Shawshank Film Critque sample essay
The Shawshank Redemption is a brilliant story set in the brutal life of Shawshank Penitentiary. The movie has a very well structured plot; there is a clear beginning, middle, and end—Act I, Act II, and Act III – which all come together as a whole to make a great film. In the movie, a young banker, Andy, is convicted of murdering his wife and her lover and is sentenced to Shawshank Penitentiary. In prison, Andy meets and forms a strong bond with another convicted killer, Red; the narrator of the story.
Red plays an important role in the prison; he can deliver contraband of almost any type into the prison. This makes him a vital man within the prison’s social structure and it is also the reason that he first becomes acquainted with Andy. The two, overtime, become the best of friends. Andy eventually becomes an ally and trustee of the “Christian” warden because of his impeccable banking and finance skills. After a failed attempt for retrial and a betrayal from the warden, Andy finally escapes the harsh life of Shawshank and finds himself a free man again.
There are many highpoints to the film that makes this movie so amazing. The structure is set ironically in three parts or acts that make the plot; the exposition and rising action, the climax, and the falling action and resolution. The exposition and rising action is the set-up of the entire film and is also the longest part of the movie; this is Act I and Act II. There are many important points in this section that leads to the climax and resolution. In Act I and the exposition, viewers are introduced to the main characters and the setting of the story.
Viewers are introduced to Andy, see he is convicted, see he enters Shawshank, and are now introduced to other convicts in the prison. In the exposition, Andy meets Red—the narrator. As a free man, Andy had been a rock hound, so he asks Red to get him a rock hammer, Red being confused, Andy explains the rock hammer as a tool he uses to shape the rocks he finds in the exercise yard into small sculptures. The next item he orders from Red is a large poster of Rita Hayworth, an attractive actress of the time.
When taking the order, Red reflects that Andy is uncharacteristically excited about the poster, but does not think more of it at the time. Next within the rising action, which is also the first half of Act II, Red and Andy form a relationship and Andy begins to adapt to prison life. One spring day Andy, Red, and some other prisoners are tarring a roof when Andy overhears guard complaining over the amount of tax he will have to pay on a sum of money. Andy approaches the guard, almost getting thrown off the roof in the process, and tells him that he can legally shelter the money from taxation by giving it to his wife.
Andy offers to help the guard to prepare the necessary paperwork for the transaction in exchange for some beer for the other prisoners on the roof. The guard agrees, and as word spreads, more of the prison staff discover that they can use Andy’s help for tax returns, loan applications, and other financial advice. He quickly becomes an asset to the prison staff and the staff begin to protect Andy. Andy’s work assignment is then shifted from the laundry room to the prison’s small library. The new assignment allows Andy to spend more time doing financial paperwork for the staff.
Andy then takes charge of the library and applies for funding to expand the library. For a long time he gets no response to his weekly letters until the Senate finally sends him a refusal, thinking Andy will stop requesting funds. Instead of ceasing his writing, he starts writing twice as often. His meticulous work results in a major expansion of the library’s collection. A certain turning point then strikes Andy; he suddenly has a memory of music and feels his inmates need music to remain alive in the prison, and decides to play opera over the PA system; this is the midpoint of the film.
In the second half of Act II, Andy, with the help of the new library, passes on his knowledge and education to his inmates and helps a number of prisoners earn equivalency diplomas, preparing them for life after parole. The warden of Shawshank, Norton, also realizes that a man of Andy’s skills is useful. Norton is doing some sort of scam and asks Andy for his help there as well. One day, Andy hears from another prisoner, Tommy, whose former cellmate had bragged about killing a rich golfer and a lawyer’s wife, and framing the lawyer for the crime.
Upon hearing Tommy’s tale, Andy realizes that if this evidence could be brought before a court, he could be given a new trial and a chance at freedom. Norton mocks at the story, however, and as soon as possible he makes sure Tommy pays for his actions. Andy is too constructive and helpful to the warden to be allowed to go free; furthermore, he knows every element about Norton’s corrupt dealings. After losing his temper with the warden over the issue, and spending a couple of months in solitary as a result, Andy convince himself hat he will never be set free legally.
After many years in prison, Andy shares information with Red about a mystery secret hidden behind a rock wall, describing exactly how to find the place and how one day a false identity—”Peter Stevens”— will own a small seaside resort hotel in Mexico. Andy also tells Red that he could use a man who knows how to get things. Red, confused about why Andy has confided this information in him, reflects on Andy’s continued ability to surprise. So much of the details are important in the overall story of The Shawshank Redemption.
Although the exposition and rising action is most of the movie, it plays a unique role in the structure unlike other movies. Next is the overbearing climax of the story that takes place all the way in Act III. One morning, after he has been incarcerated for nearly twenty-seven years, Andy disappears from his locked cell. After searching the prison grounds and surrounding area without finding any sign of him, the warden looks in Andy’s cell and discovers that the poster on his wall covers a man-sized hole.
Andy had used his rock hammer not just to shape rocks, but to carve a hole through the wall and crawl all the way through. Once through the wall, he broke into a sewage pipe, crawled through it for nearly a half a mile, emerged into a field beyond the prison’s outer perimeter and vanished. His prison uniform is found two miles away from the outfall. Andy successfully escapes prison after being wrongfully convicted in the first place. The climax is so unexpected, yet viewers realize how it was foreshadowed.
Lastly is the falling action and resolution of the story. A few weeks later, after Andy unbelievable escape from Shawshank, Red gets a blank postcard from a small Texas town near the Mexican border, and in surprise, concludes that Andy crossed the border there into Mexico to presume with his plans. Shortly afterwards, Red is paroled. After nearly forty years imprisonment, he finds the transition to life outside what he has known for so long a difficult process. He hitchhikes to Buxton, searching for Andy’s secret.
After several months of wandering the rural town roads, he finds a field with the big tree on one side and the rock wall on the other, with a black rock in it. Under this rock, he finds a letter addressed to him from “Peter Stevens” inviting him to join Peter in Mexico. With the letter is an ample amount of money. The story ends with the resolution of Red violating his parole to follow Andy to Mexico. Andy and Red finally reunite in Mexico ending the story with a hopeful and long-lasting friendship.
In conclusion, the film The Shawshank Redemption plot is very simple yet well structured. It is broken down with a beginning, middle, and end: Act I, Act II, Act II. Within these acts lays the plot. Act I and Act II serve entirely as the exposition while Act III holds both the climax and resolution. There are many important points within the film that foreshadow to the ending. All the points eventually come together to form one final theme. All the highpoints of the story lead to the main idea of freedom and friendship together as the meaning of life.