Friday, January 8, 2010

The Shawshank Redemption: The Locus of Justice

“Why are these men in jail?” – comment,

Nominated with seven academy awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Morgan Freeman), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Original Score, and Best Sound, The Shawshank Redemption is a riveting, engrossing, film directed by Frank Darabont who adapted horror master Stephen King’s 1982 novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption for his feature film. Note though that this film was only nominated, it failed to win a single Oscar given that the film was created in the same year as Forrest Gump, Pulp Fiction, and Speed, who received all the attention. Only through cable TV and video releases did the film do well- although its original reception at the box office was considered lukewarm. Darabont’s film is a very endearing and moving, slowly-detailed, allegorical tale of friendship, patience, hope, survival, emancipation, and ultimate redemption by the end of the film.

Andy Dufresne, protagonist in the film, is sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison for the murders of his wife and her lover. However, only Andy knows that he didn’t commit the crimes. Sent to Shawshank Prison to do hard time, Andy, a banker in the outside world, has to learn to get by in the brutal, cutthroat confines of prison life. His quiet strength slowly earns the respect of his fellow inmate, and even much of the prison staff.. His seemingly stoic acceptance of his unjust imprisonment hides a fierce determination for freedom.

Written, from the point of view of one of the prisoners- Red (Morgan Freeman)- the film was able to convey the brutality of the life in prison by showcasing even subtly the sodomy and the physical abuse, the psychological torture and the emotional crushing that a prisoner undergoes behind the walls that first served as a bar to freedom to them and a home pillar in the end. Also, the first-person point of view of the movie, made the movie more realistic to the wider audience, making the prisoners who are, outside the film, seen as a danger to society, relatable such that their experiences inside the prison made them appear human again- one with a heart and a soul who strives for redemption. In fact, the comment on top “Why are these men in jail?” showcases this beautifically crafted movie’s touching and sincere performances and forwards the uplifting message about humanity’s spirit and redemptive value of hope.

One of the central themes of the movie is “social justice”. Innocent as he was, Andy was struggling to prove his impeccability despite the many forces around him which hinders him to do so. It was very evident in the film that justice is a very complex concept. He was very hopeful even though the many forces inside seems to prohibit him to feel that way. His friend Red even warned him from being very optimistic and that he should face the reality that he is to spend the remaining years of his life in prison. This stems from Red’s experience of being rejected parole for quite a number of times. Furthermore, Red also referred to the fate of Brooks who committed suicide after his independence from the penitentiary. Still, Andy’s exuberance prevailed and that his experience in prison did not get the best of him. He was focused on his plans and he pursued them with perseverance and optimism.

Such debilitating forces are present in the society at large. They are not confined in the walls of the penitentiary rather they exist even in the most unexpected sectors of the community. This is very evident in the experience of the Philippines. Corruption is one of the manifestations of these forces that may tempt people especially those in power to engage in illegal activities just to further their self-interests even at the expense of others who may be adversely affected by all these abominations. Public officials cling on to their positions knowing that they could maximize the perks and privileges while in office. This poses a serious threat to the revered sovereignty of the people.

A masterpiece in itself, the Shawshank Redemption hides many allegories and is an allegory as a whole unfolding like a long-played, sometimes painstaking, persistent chess game- a game that Red and Andy promised to play together someday. Even some of the characters are symbolic in themselves: For instance, Tommy, after admitting that he will hold witness for Andy, was betrayed by the warden as Judas betrayed Jesus which is an irony in itself given the warden’s self-righteous, biblically-obsessed character. This has led some critics to interpret the film as some kind of a Christian parable. All of Andy’s effort to assert his morality amidst all the animosity that have been going on have paid off which resembles a Christian struggle towards salvation. The warden served as a serpent much like in the Garden of Eden, which tries to bring out the potentially corruptible side of Andy. Man’s actions have their corresponding consequences and that was apparent as the film concludes. While the performances of the characters in the film are undoubtedly believable coupled with an excellent script, the cinematography provided an important ‘feel’ in the film. The seemingly claustrophobic walls, imposing fences and constraining barricades somehow add to the feeling of oppression. The film has succeeded in using symbols to make the audience understand certain fundamental things that remain prevalent even in the present context.

Indeed, the film serves as an effective medium of political content forwarding many relevant political perspectives as the power relations in prison and the private political lives of each and every individual prisoner- inside and outside the prison- thus, the differences in the way of freedom of Brooks and Red. Also, it holds into question even subtly, how the life in prison socializes an individual to become an altogether different person than whoever one is the moment one enters and the moment one exits. The film talked about the prisoners being ‘institutionalized’. Just the thought of spending a part of one’s life inside a penitentiary may bring chills to a person but there would come a time when the prisoners become very accustomed to the life they were living inside prison that they were dreading the day when they had to leave and go back to the society as a reformed person. Brooks even tried to hurt a fellow prisoner just so he could stay because according to him at least inside he was considered important being the prison librarian. Indeed, this challenges prisons and penitentiaries if they actually serve the purpose they were intended to serve. The society can be very capricious and judgmental especially towards prisoners who go back to the community.

Power relations have been fortuitously tackled in the film. Superior-subordinate relations have been effectively depicted. The film techniques used in the film portray power very well by using low-angled shots as if the prisoners are nothing and extremely over-powered. Many times in the movie, the guards and other domineering inmates have asserted their power through beating other prisoners as if they were merely objects devoid of feelings and emotions. Also, the sight of the warden and guards looking down at the inmates symbolizes the existing relationship among them.

The way the film was made makes one reconsider the usual political socialization of individuals against prisoners to make them see the indomitable spirit of each and every prisoner striving to live with the thinnest strand of survival inside the prison. As such, the film served as an effective avenue of political socialization, in terms of socializing the audience, in seeing the prison institution as a redemptive arena for those sent in there. Notwithstanding, the film as much as it served as a film of hope and life and the redemptive story of humanity, also served as a means of political socialization in its form and allegorical subtlety.

K. Borja & A. M. Cardenas


lenggaleng said...

Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free.

Directed by Frank Darabont in 1994, the story of The Shawshank Redemption revolves around Andy Dufresne,a brilliant and successful banker,who was convicted and sentenced to two life sentences for murdering his wife and her lover.Knowing and believing that he is innocent,Andy still accepts the final verdict of the trial and is sent to Shawshank Prison.As he stays in Shawshank Prison to serve his sentence,Andy learns the hardships and struggles of being a prisoner and adapts to a prison life.In there he encounters and meets different kinds of people coming from different sectors of the society. Eventually,Andy manages to escape from the prison at the end of the story.

There are many themes that can be found in this film,such as hope,redemption,and salvation. Moreover,one of the film’s dominant themes that struck me the most is social injustice.I felt that while watching this movie,its depiction of social injustice in different scenes was very apparent,or in less formal words,‘in-your-face’.An example of this was when the chief guard named Bryan Hadley mercilessly beat up a newly arrived inmate because of the reason that the newly arrived inmate was crying hysterically.As a result of Hadley’s beating,the inmate died.This goes to show that the chief guard generally treated all the prisoners like animals.He beats them up just because he knows that he has authority over them and thus,the inmates could not fight him back.This is obviously a manifestation of social injustice because prisoners are still human beings.They still have the right to be treated in the most just way possible,even if they committed acts that are considered wrong in the society.

