Analysis of Shawshank Redemption

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The movie of the Shawshank Redemption is based on a short story by Steven King. The movie shows how prison life affects prisoners during their sentence in jail and after when they are released. The director concentrates mostly on the personal cost of adapting to prison life and how some convicts, once they conform, lose the ability to survive beyond the barbed wire and iron bars. As a character puts it, ‘These [prison] walls are funny. First you hate them, then you get used to them, then you start to depend on them.’ The director shows us to what extent prisoners can be made to ‘depend on them’. The two episodes that I will analyse are examples of two different ‘paths’ prisoners can take once released from prison. One is to survive and live their life, another is to give up and end it. In the movie Red, a prisoner at Shawshank says, ‘get busy living or get busy dying’. This quote plays an important role in the movie because Red and Brooks, two important characters who get out of jail have to make the choice to either ‘get busy living or get busy dying’. Red and Brooks are characters with many similar traits and have gone through many of the same circumstances. Both entered the confines of Shawshank Prison youths but left its walls as old men. They have seen many prisoners come in and out. They spent decades behind the dull enclosure and got used to it. They have adapted themselves to the concepts of routine, forced conformity, power abuse and have lost all elements of individuality within themselves. Red says “you come here for your life and that’s exactly what they take from you”. The episodes of the release of both men contri... ... middle of paper ... ...ds hug, the camera pulls back, revealing the wide, distant horizon of the blue Pacific with no end in sight. No longer are the Red and Andy confined by walls and iron bars nor watched on by guards. Both are free. Brooks had attained the limits at prison, he had become institutionalised and once released had found the only way out was death. Red, on the other hand, had hoped, and hope had led him to freedom, to happiness, to redemption. Through the themes and the cinematic decisions applied in these two episodes the director has made these vital to the understanding of the movie. He has given two examples of the extreme situations to which prisoners go depending on their emotions. One of the emotions is yet one of the main themes of the movie, hope, and in my opinion it has been brought up extremely effectively.
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