The Shawshank Redemption

4 years ago by in Movies

The Shawshank Redemption is a 1994 American drama film. It was written and directed by Frank Darabont and starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman.The film was adapted from the Stephen King novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption.It tells the story of Andy Dufresne, a banker who spends 19 years in Shawshank State Prison for the murder of his wife and her lover despite his claims of innocence. During his time at the prison, he befriends a fellow inmate, Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding, and finds himself protected by the guards after the warden begins using him in his money laundering operation.

Despite a lukewarm box office reception that barely recouped its budget, the film received multiple award nominations and favorable reviews from critics for its acting and realism. It has since enjoyed a remarkable life on cable television, VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray. It was included in the American Film Institute’s 100 Years…100 Movies 10th Anniversary Edition.


In 1947, banker Andy Dufresne is convicted of murdering his wife and her lover and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences at Shawshank State Penitentiary. Andy quickly befriends contraband smuggler Ellis “Red” Redding, an inmate serving a life sentence. Red procures a rock hammer and a later a large poster of Rita Hayworth for Andy. Working in the prison laundry, Andy is regularly assaulted by the bull queer gang “the Sisters” and their leader, Bogs.

In 1949, Andy overhears the brutal captain of the guards Byron Hadley complaining about being taxed on an inheritance and offers to help him legally shelter the money. After a vicious assault by the Sisters nearly kills Andy, Hadley beats Bogs severely. Bogs is sent to another prison and Andy is never attacked again. Warden Samuel Norton meets with Andy and reassigns him to the prison library to assist elderly inmate Brooks Hatlen. Andy’s new job is a pretext for him to begin managing financial matters for the prison employees. As time passes, the warden begins using Andy to handle matters for a variety of people including guards from other prisons and the warden himself. Andy begins writing weekly letters to the state government for funds to improve the decaying library.

In 1954, Brooks is paroled, but cannot adjust to the outside world after fifty years in prison and hangs himself. Andy receives a library donation that includes a recording of The Marriage of Figaro. He plays an excerpt over the public address system, resulting in his receiving solitary confinement. After his release from solitary Andy explains that hope is what gets him through his time, a concept that Red dismisses. In 1963, Norton begins exploiting prison labor for public works, profiting by undercutting skilled labor costs and receiving kickbacks. He has Andy launder the money using the alias Randall Stephens.

In 1965, Tommy Williams is incarcerated for burglary. He joins Andy’s and Red’s circle of friends, and Andy helps him pass his G.E.D. exam. In 1966, Tommy reveals to Red and Andy that an inmate at another prison claimed responsibility for the murders Andy was convicted of, implying Andy’s innocence. Andy approaches Warden Norton with this information, but the warden refuses to listen and sends Andy back to solitary when he mentions the money laundering. Norten then has Captain Hadley murder Tommy under the guise of an escape attempt. Andy refuses to continue the money laundering, but relents after Norton threatens to burn the library, remove Andy’s protection from the guards, and move him out of his cell into worse conditions. Andy is released from solitary confinement and tells Red of his dream of living in Zihuatanejo, a Mexican coastal town. Red feels Andy is being unrealistic, but promises Andy that if he is ever released he will visit a specific hayfield near Buxton and retrieve a package Andy buried there. Red becomes worried about Andy’s state of mind, especially when he learns Andy asked another inmate to supply him with six feet of rope.

The next day at roll call the guards find Andy’s cell empty. An irate Warden Norton throws a rock at the poster of Raquel Welch hanging on the wall, and the rock tears through the poster. Removing the poster, the warden discovers a tunnel that Andy dug with his rock hammer over the previous two decades. The previous night, Andy escaped through the tunnel and used the prison’s sewage pipe to reach freedom. Andy escapes with Norton’s suit, shoes, and the ledger containing details of the money laundering. While guards search for him the following morning, Andy poses as Randall Stephens and visits several banks to withdraw the laundered money. Finally, he mails the ledger and evidence of the corruption and murders at Shawshank to a local newspaper. The police arrive at Shawshank and take Hadley into custody, while Norton commits suicide to avoid arrest.

After serving 40 years, Red is finally paroled. He struggles to adapt to life outside prison and fears he never will. Remembering his promise to Andy, he visits Buxton and finds a cache containing money and a letter asking him to come to Zihuatanejo. Red violates his parole and travels to Fort Hancock, Texas to cross the border to Mexico, admitting he finally feels hope. On a beach in Zihuatanejo he finds Andy, and the two friends are happily reunited.


  • Tim Robbins as Andy Dufresne
  • Morgan Freeman as Ellis Boyd
  • Bob Gunton as Warden Samuel Norton
  • William Sadler as Heywood
  • Clancy Brown as Capt. Byron Hadley, chief of the guards
  • Gil Bellows as Tommy Williams, a young convict whose experiences in a previous prison hold the truth about Andy’s innocence.
  • Mark Rolston as Bogs Diamond, the head of “The Sisters” gang and a prison rapist.
  • James Whitmore as Brooks Hatlen, prison librarian/trustee and one of the oldest convicts at Shawshank
  • Jeffrey DeMunn as the prosecuting attorney in Andy Dufresne’s trial.
Year Award Nominee
1998 AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies The Shawshank Redemption    
2003 AFI’s 100 Years…100 Heroes & Villains Andy Dufresne (Hero)    
Warden Samuel Norton (Villain)    
2004 AFI’s 100 Years…100 Songs Duettino – Sull’Aria (from The Marriage of Figaro)    
2005 AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes “Get busy livin’, or get busy dyin'”    
2005 AFI’s 100 Years of Film Scores Thomas Newman, The Shawshank Redemption    
2006 AFI’s 100 Years…100 Cheers The Shawshank Redemption  
2007 AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) The Shawshank Redemption

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