Looking at the film in a political perspective,I can say that the concept of power is evidently exhibited in the movie.As power is defined by Heywood as ‘the ability to influence the behavior of others in a matter not of their choosing’,one could look at how the warden,Samuel Norton,has controlled Andy’s actions for his own personal interest.An example of this was when he threatened Andy that he would destroy the prison library that he worked hard to develop if he still would insist to have a trial on his case again.Norton would certainly not want Andy to be proven innocent because if that happens,he would not be able to use Andy for his money laundering activities anymore.As a result,Andy shut his mouth and worked again for Norton.

In addition,power is also associated with the use of punishments and rewards.In the movie,the prisoners were given punishments and rewards to manipulate their behavior and actions.Prisoners disobey the rules in the Shawshank prison were sent to solitary confinement in ‘the hole’.On the other hand,rewards were given to prisoners who obey the rules and do favors for the authorities like in Andy’s case.He offered financial services to the prison guards and was ‘promoted’ from working in the prison laundry to working in the prison library, as Andy finds working in the prison laundry unpleasant.

All in all,I think that The Shawshank Redemption tackles about power significantly.As social hierarchy is very evident in the film,one can clearly see who are the powerful and the powerless. The powerful ones such as the warden abuse the powerless ones such as Andy to serve their personal interests.However,with Andy’s successful escape from prison and the discovery of the atrocities happening in the Shawshank prison,it proves that those who are at the top will not always stay in power.In Andy’s case,he went from being a successful banker who is at the top of the social strata,into becoming one of those considered as ‘unwanted’ in the society-a convict. Nevertheless,Andy never lost hope,and once more became a free man—entering society redeemed,and still lit with hope that grew only stronger.



Heywood, A. (2007). Politics, New York City: Palgrave Macmillan.

Czarina XD said...

What does it take for a person to be completely ‘instutionalized’? What are the factors that can influence a man to the point where he accepts nothing besides the life and perspective he had been in for the longest time?

The Shawshank Redemption (1994) lucratively portrayed the existence of systems and ways of living that can slowly encroach and ultimately dictate one’s course of life. It is stunning to see how the film was able to expose a seemingly slow and excruciating, yet a life-changing and dense, process as being confined inside a penitentiary. The film had effectively captured a what seemed to be monotonous and a dreary lives of a prisoner, as if their seclusion can be as simple as being altogether alienated from the outside world. But it turns out that such process is not just as unfussy as what it seemed to be. The Shawshank Redemption is a valuable tool in showing how different people turn out to be as the whole order impinges on them, no matter how dawdling and slow its manner is. One can be like Andy, who seemed undisturbed, detached, and appeared like he doesn’t care at all, when in fact he had been studying the whole order and even coming up with plans to get himself away from it. One can also be like Red, who just decided to go on with the flow, doing what he’s good at, confused, torn, until he opens himself up to other things like hope and redemption. But one can also be like Brook—someone whose entire life depended on the ‘institution’ that he couldn’t see himself not being on it. He’s the one who thought that he’d rather not live at all if he couldn’t be on the life he had been forced and known to live for the majority of his life—no matter how twisted and unjust that kind of life is. These people are like everyone else. There are those who choose to rise above the norm, rejecting what is unruly and even serving as an inspiration to other people. These men are few and far in between, but when found can motivate people who are uncertain to pursue a better life, a better perspective, a better them. But sadly, there are still those who just allow themselves to be encroached of the system that they become so dependent to it. But no matter how sad that might sound, such can prove to be fatal, as was showed in the film.

Also, Red, being the narrator of the film and whose perspective we were able to experience first hand, is an effective technique to examine the genuineness of the film as a whole. Like Red, we weren’t aware of a lot of things, we interpret things as we see them, and we judge people as how they appear to be. And like Red, we were able to see the crookedness of their situation, the solitude, the sympathy, and the fulfillment felt at the end of it. Yet, the most important thing that this film had shown us is the often overlooked role played by hope, and determination, no matter how impossible and shrewd to lean on them at certain times—like inside a prison. We might live a highly political life, with different forces, actors, and institutions manipulating and persuading us to act in a different way; orders that limit our actions and impinge our freedom. But as Andy puts it, there are places in this world that aren’t made out of stone, that there’s something inside that those who try to influence you can’t get to, that they can’t touch. Nursing such feelings will make us go a very long way. They even provide us a fresher view of things, like that of the idea of being rehabilitated, as exemplified by Red, by us.

Ultimately, the film proved to be an effective means for one to assess how he could become, faced in corresponding situations. Are we like Brooks, or Red? Or are we someone like Andy? Are we the one the others are waiting for?


Othello II/Lloyd said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Othello II/Lloyd said...

The film “The Shawshank Redemption” by Frank Darabont has the following recurring, deeply political themes – power (and the abuse of power); corruption; and; punishment, and correction and rehabilitation.

The superordinate-subordinate relationship between the prison guards and the prisoners are highlighted throughout the film. The prison setup, wherein prisoners obey the orders of the warden and the prison guards, is featured heavily. Though not structured as a panopticon, the fictional Shawshank Prison reminds me of this prison building design wherein the prisoners inside their cells do not know whether they are being watched by the prison guards or not. Shawshank Prison is a not exactly a panopticon by building design. However, it should be noted how fearful the prisoners (the subordinate entity) are of the prison guards (the superordinate entity), as if they are closely watched day and night by these guards. It is as if the prison is a panopticon. It is exemplified in a scene wherein Brooks secretly hands out the contrabands to prisoners during night time while handing out books from the prison library. It can be concluded that the prison as an institution is successful in instilling order and discipline on people through fear. Brutish treatment of prisoners is also an example of the aforementioned phenomenon.

Corruption, the biggest ill in society, is also highlighted throughout the film. Acts of corruption featured in the film include abuse of power. These acts do serve as barriers for real justice for convicts, some of which are innocent. Execution of potential witnesses (e.g. in the film, Tommy) by the prison guards under the warden’s order did hamper the achievement of genuine justice on the part of Andy Dufresne. This problem is real. Authorities should take action in solving this problem.

Punishment, correction, and rehabilitation are also important themes tackled in the movie. These three are functions undertaken by institutions set up by law (e.g. the Bureau of Prisons, Parole and Probation Administration, and the like). This fact tells us that the state has immense powers over convicted persons. While it is true that a prison is a place wherein convicted criminals are confined and are punished, it is also true that this place is also a venue for correction and rehabilitation of hardened conmen. Practices routinely done in Shawshank Prison such as prisoners doing odd jobs and the existence (and renovation) of the prison library informs the viewer of the rehabilitative and correctional potential of prisons. As portrayed in the film, the prison serves as a place for punishment. Punishment is served through the isolation of the convicts by imprisonment for the periods laid down by the courts. On the other hand, the prison also serves as a venue for correction and rehabilitation of convicts. The film was successful in showing the viewer the dual purpose of the prison as an institution – penal and correctional. It informs the viewer of the penal (e.g. imprisonment) and/or correctional component (e.g. granting of paroles) of the criminal justice system. It must be noted that these components are present in the Philippine criminal justice system and are employed on our country’s convicts.

