THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTIONDirector: Frank Darabont
Writers (WGA): Stephen King (short story "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption")
Frank Darabont (screenplay)
Release Date: 23 September 1994 (USA)
Genre: Crime | Drama
Tagline: Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free.
Plot: Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.
Stephen King is one of my favorite authors, and of all of his stories translated into a movie, SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION probably ranks among the best. The casting is top notch, the direction almost flawless, and the musical score superb, and despite the errors in continuity listed below, this film remains one of Hollywood's best of all time. Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman are two my favorite axtors and this film brings out their best.
As I noted in my review of THINNER, generally Stephen King's stories do not translate well to film. Notable exceptions are GREEN MILE, SHAWSHANK, and STAND BY ME.
SHAWSHANK is a tale of the triumph of the human spirit in a situation when an innocent man's humanity is trampled down with no hope for redemptio or escape.
Andy Dufresne, a bank president, is found guilty of the murder of his adulterous wife and her lover, a crime revealed late in the film, to have been committed by another man, a hardened criminal. But this is only discovered after Abdy has already served 20 years of a life sentence.
Andy arrives at Maine's notorious Shawshank prison in the late 1940s and is almost immediately singled out for abuse by one of its worst convicts and his pals who use Andy for their sexual satisfaction. But Andy also makes some good friends among the inmates, most important of which is Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding [Morgan Freeman], who is also serving a life sentence.
While on a work detail, Andy manages to use his financial knowledge to help the prison guards with their taxes and money matters. He also gains a position as assistant to the prison librarian, Brooks Hatlen [James Whitmore]. But he is also later recruited by Warden Norton in a money laundering scheme in which Norton swindles the prison and the state of Maine out of thousands of dollars.
Due to these beneficial connections, Andy is saved from further abuse by the sexual predators when the guards beat their leader into a state of brain damage leading to quadrapalegic paralysis.
Andy is never able to prove his innocence but he does devise an ingenious plan of successful escape from Shawshank after which he is reunited with his fellow convict, Red.
I originally saw this movie when it came out in the 1990s and was not able to remember some of the important details. But the movie was shot in Ashland, Ohio and Mansfield, Ohio. Mansfield is the home of my significant other and we toured many of the shot locations inclduing the Ohio State Reformatory at Mansfield where much of the prison footage was filmed. Because I couldn't remember details of the film and because I wanted to write this review, I bought a copy of the movie on DVD from Amazon at the surprisingly low price of about $5.
By all means. if you haveb't ever seen this classic, rent it or buy it. And if you have seen it once, see it again and remember how wonderful it is.
To see photos of Cindy and me on the Shawshank Trail, click on these three pages of this website.
Oregon, OH - - August 4, 2010
Cast (Cast overview, first billed only)
Tim Robbins ... Andy Dufresne
Morgan Freeman ... Ellis Boyd 'Red' Redding
Bob Gunton ... Warden Norton
William Sadler ... Heywood
Clancy Brown ... Captain Hadley
Gil Bellows ... Tommy
Mark Rolston ... Bogs Diamond
James Whitmore ... Brooks Hatlen
Jeffrey DeMunn ... 1946 D.A.
Larry Brandenburg ... Skeet
Neil Giuntoli ... Jigger
Brian Libby ... Floyd
David Proval ... Snooze
Joseph Ragno ... Ernie
Jude Ciccolella ... Guard Mert
MPAA: Rated R for language and prison violence.
Runtime: 142 min
Filming Locations: Mansfield, Ohio/Ashland, Ohio
Company: Castle Rock Entertainment
The exteriors were filmed at the defunct Mansfield State Reformatory in Ohio. The prison was in such poor condition, renovations had to be made prior to filming. However, most of the interiors were shot on a sound stage, because they determined it would be cheaper to build duplicates of the interiors rather than renovating the interiors of Mansfield.
