The Shawshank Redemption Film Analysis

Analyse how the opening of your studied text effectively introduced a key idea or a main character

In the film, The Shawshank Redemption directed by Frank Darabont, the opening scene effectively introduces a key idea that the prison is capable of taking away prisoners' identities by removing away any control they have of their lives, and their rights as human beings. The director makes clever use of the techniques of camera shots, lighting, costume and dialogue to show the prison's destructive effect on prisoners' lives.

When Andy is being transported to prison, the director uses high angle camera shots to introduce the idea that the prisoners' lives are completely under the power of the prison. When a new group of prisoners arrives at Shawshank, the high angle camera shot shows the perspective of the guards in the towers with their guns aiming down at the older prisoners in the yard. This shows that the prisoners are powerless, and they look like a flock of sheep far below.

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There is a sense that the prisoners' lives are worth little more than sheep. The director also portrays this idea of powerlessness with a long shot down the length of the bus from Andy's point of view when entering Shawshank. Andy cannot see anything but guards blocking his view, signifying that by limiting and narrowing his view of the world, the prison will take away Andy's power to make decisions and that he is trapped. The director shows the audience the dangers of losing freedom and control by being imprisoned at Shawshank.

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They will lose their identity as they are removed from the world they knew before.

The director reinforces the idea of loss of identity at Shawshank by using lighting and costume when Warden Norton lays down the rules to the new arrivals at Shawshank. When they line up, the light from behind puts all the prisoners' faces in shadow, making them indistinguishable from each other. This darkness represents the prison's removal of their identities and past memories of happier times before prison life. The armed and intimidating uniforms of the guards standing in front of the prisoners shows their confrontational control over the prisoners.

As in all American prisons of the time, Shawshank prisoners lose their identity in a drab blue uniform labeled with numbers rather than names. This has the effect of dehumanising the prisoners who lose self respect and confidence and have little hope of regaining a fresh start in the outside world. Red is a perfect example of the prison's removal of identity and without Andy's determination to survive the dehumanizing process, he would not have made the transition back into society. This effect of costumes and lighting on prisoners is aided by dialogue.

The concept of the prison's role in loss if inmate identity opening is also shown by dialogue. Hadley's reply to a con's quest on meal hours gets a violent intimidating response, "You EAT WHEN WE SAY YOU EAT! YOU PISS WHEN WE SAY YOU PISS! YOU SHIT WHEN WE SAY YOU SHIT! YOU SLEEP WHEN WE SAY YOU SLEEP! YOU MAGGOT- DICK MOTHERFUCKER! This clearly indicates the dehumanising role of the Prison. When the new prisoners walk into Shawshank, the audience sees four prisoners betting on the ability of new prisoners to survive the shock of the prison. One says, "Who's your horse?" This shows that the prison has been effective in removing the prisoner's humanity and empathy for men in the same dilemma as themselves.

Rather, the prison system has created a violent society where the strong rule and the weak perish. An example of this contempt for new prisoners, not yet hardened and dehumanized by Shawshank is the long stay prisoners yelling out, "Fresh fish! Fresh fish today!" In the bullying "dog eat dog" atmosphere, the prisoners are just someone to inflict pain on and abuse. They are not seen as human and are unlikely to be protected. If they survive, Shawshank will soon convert them into the same mindless brutal individuals, without self respect or hope for their futures. It is only through Andy's unique character and determination to never lose hope that he and Red can retain their sense of self worth.

In the film, Shawshank Redemption, the director Frank Darabont introduces a key idea that prison is capable of taking prisoner's power to control their lives, their reputation and morality. The director shows that the prison over powers the prisoners lives too much that the prisoners forget about their selves and the way to control and the way to control their own lives. It is good if the guards over powers the prisoners in order to lead them to teach them justice and morality. However, the director also shows that prisoners see and treat them as animals that they do not have any heart wanting to transform the prisoners into a better person. They only see them as criminals and this reveals how the society sees the prisoners as well. We stereotype that they are only criminals but the society also have forgotten that prisoners are human as well.

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The Shawshank Redemption Film Analysis. (2016, Dec 18). Retrieved from

The Shawshank Redemption Film Analysis
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