Running Head: Get Busy Livin or Get Busy Dyin: Shawshank Redemption Critique 1. Get Busy Livin or Get Busy Dyin: Shawshank Redemption Critique

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1 Running Head: Get Busy Livin or Get Busy Dyin: Shawshank Redemption Critique 1 Get Busy Livin or Get Busy Dyin: Shawshank Redemption Critique McKenna P. Cleck Penn State University, Altoona

2 Get Busy Livin or Get Busy Dyin: Shawshank Redemption Critique 2 Abstract The movie, The Shawshank Redemption, is full of a cast that fit their roles. Frank Darabont uses many different types of filming techniques when making the film: vignettes, different types of camera shots, lighting, past vs. present tense, as well as the male-gaze. The film is executed with perfection, which is included in the little details throughout the entire film.

3 Get Busy Livin or Get Busy Dyin: Shawshank Redemption Critique 3 Get Busy Livin or Get Busy Dyin: Shawshank Redemption Critique Frank Darabont s film, The Shawshank Redemption (1994), is a very complex film that captures the viewers emotions, taking them on a journey through a man s imprisonment, experiences along the way with his fellow inmates, and his escape back to where he belongs: in freedom for the innocent. Darabont brings us close to the characters, especially Andy and Red, allowing us to gain personal relationships and emotions for them. When it comes to casting actors for the film, the spots are matching to-a-tee. Tim Robbins, casts as Andy Dufresne, while Morgan Freeman casts as Ellis Boyd Red Redding. Robbins has a very innocent face; from his appearance, no one would assume that he committed a murder, and as it turns out, he is innocent. He appears as a quiet, family man, not a murderer of two people. In Darabont s movie, The Shawshank Redemption (1994), Red replies after Tommy doesn t believe that Andy was in for murder by saying, You wouldn t think it to look at the guy. Caught his wife in bed with some golf pro. Greased em both. Freeman on the other hand, has a rougher look than Robbins, giving a contrast in the perceptions of them. If the two actors were to switch characters, the movie would not be as convincing. In addition, the acting within the film is excellent; every line has good action and emotion built behind it. The actor s precision and convincingness makes their emotions contagious; this applies especially when Red narrates and when Brooks recites his suicide letter. At the start of the movie, scene s flip through Andy s trial and the affair of his wife and lover, as Andy sits outside drunk with a pistol. This series of vignettes allows great suspense to grow in the viewer towards both scenes, which take place in the court room as well as outside of a house where Andy s wife is having an affair; this opener for the movie is a great attention-grabber. From the moment the movie starts, it hooks the viewer in and begins to

4 Get Busy Livin or Get Busy Dyin: Shawshank Redemption Critique 4 unveil how well-made of a movie it really is. Darabont uses many different types of shots to control the audience s perspectives of different characters and objects. Richard Avella states in the article Adjusting to hell (1994), But in Shawshank every cut, every angle, every camera strophe, is at one with the writing (pg. 16). An overhead, high-angle shot near the beginning of the movie, when the prisoners walk over to take a look at the new convicts coming in, makes the prisoners seem very small, innocent, and weak when compared to the large prison, Shawshank. Another moment when Darabont uses this type of shot is directly at the end when Red walks towards Andy on the beach. This shot is important, because it allows for the innocence to rebuild from the beginning, forgetting all of the terrible things that have gone on while in prison. The viewers can focus on the happy ending that has found Andy and Red as the scene fades out. Another type of shot that Darabont uses is low-angle shots when filming the prison guards; this, unlike the overhead, high-angle shots, makes them look very powerful and in control. Also, throughout the movie, close up shots are used when the characters are talking. This especially is accounted for whenever Andy and Red are conversing; close up shots of the two reveal and help heighten their growing friendship to the viewers. Different shades of lighting are used throughout the film. Dark, dreary lights appear throughout the entire film to assure the jail setting. However, during moments of joy or clarity, brighter light is shown. This happens when the workers are drinking suds up on the rooftop, when Andy plays music for the entire population of the jail to hear, as well as the ending when Andy and Red reunite. Sean O Sullivan from the University of Central English writes in The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice (2001), The film is set in the past, although the action unfolds chronologically,

5 Get Busy Livin or Get Busy Dyin: Shawshank Redemption Critique 5 approaching but not reaching the present day. The visual action takes place in the present tense, whilst the wistful voice-over, supplied by the narrator (Red/Morgan Freeman), is given in the past tense. The voice-over serves to establish beyond doubt that Andy was/is someone special (p. 325). From the start of the movie, when Red begins to talk in the past tense about Andy, the audience is notified that Andy and Red are going to have a relationship that really impacts Red. Director Darabont definitely uses the male-gaze in his production. The general audience for this movie is men, due to the jail setting and the abundance of men within the film. The only occurrences of women being shown in the film are when the movie of Hayworth is shown to the prisoners, Andy s two posters of women, as well as when Brooks and Red are released and go into town. This, however, does not limit the audience to all men. Some may argue that the film does not display the actual ways of the prison system. O Sullivan also writes (2001), Shawshank does not in any way pretend to be a realist examination of the US prison system. It is just a story (pg ). In opposition, the sisters that attack Andy give the film a dangerous prison feel. The warden has a guard kill Tommy, guards are rough with the prisoners, and prisoners are incarcerated if they act up. These acts add to the film, giving it prison-like tendencies. The film, The Shawshank Redemption, is five stars across-the-board. Darabont executes this film with precision, pouring emotions out into the watching audience. As Richard Armstrong writes in his critique (2004), The Shawshank Redemption can be read as a love story between Andy and Red (pg. 82). Shawshank Redemption is exactly that. Many techniques are present in this movie, sending messages to the audience. Every small detail in this film come together to create one giant masterpiece that will definitely be imitated, never duplicated, in the film industry, making it one of the best movies ever made.

6 Get Busy Livin or Get Busy Dyin: Shawshank Redemption Critique 6 References Armstrong, R. (2004). The Shawshank Redemption. Australian Screen Education, (35), Avella, Richard. (1994). Adjusting to hell. Commonweal, 121(19), 16. O Sullivan, Sean. (2001). Representations of Prison in Nineties Hollywood Cinema: From Con Air to The Shawshank Redemption. The Howard Journal, 40(4), Producer, P. P. Niki Marvin, Director, D. D. Frank Darabont The Shawshank Redemption. United States of America: Columbia Pictures.

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