Aside from the above mentioned recurring themes, the film’s lighter and central theme is hope. Dufrense’s escape in particular tells the viewer that one must not to succumb to hopelessness. After all, Andy Dufresne’s character managed to escape Shawshank by using only using a rock hammer.

Narvasa, A.R. (1996). Handbook on The Courts and The Criminal Justice System, Manila: Supreme Court of the Philippines.


katwinny said...

There are movies that entertain you while watching but you forget about them afterwards and there are those that you only get to appreciate after it has ended. Then there’s Shawshank Redemption. The Shawshank Redemption is a film that’s both entertaining and moving. I was looking forward for every scene and constantly being amazed by the actions of every character. The genius mind of Andy Dufresne made the film exciting to watch and I think I can say that everyone in the class were amazed when the reasons behind his actions were revealed.

Apart from the entertainment, one can’t help but to feel sorry for the fate of Dufresne, regardless of the ending of the movie. He was a victim of a lapse in judgment of the justice system and mistakes like those cost lives. His life, including his rights, was taken away from him for something that he did not do. You do not get to decide what to do, how and when you do it. Your life becomes the property of the state. The justice system, although an institution, all boils down to the judgment of human beings who have biases and subjectivity.

But Dufresne’s loss was a big gain for Red (Morgan Freeman). Red, having been there for so long, has mastered what it takes to get the upperhand inside. But when he met Dufresne, he rediscovered that there’s hope to get out from the prison- that there’s still a world outside. As having the sufficient information, he is the perfect narrator for the movie.

The politics inside the prison cells were very evident in the film. Power relations dictate the rules inside. As human lives are being controlled/ owned by the state, you need to gain, not necessarily trust, but the cooperation of other players in order to survive inside. Rewards and punishments became essential factors in obtaining cooperation. So we can say the partnership of Red and Dufresne was great as the former provides the resources and the latter provides the plan.

Brooks’ story was also one of the highlights in the film. As the characters in the film say it, he got ‘institutionalized’. He got so used to the norms and rules inside the prison cells that when he got out, he cannot see himself as part of society anymore. Having spent most of his life inside, it was a totally different and changed world that he encountered outside- a place that he does not belong in.

With the numerous awards that the film has been nominated for, it is no wonder that this easily gets into the top list of anyone’s best movies that they have watched. It certainly made mine.

Rivera, Katrina G.

denisefrancisco said...

Prison is where the heart is.

Who would have thought that getting into prison would be such a fruitful and life changing experience?

After Andy Dufresne was convicted for allegedly killing his wife and his lover, his first few days at the Shawshank Prison were hard. He isolated himself from his inmates, as if trying to convince his self and others of his innocence. Eventually, Andy slowly began reaching out to the people around him, particularly to Red, who became his link in making friends with the rest of Red’s “crew”. Despite his efforts to step out of his comfort zone and make friends, he became the target of “The Sisters” gang who enjoyed torturing and molesting him. Andy also witnessed the way prisoners were treated not even as slaves, but as lifeless objects who are subject to whatever kind of torture and violence there is, to the point of lying lifeless on the ground. He became accustomed to routines inside such as manual labor and being alone in his cell at night.

The longer he was in jail, the more motivation he had to make his life normal again. His character was able to embody determination. Instead of deteriorating while in prison, he tried to find ways to enhance his capabilities and that of others. The bars that literally locked him did not hinder him from practicing his skills such as arranging financial and taxation payments, shaping rocks, educating his fellow inmates through putting up a library and offering tutorial services, particularly to Tommy. The people whom he had contact with kept him sane. Red became his partner and companion. Red supported him in his financial work for the prison guards and in setting up with the library. But most of all, Red was there to support him in his determination to achieve freedom. For me, it was not only presented as an idea of getting out of jail. Instead, freedom is a challenge. It is us who can actually make freedom happen. Our attachment to a particular environment such as that of Brooks can make freedom fearful and unknown. His being institutionalized in jail for about 50 years has developed in him a sense of belonging and permanence that he no longer wanted to explore what was out there for him. On the other hand, Red, saw freedom as a prize. He was determined to get it, no matter how many rejection it takes. As for Tommy, his interest in learning has developed in Andy a sense of responsibility and patience. Most of all, Tommy’s knowledge behind the real deal of Andy’s case shed a ray of hope and strength to continue in his endeavor to prove his innocence.

Politics was definitely seen in the movie. One perfect example was the hierarchical relationship the prisoners had with the prison guards and the warden. These people were the rule makers. They have the authority to do whatever they want, while the prisoners are subject to follow and do whatever is asked of them. Yet aside from that, I personally think that the Shawshank Prison has also served as a home to Andy, Red, Brooks and the rest of the prisoners. It is in here that they have also experienced politics. The way they related with each other, which involved both conflict and cooperation was very evident. This was where Andy got to know his self better. He met people who were either his friends or enemies, who all contributed to his development as a person. He became more strong-minded and strong-willed in his quest for freedom and starting life anew. Despite the circumstances that could have ruined his chances for freedom such as the death of Tommy, the warden’s isolation torture and other abuses, Andy never gave up. In the end, he was able to escape and experience peace, freedom and happiness with his one true friend, Red.

This way the movie ended surprised me. My idea that the Shawshank Prison would drive Andy insane was wrong. Instead, it was actually the one that has paved that way for Andy to become a better person and pursue his goals no matter how long and how much sacrifice it takes. The way some things end can really surprise us.


kristia said...

Get busy living or get busy dying.Be optimistic or be pessimistic?

Most of the time people would choose to be the latter,focusing on the sad things that happens in one’s life rather than on the good things that are actually present.Hope is after all,a rare commodity and one would most likely not expect to find hope in a prison movie.The Shawshank Redemption,however,proves otherwise.

The Shawshank Redemption is the story of Andy Dufresne,a prominent banker who was unjustly convicted of murder.He spent many years in the Shawshank prison where he was befriended by some of the inmates including Red,the convict who knew the ropes inside the prison and helped him to cope with the difficulties of the prison life.

Hope is definitely one of the important themes of the film.In a place as dreary as the prison wherein everything is a routine,hope is indeed the only chance of survival.True enough,this was proven when the main character was able to escape prison by using only a rock hammer.Also,in order to make the prison a better place for him and for the other inmates,Andy wrote a letter every single day in order to persuade the higher officials to give funds for their library.

Aside from showing the importance of hope,the film also touched upon more political themes such as the ideas of social injustice,power and corruption.

Social injustice can be clearly seen in the treatment of the prisoners.Ideally,all the prisoners should be equal and should be treated in the same way.Unfortunately,as was seen in the film,there were some prisoners who gained the favour of the prison guards.For example,when Andy was able to help most of the prison guards and even the warden,he was transferred to an easier job-working at the library with Brooks.

Another example of social injustice would be how some of the prison guards would beat the prisoners for no reason.When one of the new inmates started crying hysterically,one of the prison guards got so angry that he beat the prisoner until the prisoner died.It should be remembered that the prisoners are still human beings who should be treated with the respect that they deserve.

