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Discuss what moral judgements the audience comes to from watching 'The Shawshank Redemption'

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Introduction

Discuss what moral judgements the audience comes to from watching 'The Shawshank Redemption' 'The Shawshank Redemption' was directed by Frank Darabont, who successfully interpreted the film, which was taken from the book 'Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption' written by Stephen King in the early 1980's. The movie stars Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins as two convicts serving time in a New England prison named Shawshank. Tim Robbins plays a man named Andy Dufresne, a banker, who gets convicted of murdering his wife and her lover and is sent to prison in Shawshank. Andy eventually becomes good friends with a fellow convict by the name of Ellis Boyd Redding (Morgan Freeman), known amongst fellow prisoners as Red, who is able to get anything for anyone within reason. The story follows the prison life of Andy Dufresne and his eventual escape from Shawshank's walls. Darabont shows the audience prison life from Andy's point of view, for Darabont to do this he has to develop Andy's character so that the audiences' perception of him is that he is innocent. The audience doesn't always perceive Andy as innocent but due to the audience seeing prison life from his point of view they sympathise with him, this quickly makes them think Andy is innocent. We see imprisonment through a different perspective to other prison dramas; this is done by Darabont letting the audience see prison life from the Prisoners point of view instead of the prison officers. The characters which have most influence in the film are Andy Dufresne, Red, Brooks (James Whitmore), Tommy (Gil Bellows), Warden Norton (Bob Gunton) and Bogs (Mark Rolston). Andy Dufresne is an innocent man convicted of murdering his wife and her lover. He is sent to Shawshank to serve two back-to-back life sentences however maintains a sense of hope that he will eventually be free. Andy is displayed as an intelligent, determined man and he makes good use of his time at Shawshank by fighting for funds for a library from the state senate and then building the library. ...read more.

Middle

As the van pulls up to the prison gates the camera is focused on the window where we can see the gates opening; representing the start of the film and a new life for the prisoners. The journey to Shawshank in the introduction scene was fast almost too speeded up, but once the van enters the prison suddenly the speed rapidly slows down. Darabont did this for a reason; it's a very effective way of showing the long stretch of time, which awaits Andy in the prison. Also it could represent the image of how compared to time outside every minute in Shawshank passes like an hour. Another piece of technology that Darabont uses to his advantage is lighting and use of shadows. The first significant use of light also links in with camera angles. When the new inmates are leaving the outside world, the camera sweeps up the dark eerie building and only stops when it reaches the light of the sky, this could show a last look up to freedom or represent the hope of the prisoners. When we actually enter the prison there are contrasting colours, in one step it's gone from light to dark portraying an image of freedom to imprisonment. Inside the prison its dark, lit by natural light from the small windows protected with bars. This creates long shadows along the floor, which give an eerie, cold feeling. The prisoners are lined up made to look like bars, and the warden himself is stood in a shadowed area, portraying him as a dark character. Slow music, played by strings and drawn out bass is very emotional in this scene. Music is an important aspect as it creates the atmosphere of the scene and gives the audience a feeling of what is happening. The sound effects in this scene create a feeling of imprisonment instead of hope: highlighting the new inmates' fear. ...read more.

Conclusion

The filters give a special beauty to the scenes, which in turn causes more dramatic feelings for the audience. With this filter the movie tends to bring out the two different colours of blue and brown. The blues of the uniforms are all the more dramatic compared to the drab brown buildings surrounding the prisoners. The colours also produce dramatic irony; in the last scene of Red and Andy on the beach. The blue and brown colours that once gave feelings of confinement and despair in the prison are now colours of freedom and happiness. Overall 'The Shawshank Redemption' is a very well made and carefully planned film. Darabont made great use of media such as voiceover, camera angles, lighting and sound effects, and also made great use of witty dialogue to keep the audience interested. The film shows Shawshank prison to be a very corrupt place indeed highlighting many flaws in the system. The person in charge of the prison was ironically the most corrupt person of all. I think it is wrong that Andy was put in prison in the first place however it was a mistake easily made as all the evidence pointed towards him as the perpetrator of the crime. What is really wrong is that even when a man is proven to be innocent he is kept in jail. I do not believe that institutionalised people should be forced to immediately go out into the outside world but should be gradually reintroduced into society. This is one of the flaws in the system highlighted by the film. I believe the "baddies" in the film such as Bogs and Warden Norton got their comeuppance and was glad to see that their crimes did not go unpunished. Andy is made to be an inspirational character that had a good affect on all the convicts he met and he greatly improved the prison. I think the ending was particularly clever and a great twist to the plot; a deservingly happy ending to a fantastic film. Jess Blair Media Coursework 1 ...read more.

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