“ If you haven't had the pleasure of seeing this movie then you are missing out on one of the best movies ever made. I want to put to rest the notion that this is a prison movie because it is not. This movie is SO MUCH MORE! Yes the movie takes place in a prison but this movie is about hope, friendship, courage and survival. There is more to The Shawshank Redemption than just the theme of hope. The film has a pragmatic outlook on religion which provides us with evidence that if we truly want to live, we must do it through our own mechanisms. The Bible that Warden Norton is left with has been gutted to hold the tool that Andy used to escape. What is more important is that the note he left the warden says, "you were right, salvation lay within."
Throughout the movie Andy was punished for sins he did not commit and he did not break. He remained sane after two years of assault from the Sisters Gang, after months of solitary confinement, and even after being forced into laundering the warden's illegal transactions. Andy should have broken within a week of prison, the way it treated him, but he remained sane for 19 years in Shawshank prison without complaint. Andy explained to his fellow prisoners how great music was, that it could never be pried from someone once they have heard it. He pointed to his mind to indicate that it came from within, another indicator that salvation lay within. Andy proved that the most important part of any human being is their soul, which can never be touched by any other. He did not need the Bible to direct him. All Andy needed was redemption. It may have been hope that kept him from going insane in the confines of Shawshank prison, but the hope was not the only catalyst for his escape. Andy let the fruits of his labor prove his innocence, and he knew that it was his inner being that would keep him from being institutionalized like some of the others. Institutionalization, as Red described, was the true affect Shawshank prison had on the majority of its long-term residents. Not many of them were truly innocent for what they had done, and Andy was the only one with the plan and willpower to escape, so the outcome was not what prisons are intended for. They were not made ready to return to society as good-standing citizens, but rather forced into dependence on the life they made in prison. Brooks, for example, was conditioned to only feel important within the walls of Shawshank, so when he was freed he was not ready to become a normal human being again. Andy spent 19 years in the prison and would have probably broken if he were there another 30 years. Red explained that once you have been in prison for the majority of your life you no longer know what real life is like, and you become dependent on the world you know. I have had the pleasure of being in Shawshank Prison (Ohio State Reformatory) many times and when I am there I can close my eyes and almost hear conversations between Red and Andy! I can almost feel the pain and suffering that the inmates endured in their time there. This movie has touched me in ways that no movie has EVER touched me. It made me believe that there IS hope no matter how dire the situation you are in. Thank you Stephen King for your story and thank you Frank Darabont for bringing that story to life in your adaptation! Shawshank Redemption will live on forever!
” - Marcel Aube