The concept of power (and power relations) was also evident in the film.The warden and the prison guards were the ones who had the power over the prisoners,the prisoners had no choice but to follow whatever the warden and the guards would ask them to do.It can be seen that the reason why power was vested over some people was because it is necessary to establish peace and order.In order to control the prisoners,there should be people who would guide their actions.Unfortunately, a problem occurs when that power is abused.

The abuse of power can also be related with the concept of corruption.Corruption can be defined as the use of public office for private gain,a phenomenon which was also featured in the film.The warden was the perfect example of a corrupt official.For one,he put the inmates to work into different projects and since the labor was cheap,he was able to outbid the other contractors.Occasionally,he would accept bribes from the competing contractors and the money that he would receive would go to his personal account.

The film,in general,was able to effectively give the audience a glimpse of what happens inside the walls of a prison.Upon watching the film,one will eventually realize that the prison can somehow be a microcosm of our society.The problems inside the prison are actually the same problems that exist in our society.Social injustice can be found everywhere,may it be in the form of racism,sexism and so on.Power also plays a very important role in the society,with the powerful getting most of the benefits, sometimes even at the expense of the less powerful.Corruption exists in both the public and the private spheres,may it be in the form of bribery, patronage, etc.These problems exist everywhere.The challenge to us now is that if we will be like Brooks,who eventually gave up or will we be like Andy who fought these problems and did not lose hope until the very end.


Kristine Camia said...

For anyone who’s a sentimentalist (like me), the movie ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ is surely one of the best. Revolving around the story of Andy Dufrense and Ellis Boyd Redding inside the Shawshank State Prison, this movie has the capability to make the audience cry. This inspirational movie shows how hope pushes someone to make the best out of his/her circumstance and overcome any misfortune. It is a story of hope and how it can make people survive life, even a life inside a penitentiary. Overall, it is a story that depicts a positive side of life despite all its hardships.

But there is more to this movie than just a story of hope. Let us go back to the scene where Andy is in his cell in a stormy night holding a long piece of rope. What if instead of escaping, he committed suicide? If this happened, the whole message of the film will change. From a story of hope, it will be a story of injustice and cruelty. From the triumphant escape of Andy, we will instead remember the other cruel parts of the movie. It will make us see the flaws of the justice system or how can a government send an innocent man or woman that can be a society’s asset and suddenly make him/her look like a liability. For many years, lawmakers continuously study and work to make better laws to ensure justice for every citizen. But they can only do so much. If someone was imprisoned for decades and then he/she was proven not guilty, what can the state do? Can the government put a monetary value to someone’s freedom?

It will also show us the kind of relationship between the authorities and the prisoners. In this movie it is very clear how the authorities use their power to do or get what they want and keep everything unknown. But this kind of relationship cannot only be observed between the authorities and the prisoners. Such relationship also exists between prisoners. And this is where the concept of power becomes more interesting. If we will look at it closely, they are all prisoners who eat the same food, sleep in identical cells and do the same routines. However some prisoners are more powerful than others. But who or what makes the hierarchy? Is it seniority or strength, or maybe in the case of Andy, intelligence? Or any of these three plus consent? I believe there can be no a single definite answer and this just shows how social interaction can be so complex.

This movie can also make us think about the situation of the prisoners in our country. If we will look at the state of the Shawshank State Prison, we can consider their prisoners lucky because they eat good food, sleep in their own cell and have useful facilities. Compare that to the situation here in the Philippines. The prisoners also eat but stay in overcrowded prison cells and there are prisons that don’t have their own clinic. This raise questions about inefficiencies in our government and how they fail in providing services to its citizens.

Fortunately, the filmmakers stayed true to the story and let Andy Dufrense escape. Although the end of the movie is a bit predictable, the movie is indeed a very good movie to watch. Aside from the remarkable performance of the actors, the story itself especially the part where Andy was able to outsmart the prison authorities made the movie really enjoyable. I guess people really like it when good defeats evil.


Ina_Partosa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ina_Partosa said...

Shawshank redemption can be considered as one of the better films in Hollywood, not only because of the beautifully written plot but because of the way it tries to deliver a certain message to the viewer using abstract concepts of justice, power and redemption. Darabont's ability to focus on one of man's greatest needs (freedom), combined with the film’s brilliant musical score and Red’s (Morgan Freeman's) excellent narration made the film so touching, it can drive the viewers to tears. This powerful combination was able to make the audience feel exactly how the characters in the film are feeling, making them understand how it is to be caged and bound for the rest of your life.

Corruption, one of the biggest problems in society, is one of the underlying themes of the movie. Warden Norton (Bob Gurton) exemplified your typical politician, resolved to doing anything for power and money. He made, profit out of the prisoners’ labor and ordered Andy (Tim Robbins) to launder money using a fictional identity. It also showed a subtle critic of the government when Andy needed to persistently write to the US Congress just to be able to get a decent budget for his library. It deals with the fact that sometimes we forget that criminals, despite their sins, are still human beings who are entitled to facilities that can help them reform and improve their lives.

Social justice is also an underlying concept in the film. Several times in the movie, prison guards are shown as maltreating prisoners, putting them in the “hole” for an indefinite period of time and treating them as vermin. The murder of Tommy (Gil Bellows) just because he was ready to tell the truth regarding Andy’s case makes the viewers think of the injustice that usually happens in society whenever a person gets in the way of powerful personalities. Honestly, it reminded me of the Ampatuan Massacre where innocent people were killed just because a politician wanted to maintain power in Maguindanao. The power structure in the film prods the viewer to think of the existing status quo in society and the serious problems that come with it.

It also deals with institutionalization and how people eventually rely on it in the long run. Brooks Hatlen’s (James Whitmore) touching story of life outside prison is an allegory of the sociological concept of “anomie”. Brooks was so used to an institutionalized life where laws are laid down before him that when he was freed, he found it hard to adjust to the sudden change in surrounding which ultimately led to him taking his own life.

One of the uncanny things that I noticed in the film is the symbolism in the way Andy carried himself. On the earlier part of the story, you can see how Andy differed from the other prisoners because of the way he buttoned his shirt, closed and corporate-like, a symbol of how he kept his dignity intact. But as the story progressed, we can see how Andy slowly becomes part of that society as he changes the way he carried himself. He became more loose and relaxed. It reminded me of how a person adapts in a new society and tries to find his own function as a part of that group.

The beauty of the film lies on its ability to show tough criminals as being actually capable of real human emotions. It makes the audience reach out to them despite the horrors that they have done in the past. It displays a quite accurate picture of what reality really is: a hard and brutal arena where you have to battle your own inner demons in order to be emancipated. It gives the viewer a familiar feel of your typical prison drama where the hero always gets the better of things in the end but it's blunt predictability makes it so unpredictable and original that even after the movie the viewer's will be left thinking of the message that it tried to convey. The movie may have given off a certain feel good feeling because of the resolution of the issues but it did not fail to spark hope in the hearts of the audience that in the end, it is only ourselves that can set us free.

Nons said...

