Stephen King published his novella Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption in 1982. In 1994 this novella was turned into a movie called The Shawshank Redemption. Frank Darabont wrote the screenplay. A good adaptation will capture the same overall essence of the written book or novella. Darabont did a wonderful job of adapting this novella into a movie. He captured the overall essence in a way that makes a heart rejoice in happiness and relief. The adaptation of The Shawshank Redemption is very well done.
One of the major motifs of the story is get busy living, or get busy dying. This phrase sticks out the most in the movie. In the novella it is said once by Red just before he leaves to go to McNary, Texas, where Andy Dufresne crossed the border into Mexico after he escaped. Red was contemplating not going. He figured that so much of his life was already gone and wondered if it was even worth the trouble. But he told himself, get busy living, or get busy dying (King 105).
In the movie this phrase is first said by Andy in the prison yard just before he escaped. At this point in the movie Andy seems to be completely depressed. Throughout the movie, Andy always seemed to have a little smile on his face, but at this point it seemed as all hope was gone from him. He was talking to Red about Zihautanejo, Mexico. This is the place Andy wanted to go to after he got out of Shawshank. He talked about how beautiful it was and how he wanted to go down there and start a hotel
on the ocean. Red told him to stop dreaming those shitty pipe dreams. This is when Andy said, Get busy living, or get busy dying. After that Andy tells Red about a place in Buxton where under a rock there will be something that he wants Red to have. Andy made Red promise him that he would go there if he ever got out. At this point in the movie it seems as if though Andy was about to kill himself, so it seemed as is he was going to get busy dying instead of getting busy living (Shawshank).
The last time the phrase was said was when Red finally got paroled out of Shawshank. This time the movie follows the book in that Red was trying to decide whether or not to go to Mexico. Red was feeling depressed at this time. He figured that his life was over. He had been institutionalized. He didnt know how to operate outside the walls of Shawshank. But he told himself that quote and decided to head down to Mexico to meet Andy at his hotel. Both times in the story the character decided to get busy living instead of dying (Shawshank).
Another wonderful motif of the story is hope. Throughout all of the things that happened to Andy at Shawshank, good and bad, he never loses hope. That is what gets him by more than anything does. Red always told him that hope wont get him anywhere, but it kept him from becoming institutionalized. It is hope that allows the self-proclaimed innocent man to survive what may or may not be an unjust imprisonment. Says Rita Kempley. This motif was held by the movie very well, if not better.
Hope is a gift given to Red by Andy. In the novella, before Andy escapes, he fills Red with hope of a new day when he will be free. Red almost resents this more than he
wants to accept it. He thought it would just bring him more heartache to hope for another, happier day. But still the whole night of Andys escape Reds mind was filled with pictures of a sandy beach, a blue sky, and the wonderfully blue and enormous Pacific Ocean (Kempley).
In the movie, Reds hope starts only after he decides to go to Andy in Mexico. At this point Red had gone to the hayfield in Buxton and found the letter and the money that Andy had left for him. Red finally made up his mind to go to Andy. The movie ends with Red saying, I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope. Then for the final scene you see Red walking up to Andy who is working on his boat on his beach in Zihautanejo. The novella ends with just Red saying I hope. The book actually makes the reader hope more at the end by leaving it open and not saying for sure that Red made it to Zihautanejo. The reader hopes that Red did in fact make it (Darabont).
The overall essence of the story is actually captured better by the movie. The ending turn of events is more heart wrenching in the movie than in the novella. In the movie the feeling that Andy is going to kill himself the night of his escape is presented. In the morning the guards find that he had escaped and it almost feels like a huge weight is being lifted away. The novella does not hint to the suicidal impression of Andy. In fact, the day before he escapes, he is smiling about the thought of Zihautanejo with Red.
The Shawshank Redemption was not a huge hit at the box office. Some critics say that it was due to its name, granted Shawshank is not an easy word to remember. One of the critics said that the weaknesses of the movie are: the prisoners are not nasty and brutish enough, the guards are overly stereotyped, and there are a lot of loose ends (Cannon). But in order to catch the overall essence of the story, you have to emphasize, or under-emphasize the parts and subject matter that could taint the overall emotion of the movie. The prisoners couldnt be more brutish without disgusting the viewer. And the guards had to be over-stereotyped to show why it was so that Andy got all of the special treatment. Plus since you couldnt show the prisoners being more brute, the guards had to show that this place wasnt a vacation area. Also the loose ends are just minor details and do not ruin the story by being left out.
The Shawshank Redemption was beautifully adapted from the novella into the film. It captured every bit of essence that the story contained and more. It is a spirited movie about hope that will capture any persons heart. Frank Darabont did a wonderful job on this. Even Stephen King himself was completely impressed. He stated, It was great-too great, I thought, to be produced by any company in California (King).White 6
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