Review: The Shawshank Redemption

#shawshankredemption #stephenking #frankdarabont #morganfreeman #timrobbins


Name: The Shawshank Redemption

Directed by:Frank Darabont

Based on: Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King

Country of origin: United States

Language: English

Starring: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler, Clancy Brown, Gill Bellows, James Whitmore

Rated: R

Genre: Crime, Drama

Get busy living, or get busy dying. …

For those people, who love watching crime and thriller movies with an intense cliffhanger suspense at the end would know about ‘The Shawshank Redemption’. I haven’t read the original novel to be honest, but the movie is one that I have watched and enjoyed watching many times over. I have mentioned a full plot summary below so if you haven’t watched the movie yet, then don’t read the plot summary, because there might be spoilers. For just the review scroll to the end of the plot summary, mentioned in bold.


The story starts with our protagonist, Andy Dufresne. Andy is a banker who was sentenced to two life sentences for killing his wife and her lover at the Shawshank State Penitentiary. At the beginning of the movie, shots are shown of him with a gun, but as to whether he is really the one who murdered his wife and her lover- we do not know.


Andy is befriended by Ellis “Red” Redding, who had already spent twelve years in the redemption center without a parole so far. Everyone calls him “Red” and he is described as a person who knows how to get things. Andy, after becoming friends with Red asks him to procure a rock hammer and a poster of Rita Hayworth, which Red gets for him. Initially Andy works in the laundry section and is assaulted by a group called “The Sisters” . Like everyone else, he finds it difficult in the first few months and is scared. But soon he copes with it.


While doing some community work outside of the Redemption centre, Andy happens to help one of the officers with a tax problem. He later has a huge fight with the leader of ‘The Sisters” and is then reassigned from the laundry services to the library where he is asked to help the elderly librarian, who is also an inmate in the centre, Brooks Hatlen. Although he is assigned there to help in the library, it is only a pretext for helping the officers in the centre with their tax problems and sometimes with the warden’s problems as well. Andy writes constantly to get funds and more books for the library to develop it further.


Brooks is paroled after 50 years in prison, but realizing that he cannot cope with the outside world that has changed so much in the past fifty years, he suicides. Andy receives books and other materials for the library after constantly writing to them. He also gets a recording of “The Marriage of Figaro”. He takes the recording and plays it on the PA system of the redemption centre earning him a long punishment in solitary confinement. The warden, Norton starts stealing money from public funds by exploiting prison labor for outside work. Andy keeps account of all the money under the fake identity of Randall Stephens.


In the year 1965, Tommy Williams is admitted in the centre for burglary. Although he is awkward around the group at first, he starts to get close with Andy and the others. Andy starts teaching him how to read and write and to get his high school diploma. One day Tommy mentions that he had shared a cell previously with another inmate who happened to confess to him that he had committed the crimes for which Andy was sent to jail. Andy approaches warden Norton and tries to convince him of his innocence but Norton dismisses him. When Andy threatens him about the money laundering, Andy is again left in solitary confinement. Norton has the guards kill Tommy in the guise of an escape attempt.


After the solitary confinement Andy seems to be a changed man. one day while talking to Red he mentions his desire to go to a place called Zihuatanejo, a town on the coast of Mexico, after he is released from prison. Red feels Andy has gone crazy but Andy says that if Red ever does get out of prison, to go to a tree in a particular location near Buxton, Maine where Andy has buried something. He then later finds that Andy had requested another inmate to get him six feet of rope and fears that Andy is going to suicide.


The next day at roll call, they find that Andy is missing and a wild manhunt ensues to find him. Raged, Norton finds a large tunnel through Andy’s cell wall which he had dug during the past nineteen years which he had covered first with a poster of Rita Hayworth and then later with a poster of Raquel Welch. He had used the rock hammer that Red had procured for him years ago and dug a tunnel into the sewage system. From there he crawled through at least a mile of feces before getting out into the channel outside the centre.


Before his escape, Andy had replaced Norton’s ledgers with false ledgers and took out all the money with the documents that he had created for the false identity. Norton then gets accused of laundering money and he suicides by shooting himself in the head.


Years later, Red gets out of the redemption centre on parole after almost fifty years. Like Brooks, he too starts working at the same supermarket as an assistant. but he soon realizes that he cannot do it well. He goes to the place that Andy had told him years ago and finds the things that Andy had buried there for him. With that he gets off and travels to the coast of Mexico where Andy is there. with an old boat, living by the sea free. And from there he and Andy have a fresh start.


This film is amazing on so many levels. One of the main highlights is Andy’s escape. The scene itself was shocking and unbelievable. but more than how he escaped from there, its the amount of time that he took into doing it that was unbelievable. The main thing that gave him the perseverance to do so, was the fact that he was innocent. We see a lot of people who when facing a problem in their lives, resort to total denial and sometimes suicide. Andy despite facing years in jail for a crime he did not commit did not lose the will to live. Especially after Tommy, his only sliver of truth left to prove his innocence was killed.

And another reason I just love this film was the unlikely friendship between Andy and Red. In a normal situation their friendship was unlikely- they were so different from each other. But in the detention centre they happened to be their forms of solace for each other. Red stayed a true friend to Andy till the end. Although Andy never told Red about his escape and the fact that he was trying, Red as a good friend understood that there was no way both of them could escape and was never upset.

There were so many amazing moments in this film. My favorite moment in this film would be when Andy played the recording on the loud speaker in the system and got punished for it in the end. That scene where all the inmates are listening to the music that suddenly started streaming out of the system was priceless. It was a moment that showed how much they were out of touch with the world. They did not have any music or any form of entertainment in there. Red’s dialogue when the music started playing was priceless.

I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singing about. Truth is, I don’t wanna know. Some things are best left unsaid. I’d like to think they were singing about something so beautiful it can’t be expressed in words, and it makes your heart ache because of it. I tell you those voices soared, higher and farther than anybody in a grey place dares to dream. It was like some beautiful bird flapped into our drab little cage and made these walls dissolve away, and for the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free.

To be honest, the real punishment that the men faced was not really the experiences that they faced there. It was the number of years that they lost. This was especially emphasized with Brooks’s story. That moment when he finds out he is going to get a parole after more than fifty years, he says he doesn’t know anything else and doesn’t want to leave. In the end he does leave and finds that world has moved on without him. He finds he cannot keep pace and ends up killing himself. The whole point of their lives were lost as part of their punishment. So on that note, Andy’s escape was a relief because he was innocent and he still had to endure many years in prison.

This film is an amazing watch. If you haven’t seen it-stop reading this and go watch it. you won’t regret it. Its one of those movies that deserve to be in the ‘List of Movies to see before you die” .

For more on English movies such as this you can check out The Movie Bucket or to check out every movie I have reviewed irrespective of language, you can check out The Movie Reel. I also have a curated section for reviews on old classics, irrespective of language and genre as well which you can check out on Old is Gold!

Image courtesy: Google Image Search


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