It’s not your typical Stephen King story. There’s no mention of ghouls, vampires or even ghosts. But what makes this Stephen King film adaptation special is precisely that. Man here is the equivalent of every scary thing that you can think of. He is evil. He is greedy. He will stop at nothing to get what he wants. And that is what you will see in Frank Darapont’s “The Shawshank Redemption.” The Shawshank Redemption is a chilling and at the same time, an inspiring tale of how a man survives in a prison the likes of which you have only seen in your nightmares. What is even more disturbing in this story is how a man changes radically to adapt himself to the environment he has found himself in. Imprisoned for a crime he protests he didn’t commit (this is one of the recurring themes/recurring joke in the film given that all prisoners in Shawshank says they are innocent of the crimes that they were sentenced with, the sole exception being Ellis Redding who says he is guilty), Andy Dufresne is what we could consider a good man. But all of that changes when he was imprisoned. He adapted to his environment, learning ways to survive in a prison where violence, sodomy, graft and corruption. The film presents quite a number of themes but in this paper, we will focus on the role of prisons and see if they really serve their purpose of rehabilitating and reducing the occurrence of crime.

“At first you hate them, then get used to them and later on depend on them.” This is how Ellis Redding (Morgan Freeman) describes the gray walls of Shawshank Prison and gives us an insight on how imprisonment works. Based on what Redding says, we can infer that imprisonment works as a punishment through the removal of the prisoner’s rights most especially that of his freedom. The prison is supposed to instill in inmates a sense of discipline—that whatever they do that is against the rules is punishable and to avoid punishment, the inmates must follow the rules. The prison guards can see everything that you would do enabled by the panoptic architecture of prison itself. But what we see in the film is an overt disregard of rules. We see Redding conducting smuggling within the prison, even saying that “when you want something, come to me” to Dufresne early in the movie. A more obvious example would be when Redding and his friends were chosen to fix the prison’s roof. It seems that prison serves as another venue for crime, and it’s even more chilling to see that the warden of the prison itself perpetrates some of these crimes.

Prison should also pave the way for the rehabilitation of the inmates and which would—for some lucky inmates—means a granted parole and a supposed crime-free life outside of prison. But the example of Brookes who after being granted parole after serving almost 50 years in prison killed himself when he realized he can’t cope up with the outside world disproves that notion. What we see here is not really rehabilitation of the prisoner to cope up with the outside world but rather the rehabilitation of the prisoner so that he would get used to life inside the prison walls. Another example is that of Dufresne who before coming to prison was a law abiding citizen but after staying in Shawshank for two decades was rehabilitated to behave like a criminal to survive life inside the prison.

The Shawshank Redemption shows us how prison could actually accomplish the opposite of its mandate as an institution. It really doesn’t rehabilitate nor prevent the occurrence of crime. It just facilitates a more creative and covert way of doing crime and avoiding punishment. This goes on to show that maybe imprisonment is not really the best way to punish criminals and that the system is really flawed; and that there is another way to punish and at the same time rehabilitate criminals. But what could be done to fix this is another thing altogether.


Oswald said...

The Shawshank Redemption is a story of inner battles fought by prisoners of Shawshank. It is a film that reveals the depth of human nature in its yearning for freedom.

The development of the persona of Dufresne and other characters presents an interesting aspect of the movie. It is here where we see the film taken from a specific point-of-view, such that the plot emphasized a particular side of the personalities of the characters. In beginning, for instance, the audience was given enough space to speculate as to the innocence of guilt of Dufresne. This established the "humanity" of the protagonist. Without such atmosphere, the audience would hesitate to hand him sympathy. Others, with their positive involvement with Andy, proved themselves worthy of the audience's trust. This manner of character development and the setting itself, the thick walls of an oppressive system overshadowing the crimes of some and the kindness of others, are the tools that made the movie a sentimental one, commanding an extent of emotions from the viewers. It is the interaction of these developed characters with each other and their environment that brought about this engrossing film.

The exhibited power relations in the movie require examination. It may be said that there are two possible relationships in the prison: prison personnel-prisoner and prisoner-prisoner. The former is obviously vertical in that prison personnel are by default in higher positions that the prisoners. This is shown in the association of the protagonist with the warden and the dealings of the other prisoners with the guards. The prisoner-prisoner relations also exist especially when there are “new fishes.” It is further seen in the rape incidents. Rape here is more than just a craving for personal/sexual satisfaction. It can be seen as an effort to dominate other prisoners.

This leads to the issue of representations appropriated to women in the film. At first glance, the symbolism appears to be contradictory. In the beginning of the story, for instance, it was arguably Dufresne’s wife that caused his incarceration but inside the prison, women represented the fantasies of the prisoners. This can be seen in the movies they watched and posters they displayed (not to mention the female voices in the song that supposedly dissolved the walls that isolated them from freedom). In another angle, however, the issue is more of the objectification of women rather than the semiotics of suppression and liberty.

That being said, prison and escape films are indeed a potent avenues for talking about freedom and change. The constraints they provide heighten the aspiration for liberation. Eventually, freedom, as in any modernist project (which requires resolution usually a happy ending), is achieved. It is interesting to note that Darabont initially meant for the film to have an open ending but Castle Rock urged him to do otherwise to please the audience. Some say that in response, the film took the ending “from a distance” rather than revealing “a teary reunion.”

The utility of prison in the film as “fertile ground” for illustrating emancipation, however, starkly contrasts with Michel Foucault’s use of the same in exemplifying the ubiquity of power. Whereas the film demonstrates the possibility of liberation from a complex system of oppression and subjugation with great help from its setting, Foucault sees the “birth of prison” (panopticon) as a leap towards the “perfection of power.” In this regard, he argues that history is “an endlessly repeated play of domination.” It is therefore not possible to escape from power. It may be that The Shawshank Redemption and the penal system as a whole reminds us not to deviate from the ruling order, like the prisoners did not want to violate the rules of the warden to avoid the “hole.”

Ultimately, however, the film urges us to hope and see life in a way a newborn child would (symbolized in Andy crawling in a hole at the back of the Raquel Welch, as in mother’s womb, poster).


rotcivcumigad said...

Part 1

Considered to be one of the most powerful films at the end of the 20th century, the Shawshank Redemption, starred by Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman and directed by Frank Darabont, portrays the ills of the criminal justice system in the US during the 50’s that still prevail to this day as regards to criminal cases and delivery of justice. Allowing its viewers in a walk-through of the different stages of the criminal justice system (investigation, trial, correction, rehabilitation and reintegration), the film exposes a rotten system where failure of investigation, questionable decision of judges, human rights violations, irregular jail management, abuse of authority, and corruption are deeply-seated in its practices and continues to exist in the present. This film, therefore, is not merely concerned with a single issue but an embodying collection of different failures and malpractices of the most crucial and important institution of society, the justice system.
The Shawshank Redemption follows the life of Andy Dufresne as he was subjected to go through the criminal justice system for being accused in the killing of his wife and her lover. It is at this point that I will start my observations on the different accounts where the film exposed the irregularities and rotten practices of the actors involved and tasked in upholding the truth and ultimately for imposing justice to people like Andy Dufresne.
I would like to start where Andy was being subjected to trial in front of a jury and a judge and questioned by a prosecutor. The laid case was that there were no witnesses and no gun laid for investigation and was put to trial for mere circumstantial evidences. There was no exact proof of his involvement of the crime but still, he was pressed for crimes just for the convenience of the prosecution. This exemplifies that even at the start of the stages of the criminal justice system, we can find practices and irregularities that inhibit the truth and the outcome of the case. In this case, we take the investigation. We saw that there was incompetence on the part of the prosecution since they failed to produce the most important piece of any murder puzzle, the weapon. But still, Andy was subjected to questioning as if he was guilty of the crime. Then we have the decision of the judge and the conviction at the latter part of the case. Even the judge, before reading the sentence, made a remark to Andy expressing disgrace and anger to an animal like him. Such is an undoubtedly display of prejudice for the part of the judge. Although this may not cover sensitive issues like corruption, these kinds of incompetence, ineffectiveness and irregularities persist in the current justice system today, may it be in the US or in the Philippines. This results principally to the inability to deliver and serve justice.


rotcivcumigad said...

