Frank Darabont directed this inspiring adaption of Stephen King’s novella, taking place mostly in a prison in the 1940s, where Andy Dufresne, played by Tim Robbins, is sent for killing his wife and her lover. Through out the film, he remains firm that he did not kill his wife, and his prison-mates mock at his consistency, for everyone who comes into prison says they didn’t do it, at least during the first year or so. Andy is quickly respected among the prison mates and begins a long friendship with the prison trader, ‘Red’, played by Morgan Freeman, who narrates Andy’s story, thus why it takes place mostly in the prison.
Andy was a bank teller before sent to prison, and invents ways to keep himself busy. The first encounter Andy has with Red is to request a rock hammer, and he starts sculpting rocks taken off prison grounds; at first, Red is worried about getting something close to a weapon, but once he sees the size of a rock hammer, Andy says, he’ll know its harmless. He comes to find out that Andy too is harmless; he even opens up about his own criminal activity, probably in hope for Andy to do the same, but he doesn’t. These two men’s interactions are the main evidence in the film, for the viewer, that Andy did not murder his wife and her lover. He is far too compassionate.
Andy soon picks up a hobby and begins organizing the Library’s books and requests to get a load of new books: he’s very much trying to change lives, partly as a way to cope with his own. He’s encountered by homosexual men several times, and every time, as Red remembers, he fights tirelessly. The world we live in during this films long run-time truly encompasses like not many films do: Once its over, you feel a rush of cinematic joy, of inspiration and amazement of the character Andy Dufresne.
The cinematography is great and the spectrum of characters displayed and introduced creates a true feeling of scope, like Scorsese’s GoodFellas, where it is not strange to meet new people half-way through the movie. It explores themes such as false punishment and equality in the prisons, and since 1940 many regulations have been placed in prisons, not that the people sent to them act much different inside, but hopefully the guards have more reason to defend prisoners rights. An emotional and uplifting movie, The Shawshank Redemption will go down as one of the greatest Stephen King film adaptions.