By Peter Ede (Reel Reviews, Bexhill-On-Sea)


The Shawshank Redemption is a beautifully written film which will captivate any emotions from audiences. I love this film and am fully agreeable to the high rating it gained. Being set in a time of racial treatment, crime and struggle, this film took all those elements and portrayed them as something that has “the good out of a bad situation.” The narrative was fantastically written to show character development to a high quality, as well as the relationship the prison inmates have with each other, being a whole unit with some lads talk thrown in.

The setting of a prison symbolises captivity from the outside world which changes somewhat as characters are set free, making the audience develop substantial sympathy for the film. With wide shots, tracking shots and slow moving camerawork, this was brought to life as well as being fictional and it delivers a valuable message through its developed storyline. In this film, Andy Dufresne, a convicted murderer is sent to Shawshank Prison. As he develops friends, enemies and ways to pass the time, it presents his life as a supposedly innocent inmate.

Each scene delivers a certain atmosphere that makes the audience think not only about their own lives, but the different characters on screen. However, when Red is set free from the prison, it portrays reality and society as the unusual aspect of life, even though this is something Red has dreamt of since he was imprisoned. Red is driven by a promise to Andy as well as his survival in normality which contradicts audiences’ expectations of this. The settings used in this short spaced scene represent everything that Red has been secluded from, sun, beaches, sea and most importantly freedom.

Freedom is what kept Red going, which links to this scene having this aspect of “I’m not through until I’ve seen the world.” Despite Red growing in age, he feels afraid of the outside world whilst wanting to be back in the prison, “I just want to be back where things make sense.” To me, this was so moving as we see a character so desperate to escape, only to find that he is still entrapped when released from prison. It belittles society’s support of feeling free when deprived of hope, delivering an important message to the audience as well as a meaningful and memorable scene. Fantastic acting.

Red’s character is the obvious choice for me in terms of the impressive acting in a film. Red is the narrator in this film, he is symbolic of Andy’s “manager” if you would call it that due to his noticing of his flaws and strengths. The reason behind his mass effect on the audience is because of him being in similar situations, he isn’t seen as someone that can judge, but someone who wants to make the world a better place, “I have to remind myself that some birds aren’t meant to be caged…” As the film progresses, Red becomes careless of where he ends up, presented in his review before he’s set free, “So go ahead and stamp your form, sonny, and stop wasting my time, because to tell you the truth, I couldn’t give a shit!”

It’s notorious of Red to develop this persona towards the end of the film as it could be unusual for the audience. However, as it becomes clearer, he does this to persevere rather than not giving in. Red is seen as a “man with a plan” towards the beginning of the film but his outcome is a “wanderer”, having only Andy to turn to in the outside world, possibly because he shares similar thoughts, emotions and memories as him. I loved Red as a character. Superbly well presented.

I was impressed with the setting of this film as it was a vast location to acquire for a single film. However, it appeared realistic for the time that it was constructed in. The prison looked like a place that would destroy feelings or memories of a normal life, represented in the very dark black colours, which are synonymous with evil or perhaps haunting. Wide tracking shots of the prison were used to portray outside the prison as being a bigger location whilst the inmates are locked in a tight and secure place thus making the audience piece together the meaning behind this. The cinematography captured the characters thought process which caused worry or anxiety for the audience, not knowing what they’re going to do next along with the passion, occurring in the more triumphant scenes, this was a very important factor for The Shawshank Redemption and it successfully delivered the audience a smoothly edited film.

The Shawshank Redemption is a film that anyone has to see before they die. Everything in it delivers a powerful moral in it’s narrative, which in a way is similar to Forrest Gump. Characters, especially Red, all had a huge input to produce scenes with happiness yet with a constant feeling of seclusion. Red’s scene in his review just as he is about to be set free, to me, is a memorable scene in film history, he sums up prison life and becomes careless, adding to his strength as prison life, in this film, is designed to break you.

The camerawork added detail to the film with a location that related to the situation of certain scenes whilst using different techniques to capture character’s feelings towards the audience or each other. I think this is simply a memorable, moving and captivating film which is done mainly through its narrative whilst being assisted with high quality features. I loved this film.

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