Part 2

The next flaws in the judiciary that were presented in an exemplary manner in the film can be found in the correction and ultimately the rehabilitation of those who are convicted. Those two processes are greatly interconnected that a defect in one could result to the failure of the other. Such is showed by the film in the way that the prisoners become so dependent in to the system that they have no sense of ‘rehabilitation’—if such is defined as one’s readiness to rejoin the society, as was mentioned in the film. The penitentiary creates an environment that is in stark contrast with the real world that the once the prisoners were accustomed to it, they wouldn’t be able to see themselves as part of the real society when released. Thus, another important pillar of the criminal justice system showed by the film is to rehabilitate convicts for reintegration in to society. But this is not the case for the inmates of Shawshank, particularly Andy Dufresne, a convicted murderer with two life sentences. It also meant parole will not be an option for freedom since most of the time it is denied. Therefore, the film points out the fundamental issue of what it means when we say correction and rehabilitation of our inmates. It shatters the very fundamental of correction and rehabilitation since there is no point of correction if chances for reintegration are very rare.
One basic component of the criminal justice system is of course the penal institutions, its staff and management. What is striking in the film is its depiction of what actually happens inside the walled community, how is it actually run, the relationships that may spring from the guards, to fellow imamates and to the highest authority. It exposed first and foremost, its irregular management. Brutality, harassment and aggravation are just some of the daily torment inmates must go through from the routine supervision of the guards, aside from their regular activities such as manual labor which they are tasked. Then we have the self-righteous corrupt warden who took advantage of his prisoners for self gain. These are just some of the unduly practices of our penal institutions that hinders inmate rehabilitation and well-being which is vital for reintegration to society.
To conclude, the film tackles a sensitive issue of flawed administration of justice. Our society regard highly of justice because it fuels the very principles of freedom and democracy. Therefore, failure to administer justice, as it is portrayed in this film can cause grave failings of the society itself.


remegio said...

Innocent as he was Andy Dufresne was given back to back life sentences for the murder of his wife and his wife’s lover. After being sent to the notorious Shawshank prison, Andy’s experiences were more than gruelling. Despite the fact that he was truly innocent he was still able to cope with the situation he was facing. His experience inside the prison walls showed the intricately woven power relations in prison. Guards treating prisoners as they were not humans and prisoners themselves treating other prisoners in the same fashion. The creators of the movie were very successful in portraying the hierarchy inside the prison. The movie showed that the prisoners can do nothing to harm the officers.

The importance of education and information was also successfully portrayed. The development and expansion of the prison library and Andy helping some of his inmates get their high school equivalency degrees was effective in stressing that education was very important even though they were in that state. Aside from the above mentioned reasons, it is undoubtedly Andy’s education and banking experience which enabled him to appease the guards and the warden himself by offering them accounting and legal services. Moreover, even though not directly connected to education but to knowledge itself, Andy’s enthusiasm with rocks helped him a lot in escaping the prison.

Corruption can be practiced in myriad ways and places and the prison is not safe from it. The movie showed how the officers of the prison especially the warden took chance and exploited the prisoners to their advantages. In addition high degree of subjugation was so evident that the prisoners are engulfed by hopelessness. As they called it in the movie as being “institutionalized” it is horrifying to know that prisons who were meant to be correctional and rehabilitative facilities are not accomplishing anything significant. Survival was i think one of the key themes in the movie. Survival not only in the physical sense of staying alive but also more intangibly as to be able to determine his own destiny which can be only achieved by being outside the prison walls. This is what the two main characters achieved which differs them from all the other prisoners in the movie.

Aside from being very entertaining, the movie was also very successful in portraying the escape of Andy to be very acceptable. Even though it was a crime fro Andy to escape, the creators of the movie made it look so good that the viewers would actually cheer for him if they would be watching him as he escape. It is further contrasted to the way Red was able to get out of prison which is by adhering to the legal channels available which is through parole. The movie somewhat prescribes that since Red was guilty then he should adhere to the legal channels to be free. While Andy being innocent and having tried the legal prospect but failed due to the greed and insecurity of the warden, it is utterly acceptable if he gets out of prison by escaping. This is what I think a type of justice that the movie presents.

The film was successful in depicting various social and political problems and indeed a very inspiring one.

jolly said...

An engrossing and powerful film, Frank Darabont’s “The Shawshank Redemption” is a unique prison drama that exhibits power in its most complex forms. Through the experience of the protagonist, a former banker and convicted murderer Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), the film takes viewers on a journey of faith, friendship, and survival amidst the towering presence of the Shawshank State Prison and all that it symbolizes.

The struggle for power is one of the prevailing themes in this beautifully crafted movie. What makes the movie even more enduring is the fact that power here is not a static phenomenon but one that is dynamic. As in politics, those who hold power today might not do so tomorrow. It is through this where I think the movie gets much of its fuel: there are unexpected shifts in power that make the 142-minute film work.

For instance, Dufresne used to have it all: he is educated, wealthy, a rising career as a banker, a beautiful wife. Everything began to fall apart, however, when he was convicted to two life years in prison for a supposedly murdering his wife and her lover. At the sound of the judge’s gavel, he was stripped of everything he used to hold dear—power, freedom, wealth, you name it—and sent to a place where the prisoners are at the mercy of the self-righteous warden Norton, who would use his radical religiousness and position as a tool to subjugate the prisoners. Clearly, our protagonist is sent to the bottom of the social food chain; but what is remarkable about him is that he still was able to keep his humanity and rationality intact. He fosters a close kinship with co-inmate and contraband extraordinaire Elis “Red” Redding (portrayed superbly by Morgan Freeman) and his gang, and uses his knowledge in banking as a tool for breaking the structural relationship between prisoner and guard, as seen when he leaves the confines of hard field labor and begins to work in the same offices that these free men spend their days on.

The story makes a complex turn when, after years of serving his sentence, we realize through a new inmate that Dufresne is actually innocent. His demand for justice is silenced by Norton when he eventually had the inmate and only witness unwarrantedly killed in the darkness of the night. Just as when we think, however, that Dufresne gives in to the bleakness of prison reality, our protagonist escapes and completely overturns Norton’s corruption and cruelty, reverting back the power that he once lost.

jolly said...


