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  • The Shawshank Redemption is a 1994 American drama film written and directed by Frank Darabont

  • and starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. It is ranked #1 in IMDb's "Top 250" list and

  • is considered one of the best movies of all time.

  • Adapted from the Stephen King novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, the film

  • 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 outstanding reviews from critics for its powerful acting

  • and realism. It has since been successful on cable television, VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray.

  • It was included in the American Film Institute's 100 Years...100 Movies 10th Anniversary Edition.

  • Plot In 1947, banker Andy Dufresne is convicted

  • of murdering his wife and her lover and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences at the fictional

  • Shawshank State Penitentiary in the state of Maine. Andy quickly befriends contraband

  • smuggler Ellis "Red" Redding, an inmate serving a life sentence. Red procures a rock hammer

  • and 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. Norton 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, Maine 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. Cast

  • Tim Robbins as Andy Dufresne Morgan Freeman as Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding,

  • Andy's best friend and the film's narrator; convicted of murder in 1927. Before Freeman

  • was cast, Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Paul Newman, and Robert Redford were each considered

  • for the role. Although written as a middle-aged Irishman with greying red hair, Darabont cast

  • Freeman for his authoritative presence and demeanor; he could not see anyone else as

  • Red. The short dialogue with Andy is a jest towards this casting decision, as when asked

  • about the origin of his nickname, Red answers, "Maybe it's because I'm Irish."

  • Bob Gunton as Warden Samuel Norton. He is well versed in the Bible and presents himself

  • as a pious, devout Christian and reform-minded administrator, while his actions reveal him

  • to be corrupt, ruthless, and remorseless. William Sadler as Heywood, a member of Red's

  • gang of long-serving convicts. Clancy Brown as Capt. Byron Hadley, chief

  • of the guards. Hadley is a sadistic guard who thinks nothing of delivering beatings

  • to the inmates to keep them in line. When cast for the role, Brown declined the offer

  • to study real-life prison guards as preparation for his role, because he did not want to base

  • it on any one person. 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,

  • having been in prison since 1905. Darabont cast Whitmore because he was one of his favorite

  • character actors. Jeffrey DeMunn as the prosecuting attorney

  • in Andy Dufresne's trial. Themes

  • Chicago Sun-Times film reviewer Roger Ebert suggested that The Shawshank Redemption is

  • an allegory for maintaining one's feeling of self-worth when placed in a hopeless position.

  • Andy Dufresne's integrity is an important theme in the story line, especially in prison,

  • where integrity is lacking. Isaac M. Morehouse suggests that the film

  • provides a great illustration of how characters can be free, even in prison, or unfree, even

  • in freedom, based on one's outlook on life. Production

  • Frank Darabont secured the film adaptation rights from author Stephen King after impressing

  • the author with his short film adaptation of The Woman in the Room in 1983. Although

  • the two had become friends and maintained a pen-pal relationship, Darabont did not work

  • with him until four years later in 1987, when he optioned to adapt Shawshank. This is one

  • of the more famous Dollar Deals made by King with aspiring filmmakers. Darabont later directed

  • The Green Mile, which was based on another work about a prison by Stephen King, and then

  • followed that up with an adaptation of King's novella The Mist.

  • Rob Reiner, who had previously adapted another King novella, The Body, into the film Stand

  • by Me, offered $2.5 million in an attempt to write and direct Shawshank. He planned

  • to cast Tom Cruise in the part of Andy and Harrison Ford as Red. Darabont seriously considered

  • and liked Reiner's vision, but he ultimately decided it was his "chance to do something

  • really great" by directing the film himself. Though the film is set in Maine, the Ohio

  • State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio, served as the fictional Shawshank Prison. Though

  • a large portion of the prison was torn down after filming, the main administration building

  • and two cell blocks remained; the site was revisited later for filming parts of the film

  • Air Force One. Several of the interior shots of the specialized prison facilities, such

  • as the admittance rooms and the warden's office, were shot in the reformatory. The interior

