Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Understanding Shawshank

"Get busy living, or get busy dying."

How many times have we noticed that a movie couldn't do justice to the book which it is based on? A book has the liberty of getting into the detail of the smallest of things while a movie has a limit to cover it all within 3 hours. Words help us to create our own imaginations, draw our own characters and picturize the scenes according to our will. A movie on the other hand takes those words and shows us the story in visuals. The Shawshank Redemption (1994) is based on a novella by Stephen King and it has created an identity of its own if you compare it to his original work.
Most of the movie takes place in a prison at Shawshank where Andy Dufresne was serving time for the murders he didn't commit. King described him as a short neat little man with sandy hair and small, clever hands. He wore gold rimmed spectacles. In the movie Andy's character is played by Tim Robbins, a tall and lanky man. The character of Red, who as mentioned in the story by King was of Irish ancestry is played by Morgan Freeman. The roles of these two key characters in the story are executed perfectly by Robbins and Freeman. Most of the characters mentioned in the book are incorporated in the movie, some also merged into one, for eg. the warden. Norton is the only warden in the movie, rightfully so as it was during his term that Andy had escaped. The characters mentioned in the book are shaped up well in the movie. In the book, Red tells different stories about Andy's time at Shawshank and the movie puts them all as one with impeccable execution.  

"Sometimes it makes me sad, though... Andy being gone. I have to remind myself that some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up DOES rejoice. But still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they're gone. I guess I just miss my friend."
It's a story of an innocent man's escape from prison. Not in a week or even a year after his incarceration but nearly two decades later. Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things and that is what kept Andy alive in prison as he patiently dug his way through it. While he is waiting for the right moment to make an escape he makes friends, goes through trouble with enemies and also helps the jail officials using his banking knowledge. There is not a single segment in this movie where I felt disconnected, it's a smooth sailing ship.

"The funny thing is - on the outside, I was an honest man, straight as an arrow. I had to come to prison to be a crook."

The book has a character by the name Chief Normaden who was Andy's cellmate for sometime. He complained of a bad draft in the cell which made him feel cold in the nights and was thus transferred. Little did he know about the real reason behind that chill. This character is skipped in the movie, perhaps his inclusion would have made it more exciting. Captain Hadley has a bigger role in the movie than in the book and goes down in the end with warden Norton. There is a connection between Red and Andy that makes me smile, right from the beginning when Andy says to him, "I understand you're a man who knows how to get things."
"I could see why some of the boys took him for snobby. He had a quiet way about him, a walk and a talk that just wasn't normal around here. He strolled, like a man in a park without a care or a worry in the world, like he had on an invisible coat that would shield him from this place. Yeah, I think it would be fair to say...I liked Andy from the start."
The Shawshank Redemption is a wonderful story, a story of hope and friendship. The one which shows that hope can help overcome even the toughest of the obstacles. The movie is the best complement to this story, maybe even better.

Some seriously fun Shawshank writings from a fellow King reader.

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