Another thing that is interesting about the movie is that the clear, thick lines that used two separate two opposing forces in society (for instance, guilt versus innocence, good versus bad, right versus wrong, and even life versus death) are later on blurred through the succeeding turn of events. We realize, as we get to know more about Dufresne and the people he interacts with (Red, Brooks, Tommy, etc.), that those in prison do not deserve the cruelty that is impinged on them by men in uniforms. They were brought to prison by justice, and it should also hold that justice protect them from being brutally beaten up—and even killed!—while serving their sentence. This is not the case, however. Social injustice reverberates through the grey walls of the Shawshank Prison, and unfortunately, it stays there, unseen by the public eye. The film socializes its audience by making considering the ambiguity of these forces; that there are grey areas in between black and white.

The best thing about “The Shawshank Redemption” is that it clings to hope despite all odds. Viewers see the film in the eyes of the cynical Red, the closest friend of Dufresne; thus we see the transformation and growth of the characters as years slowly roll by. His unorthodox methods of productivity and creative ways to solving problems gave a lease of life to his friends, like the instance when Dufresne gave Red a harmonica after his second failed attempt at parole, or like the time he rebelliously played Mozart through the PA for the benefit of the other inmates. In the end, his emancipation only affirms his defiance against the tight spaces of Shawshank and all that it stands for: the corruption, greed, murder, sodomy, injustice, and oppression, and his embrace for freedom as wide as the ocean.


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At the onset, "The Shawshank Redemption" is no different from every other prison drama available in the market. It's the classic tale of "man suffers great injustice, gets imprisoned, is spiritually awakened by the experience, leading to his liberation from the bondage of fate and circumstance, and ultimately his redemption, in which, at this point, leaves us, the audience, with the belief that there is still hope for humanity". It’s as if I saw this film somewhere before.

Nevertheless, the film remains to be highly-lauded and well-loved. To my surprise, I also found it quite interesting obviously not for its formulaic literary tropes, but because there is indeed something very political, or even Marxist about it. Allow me to expound:

The portrayal of the life inside the prison system alludes to a society run primarily under a capitalist system, which is evident in enforcement of class structures which distinguish the guards and the warden (as the oppressors) and the prisoners (the oppressed). Similarly, the rule of law is imposed through the use of police power and religion (“I believe in two things: discipline and the Bible. Here you'll receive both. Put your trust in the Lord; your ass belongs to me.”).

As the individual enters the system, he loses a part of his self due to its dehumanizing nature. In prison, as in the capitalist system, the worker/prisoner becomes a faceless number, a cog in the well-oiled machine of capitalism which operates to self-perpetuate its exploitative existence. Red mentions that, “prison life consists of routine, and then more routine.” In a capitalist system, this method of routine diminishes the individual into becoming more of a machine than a man, and thus rendering himself “alien” to his own existence. The individual has become “institutionalized” by the system. In effect, the prisoners become slaves to the system, and as evident in Brooks’ suicide, their very survival depends on it.

At first, the protagonist Dufresne opts to capitulate and work within the confines of the system, choosing to go about without stir or trepidation. His skill and knowledge is identified by the guards and the warden and soon after he becomes a tool, a property used to perpetuate their corrupt and exploitative interests. Although he is rewarded with protection and a temporary release from routine, these “gifts” are nothing compared to the ultimate desire of every prisoner- freedom.

The turning point of this film, I think, was when Dufresne began to openly defy authority, as seen when he played music over the PA despite knowing the consequences of his actions. This act of self-awareness of his state of being and his desire to be free again alludes to what Marx identifies as “class consciousness” which results to the beginnings of social revolution. At this point, Dusfresne is reminded that the only reason he has been put under the system is because of injustice. This is further compounded when a new inmate confirms his innocence.


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When Dusfresne decided to end the charade and expose the sham of what has occurred, he is met with the full force of the system. The cost of him standing up against injustice was further violence and alienation.

This served as the breaking point for Dufresne. The system has betrayed him long enough that it was ample time to fight back. Ultimately, his choice of action against the system was to escape from it. We learn afterwards that throughout his stay, he has been actively undermining these structures of oppression both literally and figuratively.

Dufresne’s escape from prison is obviously against the law. This alludes to Marx’s conclusion that only through the forcible overthrow of all existing social and material conditions can the injustices inherent in the system end. Genuine social change cannot come from within, but rather through some other extralegal means- the same way Dufresne cannot expect justice to come while he is in prison.

The film ends by showing that due to Dufresne’s active revolt against the system, it eventually succumbs and destroys itself, as seen in the suicide of its main perpetrator, the warden. Dufresne regains his freedom and humanity, reaps the fruits of his labor and begins to live life anew.

For all it’s worth, I think the film is wonderfully blessed with the capacity to be interpreted in many ways. Many have said that it is a modern day parable of hope and salvation, while some may say, by a stretch, that it’s Marxist propaganda. But regardless of how we see this film, the message remains clear- we can't just hope for Zihuatanejo to come; we must fight for it.


Kathrine said...

“These walls are funny. First you hate 'em, then you get used to 'em. Enough time passes, you get so you depend on them. That's institutionalized.”- Red

Frank Darabont's The Shawshank Redemption is a story of power and justice concealed beneath a tale of hope, redemption and friendship. The story is about Andy Dufresne, who was sentenced to two-life sentences for murdering his wife and her lover, and his agonizing yet heartwarming journey towards redemption and ultimate freedom. As the movie progresses, viewers will start to empathize with the prisoners while the brutality, injustice and cruelty of prison life unfolds.

“Forty years I been asking permission to piss. I can't squeeze a drop without say-so”- Red. Shawshank Redemption is, foremost, a story of power. The power of the prison guards and the warden over the prisoners, and the power of intelligence and quick-wittedness are clearly evident in the film. Describing the relationship of the prison guards and the prisoners is stating the obvious fact of power disparities between the two. The prisoners have no liberty to pee whenever they want to pee anytime, anywhere. Moreover, they are caged inside the towering halls of the penitentiary while these guards stood above 20 or 30 feet above them. The panoramic shot of the penitentiary, its towering walls, the cells inside it, the lighting in the solitary confinement - each shot in the film clearly gives an account of the powerless state of the prisoners. The next dimension of power has something to do with the power of quick-wittedness and intelligence to bend rules, forge alliances and eventually get a hold of power. Andy used his intelligence to get close to the officials and to his inmate friends. He used his intelligence to gain privileges; however, his power is only limited, for the ultimate power still lies on the warden.

Part I Maxwell, Katt

Kathrine said...

