Hello please may I have some feedback for my 'The Shawshank Redemption' Essay?

Analyse how language features encouraged the audience to feel hopeful - or hopeless.

Directors use language features in their films as tools to encourage their audience to feel hopeful. In Frank Darabont’s, ‘The Shawshank Redemption’, language features such as camera angles, lighting techniques, and diegetic and non-diegetic sound were used to create a feeling of hope in the audience. ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ is a film from 1994 about a rich banker named Andy Dufresne who is sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his wife and her lover. As the film progresses, Andy brings hope and redemption into Shawshank Prison and redeems it from drab and despairing into a place of hope and light. He meets and befriends another inmate named Red who, at the start of the film, has already spent 20 years at Shawshank Prison for murder.

Frank Darabont has an affinity with the prison genre after having spent time in a refugee camp in France as a child. Other creations he has directed such as the film, ‘The Green Mile’ and TV series, ‘Prison Break’ have the same hopeless prison style as ‘The Shawshank Redemption’. Darabont highlights the hopelessness of people being imprisoned and the power of hope that can come from being trapped in despair.

Darabont uses a high-angle shot to encourage the audience to feel hopeful in the music scene, where Andy locks himself inside the library office and plays a record of Mozart’s, ‘The Marriage Of Figaro’ through the prison speakers. Andy’s desire for hope shines through and he shows courage as he knows he will be punished for what he is doing, however, he knows this is inspiring the other prisoners with hope for freedom. This powerful high angle shot from the speakers outside shows the prisoners all standing still and looking up to where the music is coming from. The speaker is “above despair” and is high up like a bird in the sky - which is symbolic of freedom. The prisoners are staring at the speakers and longing for something better that is beyond Shawshank. Andy feels he can make a positive difference and starts to feel he can bring hope to a place of despair. Frank Darabont shows the audience that no matter what, there is always a silver lining to the dark cloud you are facing - there is always hope, no matter how tiny of a spec it is. The audience feels joy for the hopeful prisoners.

The audience is encouraged to feel hopeful when they hear non-diegetic sound in the form of Red’s voiceover when he says, '… I tell you, those voices soared, it was like some beautiful bird flapped into our drab little cage and dissolved those walls away. For the briefest of moments, every last man at Shawshank felt free". This is symbolic of the freedom of hope as Andy has allowed each and every single prisoner to feel free, even if just for a short moment. Although the prisoners are physically at Shawshank Prison, during this seen they are as mentally free as birds after hearing music for the first time in years. This small glimpse of hope introduces a new feeling of freedom. Andy is a bright and beautiful bird that has brought hope to Shawshank - he symbolises freedom. Darabont is highlighting the theme of hope, he teaches the audience that no matter how unimportant or insignificant we may feel, we can make a positive difference in other people’s lives and bring hope. The audience feels pride in Andy’s courageous act and feel a sense of hope for the prisoners.

Darabont uses the high-key lighting of bright sunshine to encourage the audience to feel hopeful which contrasts with the start of the film when there was an establishing shot of Shawshank prison with low-key lighting, overcast weather and dark shadows. This shows that when there is light, there is hope. In Shawshank Prison, Andy is the light who redeems hope from despair and inspires hope in others. As Andy is locked in the room by himself, Frank Darabont creates irony and that is because as Andy locks himself in, he enables himself to essentially be free. He willingly locks himself in the room and this contrasts to him being locked in prison which is despairing, but as he locks himself in the room to play music for the other inmates, he is triumphant over despair and brings hope. Through this, Darabont shows the audience that simple acts of courage can bring light and hope. Andy was the light at Shawshank.

Finally, the audience feels hopeful when every man turns to the speakers at Shawshank as if it were the only hope for them in the world. For them, it was like a portal to something otherworldly and essentially it was, as music is only ever heard outside of Shawshank, let alone female voices. The sudden contrast of women’s voices heard in the opera compared to the atmosphere of a male-only prison is emotional as it gives the men hope that there is more to life than just prison and that there is a big wide world outside of the prison walls. Darabont uses a powerful medium shot of Andy sitting leaning back and relaxing at the desk with his hands behind his head. For a short while, Andy has total freedom and feels triumphant, he gives hope and that same feeling of freedom to the other prisoners. He is essentially free and has found freedom and hope in the beauty of music. This reminds the audience just how powerful and beautiful music can be and that no one should be deprived of it. For a moment, because of how powerful music is, each and every prisoner feels human again after being dehumanised and treated like animals in prison.

Frank Darabont encourages his audience to feel hopeful and teaches them that any person, no matter how “unimportant” and “irrelevant” they feel, can make a difference and touch the lives of others - all they need is a bit of hope. He teaches us that no matter how hard times seem to be, if you have hope, it will always end up triumphing over despair. Hope is never lost and we shouldn’t think that just because something bad is happening that there isn’t a bright side or silver lining to the dark and despairing cloud. In ‘The Shawshank Redemption’, Andy is essentially a christ-like figure as he is the light of other people’s lives and is suffering for the sins of others (he is innocent and was falsely prosecuted). He teaches the audience to always find hope in the bad times and that being hopeful always beats despair.

In conclusion, Frank Darabont encourages the audience to feel hopeful in his masterpiece, ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ by using a high-angle shot, high-key lighting and sunshine, Red’s voiceover, and a medium shot of Andy’s triumphant face. Frank Darabont shows the audience that even the smallest bit of hope can make a difference and that it always triumphs over despair.

Kia ora Pinkypie

Good intro - well set up.

You could unpack a bit more why the audience feels joy for the prisoners - even in that first para, you might want to think about how we have seen the prisoners up until that point as a set up as to why we feel that sheer hope for them seeing them here. Unpack the why of the AUDIENCE feeling a bit more throughout (you have unpacked hope as a theme really well and how the prisoners feel hopeful).

What I think would improve this as well is a little more discussion of how some of these techniques are working together - for example talking about two of the features in one paragraph and how they reinforce and support each other.

Overall - a great sense of purpose, clear answer to the question and some strong evidence. Very convincing with a couple of bits of insight - just work on the above :slight_smile: