The Burden of Isolation and Imprisonment
Each of the inmates inside Shawshank Prison is locked up metaphorically as well as literally, hiding from himself or unable to function in the unregulated world that extends beyond the prison walls. There are many levels of isolation inside Shawshank, from the large, enclosed recreation yard to the smaller work crews down to the cellblock, cells, and, finally, solitary confinement. The prison is thus a multilayered world, a microcosm of the world outside that the prisoners have been forcibly removed from. The bars, strict schedules, sadistic keepers, and predatory Sisters only add a sense of entrapment and suffocation to these layers of isolation.
Shawshank’s confines, however, also highlight the extent to which the prisoners have isolated themselves and compromised their sense of identity. Beneath the hardened criminals lie insecure, maladjusted outcasts, many of whom believe they can’t function outside the prison system. Elwood Blatch, for example, is a braggart and an egomaniac whose exaggerated accounts of his exploits fool none of his listeners into believing that he is the master criminal whom he makes himself out to be. Red, meanwhile, identifies Andy as the part of himself who never let go of the idea of freedom. Freedom is a frightening concept for Red, who dreams of being paroled but eventually struggles to find his place in society after almost forty years in prison. Recounting Andy’s escape, therefore, allows Red to face his fears and find the psychological freedom he seeks.
The Power of Hope
Hope, more than anything else, drives the inmates at Shawshank and gives them the will to live. Andy’s sheer determination to maintain his own sense of self-worth and escape keeps him from dying of frustration and anger in solitary confinement. Hope is an abstract, passive emotion, akin to the passive, immobile, and inert lives of the prisoners. Andy sets about making hope a reality in the form of the agonizing progress he makes each year tunneling his way through his concrete cell wall. Even Andy’s even-keeled and well-balanced temperament, however, eventually succumb to the bleakness of prison life. Red notes that Tommy Williams’s revelation that he could prove Andy’s innocence was like a key unlocking a cage in Andy’s mind, a cage that released a tiger called Hope. This hope reinvigorates Andy and spreads to many of the other inmates in the prison. In his letter addressed to Red, Andy writes that “hope is a good thing,” which in the end is all that Red has left. Red’s decision to go to Mexico to find Andy is the ultimate proof of Red’s own redemption, not from his life as a criminal but from his compromised state, bereft of hope and with no reason to embrace life or the future. Red’s closing words, as he embarks tentatively onto a new path, show that hope is a difficult concept to sustain both inside the prison and out.
More main ideas from Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption
Film Techniques in the Movie "Shawshank Redemption"
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'Shawshank Redemption' directed by Frank Darabont is a compelling film about the life of one of its prisoners, Andy. many film techniques were used through out the film as a clever way of conveying main themes. This essay is going to examine how Darabont used camera angles and colour effectively in this film to portray the idea of power.
The use of camera angles was a clear way of defining a characters personality. The warden, Norton, is often seen from a low angles which highlights his high status in the prison and his authority.”Your arse belongs to me”. This effective way of showing Norton's position of power allows the audience to understand the significance of him. The prisoners, however are frequently shown from a high angle which…show more content…
When Andy plays music we see the prisoners shown form a bird's eye view, this is another camera angle used to display the prisoners as small and insignificant. The camera angles used by Darabont allow the audience to see the status of the characters. As the audience we get an instant look into who is a in control and who isn't.
While Andy is inside Shawshank we do not see many variations of colour, mainly just shades of grey. these dull, lifeless colours highlight the prisoners lack of power and for most of the prisoners, their lack of hope. Being contained in those dull prison walls and obeying Norton completely shows that the prisoners do not maintain any form of control in the situation they are in. The grey boring tones of the prison represent how the prisoner are expected to act, dull, lifeless and without and opinion. The colours Darabont has used show how insitutionalised the prisoners become. When Brooke's is released these dull colours are also shown, emphasizing how he has become insitutionalised. This contrasts against the colours shown during the reunion of Andy and Red. The audience no longer sees grey, depressing colours, but instead sees the bright sand and vibrant colours of the pacific ocean. This shows the audience how Andy is no longer controlled by the conformity of prison life, has regained power and is now, finally free.
both camera angles and use of colour were effective ways of portraying the idea of power.