The Shawshank Redemption Essay

The Shawshank Redemption
Question: Analyse how the purpose of the text was reinforced through the use of language feature/film techniques.

Frank Darabont was born in a refugee camp in 1959 in Montbeliard, France. Darabont moved to LA when he was an infant. Darabont is most commonly known for his masterpieces ‘The Shawshank Redemption and ‘The Green Mile’. Darabont uses the film ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ to show the watcher the power of hope. Darabont uses specific film techniques in scenes to show the audience the power of hope and the battle between hope and despair.

The story begins in 1947. Andy Dufein, a rich banker is sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his wife and her lover. The story is narrated by Ellis Boyd or “Red” Redding, who is a lifer who has served 20 years for murder. Red is the main character in the film as we see the story unfold over 20 years through his eyes. The director Frank Darabont shows the audience the power of hope and the battle between hope and despair. In ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ Darabont uses specific film techniques to reinforce the audience’s understanding of the movie which is the power of hope, Darabont shows the audience that there is always hope no matter how bad the situation gets, and shows the importance of how you should never lose hope.

One such example that Darabont uses is in the opening scene which shows the audience what Shawshank is really like. The scene begins with darkness and then shifts on to the character Red during his parole hearing. Red is a prisoner in Shawshank who is a perfect example of the battle between hope and despair. To Red, getting out of Shawshank is a dream that he feels will never come true.

The rooftop scene in ‘The Shawshank Redemption is an important scene because it’s the first time Andy realises that he can make a positive difference and this is when he starts to feel hope. The lighting in this scene is important as well because Darabont uses bright lighting which makes the prisoners feel hopeful and free especially when they are rewarded with beer for their hard work. We then get the voiceover by saying “I think he did it to feel normal again if only for a short time”. Darabont uses the rooftop scene to show how Andy can make even the prisoners at Shawshank feel free again even if it’s only for a little while.

Brooks Hatlin is also a prisoner who has been in prison for 50 years and is linked to the theme of despair and is institutionalised, Brooks is afraid of freedom. Darabont uses specific lighting techniques in Brooks’ leaving scene that shows how Brooks’ has become overcome with despair. When Brooks leaves it is grey and overcast which is symbolic of despair, Brooks is also seen in darkness before he leaves which mirrors the despair in his heart, another shot is when Brooks’ is leaving the prison gates where Darabont uses a full shot of Brooks at the prison gates and is seen from outside the prison looking in which gives the hidden message that Brooks should stay on the inside as he sees it as his home.

Darabont uses a close-up shot of Brooks’ on the bus as he grips the railing tightly and the worry is clear on his face. Another film technique that Darabont uses is a full shot as he shows Brooks’ feeding the pigeons. The birds are a symbol of freedom but these birds do not fly. Brooks looking down is symbolic of his depression, looking inward, closing off, the loss of hope, Brooks is afraid of the future. The prison system failed Brooks. Brooks’ voiceover “I’m tired of being afraid all time” plays as Darabont uses a close-up shot of Brooks’ name carved on the wall which shows the only mark there is that shows he was alive. This scene shows the tragedy of a wasted life that ends in despair.

The music scene in ‘the Shawshank Redemption’ is extremely important and shows the audience the power of hope. With the music symbol and the bird motif, Darabont uses different film techniques that make this scene stand out to the rest.

The lighting technique that Darabont uses in this scene is a lot different to the rest because he uses bright sunshine which is symbolic of hope. The music that Darabont uses in this scene is ‘the marriage of Figaro by Mozart c1786. Darabont uses speakers longing for something better, something beyond Shawshank. Looking up and outward compared to Brooks who looked down in despair. Another technique Darabo uses is the high angle shot from the speakers down onto the prisoners, this shot symbolises the bird motif. This is like if birds were flying above Shawshank looking in, Darabont uses the birds to symbolise freedom. During this scene, we have Red’s voiceover “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 moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free”. The music scene is the most important scene in the movie as Darabont uses specific camera angles to show the audience the power of hope and the music symbol and how music can set off that spark of hope.

Another scene within “The Shawshank Redemption” That Darabont uses to show the theme of hope is Red’s leaving scene. Red’s leaving scene is similar to Brooks leaving scene but shows the theme of hope instead of despair, Darabont does this by showing Red in bright sunshine and when Red leaves the prison we see Darabont use a shot from inside the prison looking out which shows the audience that Red is supposed to be free and on the outside, compared to Brooks release scene where Darabont used a shot from outside the prison looking in which symbolised that Brooks home was Shawshank. This links back to the theme of the battle between hope and despair because Brooks was an example of a prisoner who let the despair of Shawshank win while Red is an example of a character who gained hope from the power of Andy.

Frank Darabont uses the movie “The Shawshank Redemption” to show the audience the battle between hope and despair and also uses this movie to show the audience the power that hope has. Andy is a christ-like figure who suffers for the sins of others, Andy brings hope into a dark and hopeless place. Andy is associated with the symbol of hope and freedom, Andy saves Red by giving him hope. Red was on the verge of despair until Andy came along and saved him and gave him purpose.

Kiā ora
This is a solid essay.
You set up the purpose as asked in the question clearly and also the aspect ( techniques) you are going to look at. Perhaps you could have elaborated a little more on the power of hope - eg it makes it possible to survive difficult situations and events, it gives you strength, it stops despair… Often a little thought into the deeper ramifications in the intro is useful.
You cover a lot of ground and clearly know the film well, some great choices of scenes.
A hint.
When you are talking about techniques - try and develop the links between the use of the technique and the theme you have set up.
Eg, You look at the first point with an example of Red but could work a little more on establishing the link between the darkness and the theme - how does the darkness suggest the battle…what is the prison really like?..
It is in the deeper commentary that the perception lies.
Hope the comments help.
Cheers :grinning: