The Shawshank Redemption

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The Shawshank Redemption
Directed by Frank Darabont
Produced by Nicki Marvin
Written by Stephen King(creator)
Frank Darabont
Narrated by Morgan Freeman (as the character Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding)
Starring Tim Robbins
Morgan Freeman
Music by Thomas Newman
Cinematography Roger Deakins
Editing by Richard Francis-Bruce
Distributed by Castle Rock Entertainment
Release date(s) September 23, 1994
Running time 142 min.
Country USA
Language English
Budget $25,000,000
Gross revenue $58,500,000
IMDb profile

The Shawshank Redemption is a 1994 film about an innocent man named Andy Dufresne (played by Tim Robbins), who gets sentenced to a life-time in jail for murder. (The film was rated "R" by the MPAA for language and prison violence.)


The film opens with flashbacks of a drunken man named Andy Dufresne sitting alone in his car with a gun. Later, in court he is sentenced to jail for killing his separated wife and her lover. He protests his innocence but is sentenced to Shawshank penitentiary, where he is spotted by Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding, a long-time inmate who is consistently refused parole.

Andy is introduced to the stern Evangelical Warden Norton and the cruel Captain, Hadley. He and several others are marched naked into prison and one pitiful prisoner weeps so much he is beaten to death by Hadley. Andy gets to meet the inmates, such as the librarian, Brooks, the crass Heywood and the homosexual rapist Bogs. Andy makes friends with Red and asks for a rock-hammer so that he can work on rocks while in prison. Although he resists, he is raped by Bogs and is forced to enter into a dismal routine.

The turning point is when Andy and several inmates are invited to work on a roof outside the prison. During this job, Andy helps Hadley with financial affairs. His favor helps him against Bogs, who Hadley beats so badly that he needs to be moved permanently to a hospital. Andy gains favor with both the prisoners who get him rocks and posters and also with the Warden. He works in both the library and with Norton's financial business. The old librarian, Brooks, is set free from Shawshank, but cannot cope with life outside jail and decides to commit suicide. Red says it's because he was institutionalized in such a way he could not have anything to live for outside the prison.

Andy continues to thrive, helping some of Norton's shadier dealings and helping a young man named Tommy to get an education. Tommy mentions that he once met the man who really murdered Andy's wife and her lover. Norton, who does not want to lose Andy's services, has Hadley take Tommy out back and kill him. Andy talks to Red and decides "it all comes down to a simple choice: either get busy living or get busy dying." He tells Red if he gets out of prison to go to a field and find a distinctive rock for a message. He finishes his days work and then goes into his cell with a rope.

Spoiler warning
This article contains important plot information

In the morning, Andy has mysteriously escaped in a tunnel through the wall. Via flashback, we are revealed that Andy used his rock hammer to make a hole in the wall that he covered with several posters over the years. When Tommy was shot, he decided to make his escape. He took with him incriminating evidence on Norton and sent it to the authorities.

Norton discovers Andy's tunnel when a rock thrown at the poster, which Norton had felt was indecent, clatters through and echoes down a tunnel. As Andy makes his escape to begin his new life, he turns vital information over to the authorities about Norton's underhanded business practices. As police converge upon the prison, Hadley his arrested and Norton commits suicide.

After several years, Red is released from jail and put on parole. Just like Brooks, he finds he cannot adjust to life outside jail. He makes one last trip to the field Andy told him about and finds a letter from Andy telling him he should find him near the Pacific Ocean. Red makes the journey and finally reaches Andy next to the Pacific in Zihantanejo.


Tim Robbins - Andy Dufresne

Morgan Freeman - Ellis Boyd 'Red' Redding

Bob Gunton - Warden Norton

William Sadler - Heywood

Clancy Brown - Captain Hadley

Gil Bellows - Tommy

Mark Rolston - Bogs Diamond

James Whitmore - Brooks Hatlen