Wesley Walker's review - from IMDB.Com
Shawshank Redeems Hollywood, August 27, 2002
Author: Wesley S. Walker from Paducah, KY
Can Hollywood, usually creating things for entertainment purposes only, create art? To create something of this nature, a director must approach it in a most meticulous manner, due to the delicacy of the process. Such a daunting task requires an extremely capable artist with an undeniable managerial capacity and an acutely developed awareness of each element of art in their films, the most prominent; music, visuals, script, and acting. These elements, each equally important, must succeed independently, yet still form a harmonious union, because this mixture determines the fate of the artist's opus. Though already well known amongst his colleagues for his notable skills at writing and directing, Frank Darabont emerges with his feature film directorial debut, The Shawshank Redemption. Proving himself already a master of the craft, Darabont managed to create one of the most recognizable independent releases in the history of Hollywood. The Shawshank Redemption defines a genre, defies the odds, compels the emotions, and brings an era of artistically influential films back to Hollywood.
The story begins with the trial of a young banker, Andy Dufrense, victimized by circumstantial evidence, resulting in a conviction for the murder of his wife and her lover. After a quick conviction, Andy finds himself serving a life sentence at Shawshank prison, with no hope of parole. He exists in this prison only in appearance, keeping his mind free from the drab walls around him. His ability to do this results in the gaining of respect from his fellow inmates, but most of all from Ellis Redding. Ellis, commonly referred to as Red, finds gainful use of his entrepreneurial spirit within the drab walls of Shawshank by dealing in contraband and commodities rare to the confines of prison. Andy's demeanor and undeniable sense of hope causes Red to take a deeper look at himself, and the world around him. Andy proves to Red and the other inmates that in the conventional walls of Shawshank prison convention will find no home in his lifestyle.
By creating the film's firm foundation, the meticulously chiseled screenplay paved the way for this film's success. Frank Darabont outdoes himself with the phenomenal adaptation of Stephen King's equally noteworthy novella, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. In this novella, King demonstrates that he can break free from the genre he dominates and still create a marvelous piece of modern literature. Though the film mirrors the novella in many ways, Darabont illustrates a focused objective of improving upon the areas where the novella came up short, resulting in one of the best book to film transitions ever.
While maintaining some of the poetic and moving dialogue of the novella, Darabont also proves that a film's score can generate a great deal of emotional response from its audience, as dialogue does. He employs the cunning Thomas Newman, son of the legendary Hollywood composer, Alfred Newman. Darabont shows recognition for the film's needs by employing Newman, who makes the gentle piano chords whisper softly to the viewer, as if a part of the scripted dialogue. Newman lends himself to individualism and tends to drive more towards the unique in the realm of score composition. His effort in Shawshank did not go unnoticed, as his score received an Oscar nomination in 1995. While unique and independent, Newman's score never once intrudes on your concentration or distracts from the film.
With work from vast array of talented scene designers, costume designers, composers, cinematographers, and various other Hollywood artists, the cast of The Shawshank Redemption had a strong foundation to work with. The marvelous cast of this film will dazzle you with some of the most convincing performances you will witness in a film. While both Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman shine as Andy and Red, respectively, the true spectacle of acting lies within the plethora of amazing supporting actors who easily disappear into their roles. Most noticeable of these, the veteran film star James Whitmore, who portrays the elderly Brooks Hatlen. Brooks, a man incarcerated for an unmentioned crime for so long that he finds himself attached to the Shawshank and the daily life he has lead. Each of these actors show a true dedication to their art, and a focused purpose in their motivations, creating a convincing setting that never once caters to anything unbelievable.
With all of the aesthetic touches and attention to cinematic detail, the most beautiful part of the film lies within its thematic material, such as its focus on the human desires for the most abstract concepts, like hope and freedom. These themes, which concern things the human spirit undoubtedly yearns for, seem so intricately woven into the plot that it easily draws its audience in to its story. Though full of hardened criminals, your heart will go out to these men as they display the most basic of human emotions, and deliver some of the most quotable lines in a film to date. Like a great novel, this film manages to succeed at greater things than simply entertaining an audience. Darabont tells his story most masterfully, illustrating principles and inspiring his audience to think. He leaves us a poignant film with a powerful message of hope, and redemption, something we all seek.
