The Shawshank Redemption
For my analysis, I chose the movie The Shawshank Redemption. Frank Darabont directed Shawshank and wrote the screenplay based on the novel Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption by author Stephen King. The movie was made in 1994 and produced by Niki Marvin. The movie stars Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins as two convicts serving time in a New England prison named Shawshank.
Tim Robbins plays a man named Andy Dufresne, a banker, who gets convicted of murdering his wife and her lover and is sent to prison in Shawshank. Andy eventually becomes good friends with a fellow convict by the name of Ellis Boyd Redding (Morgan Freeman) who is able to get anything for anyone within reason. The story follows the prison life of Andy Dufresne and his eventual escape from Shawshank’s walls.
Frank Darabont does an outstanding job of directing the movie. He interweaves scenes with nice fluid shots. The shots are not jarring or rough cut. Darabont tends to take the story at a distance allowing the characters to establish their traits to the audience instead of pushing many different angles at the audience. The position of the camera is intricately placed in all scenes. The movie is a good example of classical cinema. One of my favorite traits of this movie is how the whole story looks like it was filmed with a blue filter. The filters give a special beauty to the scenes, which in turn causes more dramatic feelings for the audience. With this filter the movie tends to bring out the two different colors of blue and brown. The blues of the uniforms are all the more dramatic compared to the drab brown buildings surrounding the prisoners. The colors also produce irony in the last scene of Red and Andy on the beach. The blue and brown colors that once gave feelings of confinement and despair in the prison are now colors of freedom and happiness.
The lighting that goes along with many scenes is also interesting. The whole movie is shot primarily in high contrast with the exception of the guards who are mostly in the shadows. The lighting that follows the guards present a darkness to their characters, they are displayed as brute and wicked. Most of the violent scenes all take place in the shadows as well, with low key light. The lighting of these scenes give a sense of violence without actually showing it in the film.
The screenplay written for The Shawshank Redemption is exact and precise, everything in the movie complements the development of characters. You watch how the prisoners depend on certain things due to their long term incarceration. Prisoner camaraderie, and feelings of hope in hopeless situations are good examples of this.
The film has a odd climax that is not fully understandable until the last few scenes. The ending is a total surprise as to how Andy escapes from Shawshank. These last few scenes are so tremendously written. The narrator, Red, brings the movie together well here. Their friendship you have grown to be a part of throughout the film only intensifies Reds ending narrative explaining the details of how Tim Robbins character escapes from Shawshank.
The dialogue is also clever and witty at times. The movie has many memorable quotes such as when Andy tells red, “On the outside I was always straight as an arrow, I had to come in here to be a crook” and “You either have to start living or you got to start dying.” Some other quotes in the movie are a little more subtle like when the warden hands Andy his bible back with the words, “Salvation lies from within.” Only at the end of the movie do we find that Andy had hidden a rock pick in the bible that the warden had given him.
My favorite scene in the movie is when Andy is looking through some records that the state has just sent to the prison. He decides to play the record on the intercom and locks himself in the room so the guards won’t stop him. The camera really captures the prisoners love for a simple thing such as listening to a record. This scene consists mostly of panning shots with a sky-eye view mixed into it. Its very fluid because in every view the camera moves at the same speed. This one scene also consists of many close-ups in a movie that has very few close-ups. This scene also conveys what I feel to be a strong emotion in the movie, the yearning for simple freedoms. Another reason this scene is so moving for me is faint static that you often hear from a record, the sound of a record is truly beautiful.
Overall, Darabont uses affective methods of filming, causing the audience to feel Andy Dufresnes desperation, sense of hopelessness, and finally his exhaltation after escaping from prison. The movie is a modern example of a classical style of cinema.