The Shawshank Redemption

The Shawshank Redemption

DVD - 1999
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Two convicts, one white and one black, never give up the dream of freedom, and together they turn hope and friendship into an uplifting bond no prison can ever take away.
Publisher: Burbank, CA : Warner Home Video, c1999.
Edition: Widescreen version.
ISBN: 9780780629370
Branch Call Number: DVD 791.4372/SHAWSHANK
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (142 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Mar 01, 2021

Here I want to focus on some differences between Stephen King's 1982 novella, *Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption*# and the 1994 film it inspired, *The Shawshank Redemption* by screenwriter-director Frank Darabont.

To me the most striking difference is that in King's novella there are five wardens of Shawshank Prison during Andy's lengthy stay. Darabont reduces that to just one, Warden Norton, an outwardly pious Christian but a corrupt and cruel man. None of the other wardens in the novella are identifiably Christian but they are all corrupt. As the story's narrator in both book and film, Red, says in the novella, "The names at the top change, but the rackets never do" (p. 66).

In the novella, Norton is "the foulest hypocrite" Red "ever saw in a high position" (p. 69). However, he is not particularly violent. Conversely, Red describes the six-year tenure of Warden Stammas as "a kind of living hell" when "the beds in the infirmary and the cells in the Solitary Wing were always full" (pp. 65-66). After Stammas is forced out and Norton takes over, Red tells us "the moonlight burials ceased altogether" (p. 69).

Yet, Darabont has Norton orchestrating the only inmate murder by prison staff that appears in the film. The victim in the film is not murdered in the novella but instead transferred to much better conditions in a minimum security prison elsewhere. To be sure, the transfer serves Norton's interest. However, Darabont's decision to load all the worst behavior of the other wardens on the only professing Christian and then to up the ante by conjuring a murder not in the book seems telling.

In the novella, Red is a White man of Irish heritage. In Darabont's film, Morgan Freeman, a Black man, is cast as Red. In the novella, King has Red expressing a sentiment I've heard from working-class Whites and Blacks alike. Red says: "Black man, white man, red man, yellow man, in prison it doesn't matter because we've got our own brand of equality. In prison every con's a nigger and you have to get used to the idea if you intend to survive men like Hadley and Greg Stammas, who really would kill you just as soon as look at you" (p. 51). Red uses the epithet as a de-racialized description of society's most degraded and oppressed. It highlights that Andy's white skin does not keep him out of prison or protect him from brutality and corruption once he is there. Red uses the epithet again later in the book to describe Andy on p. 124.

Morgan Freeman is arguably the lead actor in the film. Lines such as those referenced above would nowadays probably ensure the film was never made and Stephen King would likely be roundly denounced as a racist à la Donald McNeil Jr., formerly of the *New York Times,* and many others. Even in 1994 only a Black actor could probably have gotten away with saying those words and, yet, they were omitted from the film.

I'll close with two more interesting, I think, differences. First, prison rape is part of the novella but King's treatment of it is more subdued as compared to the Darabont's cinematic depictions of it. Second, King has a discussion in the book where Andy justifies his own and Red's participation in prison corruption. Andy does this by setting up and knocking down the straw man of "sainthood", which conveniently allows him to self-servingly posit that the only viable choice is between lesser and greater evils—"the alternative grown-ups all over the world pick" (p. 64).

Red has no answer to Andy's intellectually weak claim. And King and his characters seem unaware of how such defeatism regarding evil, lesser or greater, merely spreads and strengthens it. The irony is that, as the story develops, Andy becomes partly ensnared by his own role in the prison corruption though this is not a point that King or Darabont are at pains to make or develop. If any of this is in the film then I missed it.

Note: #All quotes are from the 2000 Thorndike Press large print edition of the novella.

Apr 17, 2020

A feel good movie.

Mar 30, 2020

The movie Shawshank Redemption is one of my favorite movies of all time. It's definitely in my top five. The two main characters in this movie are Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. These two actors give one of there best performances ever. Tim Robbins plays Andy Dufrense and Morgan Freeman plays Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding. Any Dufrense is a banker sentenced to life in prison in 1947 for the murder of his wife and her lover. Red plays a prison contraband smuggler who befriends Andy. Bob Gunton plays Samuel Norton the warden of Shawshank penitentiary. A few of the other actors in the film are William Sadler, Clancy Brown, Gil Bellows and James Whitmore. Red gets a hold of a rock hammer and a
large Rita Hayworth poster and gives to Andy. Andy is working in laundry before he gets reassigned to the library to help Brooks (Whitmore). Andy helps out financial matters for the prison staff and the warden. Along the way while working with the warden Andy takes the wardens suit, shoes and ledger.

One of the scenes that I like the most in this movie was the one where Andy has successfully escaped and he's in the pond with his arms raised as it's raining hard. He's so thrilled that he exactly made it out of the prison and is on the outside. It's very interesting that both Red and Brooks both worked at the same grocery store and got the same apartment after being released. It's breath taking when you see Red finally find Andy at the end of the movie on the beach in Zihuatanejo.

I actually grew up in Lexington, Ohio which is a suburb of Mansfield, Ohio where the filming of the movie takes place. I know two people that were extras in the movie. Never in my dreams would I have thought that I would watch a movie that was made near where I grew up. As I watching the movie I saw several scenes that showed several places where I've walked and visited. In conclusion this is one of the movies that you need to watch in your life because of the excellent writing and acting.