This film manages to redeem Hollywood in the eyes of people who feared it long lost in a dark sea of clichés and predictability. Darabont shows us that artists still work in the Hollywood studios and production facilities. These artists show their capability to produce art; real art that inspires you to look at the deeper aspects of life and the world around you. The Shawshank Redemption delivers much-needed breath of fresh air for anyone who realizes the capability of film. It proves that masters of the craft still live on this earth, and still bless us with timeless masterpieces that we will never forget.
Goofs for The Shawshank Redemption
Anachronisms: Federal income taxes were due on March 15th, not April 15th as they are today.
Incorrectly regarded as goofs: It's been claimed that when the warden throws the rock through the poster on the morning after Andy's escape, the poster appears to be stuck to the wall at all corners, raising the question of how Andy could have re-stuck the poster from inside the tunnel. However, as shown in a later (flashback) shot, the poster is attached at the top two corners allowing it to be lifted like a curtain while Andy works behind it. With the poster mounted in this fashion, the only requirement for the poster returning to the proper position - after Andy makes his escape - is simple gravity.
Errors made by characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers): On the newspaper front page announcing the "corruption" story, the word "indictment" is misspelled as "indictement".
Anachronisms: When Tommy goes out into the yard to talk to Warden Norton, Warden Norton offers him a cigarette. The pack of Marlboros that he offers him has Marlboro Miles on them, which weren't around until the '90s.
Continuity: The blood on Heywood's neck changes from shot to shot as Brooks holds a shank to his throat.
Continuity: When the warden gets the pie, it's in a different style of pie plate than when Andy and Red are eating it, but is in the same box.
Anachronisms: During the warden's "Inside Out" speech, a CP-16R camera with new style magazine is visible. Additionally, a Pentax k1000 SLR still camera is visible, which was produced in 1975-1997.
Anachronisms: The recording of "Le nozze di Figaro" is from 1968 (recorded by Deutsche Grammophon and directed by Karl Bohm).
Anachronisms: The full-size photo poster of Rita Hayworth that Red procures for Andy in 1949 comes from a series of celebrity posters that went on sale in the early 1960s.
Continuity: When they're tossing the cells, Hadley knocks over the small stone-works Andy has made. The bishop is alternately standing up/knocked over between shots.
Errors made by characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers): Andy Dufresne is obviously a very intelligent man and fond of playing chess. However if you take a good look at the shot of the (nearly) completed chess board in his cell, you see that he put up the chess board the wrong way. The board should be turned 90 degrees in order to have the pieces stand right. The square on the lower left should be black, the one on the upper right too, which they are not, they are white. Anyone fond of playing chess would never make that mistake.
Continuity: When Red and Andy meet for the first time, an extra is seen behind each of them. It is the same scene but as the lines were filmed at different times, the extra is wearing different shirts - one prisoner shirt the day that Red's lines were shot, and a different shirt behind Andy the day his lines were filmed.
Continuity: When Red is on the bus, one shot shows all of the windows on the bus open. In fact, Red's arm is hanging outside the window. In the very next shot of the bus (a long shot from a distance), all of the windows are closed.
Miscellaneous: There is a typo in the credits of the film. The title for "Additional ADR Recordists" is misspelled as "Aditional ADR Recordists."
Factual errors: Andy crawls through 500 yards of an 18" sewage pipe to escape the prison. The ancient sewer pipe would have been filled with methane gas, carbon dioxide and ammonia fumes and too little oxygen to support the exertions of the escapee in the time required to crawl the distance. He should have passed out and suffocated shortly after beginning his escape. Additionally, when he first breaks the pipe it shoots up like water pipe under pressure. Once inside, the water is not moving. And when he gets to the stream that this supposed sewer pipe drains into, the water is pristine.
Crew or equipment visible: Towards the beginning of the film, during a beautiful aerial shot of the bus entering Shawshank Prison, the camera flies over the buildings, where we see the prisoners on their way to "greet" in the new inmates. As the camera circles around, at the top of the frame, in an area of green grass, near a building, the shadow of the camera's helicopter is clearly visible.
Continuity: When Red is talking to Andy for the first time, he is throwing a baseball between himself and Haywood. Just as Andy stoops down, Red catches the ball and seconds later, catches the ball again without throwing it back.
