Jacob Mendez
Jacob Mendez

Unknown facts about “The Shawshank Redemption”. Stephen King surprises

The Shawshank Redemption” (orig. “The Shawshank Redemption”) is a 1994 American film directed by Frank Darabont, based on Stephen King's novella “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption”. It tells the story of Andy Dufresne, a banker wrongly sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of his wife and her lover. The film depicts his life in Shawshank Prison and his friendship with another prisoner, Ellis “Red” Redding.

Main cast:

  • Tim Robbins as Andy Dufresne – a wrongly convicted banker who spends many years in prison fighting for his freedom.
  • Morgan Freeman as Ellis “Red” Redding – an inmate who befriends Andy and is known for his ability to handle various items in the prison.
  • Bob Gunton as warden Samuel Norton – a corrupt prison warden who uses prisoners for his own purposes.
  • William Sadler as Heywood – one of the prisoners, friend of Andy and Red.
  • Clancy Brown as Captain Byron Hadley – a strict prison guard.
  • Gil Bellows as Tommy Williams – a young inmate who plays a key role in Andy's story.

The film is praised for its deep, emotional plot, excellent acting and strong message of hope, friendship and perseverance. It became one of the most acclaimed films of all time.

Although many of you have probably seen this film, often broadcast on Polish television and available on several streaming platforms, it is worth paying attention to its complicated and extensive history. Stephen King himself, the author of the original, had some doubts about the script. In an interview for Huffpost, he recalled his objections: “I thought there was no chance of making a movie out of it. The script was too wordy. It's great, but there's too much talking.”

Fortunately, King was wrong, and the film, despite initial problems at the box office, gained popularity. It is worth recalling that during its premiere it competed with such hits as “Pulp Fiction” by Quentin Tarantino and “Forrest Gump” by Robert Zemeckis. Ultimately, however, the film earned multiple times its production costs. The history of purchasing adaptation rights is also interesting. King was initially unconvinced, but eventually agreed to a check for $1,000 to be returned if the project did not come to fruition. As it turned out, everyone made money on it, and King framed the check he received and sent it back to the director.

King's cooperation with Darabont may seem almost perfect today, but it was not without some minor problems. King did not like the too perfect hole in the wall, which he believed took away the authenticity of the scene. On the occasion of the film's twentieth anniversary, on the website dedicated to the Oscars, King also recalled an anecdote from a joint screening with the director. During the final scene, Darabont complained about Tim Robbins' makeup: “It's too fluid. I have to fix it.” King commented: “People won't notice because they'll cry.” And he was right, the production has become iconic.

Stephen King, known primarily for his horror literature, told an anecdote about a meeting in a store in Florida in the BBC's HARDtalk program. A woman who recognized him described him as the one who “writes all these horrors.” She pointed out that it wasn't a bad thing, but she liked uplifting stories like “The Shawshank Redemption.” She was surprised to learn that King was the author of this beloved story.

Actors Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins also often received praise from fans. Freeman and Robbins are used to hearing about how their film changes people's lives. When asked by Deadline about his favorite adaptation of his work, King replied: “Well, I have a few that I like, but I love 'The Shawshank Redemption' and working with Frank has always been a pleasure.”

The film “The Shawshank Redemption” is full of numerous references to the Christian religion. Many researchers perceive the character of Andy as an allegory of the messiah who, through his suffering, redeems his fellow prisoners. In this context, Red is compared to a criminal crucified together with Jesus, who is the first to be saved. There are references to the Last Supper in the film, and the Bible quotes used by the warden further support this messianic interpretation. Zihuatanejo, the place Andy strives for, is often interpreted as a paradise where you can wash away your sins and achieve absolute purification.

Critic Mark Kermode argues with this interpretation, claiming that Zihuatanejo can be described as a Nietzschean place without guilt. According to him, amnesia is the destruction of sin, not its forgiveness, which makes the main character's actions irreligious. Instead of a messianic figure, Kermode sees Andy as an Enlightenment figure, offering the possibility of escape through education and self-improvement.

Returning to more down-to-earth analyses, the film can be applied to the life of every person. The prison walls are symbolic here, they remind us of our daily routines and limitations. Stepping out of this comfort zone can be as difficult for us as leaving prison after many years. This is the fate of a librarian who, after regaining freedom, cannot find his way and ends his life tragically. If it weren't for Andy's help, Red would probably end up the same way, because it's hard to break old habits. What gives you hope is key. Although for Red hope was the worst thing you could give a prisoner, it ultimately turns out that it is hope that allows him to survive in the face of life's challenges.

See also:

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