The Shawshank Redemption

From Academic Kids

Template:Infobox Movie The Shawshank Redemption is a 1994 movie, written and directed by Frank Darabont, based on the Stephen King novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. The film stars Tim Robbins as Andy Dufresne and Morgan Freeman as Red.

This movie is primarily about Andy Dufresne's life in jail after being tried and convicted, despite his protestation that he was innocent of murdering his wife and her lover.

For over a year, The Shawshank Redemption has been voted as the second greatest movie ever made, according to the Internet Movie Database Top 250 Movies of All Time. Rated over 150,000 times, it has the most votes of any of the 250 movies movie on the IMDb list, with the exception of The Lord of the Rings, currently ranked at number nine on the same chart ( (This list is derived from the votes of IMDb registered users.)

In the 1994 Academy Awards the movie was nominated for seven awards (Best Picture, Best Actor (Morgan Freeman), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Original Score, and Best Sound) but failed to win a single one.

Surprisingly, the film performed poorly in its theatrical run, but it is now one of the most famous examples of a film becoming a major success via the home video market.


Differences from the book

On the whole, the film is a more or less faithful adaptation of the Stephen King book. For a general description of the plot, see Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. However, there are a number of differences.

  • The Indian Normaden that shares Andy's cell for a period doesn't appear at all in the film.
  • The scene where Norton inspects Andy's cell for contraband without finding the rock hammer (and they quote scripture at each other) doesn't appear in the novella.
  • In the novella, the warden when Andy comes to Shawshank is a man named Dunahy: he is replaced by a man named Stammas, who is himself replaced by Sam Norton. In the film, Norton is warden throughout.
  • In the novella, Norton resigns after Andy's escape. In the film, he has embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars, and when Andy escapes and makes this known, Norton commits suicide in his office rather than allow himself to be arrested.
  • Red never becomes assistant librarian in the novella.
  • Brooks' threats to cut the throat of another prisoner to avoid being paroled only appear in the film. In both the novella and the film, Brooks is paroled and leaves Shawshank. His suicide soon after leaving prison only occurs in the film.
  • In the novella, Andy sells off all his assets while still on trial. Together with a friend, he sets up a false identity and transfers all assets there. In the film, Andy himself sets up the false identity so that he can create accounts to launder money for the warden; Andy then drains these accounts upon his escape.
  • In the novella, Williams is transferred (not killed).
  • In the novella, there are 14 cells in cellblock 5, facing each other across a corridor. In the movie Andy's cell is upstairs and there is no cell across from his.
  • In the novella, the warden rips the poster away. In the film he throws a carved rock at it first, putting a hole through it.
  • Red is an Irish-American in the book but in the movie he is black, although when asked by Andy why he is called "Red" he jokingly replies "Maybe it's because I'm Irish".
  • The endings are slightly different. The novella ends with Red en route to find Andy in Mexico but not sure that he will, ending with the words "I hope." The movie shows Red finding Andy on the beach in Mexico.
  • The escape of Andy is put 9 years earlier, from 1975 to 1966.

A memorable scene in the film is the stilling of a courtyard full of hardened criminals, when a duet from Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, che soave zeffiretto, is played across the public address system. The recording used was Karl Bhm's 1968 production for Deutsche Grammophon (catalogue number 449 728-2) and the singers are Gundula Janowitz and Edith Mathis.

Cast and credits




The overarching theme of the film is hope, which is symbolized chiefly by music, and the story of the film (even moreso than the novella) uses a somewhat subdued messianic motif where Andy Dufresne brings hope and redemption to the fallen world of Shawshank Prison and its convicted felons — especially to Red.

The character of Brooks is a contrast to Red because the former had become "institutionalized." Red says when discussing Brooks, "These [prison] walls are kind of funny. First you hate 'em, then you get used to 'em. Enough time passes, gets so you depend on them. That's institutionalized. They send you here for life, that's exactly what they take. The part that counts, anyways." Brooks had lost all hope and accepted life at Shawshank as normal, was unable to integrate into society when he was released, and consequently commited suicide. (Symbolically, the novella represented this concept with the bird which was raised in captivity but was found dead in the prison courtyard when it was released into the wild.)

In fact, Red is headed down the same path as Brooks until Andy changes his course by bringing him hope. Andy is thus Red's redeemer (in the religious sense of the word) because he saves Red from the sad end that Brooks met. In a discussion with Red, Andy links music and hope in a better life: "You need [music] so you don't forget...that there are places in the world that aren't made out of stone. That...there's something inside that's yours, that they can't touch." Red initially resists Andy's admonitions and testimony in the power of hope, but by then end of the film he's convinced. The last line has Red confessing, "I hope," and the film (but not the novella) shows that his hope was well-founded because he finally rejoins his "redeemer" in paradise.


  • The novella appears in Stephen King's Different Seasons, which also contains The Body, which was made into the film Stand by Me, and Apt Pupil, which was also made into a film by the same name. Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption appears under the spring "season" of the book under the heading "Hope springs eternal," which is also the name of a documentary on the special edition DVD.
  • The character Andy has some striking (albeit imperfect) parallels to the most famous messianic figure, Jesus of Nazareth. Both are condemned though innocent, both undergo a version of death, resurrection, and ascension, and both bring hope and redemption to their followers. Jesus' first miracle was turning water into wine, whereas Andy's first wonder was convincing the guards to give the prisoners beer. After Andy escapes, his friends become like Jesus' twelve apostles, remembering their time with Andy and telling others about him. The warden also exhibits parallels to the hypocritical religious leaders who opposed Jesus.
  • Red calls Andy's plans for going to Zihuatanejo a "shitty pipedream," foreshadowing Andy's long crawl through the sewer pipes, after which Red says that the innocent Andy "crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side."
  • When the warden opens Andy's Bible, he finds that the rock hammer Andy used to escape was stored starting opposite the title page of the Book of Exodus, which recounts the Israelites' escape from Egypt.
  • Names have a special significance in Shawshank. In the first instance, Andy asks after the name of the new prisoner who was bludgeoned to death and is told it doesn't matter because he is dead and gone. Later, Andy sees that those who had previously stayed in his cell had carved their name in the wall to establish a remembrance. He begins immortalizing his own name in the wall and in the process discovers what would ultimately be his means for escape. Just before Brooks commits suicide, he memorializes his presence in his new prison by carving his name in a wood panel in his half-way house, and on hearing of his death, the prisoners at Shawshank carve Brooks' name into a sign for the library. Just before Red leaves to find Andy, he adds his name beside Brooks' in the half-way house, but as we find out, he is on a far different trajectory — one of hope rather than despair.
  • The role of Tommy was once earmarked for Brad Pitt.
  • Although Renee Blaine, who plays Mrs. Dufresne, appears only briefly in the arms of her lover during the opening sequence of the film, she is featured on the back cover of both the DVD and VHS cassette in the interest of claiming some sex appeal for a movie that almost exclusively features men.


  • A review ( by Roger Ebert
  • A review ( from The Washington Post
  • A review ( from
  • A review ( by James Berardinelli

External links


de:Die Verurteilten he:חומות של תקווה it:Le ali della libert ja:ショーシャンクの空に pl:Skazani na Shawshank zh:肖申克的救赎


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