Anachronisms: When they are on the roof during the tar job, Andy tells Hadley that the IRS allows a gift to a spouse tax free. This was supposed to take place in the spring of 1949. At that time, the IRS was known as the Bureau of Internal Revenue, not the IRS. It did not become known as the IRS until the 1950's.
Anachronisms: In the scene where Andy has left the bank following his escape, he is seen driving a convertible. The head shot of him shows the profile of the vehicle also. You see no "wind wing" side glass and the windshield is raked on a heavy slant more reminiscent of a car of the period of filming. Then the scene cuts to a stock 60's Pontiac convertible with the correct windshield treatment. Sounds like they shot that scene as needed and then later added the 60's car as an establishment shot.
Continuity: When Andy comes out of the cell in his first morning in prison, Red is shown wearing a shirt with a number that begins with 311, not beginning with a 302 which is the number on his shirt in the rest of the movie.
Errors made by characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers): While describing Andy's jailbreak, Red mentions that Andy crawled through 500 yards of sewer pipe. He refers to it as "just shy of half a mile". But 500 yards is a little over a quarter of a mile.
Audio/visual unsynchronized: When the inmates are at the table discussing the possibility of Andy committing suicide, one of them says "No, no, Andy would never do that." But his mouth movements do not correspond with what he said. His mouth movements actually look like was saying Dufresne, instead of Andy, Dufresne being Andy's surname.
Anachronisms: Andy has a poster of Raquel Welch in "One Million Years B.C." on the wall of his cell at the time of his escape in 1966. This movie was not released in the United States until February 1967.
Continuity: In the aerial shot where Andy's bus approaches the prison, next to the gate is a red brick building and it's sidewalk is strewn with debris. As the bus pulls in seconds later and we see the gate and same brick building from the vantage point of guards who hurried from a tower, the sidewalk is clean.
Incorrectly regarded as goofs: When Andy's climbing out of the hole, just before he's going into the sewer, you see him with his old shoes. But just before that he had put them in the warden's shoebox and replaced them with the warden's. However, at that point, Andy had been in prison for nearly 20 years and enjoyed special privileges. It's possible he had an extra pair of prison issue shoes in his cell, and took the warden's off before making his escape. This makes sense considering that when Andy entered the bank the next day, the shoes were still polished, and clearly had not been worn while wading through a sewage pipe.
Crew or equipment visible: Green screen reflected in the warden's glasses when he is in Andy's cell the morning after his escape.
Anachronisms: After Andy escapes, we see him driving alone in a red convertible on a coastal highway. While he escaped in 1966, the car is clearly a 1969 GTO.
Revealing mistakes: The difference in temperature and humidity between the pipe chase and the cell block would have caused the paper poster to billow and crackle noticeably, making it obvious what had happened. Furthermore, whenever any of the three posters in Andy's cell are shown, they look new, which cannot be the case given that they were removed and replaced almost every night and were switched out only twice during Andy's entire time in prison.
Revealing mistakes: When the top of the pipe is broken open, it shoots a fountain, indicating that it is pressurized (if only by gravity). But then the pipe drains nearly empty. It should only have drained to the lowest point in the hole broken at the top.
Continuity: At one point, one can clearly see Andy aging - his hair becomes more gray - but a few minutes later, there is less gray and he looks younger again.
Revealing mistakes: When the warden reads the headline in the Daily Bugle after Andy's escape, he rushes to the safe and opens the bible. Inside, he sees a perfectly cut out hole of the pick hammer within the pages. Presumably Andy was using this to store the hammer as he dug through the cell wall and tunnel, yet the outline of the hammer in the bible is perfect with no wear marks, and the pages have no dirt whatsoever on them.
Revealing mistakes: The warden is clearly almost a foot shorter than Andy, and yet Andy presumably fits perfectly into his suit.
Continuity: At the beginning of the scene when Andy Dufresne's cell is about to be searched, as the warden and guards are first approaching the cell, the shot shifts to Andy sitting in his cell holding an almost new indigo blue bible as if reading it. Throughout the scene Andy holds the bible in his hand as the guards ransack the cell. At the end of the scene, the search complete, the warden enters the cell and, facing Andy, notices him holding the bible then asks him about his favorite passages. As the warden and Andy discuss Mark 13:35, the warden reaches for and Andy hands him a worn and stained, black bible.
