The Shawshank Redemption: Wikis


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The Shawshank Redemption

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Frank Darabont
Produced by Niki Marvin
Written by Screenplay:
Frank Darabont
Stephen King
Narrated by Morgan Freeman
James Whitmore
Starring Tim Robbins
Morgan Freeman
Bob Gunton
William Sadler
Clancy Brown
Gil Bellows
James Whitmore
Music by Thomas Newman
Cinematography Roger Deakins
Editing by Richard Francis-Bruce
Studio Castle Rock Entertainment
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date(s) September 23, 1994 (1994-09-23)
Running time 142 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $25 million[1]
Gross revenue $28,341,469[1]

The Shawshank Redemption is a 1994 American drama film written and directed by Frank Darabont, based on the Stephen King novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. The film stars Tim Robbins as Andrew "Andy" Dufresne and Morgan Freeman as Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding.

The film portrays Andy spending nearly two decades in Shawshank State Prison, a fictional penitentiary in Maine, and his friendship with Red, a fellow inmate. Despite a lukewarm box office reception that was barely enough to cover its budget, the film received favorable reviews from critics, multiple award nominations, and has since enjoyed a remarkable life on cable television, VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray. This revival is reflected in its high placement on various lists of great movies.[2].



In 1947, a banker named Andrew "Andy" Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is convicted of murdering his wife and her lover, based on strong circumstantial evidence. He is sentenced to two consecutive life sentences at Shawshank State Penitentiary in Maine, run by Warden Samuel Norton (Bob Gunton). Andy is quickly befriended by Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding (Morgan Freeman), a fellow inmate serving a life sentence who has recently failed to gain parole. Andy finds Red has connections on the outside who can acquire contraband for the inmates, and first asks Red for a rock hammer in order to maintain his rock collection hobby, which he uses to fashion a home-made chess set. He later asks Red for a full-size poster of Rita Hayworth for his wall, replacing them over the years with ones of Marilyn Monroe and Raquel Welch.

During manual labor, Andy overhears Captain of the Guards Byron Hadley (Clancy Brown) complain about having to pay taxes on a forthcoming inheritance. Andy risks punishment by explaining to Hadley how to circumvent the taxes legally; Hadley accepts Andy's advice and rewards his friends with a brief respite and beer. Andy's financial advice is soon sought by other guards at Shawshank and nearby prisons, and Andy is given a space to work on their financial matters under the pretense of maintaining the prison library alongside elderly inmate Brooks Hatlen (James Whitmore). Hadley delivers a brutal beating to inmate Bogs (Mark Rolston), leader of "The Sisters," after his gang's attempt to sexually assault Andy puts Andy in the infirmary; Bogs is paralyzed, and the remaining Sisters leave Andy alone. Andy is able to use his goodwill with the guards to help expand the library; when one donation to the library provides him with the opera The Marriage of Figaro, he plays it over the public address system for all the inmates to hear, well-aware of the punishment of solitary confinement he will receive for the brief moment of bliss.

Warden Norton eventually creates a scheme to use prison labor for public works, undercutting the cost of skilled labor and discreetly receiving personal kickbacks for it. Norton has Andy launder the money under a false identity, in exchange for allowing Andy to keep his private cell and to continue maintaining the library. Brooks, freed on parole, is unable to adjust to the outside world, and hangs himself; Andy dedicates the expanded library to him. In 1965, Tommy Williams (Gil Bellows) is incarcerated into Shawshank on robbery charges. Tommy is brought into Andy and Red's circle of friends, and Andy assists Tommy into getting his GED. Tommy, upon learning of Andy's crime, reveals that one of his old prison-mates, Elmo Blatch (Bill Bolender) had claimed to have committed a murder just like the one with which Andy was charged. Norton, fearing that Andy might expose his illegal activities if he were released, puts him into solitary confinement and has Tommy killed by Hadley, claiming he was an escapee. When Andy is finally released from solitary, Norton threatens to destroy the library if Andy does not continue to launder the money for him.