Part II Maxwell, Katt

It is a story of justice. “Justice is knowing what suits your own nature”- Plato. For the lay people, justice is putting behind bars these convicted felons, however, as the story progresses and as the injustices inside the prison walls become evident, viewers will start to question if this is indeed justice. Inside the walls of the penitentiary, justice is dictated by the warden and the guards; the prisoners are made to believe that they rightfully deserve what they are experiencing. Behind the miserable state of the prisoners, Andy craftily searched his own niche in the penitentiary. And when he eventually found out that he is indeed innocent, his urge to rightfully assert his freedom and claim the consequences of his stay inside the penitentiary become strong and become his foundation for his search of justice. “..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.”-Red

Overall, it is a story of hope- hope amid injustices, hope amid weakness, and hope amid hopelessness. The concept ‘hope’ was introduced on two views- first is that “hope is a dangerous thing… hope can drive a man insane” and second is that “hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” These two views on hope can be juxtaposed to the current situation in our country. Amidst the corruption, amidst the social inequalities, amidst the scandals, and amidst the other things that can bring down our nation is the hope – hope that everything is going to be okay. It can be argued that the story gives false hopes to people because it is too good to be true, but I argue that it is not. The story tells that if you are persistent to achieve your goals, the hope for you is a good thing. However, if you always hope yet do nothing, then it is in this case that hope can drive you insane. I believe hope is integral in our country today, especially with the coming elections, people have a lot of hope for the betterment of our country. Today hope runs around our country, touching lives and influencing people to do something that they are capable of- voting for the better candidate. Though this may sound quite idealistic, I believe that this little hope- hope for the better and for significant changes- is something that the corrupt system cannot get from us. This hope is our defense against this venal society and thus our catalyst for change.

Maxwell, Katt


LIsBOG said...

The Shawshank Redemption is a movie based on the novel by Stephen King entitled Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. It was released in 1994 and was nominated with seven Academy Awards which includes Best Picture. Even though it did not make good in the box office, it was considered by many critics as one of the best movies of all time.Obviously, the movie's main theme is redemption. Andy, the lead character, was convicted with two life imprisonments in a crime in which he did not commit. But after many years, he eventually escaped from the walls of prison and started a new life with his co-inmate Red.

But besides from being an inspirational movie about hope, redemption and starting over again, the Shawshank Redemption exposes several facts that happen within the prison system and of the whole society which made the movie more valuable and unique from just a normal prison drama. The movie highlights injustice- inside and outside prison. The movie started with injustice- as Andy was wrongfully convicted with the murder of his wife and her lover, but this was only the beginning of the many injustices that he will suffer with the walls of prison.

“If I hear so much as a mouse fart in here the rest of the night I swear by God and sonny Jesus you will all visit the infirmary. Every last motherfucker in here.” -Captain Hadley

Given the almost absolute power and authority given to the prison warden Samuel Norton and chief of the guards Capt. Byron Hadley, they blatantly abused their power which caused the prisoners to live as if they were in hell. It is too easy for them to harm or even murder inmates that they seem to dislike. Because of this kind of set-up, the inmates can't do anything about it, these two people are the rules and the prisoners must live with it or else something bad will happen to them. And in real life, these things do happen. In a society where injustice persists and when the leaders are even the ones who cause the persistence of these injustices, the people will just learn to live with this situation and do nothing about it and hope seems hard to reach.

Also, the movie highlights some elements of corruption the persists within the society. First, it showed how Warden Norton benefits from kickbacks from the different projects that he made. Also, with the help of Andy, the movie showed how public officials cheat with their income tax returns. We frequently hear these stories from the news and these does not only happen within the prison system but also from many government officials.

But the greatest thing that the movie showed is that there is always an end in injustice. Even in a society wherein hope does not exist, there will come a day that the tables will turn and justice will prevail. The movie ends with the reunion of Andy and Red and a new life that comes upon them in the pacific. And for me, the movie gives us the message that even how unjust our world is, there shall be a day in which justice will rule again and will give us a new hope as calm as the Pacific.



AldrickMendoza said...

What is a prison? Anyone will confidently answer that a prison is an institution where criminals are being kept to be rehabilitated. How can you say that criminals have already been indeed rehabilitated? Again, it can easily be answered that a person is rehabilitated if he/she is again responsible and disciplined enough to be given freedom without the worry that he/she will cause more trouble to the society. But what is freedom? Does freedom pertain to being in the other side of the prison wall? Can a person assertively say that he/she is free? It also deals with the question of what constitute a society. Is there a society inside a prison? Frank Darabont’s 1994 movie The Shawshank Redemption provides a different point of view in looking at the conditions of the criminals in prison. It also provides us with a new outlook in something that most of us usually take for granted, freedom.
Life is definitely unfair, therefore it is the people’s task to make it fair for themselves. This statement alone is enough to describe the events which happened in the movie. Andy Dufresne is a successful man but an unlucky person. The setting when the film started was a courtroom where Andy was being tried for the crime of murdering his wife and her other lover. Even though he was sure that he did not commit the crime, no sufficient evidence was present to acquit him of the act. Andy was convicted on both counts and was judged to serve double lifetime imprisonment. The successful banker before, now became just another crook at Shawshank.
Inside Shawshank, Andy always tries to do things that would make him feel that his life was still normal. He pursued his love of Geology, he even ordered a stone-hammer just to be able to continue his hobby of sculpting. Andy even ordered a woman from Red, the person who knows how to get things. He was trying to do things no other prisoner ever tried in Shawshank, once they were drafted to work outside the prison he requested for beer for his company at the cost of saving the 35,000 dollar inheritance of the chief guard. He writes to the senate one letter a week so that they would provide budget to improve the library of Shawshank. He taught prisoners so that they can get their high school diplomas. He made the society of criminals to be a functional society comparable to the free society outside the walls of Shawshank. This made the viewers wonder, what does it really like being free? Is this man, Andy Dufresne, free even though he is imprisoned? Is he even freer inside Shawshank compared to outside the walls of the prison?
Even though Andy’s life seems so good inside Shawshank, it is not. When he entered the prison, he was adored by the “sisters,” a group of prisoners who practice sodomy. He was forced to be a bitch of one of the sisters until the moment Andy was given protection by the guards, this happened after the 35,000 dollar event. After the incidences of forced sex, Andy became a fixer for the scams of the warden. Practicing banking skills and knowledge, Andy secured that the corruption money of the warden will not be traced back to the warden. This scheme continued on and on as years passed by.

Mendoza, Aldrick (Part1)

AldrickMendoza said...

These events did not stop Andy from continuing his previous works for his fellow prisoners. Until one day that a new set of prisoners entered Shawshank. Andy met a young man that proved his innocence. After several years in Shawshank, he discovered what really happened that night his wife was killed. This gave Andy a new hope that he will regain his freedom once again but no one in Shawshank took him seriously. Worse, the warden put up a plot to kill this young man. With this Andy cracked. Nothing matters anymore for him. He stopped working for the warden’s schemes at the cost of months inside the hole. He became a different person as Red would talk about. Andy started his dreams of getting his freedom back, freedom outside the walls of Shawshank.
Andy Dufresne vanished into thin air. He was in his cell after lights-out and gone the next morning. How did this happen? Can a man just disappear? No, he did not vanish or disappear. Andy Dufresne just did not give up on hope, and after all the years of being inside Shawshank, his hopes bear fruit. His freedom was stolen from him the day the court charged him guilty for a crime he did not commit. Now he stole it back by successfully breaking out from Shawshank.
“Die living or live dying. Do not give up hope, because it cannot be stolen.” This was the final statements Andy left for Red. Before he broke out from Shawshank, Andy Dufresne passed on his hopes onto his friend, hoping that he will die living these words. So that one day, they can meet again.

Mendoza, Aldrick (Part2)

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