Reading Response 5 – Film.

The Shawshank Redemption.

Written and directed by Frank Darabont.

Released 22 September 1994.

I would never have thought that a movie about murder, rape, injustice, and corruption would leave me with a sense of satisfaction and warmth such as The Shawshank Redemption left me. The Shawshank Redemption was voted the best movie of all time and become the highest rated movie on IMDB with over 1.4 million votes. It is a story of a falsely convicted murderer by the name of Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) who was sentenced to two life sentences for a crime he did not commit. Throughout the film, Andy Dufresne manipulated the corruption of the prison and bides his years tunneling through the wall of his cell to “keep his mind occupied”. When Andy finally escapes the prison and exposes the corrupt warden and guards, you are filled pride and warmth for Andy’s noble actions. Despite being wrongly imprisoned by the justice system, he uses it to bring real justice to the corruption at Shawshank Prison.

The film brings forth the flaws in our justice system today and expresses this through irony. The extended irony through the film is the fact that Andy is innocent, yet he has to suffer all of the negative events in his life because of the justice system but at the end of the film, he manipulates the justice system as it manipulated him. The guards and warden becoming corrupt shows how easily some can become power craving and self-centered and only care for themselves with only the slightest taste of power.  This is very relevant to the modern world we live in and in the society that such people exist and do in-humane things for power and wealth. Corrupt governments are scattered across the world and obsess over power and money over their own citizens. While it’s a very different story, I found connections between the struggle for authority and power in the boys of the island in Lord Of The Flies to the corrupt staff at Shawshank Prison.

Another highlighted idea in The Shawshank Redemption is the idea of wrongful imprisonment. Andy is wrongly imprisoned through lack of legitimate evidence and basically, loses his life for a crime he did not commit. An example in the real world of this happening is Gerry Colon. Gerry was accused of being part of the IRA who was responsible for the Guildford Bombing in the U.K and killing five people in 1974. He suffered years of torture and imprisonment before new evidence surfaced proving his innocence. Recent statistics state, “The U.S., which leads the world in the incarceration of its citizens, has approximately 2 million people behind bars. That means a wrongful conviction rate of 1 percent would translate to 20,000 people punished for crimes they didn’t commit. On death row, 1 in 25 is likely innocent, according to a recent study.” These statistics show that anyone at any one time could be convicted of a crime they did not commit and if nothing is done about this issue more and more innocent people will have their lives taken away by the justice system. I’ve been brought up to respect the justice system and I still believe that it plays a vital role in our society however the film has undermined my complete unquestioning trust as I had never considered that people would suffer for a crime they did not commit.

The film is also very interesting because it uses the other perspective of Red ( Morgan Freeman ) to give us further insight into Andy Dufresne’s personality. Red articulates his feelings and thoughts on Andy Dufresne right from when he first got off the bus and Red and the other prisoners, made bets upon which new convict would break down that night. He continues to commentate Andy’s life all the way through to when they both are out of prison and are leaving to reconnect again after Andy’s escape. This brings another element to the film and builds a deeper emotional bond to Andy as a person as he is not a particularly effusive character.

The techniques and ideas used in the film help to bring you closer to the characters and connect with Andy Dufresne’s predicament. Overall it was very interesting to watch how Andy Dufresne dealt with his problems and how he not only dealt with the extremely unfortunate mistake but managed to use it to his advantage.

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