Andy's Hope in Shawshank Redemption

The movie ‘Shawshank Redemption’ is a 1994 American drama film by Frank Darabont, adapted from a Stephen King’s novel. The film is about Andy Dufresne, a banker who is unjustly convicted for the murder of his wife and her lover, despite his claim of innocence. The theme of the film ‘Hope for Freedom and Redemption’ lies in the belief that good triumphs over evil even in a place as hopeless as Shawshank. Andy managed to stay hopeful because he believes in the possibility of redemption no matter the sin and no matter the person.

The movie portrays all the possible choices that someone may think of and act to implement one. The prison that in life, irrespective of all awful situations, we do always have two choices “either we get busy living or get busy dying”. The director, Frank Darabont creatively used different techniques or more often referred to as ‘Language Features’ to show the audience a deep understanding of the true nature of the lead character, Andy, in the film.

In the rooftop scene, Andy overhears the prison guards and took the risk of offering help in exchange of three bottles of beer for his co-workers. This is a close-up shot of Andy with Red and his friends behind him, but the camera is still focused on Andy, showing that he is in control of the situation but his co-inmates are backing him up. The green and bright colours of the outside of prison offset the background. In contrast with the lighting used inside prison, the use of grey and dull colours makes prison life look boring, lifeless and hopeless.

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This represents how institutionalized the prisoners have become.

As they drink beer, we can see that Andy sits by himself in the light, the positioning shows us that he is different because he is the only one capable of maintaining hope than others who represents ‘institutionalized’. The use of lighting represents the glimmers of hope and happiness the prisoners felt as they drink the icy cold bohemian beer as it gives them the feeling of being outside prison. This scene displays Andy being courageous as he was willing to risk his life from being pushed of a rooftop just so he can make other inmates “feel more like men” and to feel normal again even for a short while. This was emphasized further by Red’s voice over, “We sat and drank under the sun on our shoulders and felt like free men.” This remarks the hope and freedom the men felt at this stage.

This tells us that freedom is just a state of mind. In life, regardless of all unlikely odds keeping our hope alive have the power to redeem freedom. This scene is very important in understanding Andy’s character because you see him really come out of his shell and take control, manifesting how instrumental, brave and smart he can be.

Another scene is the Mozart opera scene; this is when Andy finds a crate of old records and played the ‘Marriage of Figaro’ all over Shawshank. As the music is playing Andy is reclined in his chair, hands behind his head with a self-satisfied grin on his face. Ironically, the song is about the servant Figaro who outwits his noble master. The camera shots then focus into several close ups of prisoners mesmerized by the music. Also, the music symbolizes the connection of the prisoners to the outside world.

This camera and music technique shows us how Andy uplifts the prisoners’ soul. This reminded them what life used to be outside prison, this brings back the time of their lives where they can freely listen to music. Darabont shows the audience that life does not end in prison and to keep hope alive as there is more to life than what you are facing right now.

This is then emphasized when the narrator said, “I tell you those voices soared, higher and further than anybody in a grey place dares to dream. It was as if some beautiful bird had flapped into our drab little cage and made these walls dissolve away, and for the briefest moments, every last man at Shawshank felt free.” This presents their rising of hope because of Andy’s inspirational notion of hope through the music. As to, the close up of the prisoners conveyed their feeling of hoping for freedom and temporary redemption. Hence, this demonstrates how witty Andy is and how inspiring he can be even through the smallest things like the use of music.

Lastly, the scene when Andy escaped prison. First, a wide-angle shot was used to shoot the river and we see a body come out of the tunnel. This symbolizes rebirth. Also, when he outstretched his arms in the sky to signify that he is embracing freedom. This Christ-like pose symbolizes redemption, which is the key point of the film. Then the camera angle spiralling down towards Andy and shows how the rain pours onto him which illustrates how the water washes away his old life and a new life is being created. The use of dramatic music gives a sense of achievement and dramatizes the scene.

This gives the audience more understanding that Andy achieved his redemption, which is his escape from prison. This tells us that those who hope in the end are the ones who will achieve freedom and redemption. A lot of people are in prisons of relationships, of jobs they hate, of lives unfulfilled, and have given up hope, and what this movie was saying to us is that, it might take a while, it might take some time, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel and if you have the patience and the belief, you can make it there. Because of Andy’s determination and perseverance, he achieved the freedom and redemption that everybody else in the prison is dreaming. Andy serves as an inspiration not only for the prisoners but also to other people that persistence and determination is the price of success.

In this film, the help of the camera angles, the music, the sound effects and lighting revealed the true nature of Andy’s character. These are only three scenes out of many scenes that illustrates Andy being the hope for the other prisoners. The message of the film is that institutionalization can break hope and sense of freedom like what happened to Brooke. Moreover, that hope has the power to redeem and set you free, like Andy’s redemption. This is in contrast with the despair and fear that other prisoners feel.

Andy is the only one who is able to maintain hope in Shawshank. In addition, this is what he tries to teach others to do, through the library, education and the willingness to provide a better way of life inside prison. This is what made other prisoners feel that they have control with their fate and that they are free to create an opportunity with their own creative instinct. Which then demonstrates how courageous, hopeful, determine and an inspiration Andy is.

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Andy's Hope in Shawshank Redemption. (2022, Dec 17). Retrieved from

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