The Shawshank Redemption Essay

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The Shawshank Redemption Voted best film of the 1990s, rivaling The Godfather and Star Wars for best movie on IMDB.com, The Shawshank Redemption is one best “feel good” films of all time. Stephen King remembers that he first thought it read like the kind of work that had no chance of being made: low on action, heavy on characterization, and featuring an old and dusty device known as the voice-over narrative. Surprisingly, it was on video that Shawshank won its most ardent fans, recommended through word of mouth to a growing army of fans. Even more unusual is the profound impact which the film seems to have on viewers, particularly those who see it as a modern allegory (a narrative that serves as an extended metaphor) for personal and spiritual salvation. The exotically named website HollywoodJesus.com, observes: “It’s an example of film as therapy. Shawshank Redemption gives you hope [that] you can go on; you can go forward.” On one level, Shawshank seems to suggest a religious “redemption,” but it is also a brilliant escape fantasy which offers a whole range of “exits” from the horrors of confinement or repression. Is Shawshank a prison drama, modern-day gospel, or just plain cinematic fantasy? Salvation, as Warden Norton says, lies within. The Sacred Even the casual viewer of The Shawshank Redemption may be struck by the repetitively religious tone of the dialogue, where biblical allusions are at every turn. In his first words of the film, Red swears by “God’s honest truth”; Heywood exclaims “Sweet Jesus!” when he learns Andy is innocent; and Warden Norton sarcastically screams “”Lord, it’s a miracle!” when faced with his own demise (There are many more examples throughout the film.). The constant repetition of religious allusions has a cumulative effect upon the viewer, suggesting one interpretation of the film. Another key theme introduced at an

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