Shortly after, Andy informs Red of his dream of living in Zihuatanejo, a Mexican-Pacific coastal town, and instructs Red, should he ever be freed, to visit a specific hayfield near Buxton to find something he had left there. The next day at roll call, Andy's cell is found empty. Norton, in anger, throws one of Andy's rocks at the poster of Welch; the rock tears through the poster, revealing a tunnel that Andy had dug with the rock hammer over the last two decades that allowed him to escape Shawshank, along with a set of civilian clothes, his chess set, and the books he had kept for Norton, having swapped them for fakes the night before. Andy uses his false identity to withdraw all of Norton's money from the bank at the same time, sending the evidence to a local newspaper. On the day the story runs, the police converge on the prison; Hadley is arrested while Norton commits suicide.

When Red finally achieves parole after serving 40 years of his sentence, he finds himself in the same bagging job at a grocery store as Brooks, and living in the same apartment where Brooks committed suicide. Red decides to follow Andy's advice and visits Buxton. In the hayfield where Andy specified, he finds a cache of money and a note left by Andy, reminding him of Zihuatanejo. Red violates his parole and travels to Mexico; he eventually meets Andy on a beach, and they happily reunite.


  • Tim Robbins as Andy Dufresne: the main character of the film. Tom Hanks, Kevin Costner, Tom Cruise, Nicolas Cage, and Charlie Sheen were each considered for the role when the script was circulated in Hollywood. Hanks turned it down because he was committed to Forrest Gump (which eventually beat Shawshank at the Oscars), but he later worked with Darabont in The Green Mile. While studio favorites Cruise and Sheen were passed over for the part, Costner liked the script but turned it down because he was filming Waterworld.
  • Morgan Freeman as Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding: the other main character and the film's narrator. Before Freeman was cast, Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Paul Newman, and Robert Redford were each considered for the role. Although written as a middle-aged Irishman with greying red hair (as in the original novella), Darabont cast Freeman for his authoritative presence and demeanor, because he could not see anyone else as Red.[3]
  • Bob Gunton as Warden Samuel Norton: the head of Shawshank State Prison and the primary antagonist. Norton has an obsession with the Holy Bible and appears to be a devout Christian and reform-minded administrator. Norton's liking towards the protagonist and love of the Bible makes him appear to be a "light in the darkness" type of character initially. Behind his religious side, however, is a darker and more sinister personality, and his true nature is displayed in vicious fashion when he conspires to have Tommy Williams killed so Williams won't be able to prove Andy's innocence.
  • William Sadler as Heywood: one of Red's gang of long-sentence convicts. Sadler appeared in a supporting role as Klaus Detterick in Darabont's adaptation of The Green Mile and as Jim Grondin in Darabont's adaptation of The Mist.
  • Clancy Brown as Capt. Byron Hadley: chief of the guards at Shawshank and the other main antagonist. Hadley is a vicious and intemperate guard who thinks nothing of delivering horrible beatings to the inmates to keep them in line — or just for the fun of it, including beating a new prisoner to death on Andy's first night. When cast for the role, Brown declined the offer to study real-life prison guards as preparation for his role, because he did not want to base it on any one person.[4]
  • Gil Bellows as Tommy Williams: a young convict whose past experiences in prison hold the truth about Andy's innocence. This potential for Andy's freedom leads Norton to have a talk with Tommy outside the prison gates, where Hadley shoots him dead. Norton and Hadley cover their tracks by making it appear that Tommy was trying to escape. Brad Pitt was considered at one point for the role.[citation needed]
  • Mark Rolston as Bogs Diamond: The head of "The Sisters" prison gang and a prison rapist. He assaults Andy a number of times, but Hadley puts a stop to it by beating Bogs seriously enough to permanently paralyze him.
  • James Whitmore as Brooks Hatlen: The prison librarian/trustee and one of the oldest convicts at Shawshank. Upon his release, he finds himself unable to cope with life on the outside, and soon commits suicide. Darabont cast Whitmore as Brooks because he was one of his favorite character actors.[3]


