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The Shawshank Redemption Essay

4845 words - 19 pages

The Shawshank Redemption

AQA, the examination board, has asked selected pupils to submit
written reports on possible films to be studied for the media section
of the GCSE English exam, specifically of the “The Shawshank
Redemption”. Write this review, aiming to show detailed understanding
of Darabont’s themes and techniques, writing in an interesting,
thought-provoking way.

_______________________________________________

“I suppose it comes down to a simple choice really, get busy living or
get busy dying.”

The Shawshank Redemption is a superb piece of film making from
first-time director Frank Darabont, made in the summer of 1994. This
modern classic, set in the mid 20th century and based on,
professional horror author, Stephen King’s 1982 novella Rita Hayworth
and the Shawshank Redemption, features golden cinematography from
Roger Deakins, a touching score from Thomas Newman and is filled with
impressive acting, especially from Morgan Freeman (Red). However,
possibly the most imposing character in the film, is the oppressive
Shawshank State Prison itself, which looms in every scene.

The Shawshank Redemption builds considerable impact as a prison drama
that defies the conventions of the genre (violence, brutality, riots)
to illustrate its theme of faith, friendship, survival and most
importantly hope. “Fear can hold you prisoner, hope can set you free.”

Although The Shawshank Redemption was nominated for seven Academy
Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor (Morgan Freeman), Best
Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Original
Score and Best Sound, it failed to impress and was very disappointing
at the Box Office. Even though The Shawshank Redemption had a
relatively small budget, after initial box office sales, it had still
made virtually nothing in comparison to other films of the same time
such as Forest Gump. There are several reasons for this unexpected Box
Office failure. At the time, the Cold War had just ended and America
was in high spirits. There was no demand whatsoever for gritty prison
dramas, that were perceived as depressive and inappropriate.
Americans’ wanted to watch feel-good films, such as Forest Gump (which
was much more successful, making in excess of $300 million compared to
the less than $30 million made by Shawshank). Secondly, as Darabont
himself said “’Redemption’ sounds religious and no one knows what a
’Shawshank’ is.”

It wasn’t until Shawshank was released on VHS that it flourished. Home
Video sales rocketed, and it was the most rented film of 1995, after
all, The Shawshank Redemption is the only real classic that gained it
status by word of mouth. The first Hollywood heard of this belated
success was when the film came third in an widely recognised internet
poll, falling behind only to the likes of The...

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