Shawshank Redemption: A Film Analysis

Essay by mdohertyCollege, UndergraduateA, July 2009

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LoglineA man, wrongly imprisoned for twenty years for a murder he did not commit, makes the most of his incarceration time, finds himself and friends, and eventually escapes.

SynopsisThe Shawshank Redemption is a dual-protagonist film based on the novella Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption by world-famous author Stephen King. It certainly falls under the genre of Drama, as it is a story of hope and, namely, redemption. Andrew "Andy" Dufresne, a New England banker, is wrongly imprisoned after being convicted for the murders of his wife and her lover, based largely on evidence that doesn't exist, and is sent to Shawshank State Penitentiary in Maine for two life sentences, the inciting incident of the film. Shortly before Andy's arrival in 1947, the film's other protagonist, Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding, is rejected in front of the parole board, after 20 years have been served on his own life sentence. Slowly, Andy develops a friendship with Red and his gang, a "man who knows how to get things."

Red is notorious for his smuggling operation, in which, he can get "cigarettes, a bag of reefer if that's your thing, or a bottle of brandy to celebrate your kid's high school graduation. Damn near anything within reason." Andy asks Red for a small rock hammer, which, he explains, will satisfy his geology hobby. This scene serves as the first act plot point, as Andy and Red, the two main protagonists, and Warden Norton, the main antagonist, have been introduced, as well as the other major players in the story.

The second act moves along as Andy begins his work on the prison laundry service, and encountering obstacles of prison life. The first occurs during Andy's first three years, as he is harassed by a group of homosexual inmates, called the Sisters, sometimes...