The Shawshank Redemption

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The Shawshank Redemption

The Shawshank Redemption is considered to be an extraordinary movie which has received many award nominations and positive reviews from critics. Released in 1994 this film, directed by Frank Darabot, follows the life of Andy Defresne as he is wrongly accused for the murder of his wife and sent to Shawshank Prison for two lifetimes. The film examines the themes of Redemption and Brutality. Through using characters and imagery, Frank Darabot effectively leads the audience into the confronting nature that the prison system’s brutal nature overpowers the prisoners deeming them powerless and that the human spirit can overcome anything even in Shawshank prison when on the road to redemption.

Frank Darabot clearly uses the characters of Captain Hadley and the guards to demonstrate the horrific brutality of the prison system and the troubles faced by the prisoners. Frank Darabot portrays Captain Hadley as a ruthless, aggressive, ‘Alpha male’ type person. This is shown when the Fat Guy has a mental breakdown in his cell while being taunted at by the other inmates. Captain Hadley has no patience with his whining and drags him out of his cell to beat him without remorse or sorrow. This clear act of horrendous violence together with the powerlessness of the prisoner gives the audience a feeling of horror and disgust that the ones who are meant to be the ‘protectors’ of the prison are actually the monsters who prey on the weak. By inflicting this act of violence right from the beginning of the film, Frank Darabot has left the viewer believing that the guards are inhuman people. This links the audience into believing that the prisoners are powerless victims in a world ruled by ‘The System’. Frank Darabot extends this concept further when Captain Hadley threatens to push Andy of the roof of a building. During this scene, Andy walked up towards the Captain and asked him how much he trusted his wife. The fact that such a small incident like Andy walking up to the Captain was enough to trigger his anger gives the audience the impression that Captain Hadley not only has a short temper but, has no hesitation to inflict brutal punishment on the prisoners. Leading up to that event Andy, while tarring the roof, turned around to listen in on a conversation the Captain was having. Red turned to Andy and yelled, “Hey Andy are you nuts, keep your ass on your mop man” Andy not only ignored Red but began to walk towards Captain Hadley. Red and the other fellows replied, “Andy? Andy! What’s he doing, he’s getting himself killed”. This scene here clearly illustrates that Captain Hadley and the guards are so brutal and vicious that the prisoners are afraid of them, even too afraid to ask for help. This concept leaves the audience to believe that the roles in Shawshank prison have been alternately reversed, making the prisoners the guardians of each other while the guards are the predators who prey on the powerless. Through the use of the characters, Frank Darabot has effectively influenced the audience in believing that the brutality of the prison system is far greater than that of the prisoners and leads the audience to believe how the inmates could survive such a harsh environment.

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Frank Darabot effectively uses imagery and the characters of Andy Defresne and Red to show the triumph of the human spirit can occur whilst in a place like Shawshank prison in redeeming themselves. Frank Darabot has used Andy to show the redemption journey of Red. At the beginning of the film, Frank Darabot portrays Red as an Institutionalised zombie who cares for no one and helps other inmates only as a way of passing time and to make personal connections with others. Red is healed from his despairs by Andy’s hope in the face of suffering. By assisting and observing ...

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