Continuity: When Warden Norton pushes his arm through the poster of Raquel in Andy's cell, the next shot shows only his hand on the poster.
Continuity: When Norton is walking to Andy's cell after his escape, he tells the guards to question "that friend of his... him!" and he points to Red with the index finger on his left hand. The shot then cuts to a frontal shot of Red in his cell, and Norton is now pointing at Red with the index finger on his right hand.
Continuity: When Red is sitting in his chair in his apartment with the compass you can tell he has done the scene over and over again. When he opens the compass it does not spin. With that type of compass when it is closes it locks the compass needle in place. So when you open it it spins until it settles on North. When he opens it however it is pointing perfectly north and does not spin.
Continuity: When Andy crawls through the tunnel you can see the light from the lightning behind him. But when the guards opens his cell the poster is covering the hole. You wouldn't be able to see the lightning that clear if the poster was still up. Furthermore, while Andy repeatedly reattached the poster in his cell after his nightly digging, he could not possibly have done so on the night of his escape from inside the tunnel.
Revealing mistakes: Andy is shown breaking into the sewage pipe by simply slamming a large rock against it a few times. Even if the pipe was old and rusty, it would have taken much more effort from Andy than depicted to create a hole large enough to fit his body through.
Continuity: Before he escapes, Andy puts the warden's account book and other papers in a plastic bag and ties the bag to his ankle with the six feet of rope he obtained. After Andy escapes and plunges into the flooded creek, he is shown dragging the bag underwater for several steps. No matter how tight Andy originally tied the bag, after he dragged it through the tunnel, the sewage pipe and the creek, there is no way the plastic bag could have remained waterproof (unless Andy had used a large amount of strong tape). At a minimum, the ink on the papers inside would have started to run, and the pages would have been damp and stuck together. Even after being dried, the pages would have been stained, warped and wrinkled, and possibly illegible. Yet when Andy sends the book to the authorities it looks like it was bone dry the entire journey.
Errors made by characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers): When Andy talks to Red for the first time, several prisoners in the background can be seen wearing khaki trousers. All other prisoners in the movie are wearing dark trousers, possibly jeans.
Anachronisms: The stamp used by the parole hearings people in 1947 prints in the Helvetica font, which was not invented until 1957.
Continuity: After Andy escapes and is celebrating with upraised arms, the clothes he had just taken off (as narrated by Red when he said, "...the only thing they found was a set of prison clothes...") are gone, when he had just stripped them off and dropped them right next to him only seconds before.
>>> WARNING: Here Be Spoilers <<<
Goofs below here contain information that may give away important plot points. You may not want to read any further if you've not already seen this title.
Continuity: SPOILER: The bullet hole under the warden's chin is in a different location than where he placed the gun barrel a moment before he committed suicide. In the 10th Anniversary release, director Frank Darabont admits that this was an error, it has bugged him for 10 years, and they had it fixed in the 2004 release.
Continuity: SPOILER: When Red's hat is blown off by the wind, it tumbles almost into the water, and Red walks quite close to the sea. But the next time we see Red, the hat is farther from the sea than Red originally walked.
Continuity: SPOILER: When Andy is in the bank withdrawing the warden's money, we can see a man standing at the counter talking to a teller. A moment later when Andy leaves, the same man is walking up to the teller's window.
Continuity: SPOILER: When Brooks hangs himself by kicking the table away, his feet barely lower at all, yet in the next shot we see that he should have fallen a considerably greater distance. Also as he is carving his name in the beam, his head is high enough that he would not have to stand on his toes to put the rope around his neck, as he is shown doing.
Continuity: SPOILER: When Norton is about to load the revolver you can see a black and white photograph in a white frame on the desk. In the next scene when Norton has shot himself, you can see that the picture has now moved across the desk and is leaning against the lamp.
Return To The Reviews Index Page
Return To The Site Index Page