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'The Shawshank Redemtion' Essay - feedback please :)

‘Analyse how symbolism was used to explore a universal idea.’

In Frank Darabont’s ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ symbolism is highlighted through the use of the bird Motif and music to explore the key universal idea of hope.

‘The Shawshank Redemption’ directed by Frank Darabont is set in the 1940s-1960s and centers around Andy Dufrainse (A banker who has been falsely sent to prison for the murder of his wife and her lover) and how he redeems Red (a resident at Shawshank Prison for 20 years upon Andy’s Arrival.

Firstly, in Frank Darabont’s ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ symbolism is highlighted through the bird motif to explore the universal idea of hope. A key example of this is in the music scene. Just before this scene, Brooks Hatlin (a prisoner at Shawshank prison for most of his life) had just been released. Brooks was an example of hopelessness and despair and his suicide was symbolic of that. Brooks’ scene is shot in darkness, the lighting is dull and grey, emphasising his loss of hope. The music scene is a comparison of this scene, shot in light with rays of sun beaming down on the prisoners. The bird motif is symbolic in this scene through the high angle shot looking down on the prisoners as Mozarts ‘The marriage of Figaro’ played through the speakers. The lighting was light and uplifting as a panning close up of the prisoner’s faces shows the idea of hope if only for the briefest of moments. Red’s voice-over in this scene states “I tell you those voices soared” further reinforcing the symbolism of the bird motif.

Secondly, in Frank Darabont’s ‘The Shawshank Redemption’, symbolism is highlighted through the music to explore the universal idea of hope. In the music scene Mozart’s ‘The Marriage of Figaro’ played through overhead speakers, voices soaring throughout the prison. The music gave the prisoners a sense of hope and for the briefest of moments allowed every last man at Shawshank prison to feel free. The music gave the prisoners a sense of hope and for the briefest of moments allowed every last man at Shawshank to feel free. Red’s voice over in this scene states “…For the briefest of moments, every last man at Shawshank felt free.” This highlights how the universal idea of hope is explored in this scene through the use of music, showing how even the smallest or briefest of moments such as music playing can allow prisoners to feel such a sense of freedom and normality to the real world. To gain back a sense of what they had lost and given them the briefest sense of freedom.

Finally, in Frank Darabont’s ‘The Shawshank Redemption’, symbolism is highlighted through the use of music to explore the universal idea of hope. At the end of the film, after Red had been released, he goes to a tree which Andy had instructed him to go to. When he gets to his location there is the non-diegetic sound of a harmonica playing in the background. The Harmonica is particularly symbolic to Red as he and Andy had a previous conversation about how he used to play the harmonica and so Andy gave him one as a gift but he never played it because he had no hope and couldn’t see the point.

The Harmonica playing in the background of this scene is symbolic of Red’s hope. Red finds the letter Andy gave him with cash and he becomes hopeful that they will see each other again. The scene finally ends with Red’s voiceover saying “I hope the paciific is as blue as in my dreams…I hope…I hope…” Further exploring the key universal idea of hope.
This can be related to the real world as hope is a theme in our everyday lives. We are all hopeful for our futures and our lives and what is to come and try to access any small beacon of hope that we can while we can. No matter which if the briefest moments that it’s in.

In conclusion, in Frank Darabont’s ‘The Shawshank Redemption, symbolism is highlighted through the bird motif and music to explore the key universal idea of hope.

Kia ora Student55!
Your essay here addresses the question and you have identified a couple of symbols of hope. The use of film techniques to support your points is clear and thought out.
Your next step is to inject greater depth into your discussion. At times you say the same things in marginally different ways. This is particularly evident in the paragraph on music. To combat this, think about the different ways your chosen symbols highlight hope. For example, you talk about Brooks’ bird, Jake. Birds often symbolise hope and freedom; interestingly Jake is a crow and crows are often associated with death. This could mean that hope can be fragile and, at times, quite easily destroyed. So that is what I mean when I talk about developing your discussion. Think about the different pathways you could take your ideas down.
Further to this, look at the messages that Darabont is trying to communicate with the audience about hope through the symbols that you have identified. This might include why hope is a universal theme. What about it connects with everyone? This will allow you to go into greater depth with your discussion.