Roger Ebert suggests that the integrity of Andy Dufresne is an important theme in the story line,[5] especially in prison, where integrity is lacking. Andy is an individual of integrity (here referring to adherence to a code of morality) among a host of criminals, and guards, with little integrity.[6] Additionally, the film's dominant themes of hope, original sin, redemption, salvation, and faith in the afterlife have led some critics to interpret the film as a Christian parable. Some Christian reviewers have referred to it as a film "true to Christian principles."[7] In the director's commentary track on the tenth anniversary DVD, Darabont denies any intent to create such a parable, and calls such interpretations of the film "fantastic." Others have pointed out that the film's tidy dispatching of its principal antagonists—Hadley's tearful arrest, Norton's suicide, and Bogs' paralysis—would seem to have more to do with Old Testament retribution than New Testament redemption.[8] In addition, Andy's destruction of a Bible to enable his escape hints at a more pragmatic outlook.[citation needed] Angus C. Larcombe suggests that the film provides a great illustration of how characters can be free, even in prison, or unfree, even in freedom, based on one's outlook in life.[9]


Darabont secured the film adaptation rights from author Stephen King after impressing the author with his short film adaptation of "The Woman in the Room" in 1983. Although the two had become friends and maintained a pen-pal relationship, Darabont did not work with him until four years later in 1987, when he optioned to adapt Shawshank. This is one of the more famous Dollar Deals made by King with aspiring filmmakers. Darabont later directed The Green Mile (1999), which was based on another work about a prison by Stephen King, and then followed that up with an adaptation of King's novella The Mist.

Rob Reiner, who had previously adapted another King novella, The Body, into the movie Stand by Me (1986), offered $2.5 million in an attempt to write and direct Shawshank. He planned to cast Tom Cruise in the part of Andy and Harrison Ford as Red. Darabont seriously considered and liked Reiner's vision, but he ultimately decided it was his "chance to do something really great" by directing the film himself.[3]



The score was composed by Thomas Newman, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score in 1994, which was his first Oscar nomination. The majority of the score consists of dark piano music, which plays along the main character's role at Shawshank. The main theme ("End Titles" on the soundtrack album) is perhaps best known to modern audiences as the inspirational sounding music from many movie trailers dealing with inspirational, dramatic, or romantic films in much the same way that James Horner's driving music from the end of Aliens is used in many movie trailers for action films. A central scene in the film features the "Letter Duet" ("Canzonetta sull'aria") from Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro.


Further reading

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Remember, Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.

The Shawshank Redemption is a 1994 film about a banker who is accused of double murder in the 1940s and begins a life sentence at the fictional Shawshank prison, where he's befriended by an older inmate, named Red. During his long stretch in prison, Dufresne comes to be admired by the other inmates for his upstanding moral code and unquenchable sense of hope.

Written and directed by: Frank Darabont, based on the Stephen King novella Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption.
Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free.


Andy Dufresne

  • The funny thing is, on the outside, I was an honest man, straight as an arrow. I had to come to prison to be a crook.
  • [in a letter] Dear Red, If you're reading this, you've gotten out. And if you've come this far, maybe you're willing to come a little further. You remember the name of the town, don't you? I could use a good man to help me get my project on wheels. I'll keep an eye out for you and the chessboard ready. Remember, Red. Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies. I will be hoping that this letter finds you, and finds you well. Your friend, Andy.

Ellis Boyd 'Red' Redding

  • The first night's the toughest, no doubt about it. They march you in naked as the day you were born, skin burning and half blind from that delousing shit they throw on you, and when they put you in that cell, when those bars slam home, that's when you know it's for real. Old life blown away in the blink of an eye. Nothing left but all the time in the world to think about it. Most new fish come close to madness the first night. Somebody always breaks down crying. Happens every time. The only question is, who's it gonna be? It's as good a thing to bet on as any, I guess. I had my money on Andy Dufresne. I remember my first night. Seems like a long time ago.
  • I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singing about. Truth is, I don't want to know. Some things are better left unsaid. I'd like to think they were singing about something so beautiful, it can't be expressed in words, and it makes your heart ache because of it. I tell you, those voices soared higher and farther than anybody in a grey place dares to dream. It was as if some beautiful bird had flapped into our drab little cage and made these walls dissolve away, and for the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free.
  • Andy Dufresne, who crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side. Andy Dufresne, headed for the Pacific. Those of us who knew him best talk about him often. I swear the stuff he pulled. Sometimes it makes me sad, though, Andy being gone. I have to remind myself that some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright and when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice, but still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they're gone. I guess I just miss my friend.
  • I find I'm so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it is the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. 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.