ArapahoeMarcia Mar 24, 2020

A fantastic movie with a great plot, magnificent characters, and a fabulous ending. A powerful movie that takes an in-depth look at life in prison, from the perspective of the prisoners and the prison staff. One of my all-time favorites!

This highly overrated movie is hollow and predictable, as is a lot of King's non-horror writing. Two hours and twenty minutes! Not only not one of the best movies ever made, it's not as good as many male-bonding movies.

Jul 02, 2019

I agree that The Shawshank Redemption is one of the greatest movies of all time. It is unforgettable and sweet and horrible and lovely all at the same time. If you have not seen it yet, by all means, watch it! I had to buy it just to watch it periodically and laugh and cry and feel inspired all over again!
It made me re evaluate Stephen King as an author! He also wrote The Green Mile, another favourite.

Jun 28, 2019

The Shawshank Redemption has been regarded as one of the greatest movies of all time, and rightfully so. The movie is entirely brilliant- for its cinematics, ambitious plot and precise directing. Starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins, Shawshank starts strong and ends even stronger- with each scene pulling you further down the rabbit hole of secrets which had manifested themselves deep within certain characters. For example, "Brooks Hatlen," (played by James Whitmore,) has a certain change of events near the middle of the movie: it gives the audience a glance at what people like "Brooks" experience, its melancholic and painfully realistic. Though scenes like these only add to Shawshank's graveyard of lure, in my opinion, it puts the movie over the edge and dares it to make new choices. Everything that went into creating this movie was done brilliantly, from the dialogue to the costume design, "The Shawshank Redemption" is, and forever will be, one of the greatest movies ever created. The beauty of "Shawshank" is that the more you watch it, the more you begin to unfold- whether that be symbolism or even small details hidden within the set, it simply never grows too old and boring to watch again. I therefore highly encourage anyone with a love for brilliant movies to give this one a watch, or even a re-watch. "The Shawshank Redemption" holds it's throne as a golden standard for any movies to come and I believe that such flawlessness should be celebrated time and time again. 5/5. @showmethemonet! of the Hamilton Public Library Teen Review Board

Apr 19, 2019

Very good movie.

Feb 28, 2019

This is on my Top 10 Favorite Movies of all time.

A few years ago, I visited the prison in Mansfield, Ohio where they filmed some of the scenes in the movie. As fate would have it, I was born in a little town near many of the filming locations, but was a state away when they were making movie magic in the early 90's.

Like some of the others on my Top 10 list, if this one pops on TV, I will probably watch at least a few minutes of it.

Feb 05, 2019

10/10 ..remains one of the best movies of all time!

View All Comments


Add a Quote
Jan 23, 2018

Andy Dufresne: [to Red] I guess it comes down a simple choice: Get busy living, or get busy dying.

Dieu_D Jan 14, 2015

Get busy living, or get busy dying.

Kelly196 Jun 09, 2014

Red: Get busy living or get busy dying...

Sep 23, 2011

The man likes to play chess; Let's get him some rocks.

Mar 27, 2011

Andy Dufresne: What about you? What are you in here for?
Red: Murder, same as you.
Andy Dufresne: Innocent?
Red: [shakes his head] Only guilty man in Shawshank.

Mar 27, 2011

Red: [narrating] The first night's the toughest, no doubt about it. They march you in naked as the day you were born, skin burning and half blind from that delousing shit they throw on you, and when they put you in that cell... and those bars slam home... that's when you know it's for real. A whole life blown away in the blink of an eye. Nothing left but all the time in the world to think about it.

Mar 27, 2011

Red: [narrating] I wish I could tell you that Andy fought the good fight, and the Sisters let him be. I wish I could tell you that - but prison is no fairy-tale world. He never said who did it, but we all knew. Things went on like that for awhile - prison life consists of routine, and then more routine. Every so often, Andy would show up with fresh bruises. The Sisters kept at him - sometimes he was able to fight 'em off, sometimes not. And that's how it went for Andy - that was his routine. I do believe those first two years were the worst for him, and I also believe that if things had gone on that way, this place would have got the best of him.


Add Notices
7Liberty7 Sep 20, 2014

Coarse Language: Loads, I mean, loads of vulgar and foul language. But then, it's a film with prison inmates...what would you expect?

vitriolic7eyes May 01, 2012

Frightening or Intense Scenes: These scenes are riddled throughout the movie so they are not isolated to simply one section. Be warned.

vitriolic7eyes May 01, 2012

Violence: mild but intense

Sep 23, 2011

Violence: This title contains Violence.

Mar 27, 2011

Sexual Content: This title contains Sexual Content.

Mar 27, 2011

Violence: This title contains Violence.


Add Age Suitability
Dec 08, 2016

pinkbumblebee thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

Aug 08, 2016

DFX thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

7Liberty7 Sep 20, 2014

7Liberty7 thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

Sep 23, 2011

Ciresica thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

Mar 27, 2011

bdls206 thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over


Add a Summary
Sep 23, 2011

Andy Dufresne, a brilliant lawyer, is accused of meurdering his wife. He is sent to the Shawshank Prison, and must endure the violence and terrible things happening in there.

Mar 27, 2011

Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.

Oct 24, 2009

This dramatic endearing movie will appeal to a wide audience.

The tale of a man wrongly accused and imprisoned this movie follows the path of a man seeking his redemption.

While his struggles to find a place in Shawshank prison, and his efforts to escape are clever and engrossing, it is friendship that is at the heart of this story.

Highly recommended.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at SDPL

To Top