  • of the boarding room used by Brooks and Red was located in the administration building,

  • though exterior shots were made elsewhere. The prison site is a tourist attraction. Internal

  • scenes in the prison cellblocks were actually filmed on a soundstage built inside the nearby

  • shuttered Westinghouse factory. Downtown scenes were also filmed in Mansfield, as well as

  • neighboring Ashland, Ohio. The oak tree under which Andy buries his letter to Red is located

  • at 40°39′14″N 82°23′31″W, near Malabar Farm State Park, in Lucas, Ohio. The tree

  • was heavily damaged by straight-line winds in a thunderstorm on July 29, 2011; officials

  • were unsure if the tree would survive. However, thanks to rally groups and inspections by

  • forestry organizations, the tree was found to be alive and well and still stands to this

  • day. The beach at Zihuatanejo made famous by the

  • film has recently been closed to the public due to a health warning as a result of high

  • levels of pollution in the water. The film was dedicated to Allen Greene, an

  • agent and a close personal friend of the film's director, Frank Darabont. Greene died shortly

  • before the film was released due to complications of HIV/AIDS.

  • Release The Shawshank Redemption received a limited

  • release on September 23, 1994 in North America. During its opening weekend, the film earned

  • $727,000 from 33 theatersan average of $22,040 per theater. It received a wide release

  • on October 14, 1994, expanding to a total of 944 theaters to earn $2.4 millionan

  • average of $2,545 per theaterfinishing as the number 9 film of the weekend. The film

  • left theaters in late November 1994, after 10 weeks with an approximate total gross of

  • $16 million. It was later re-released in February 1995,

  • during the Oscar season, and made an additional $9 million. In total the film made approximately

  • $28.3 million in North American theaters, making it the number 51 highest grossing film

  • of 1994 and the number 21 highest grossing R-rated film of 1994.

  • Critical response The Shawshank Redemption garnered widespread

  • critical acclaim from critics. Entertainment Weekly reviewer Owen Gleiberman praised the

  • choice of scenery, writing that the "moss-dark, saturated images have a redolent sensuality"

  • that makes the film very realistic. While praising Morgan Freeman's acting and oratory

  • skills as making Red appear real, Gleiberman felt that with the "laconic-good-guy, neo-Gary

  • Cooper role, Tim Robbins is unable to make Andy connect with the audience."

  • The film garnered a 91% approval rating from 64 criticsan average rating of 8.2 out

  • of 10—on review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes. Metacritic provides a score of 80

  • out of 100 from 19 critics, which indicates "generally favorable" reviews. The film has

  • been critically acclaimed for depicting Jean-Paul Satre's ideas about existentialism more fully

  • than any other contemporary movie. Accolades

  • The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards in 1994 without winning any: Best Picture,

  • Best Actor for Freeman, Best Adapted Screenplay for Frank Darabont, Best Cinematography for

  • Roger Deakins, Best Editing for Richard Francis-Bruce, Best Original Score for Thomas Newman, and

  • Best Sound Mixing for Robert J. Litt, Elliot Tyson, Michael Herbick and Willie D. Burton.

  • It received two Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion

  • Picture for Freeman, and Best Screenplay for Darabont. Robbins and Freeman were both nominated

  • for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role at the inaugural Screen

  • Actors Guild Awards in 1995. Darabont was nominated for a Directors Guild of America

  • award in 1994 for Best Director for a feature film, while cinematographer Roger Deakins

  • won the American Society of Cinematographers award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography.

  • Home media Despite its disappointing box office return,

  • Warner Bros. shipped 320,000 rental video copies throughout the United States, and it

  • became one of the top rented films of 1995. The film's home viewing success was considered

  • to be based on positive recommendations and repeat customers. The film's Academy Award

  • nominations enabled it to fare well in the video sales and cable TV viewings. In June

  • 1997, TNT, an American cable network, showed the film for the first time. The film was

  • the first feature in TNT's Saturday Night New Classics. A 2004 Sunday Times article