they beat up Andy so badly he is sent to the infirmary, and meanwhile Captain Hadley disables Bogs for life, sending him away in a wheelchair.
In 1965, a young prisoner named Tommy Williams enters Shawshank on a breaking and entering charge. He learns of Andy's supposed crime and makes a shocking revelation: Elmo Blatch, one of his old cellmates, had gleefully described murdering two people who fit the description of Andy's wife and her lover, and how her "hotshot banker" husband got blamed for it. Andy hopes that he will be able to get a new trial with Tommy's help, and he approaches warden Norton for advice and assistance. Fearing exposure of his illegal activities at Shawshank should Andy be set free, Norton sends him to solitary confinement and orders Hadley to kill Tommy.
Later, when Andy is back in the prison yard, he tells Red that if he ever gets out of prison he should go to a specific hayfield near
Buxton, Maineto find something that has been buried there. The following morning, Andy is missing from his cell, where a large poster of Raquel Welchremains on the wall. In a fury over Andy's disappearance, the warden throws one of Andy's rocks through the poster, revealing that it was concealing a large hole that Andy had used to escape.
flashbacksequence, it is revealed Andy spent years chipping away at the wall of his cell with his rock hammer. After his escape, Andy assumes the fake identity of Randall Stevens, which he created earlier for the purpose of concealing the warden's embezzlements. Andy withdraws the funds that he had deposited over the years for Norton and sends evidence of the scams to a local newspaper. The morning the story runs, Byron Hadley is arrested and Norton commits suicide in his office.
Soon after, in 1967, Red is finally released on
paroleafter serving 40 years at Shawshank. Ironically on two earlier occasions (at 20 years and 30 years), when he sincerely wanted to get out of prison, and gave polite answers to the parole committee's questions, his request for parole was rejected, but at the end of 40 years, when he does not want to be free, and gives extremely impolite answers to the committee's questions, he is set free.
He recalls his promise to Andy shortly before Andy's escape, and heads to the field in Buxton that Andy told him about. He finds a small metal box containing money and instructions from Andy. He travels to Mexico and, eventually, reunites with Andy in
Zihuatanejoon the Pacific coast.
Jeffrey DeMunnappears during the film's opening credits in a cameo role as the 1946 DA, whose case causes Dufresne to be convicted. DeMunn, who is a Darabont alumnus, has also appeared in the director's later adaptations of "The Green Mile" and "The Mist".
Darabont secured the film adaptation rights from author Stephen King after impressing the author with his short film adaptation of "The Woman in the Room" in 1983. Although the two had become friends and maintained a pen-pal relationship, Darabont did not work with him until four years later in 1987, when he optioned to adapt "Shawshank". This is one of the more famous Dollar Deals made by King with aspiring filmmakers. Darabont later directed "The Green Mile", which was based on another work about a prison by Stephen King, and then followed that up with an adaptation of King's novella "The Mist".
Rob Reiner, who had previously adapted another King novella The Body into Stand By Me, offered $2.5 million in an attempt to write and direct the project. He aimed to cast Tom Cruise in the part of Andy and Harrison Ford as Red. Darabont seriously considered and liked Reiner's vision, but he ultimately decided it was his "chance to do something really great" by directing the film himself.
"The Shawshank Redemption" was filmed in and around the city of
Mansfield, Ohio, located in north-central Ohio. The prison featured in the film is the old, abandoned Ohio State Reformatoryimmediately north of downtown Mansfield. The Reformatory buildings have been used in several other films, including "Harry and Walter Go to New York", "Air Force One" and " Tango and Cash". Most of the prison yard has now been demolished to make room for expansion of the adjacent Richland Correctional Institute, but the Reformatory's Gothic Administration Building remains standing and, due to its prominent use in films, has become a tourist attraction. The real warden of the Richland Correctional Institute had a cameo appearancein "Shawshank" as the prisoner seated directly behind Tommy on his bus ride to prison and several other staff members from the nearby Mansfield Correctional Institution have small roles.
Several exterior scenes were shot at the
Malabar Farm State Park, in nearby Lucas, Ohio. [cite web|url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0111161/locations|title=The Shawshank Redemption (1994)ndashFiliming Locations|accessdate=2008-01-15|work=imdb.com] The sequence in which Andy is parked outside his home contemplating murdering his wife was filmed at the Pugh Cabin within the park. The sequences representing the village of Buxton and the field where Red finds Andy's hidden letter were filmed on private land located opposite the park entrance on Bromfield Road. The oak tree is clearly visible from the roadside. The adjacent rock wall, which was constructed specifically for the film, is located on the far side of the hill away from the roadside. The wall is still standing, although it has been somewhat eroded. Other scenes were shot in Ashland, Ohio, Butler, Ohio, Upper Sandusky, Ohioand Portland, Maine.
The photo of a young Red on his parole forms is that of Morgan Freeman's son, Alfonso. Alfonso is also seen in the yard when Andy's load of prisoners is first dropped off, shouting enthusiastically "Fresh Fish! Fresh Fish" whilst reeling in an imaginary line. Alfonso later played a parody of his father's character, Red, in a short spoof titled "The Sharktank Redemption", available on the second disc of the 10th anniversary DVD.