Warden Samuel Norton

  • I believe in two things — discipline and the Bible. Here you'll receive both. Put your trust in the Lord. Your ass belongs to me. Welcome to Shawshank.
    • There might be an edited and dubbed version in which Norton says "The rest" rather than "your ass".


  • [in a letter to Red after being released on parole] Dear fellas, I can't believe how fast things move on the outside. I saw an automobile once when I was a kid, but now they're everywhere. The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry. The parole board got me into this halfway house called "The Brewer" and a job bagging groceries at the Foodway. It's hard work and I try to keep up, but my hands hurt most of the time. I don't think the store manager likes me very much. Sometimes after work, I go to the park and feed the birds. I keep thinking Jake might just show up and say hello, but he never does. I hope wherever he is, he's doin' okay and makin' new friends. I have trouble sleepin' at night. I have bad dreams like I'm falling. I wake up scared. Sometimes it takes me a while to remember where I am. Maybe I should get me a gun and rob the Foodway so they'd send me home. I could shoot the manager while I was at it, sort of like a bonus. I guess I'm too old for that sort of nonsense any more. I don't like it here. I'm tired of being afraid all the time. I've decided not to stay. I doubt they'll kick up any fuss. Not for an old crook like me.


Andy: I had Mr. Mozart to keep me company...[points and taps his head.] It was in here. [gestures over his heart] And in here. That's the beauty of music. They can't get that from you. Haven't you ever felt that way about music?
Red: Well... I played a mean harmonica as a younger man. Lost interest in it, though. Didn't make too much sense in here.
Andy: No, here's where it makes the most sense. You need it so you don't forget.
Red: Forget?
Andy: That there are places in the world that aren't made out of stone. That there's... there's somethin' inside that they can't get to; that they can't touch. It's yours.
Red: What are you talkin' about?
Andy: Hope.
Red: Hope? Let me tell you something, my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane. It's got no use on the inside. You'd better get used to that idea.
Andy: Like Brooks did?

Heywood: [sorting through books] "The Count of Monte Crisco"
Floyd: That's Cristo, you dumb shit.
Heywood: By Alexandree... Dum-ass. Dumbass? [Red chuckles.]
Andy: Dumbass? [Heywood shows him the book.] Dumas. You know what that's about?
Heywood: [confused] Uuh-uh.
Andy: You'll like it. It's about a prison break.
Red: Well, we ought to file that under Educational too. Oughtn't we?

Red: I don't think you ought to be doing this to yourself, Andy. This is just shitty pipedreams. I mean, Mexico is way the hell down there and you're in here, and that's the way it is.
Andy: Yeah, right. That's the way it is. It's down there and I'm in here. I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy livin' or get busy dyin.'

Rehabilitation Officer: Ellis Boyd Redding: your file says you've served 40 years of a life sentence. Do you feel you've been rehabilitated?
Red: Rehabilitated?... Well, now, let me see. You know, I don't have any idea what that means.
Rehabilitation Officer: Well, it means that you're ready to rejoin society, to—
Red: I know what you think it means, sonny. To me it's just a made-up word. A politician's word, so that young fellas like yourself can wear a suit and a tie and have a job. What do you really wanna know? Am I sorry for what I did?
Rehabilitation Officer: Well, are you?
Red: There's not a day goes by I don't feel regret. Not because I'm in here; because you think I should. I look back on the way I was then: a young, stupid kid who committed that terrible crime. I want to talk to him. I want to try to talk some sense to him, tell him the way things are. But I can't. That kid's long gone and this old man is all that left. I gotta live with that. Rehabilitated? It's just a bullshit word. So go ahead and stamp your forms, sonny, and stop wasting my time. Because to tell you the truth, I don't give a shit.


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