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Film Review: “The Shawshank Redemption” Essay (Movie Review)


This movie, The Shawshank Redemption, starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, is an American prison drama. It is based on a novella by Stephen King. It portrays the story of a successful banker who evidences the cruelties and abuses held in prisons.

Andy Drusfene, an innocent man, has been convicted of murdering his spouse and her lover following his (Andy’s) discovery of the affair. Shawshank is a prison, and the name redemption is used to capture the hope in the movie.

Hope sheds light in Andy’s life, and he struggles for two decades knowing that he will escape from prison and become successful. Andy tirelessly waits, and he does not lose hope in the whole of his prison life. In fact, Andy instills hope in his fellow inmates, and his hope earns him trust with the prison authorities.

At its beginning, the film involves some scenes of the night of the murder by providing a recreation of events throughout the trial being held in a court room. The movie is presented as a relating of Andy’s life in prison being told by Ellis Redding- “Red”, a felon inmate, who becomes Andy’s true companion and loyal friend.

Conception of Andy’s Hope

Andy is convinced of his innocence, and he knows that, one day, he will be set free. Andy says that he loved his wife; he did not kill her. However, circumstantial evidence act on his downfall and Andy is imprisoned for double murder. He keeps on referring to life outside the prison, and some inmates feel that Andy ought to stop thinking about freedom.

Andy believes that the prison can deny him freedom, but prison can not deny him hope; in fact, hope is the only thing that cannot be taken from someone. For instance, Andy tells Red that he listens to Mozart in his head. He tells Red that some places are not built with stone, and the mind is one of these places; hope restores one’s faith in life.

He does not get discouraged when Red tells him that hope is a dangerous thing. He believes in the opposite of what Red says. He also tells Heywood and Red that they will like a book, The Count of Monte Crisco, since it is about prison break. This shows that Andy has hope of escaping prison at all costs. In fact, this acts as a premonition of Andy’s later escape from prison.

Hope in Prison

The Shawshank prison is an institution of cruelty where inmates are beaten, starved and abused. The wardens do this in an attempt to obscure the redemptive power of hope from the minds of inmates. This method is successful, and a lot of prisoners, in Shawshank, are hopeless.

Andy manages to fit in this setting by providing fiscal favors to the prison warden and the prison guards. This slow tale of cruelty and abuse summarizes the theme of the trail lived through the movie. This trail is characterized by the marketing slogan held for the film; fear can hold one captive, but hope can set one free.

Andy, a crafty ex-banker, knows more about money than anyone in the prison. He is also able to identify the weaknesses in people and make use of these weaknesses to his benefit. Andy, through his crafty means, wins the trust of prison wardens; he is taken from the laundry department to the library.

In the library, Andy has some privileges denied to other prisoners. He manages the prison’s financial affairs, and he is used (by some wardens) to advance some corrupt deals on their behalf. However, Andy is not foolish, and he makes sure he makes enough loopholes that make the wardens, at one time in future, caught.

A moment of great hope comes when Tommy, a fellow inmate, comes with a tale of innocence that could set Andy free. However, the corrupt prison authorities are not done with Andy yet; they want to continue laundering money. Therefore, the Warden has Tommy killed with escape being used as a cover. This is done to kill Andy’s hope, but this does not break Andy’s will of escape; the prison could not take hope away from him.

Andy hopes to live in a famous Pacific coastal town, in Mexico. He knows he will escape from prison, and, at one time, he tells Red that he is very hopeful for this dream. However, Red sees the dream as unrealistic. Eventually, this dream comes to be, and Red, after his release, goes to seek help from Andy in the named Mexican town.

Andy’s Escape

Andy’s great reserve of patience and fortitude helps him succeed. By escaping Mr. Norton’s word of abuse and corruption, he claims redemption, but not before he manages to unveil the cruelties, abuse and corrupt business being held within Shawshank.

To do so, Andy goes from being an honest, moral man to a crook who used all his knowledge and skills as a mechanism of defense. The protagonist manages to gain Norton’s and the institutional guard’s respect; thus, he contributes to the progress of inmates and plays a key role in the prison community.

Andy uses a rock hammer (procured by Red) to dig a tunnel through which he escapes. In fact, this part shows the culmination of Andy’s hope. This is because he has dug the tunnel for close to two decades; this is a very ambitious escapade.

By this time, Andy has accumulated enough money to help him start a new life. He also has information that reveals the state of oppression in Shawshank. This information leads to the arrest of Hadley, but Norton commits suicide.

Critical Standpoint

The movie takes the viewer through a point of self discovery in that it shows a man who refuses to lose hope. The movie shows the unfairness of the justice system; instead of being the beacon of justice, the system leads in breaking the law.

The viewer gets a view of life beyond prison walls, and the viewer also questions the authenticity of justice in such conditions. However, hope stands out in this movie, and the viewer feels that there is some hope that the situation can be altered.


Andy’s hope sees him through prison life. This hope leads Andy to do lots of things, and lastly, escapes prison; he waits for two decades to make his move, and when he does, he moves from prison as a successful man. He uses his financial intellect to make things work for him. In fact, he also restores hope in other prisoners.

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"Film Review: “The Shawshank Redemption”." IvyPanda, 9 Dec. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/film-review-the-shawshank-redemption/.

1. IvyPanda. "Film Review: “The Shawshank Redemption”." December 9, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/film-review-the-shawshank-redemption/.


IvyPanda. "Film Review: “The Shawshank Redemption”." December 9, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/film-review-the-shawshank-redemption/.


IvyPanda. 2019. "Film Review: “The Shawshank Redemption”." December 9, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/film-review-the-shawshank-redemption/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Film Review: “The Shawshank Redemption”'. 9 December.

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