The Shawshank Redemption

A highly engrossing and inspiring story, The Shawshank Redemption is based on Stephen king’s novella “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” published in the collection Different Seasons. This 1994 released movie is directed by Frank Darabont, an American film director, screenwriter and producer. Apart from this movie, Frank Darabont has also directed other movies like The Green Mile, The Mist etc. But he became well known with the release of The Shawshank Redemption which has been appreciated worldwide having nominated for 7 Oscars, 2 Golden globe awards and series of other awards. It has also won ASC award for excellent Cinematography and Best Foreign Film award from Japanese Academy and Mainichi Film Concours.

The protagonist of the movie is Andy Dufresne, played by Tim Robbins. Andy is a successful banker who has been sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of his wife and her lover. The story portrays the horrendous life of prisoners in Shawshank prison. In the prison Andy is subjected to extreme pain and abuse. But with his nonchalant attitude and great inner strength Andy endures the barbaric behavior of prison guards and the prisoners, keeping his mind focused on the beautiful ideas he has for the future. With his optimistic nature and his random acts of kindness he slowly makes new friends in the prison. Ellis Boyd ‘Red’ Redding played by Morgan Freeman is Andy’s close friend. Red has already spent many years in the prison and is skilled in smuggling items into prison for the other inmates.

Andy being a man of action, has his mind buzzing with ideas for helping others and adding some value to this world. He starts out helping prison guards with tax issues and financial planning. In return he asks for bottles of beer for his friends. He wows the guards and also wins the respect of his friends. Andy’s next goal is to expand the prison library. He writes letter to State officials asking for funds but his letters keep getting rejected. With his never say die spirit he keeps writing letters for 6 years. His persistence is finally paid off and he gets a response from the state officials. Other prisoners have given up hope and possibility of being able to survive in the outside world. But Andy is different from others and still has his hopes and dreams intact. His hope also inspires others to see light at the end of dark tunnel. The story keeps us all gripped till the last scene.

The lead characters Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman have played their roles very well with sincerity and focus. The movie‘s excellent cinematography and music is yet another plus point. The story is simple yet compelling, that leaves us feeling exhilarated and liberated. Frank has adopted a no-nonsense approach towards conveying his message. Although there is extreme violence been displayed in some scenes, it is not overused. It just indicates the harsh reality of prison life which is certainly not a fairy-tale world. There are some profound and moving dialogues in the movie like –

“These walls are funny. First you hate them, then you get used to them and then finally you    begin to depend on them.”

“Sometimes it makes me sad though with Andy being gone. I have to remind myself that some birds aren’t meant to be caged.”

“ I am so excited I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it is the excitement only a free man can feel a freeman at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope I can see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams.”

The movie stresses on the significance of hope, persistence and friendship. Andy‘s life in prison is a metaphor of our lives limited by the prison of fear. There are many things we want to do in our lives but we step back out of fear. We lose hope and stop dreaming for a bright future, bogged down by our morbid present. The movie conveys the message that our future is full of possibilities and we should not let our past or present decide our future. If we persistently work towards our goals then nothing can stop us.

As the tagline of this movie says “Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free” With hope we can fly even with broken wings.

Swati Ramnath

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