Shawshank Redemption Film Essay

In the film “The Shawshank Redemption” an important theme was the idea of hope and how once you have it; it can be given to others so they too can be hope filled. In various scenes throughout the duration of the film, camera work, colour and lighting have been used to emphasise this idea of hope and how it can be given to others. During the ‘tarring the licence plate factory roof’ scene we are introduced and come to understand better the character of Andy as the giver of hope through various camera shots and the use of colour and lighting.

During the beginning of the scene the camera is low and this enables us to see a lot of sky. Even though they are still within the confines of the prison, the low camera angle means, you cannot see the prison walls, which encase the prisoners and keep them trapped. This enables us and the prisoners to temporarily forget that they are in prison.

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For the first time after Andy is sent to prison, we get to see a lot of sky (almost 2/3 of the screen). This is used to show the expanse of the area around them and this is a strong contrast to how prison usually is for them.

They are usually in closed and confined areas, which mentally and physically separate them from the outside world. The expanse of sky is used to represent hope for a better life – of freedom and no restrictions. Later on in the scene, the idea of hope is further emphasised by the lighting and colour.

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When they are drinking their beers (obtained for the men by Andy’s courageous and intelligent confrontation with Captain Hadley) there is a golden filter over the shot. As this is taken from Red’s memory (he narrates the film) this golden overtone represents a sense of nostalgia and warmness, which is due to the fact that he recalls this memory fondly. This is because it was a moment in prison, where he did not feel as though he was in prison but rather a free man. For him, this event was one of the moments where he remembered what life could truly be like and because of this, could hope that life may become like this. This is in stark contrast to the dark colours used inside the prison – blacks and greys. This scene was effectively used to emphasise hope and the impact it can have on those experiencing it for the first time in a while.

This shows us what an impact and how great hope can be in a desolate place as it allowed Red to feel like a free man again, even if it was only briefly. This hope was only possible because of Andy and his willingness to give it to others. This urges us to try to give hope to others if we ourselves have it, as it can be truly amazing. We come to understand how remarkable hope is and by giving it to others, we can save them from a life without hope. Darabont has purposely used these techniques to develop the idea of hope and the impact it can have on others once it has been shared. The power and importance of hope is also emphasized in the scene where Andy plays music over the loudspeakers. When Andy starts playing the music, there is a high angle shot of all of the prisoners in the yard. This shows the unanimous awe they have as they all hear music for the first time in a long time. This music is so astonishing to the prisoners because music is something you can freely enjoy out of prison, however, while in prison, music is not available for entertainment.

The music is a representation of Andy giving hope to the other prisoners, giving them a reminder of what the outside world is like. What Andy has done, by choosing to give hope, is to rekindle hope in the other prisoners, who have long lost hope of a better life outside of the prison walls. This scene is also full of light from the dazzling sun and is very brightly lit. Again, this contrasts to the gloomy, shadowy lighting usually used by Darabont in other scenes. This is another of the few times in the movie when it is bright and this again represents hope in a place that is usually hopeless. This hope is only possible because of the hope Andy was able to share from the music he played. This scene is key in emphasising hope and how important it can be as it especially enables the prisoners to be reminded of a better life elsewhere, where they had no restraints and were free. This teaches us the importance of hope and further urges us to reflect back on ourselves and our own lives.

Darabont’s use of camera work, lighting and colour is showing us how important and redeeming hope can be. He is urging and challenging us to do the same with our lives – to give hope to others, if we ourselves have it, to those who need it the most. This will help them to see a brighter side of the situation they might find themselves in. Darabont is also emphasising the importance of hope in the final scene of the movie using camera work, colour and lighting. When Red and Andy are finally reunited on the beach at Zihuatenajo, there is a wide, soaring aerial shot of the scenery. This shows the audience just how expansive the area really is. This emphasises just how free and unrestricted Red and Andy now are. This also alludes to their broad future now they are not confined by prison walls and prison rules, which had previously been enclosing them. Throughout the film, Darabont has been using bright colours and wide shots of bright sky to represent hope.

Either conscientiously or unconsciously the audience has picked up on this and thus, whenever there is a vastness of sky or bright colours, our minds automatically correlate this to hope. Thus, when Darabont included a large, bright sky into the shot at the end of the film, we immediately feel or think about hope. This is further enhanced when the blue filter is used to lighten the atmosphere of the shot. This scene is very useful in showing how Andy’s insistence on giving and believing in hope has been very successful and this has led Red to be able to live a better life because of it. This scene is useful to emphasise the idea of hope and teach the audience about the wonderful consequences of sharing hope. Darabont is purposefully showing us these consequences so that the audience feels compelled to do the same for others.

Even in today’s society, there are still many people who are living a life without hope. He is urging us to find those who are hopeless and try to give them as much hope as possible. In doing this, we will be giving them a new outlook on life and embrace the idea of hope into their own lives. Darabont has purposely used camera work, colour and lighting in this scene to emphasise the idea of hope and how important it is to give it to others. Throughout various scenes in ‘The Shawshank Redemption’, Frank Darabont has effectively highlighted the idea of hope and how important it is it pass it on. Throughout these scenes he used a combination of camera work, colour and lighting to create a feeling and reinforce the idea of hope for the audience. Throughout these scenes, and the film in general, he has urged us to do the same as Andy and give hope to the hopeless as this allows them to live a new and fulfilling, hope-filled life.

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Shawshank Redemption Film Essay. (2016, Sep 21). Retrieved from

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