The film ends with the prominent
dedication"In Memory of Allen Greene". Darabont dedicated the film to his friend and agent, Allen Greene II, who died just before the completion of the film due to complications from AIDS. [cite web|url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0111161/trivia|title=The Shawshank Redemption (1994)ndash Trivia|accessdate=2007-12-26|work=imdb.com]
Roger Ebertsuggests that the integrity of Andy Dufresne is an important theme in the story line,cite web|url=http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19940923/REVIEWS/40902001/1023|title=Review: The Shawshank Redemption|author=Roger Ebert|date=1994-09-23] especially in prison, where integrity is lacking. Andy is an individual of integrity (here referring to adherence to a code of morality) among a host of criminals, and guards, with little integrity. [cite news|url=http://www.capmag.com/article.asp?ID=2367|title=Get Busy Living, or Get Busy Dying: A Review of "The Shawshank Redemption"|author=Joseph Kellard|date= July 17, 2000|publisher=Capitalism Magazine] Additionally, some critics have interpreted the film as a Christian parabledue to its handling of hope, original sin, redemption, salvation, and faith in the afterlife. Some Christian reviewers have referred to it as a film "true to Christian principles." [cite web|url=http://www.christiananswers.net/spotlight/movies/pre2000/rvu-shawshank.html|title=Review: The Shawshank Redemption|author=Debra L. Lewis|date=1994|accessdate=2007-12-26] In the director's commentary track on the tenth anniversary DVD, Darabont denies any intent to create such a parable, and calls such interpretations of the film "fantastic." Others have also pointed out that the film's tidy dispatching of its principal antagonists - Hadley's tearful arrest, the Warden's suicide, and Bogs' paralysis - would seem to have more to do with Old Testament retribution than New Testament redemption. [http://www.filmfreakcentral.net/dvdreviews/shawshankredemption.htm]
Isaac M. Morehouse suggests that the film provides a great illustration of how characters can be free, even in prison, or unfree, even in freedom, based on one's outlook in life. [ [http://mises.org/story/3129 Stop Worrying about the Election] , an article more about freedom than politics]
*In the 1994 Academy Awards the movie was nominated for seven awards (Best Picture, Best Actorndash
Morgan Freeman, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Original Score, and Best Sound) but, in the shadow of 1994's big winner "Forrest Gump", did not win a single one.
*In 1998 "Shawshank" was not listed in "
AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies", but nine years later (2007), it placed at the 72nd position on the revised list, outranking both "Forrest Gump" (76th) and "Pulp Fiction" (94th), the two most critically acclaimed movies from the year of "Shawshank"'s release.
*In 1999, film critic
Roger Ebertlisted "Shawshank" on his "Great Movies" list,cite web|url=http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19991017/REVIEWS08/910170301/1023|title=Great Movies: The Shawshank Redemption|author=Roger Ebert|date=1999-10-17] and in reader polls by the film magazine "Empire", the film ranked fifth in 2004 and first in 2006 on the lists for greatest movie of all time. [cite news|title=The 100 Greatest Movies Of All Time|pages=97|publisher=Empire|date= 2004-01-30] [cite news|title=The 201 Greatest Movies Of All Time|pages=100-1|publisher=Empire|date= 2006-01-27]
*In 2002, "The Shawshank Redemption" was voted the third greatest film ever made in
Channel 4's 100 Greatest Film Poll.
*In 2006, it was voted the greatest film of all time by readers of UK film magazine,
Empire, but slipped to fourth place in the 2008 readers poll.
*Currently rated #6 in Top Rated Movies of All Time by Yahoo! Movie Reviewers. [ http://movies.yahoo.com/mvc/top10]
The score was composed by
Thomas Newman, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Scorein 1994, marking his first Academy Award nomination. Interestingly enough, the main theme ("End Titles" on the soundtrack album) is perhaps best known to modern audiences as the inspirational sounding music from many movie trailers dealing with inspirational, dramatic, or romantic films in much the same way that James Horner's driving music from the end of "Aliens" is used in many movie trailers for action films.
References to other works
Andy asks Red for a Rita Hayworth poster during a screening of Hayworth's film "
Gilda". The poster depicts a scene from that film. He eventually replaces the poster with one of Marilyn Monroein her skirt blowing scene from " The Seven Year Itch" and later with Raquel Welch from " One Million Years B.C." When Andy receives the first response to his letters to the Maine Senateconcerning the prison library, the shipment includes a record of " The Marriage of Figaro." Defying Norton, Andy plays the aria "Sull'aria? Che soave zeffiretto" over the prison loudspeakers for all the inmates to hear. While sorting books in the library, Heywood asks Andy what to do with a copy of " The Count of Monte Cristo". Andy notes that the book is about a prison break, foreshadowing his own escape by tunneling later in the film.
List of fictional prisons
Films considered the greatest ever
* as "Great Movie"
* [http://www.angelfire.com/movies/moviefreak/shawshank.html The script for the film] - varies slightly from the final version.
* [http://artsandfaith.com/t100/2005/entry.php?film=72 The Shawshank Redemption] at the [http://artsandfaith.com/top100/ Arts & Faith Top100 Spiritually Significant Films] list
* [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/movies/videos/theshawshankredemptionrkempley_a0345a.htm A review] from "
The Washington Post"
* [http://www.prisonflicks.com/reviews.php?filmID=5 A review] from PrisonFlicks.com
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