Directed by: Frank Darabount (1994)
Screenplay by: Frank Darabount, adapted from the novella "Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption" by Stephen King
"Get busy livin', or get busy dyin'"
"Hope is a dangerous thing"
"Brooks was here"
...Are just some of the memorale line from Shawshank. It's a little unfair for me to do this review since Shawshank is my favorite film of all time, but it does fill a lot of requirments of our topic. The Shawshank Redemption is the story about two men in a prison and the friendship that bonds them forever. Andy Dufrane (Tim Robbins) is wrongfully convicted of killing his wife and her lover and sent to life imprisonment in Shawshank. There, he meets Red (Morgan Freeman) a man who is known for smuggling things into the prison. Andy asks for a poster of Rita Hayworth and a friendship begins with them and a number of other inmates in the prison. Several events occure take place throughout the film. Brooks, an older librian gets promoted but kills himself when he can't live in a world he hasn't known for fifty years, Andy and the warden square off against each other to see which one can really control the prison, and Tommy, a young kid who can prove Andy's innocence is murdered by the warden. It all come to a climax when Andy Dufrane reveals a project he's been working on for 20 years: Escape from Shawshank. Andy escapes and reveals what the warden has been doing which results to in the warden's suicide. Red gets parolled and the two reunite, ending the film. That's a basic synopsis of the film. But it could never really explain the film.
In the first act of the film, Darabount creates a very dark setting. The film opens at night and most of the prison scenes involving Andy have a very dark tone to them. He spends most of the first act not saying much at all once he gets to the prison, and he also spends most of the first act getting betan on by the sister's group. But when Andy's troubles start to end in the beginning of Act II, the prison starts to have some light to it and Andy has more speaking lines and becomes less of a mysterious figure. Towards the end of Act II, the darkness in the film returns. The warden clealy becomes the antagonist (It's still called into question who the antagonist is until he plans the murder of Tommy) and Andy spends months in complete darkness in solitary. Act III brings back the lightness of the film when Red get paroled and reunites with Andy.
The film is also hard to depict one theme. One theme is friendship, since Red and Andy share a friendship for over 20 years. But then you can aruge the film is about hope. Or it could be redemption (hence the title). But if I had to choose one, it would be hope. It's the motivation for the two main charactersto keep going on even when the obstacles are too hard. If anything, it's the one thing for Red (who in my mind is the protagonist due to his narration and his emotional arc) that keeps him going at the end of the film.
There's so much more I could talk about this film including Darabount's incredible job of turning a novella into a 2 hour and 20 minute film, the acting performances (in my opinon Morgan Freeman gives the performance of his career), the changes Darabount made from the novella (including making Brooks a more fleshed out character and ending the film with the reunion) but what's important in our topic this week is stressing the tone that the film sets just with the setting, and it works.