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Music in Films: “The Shawshank Redemption” Essay (Movie Review)

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Updated: May 20th, 2021

The film “The Shawshank Redetection” has remained one of my favorite movies for many years. Throughout my early years as a child, I used to love the movie without even being able to comprehend the message intended for the audience by the producer. After coming of age, I appreciated the emotions and lessons that have always made this movie a memorable work of art. The courage, hope, and optimism exhibited by Andy Dufresne are powerful attributes that have influenced my philosophy. The inclusion of appropriate music in the film is something that has made it unforgettable and special. The most outstanding scene occurs when Andy puts a vinyl record on the player and turns on the microphone for every person in the prison to hear. The beautiful song is named “Letter Duet” from the “Marriage of Figaro”. The song or aria is a short duet (also known as duettino) from the opera’s third act (Beard and Gloag 49). The ladies sing in Italian thus making the message incomprehensible. However, the opera enhances the film’s emotion by expressing the heart’s desire to be free in a world that confines man into a life of solitude and hopelessness.

This kind of emotional attachment can be observed to resonate with the story narrated in the film. After spending many years in the penitentiary, Andy Dufresne manages to escape and eventually becomes a free man (Beard and Gloag 56). The music and score used in the film encouraged me to watch and learn something new from it. The music appears to tell the viewer that hope is a powerful possession that can be used to deal with different obstacles in life.

The movie “The Shawshank Redemption” is an outstanding work of art that has influenced the lives, actions, and goals of many people in every corner of the world. The movie narrates the story of a banker who is sentenced to life for killing two people (Beard and Gloag 43). The younger banker goes by the name Andy Dufresne. He befriends Ellis Redding (also called Red) while at Shawshank Penitentiary. While in prison, Andy is protected by the officers since he is used to promoting money-laundering. He also encounters a wide range of challenges such as torture and abuse. For instance, “the Sisters” led by Boyd appear to assault Andy during his first days at the prison. After 20 years, Andy manages to escape through the prison’s sewage tunnel. Warden Samuel Norton eventually commits suicide after the rots at Shawshank are exposed. Red is paroled after staying in the prison for around forty years. Although he finds it hard to adjust and adapt to his new life, Red manages to cross the Mexican border after which he reunites with his old-time friend.

In this film, music is used effectively to ensure the right message is delivered to the audience. The score in the film is piano music characterized by tremolo strings (Beard and Gloag 61). The strings are used to signal humorous or active moments in the movie. The themes of the score appear around two times. The beginning is characterized by the prison theme. This is “a four-note ascending line” (Klein 36). From this analysis, it is quite clear that the music is used to support the major themes and messages intended by the film director. By so doing, the viewer finds the movie lovable, emotional, humorous, and inspirational.

The film’s soundtrack was composed by Thomas Newman (Beard and Gloag 66). The music genre is classical. The instruments used to come up with the score include pianos and tremolo strings. The classical music appears to match the story presented in the film. Different music types are used in the film. The first one is non-diegetic music. The type is presented using sound effects. Diegetic music is used in the film when Andy puts a vinyl record on the player.

As mentioned earlier, the soundtrack supports the scenes depending on the intended message. For instance, tremolo strings are used whenever there are humorous events or climaxes. Consequently, the music in the movie is likable and enjoyable. According to many film analysts and critics, the music catches the attention of the viewer. It is also emotional thereby making it easier for the audience to love it. The other outstanding observation is that the music works effectively with the movie (Beard and Gloag 69). This is an agreeable attribute because the music supports the climaxes, scenes, and messages intended by the film’s director. The music manages to highlight the themes and messages of the film such as hope and patience.

The story of one of the famous film composers by the name of Hans Zimmer has captured the attention of many enthusiasts. Zimmer has been touring the world to popularize his music using live concerts. He has been performing with a combined group of a rock band and a classical orchestra. For instance, he recently performed his score from the film “Inception” at the Coachella Music Festival. From this event, it becomes quite clear that a soundtrack can successfully work for a music festival concert. The aftermath of the Coachella Music Festival indicated clearly that many people were pleased with the performance. It is agreeable that the combination reawakened the experiences of the targeted audience (Beard and Gloag 102).

From a personal perspective, I strongly believe that the soundtrack will work for a music festival concert. The inclusion of a score in a festival will transform the experience of more viewers and audience (Klein 69). The performers will learn from one another and maximize the experiences of the targeted individuals. Music lovers will feel entertained and appreciate the wide range of genres available to them. The new wave will ensure soundtracks are popularized and appreciated by many musicians across the world. The practice will eventually attract more people and encourage others to appreciate a wide range of genres used to produce scores for movies.

With this kind of revolution, it becomes evident that the performance will become more popular in different corners of the world. This development is possible because many people have not been able to appreciate the power of soundtracks. The process will demystify the notion that soundtrack should also be enjoyed whenever included in a movie. Hans Zimmer’s strategy is a bold move that will make it possible for him to achieve his goals and entertain the greatest number of people (Klein 92). The new approach will diversify the nature of music festivals and make them entertaining to the greatest number of people across the globe. It would therefore be appropriate for more score composers to perform their music in live concerts bringing together classical orchestras and rock bands. The diversity will bring a new meaning to every music festival.

Works Cited

Beard, David, and Kenneth Gloag. Musicology: The Key Concepts. Routledge, 2016.

Klein, Michael. Music and the Crises of the Modern Subject. Indiana University Press, 2015.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Music in Films: “The Shawshank Redemption”." May 20, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/music-in-films-the-shawshank-redemption/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Music in Films: “The Shawshank Redemption”'. 20 May.

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