The Shawshank Redemption Film Review

The Shawshank Redemption filmed in 1994, directed by Frank Darabont bases a story around the life of prisoners in the Shawshank Prison. The captivating film revolves around the strong friendship that is built between two prisoners, Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) a smart banker, and Red (Morgan Freeman) a long-term inmate, who becomes Andy’s closest accomplice. The storyline is narrated by Red who reflects on Andy’s adjustment and life at Shawshank. Darabont skillfully explores different themes in the film that deal with the hardships of prison life through the relationship of the main characters of Andy and Red.

Throughout the film Frank Darabont deals with many themes. The most significant concepts are hope and freedom, which is investigated throughout the film from the point of view of the prisoners, especially Andy. Hope is what keeps Andy motivated and many times he discusses the importance of hope with his cellmates. Andy tries to instill hope onto his fellow inmates through the playing of the Mozart music, building the library and even through educating fellow prisoners.

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When investigating the theme freedom, Darabont demonstrates this in the rooftop scene. Andy, Red and a few selected prisoners are selected to tar the roof of the prisons license plate factory. Freedom is expressed through the setting that surrounds the license plate factory rooftop with the visuals of open green fields. Another scene that Darabont’s key concepts are shown is the Mozart scene.

In this scene Andy is left alone in the guards office with records and a record player, Andy locks the guard into the bathroom and locks himself in the office and projects Italian opera music over the microphone for the whole prison to hear.

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As the music flows through the prison, every prisoner stands silently and listens to the music. It is with the sound and feeling of the music that Darabont has created the feeling of being free. Andy also expresses hope to his cellmates after he is let out of the hole for playing the Mozart music. Andy elaborates on how he felt the music inside of him and the hope he has for the outside world.

Freedom is expressed through the rooftop scene by the bright vibrant lighting and the open rooftop that appears as though they are not even above a prison. In this scene Andy approaches the Warden with hope that he will be able to do a favor for both the Warden and his co-workers (cellmates), and offers him banking solutions in exchange for three ice-cold suds (beers) per man. The Warden accepts Andy’s offer and the scene concepts change to calm, uplifting orchestra playing in the back round, with a change of a warm vibrant lighting and the co-workers sitting around drinking the beer happily. As Red narrates in this scene, we sat and drank with the sun on our shoulders and felt like free man, hell we could have been tarring the roof of one of our own houses. Freedom is expressed also in the Mozart scene; Andy is left in the securities office with old records that have been sent to him for his library. Andy’s facial expressions are painfully happy, as he has not listens to music for the first time in over a decade; the lighting that Darabont has produced creates shadows but highlights certain areas such as parts of prisoner’s faces to instill the darkness that surrounds them but the hope the freedom that they all have in that moment.

Darabont expresses freedom by singling out men in the prison and capturing the placid and blissful look they all embrace whilst they stand silently in the prison. Red quotes in this scene “It was like some beautiful bird flapped into our drab little cage, and made those walls dissolve away. And for the briefest of moments, every last man at Shawshank felt free.” After Andy plays the Mozart music he is sentenced to the hole for two weeks, although when he gets out he tells his cellmates of how it was the easiest time he ever did and he describes to the inmates that the music was still playing inside of him, he try’s to instill the power of hope in the midst of difficulties to his cellmates; in this scene Andy discusses the importance of music, Here’s where it makes the most sense, you need it so you don’t forget, there are places in this world that aren’t made of stone, there’s something inside that they can’t get too, it’s yours, hope. Darabont creates a very gloomy look to the prison, making it appear very drab and dull and with very vague lighting that just highlights small fractions of the prisoner’s faces, reinforcing the fact that they are in a prison and shutting down Andy’s idea of hope, just like Red did.

I believe that Darabont has been effective in exploring and constructing the themes; hope and freedom for the audience to engage in. Darabont very clearly uses the production elements to represent the two key concepts throughout the whole film, The cinematography and lighting effect have especially important roles to play in this film, although I found that the most significant element was the narrating throughout the whole film; the narration by Red provokes the audience to feel and understand the story line and emotions that the production elements instill. Darabont skillfully creates very drab and colorless lighting, even though there are bright sunny skies that surround the prison. The Shawshank Redemption is a brilliant demonstration of classism and the ways that a well-produced film can affect you long after the credits have rolled.

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The Shawshank Redemption Film Review. (2016, Jun 02). Retrieved from

The Shawshank Redemption Film Review
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