Overview

The Shawshank Redemption is a 1994 American drama film written and directed by Frank Darabont and starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman.

Storyline

Andy Dufresne is a young and successful banker whose life changes drastically when he is convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of his wife and her lover. Set in the 1940′s, the film shows how Andy, with the help of his friend Red, the prison entrepreneur, turns out to be a most unconventional prisoner.Written by Martin Lewison

Interesting facts

  • The role of Tommy Williams was intended for Brad Pitt.
  • The exteriors were filmed at the defunct Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio. The prison was in such poor condition, renovations had to be made prior to filming. However, most of the interiors were shot on a sound stage, because they determined it would be cheaper to build duplicates of the interiors rather than renovating the interiors of Mansfield.
  • The American Humane Association monitored the filming of scenes involving Brooks’ crow. During the scene where he fed it a maggot, the AHA objected on the grounds that it was cruel to the maggot, and required that they use a maggot that had died from natural causes. One was found, and the scene was filmed.
  • In Stephen King’s original story, Red was written as a white Irishman. In the movie, they left the line, “Maybe it’s ’cause I’m Irish”, in as a joke, even after they had cast Morgan Freeman as Red.
  • The Rita Hayworth movie the prisoners are watching is Gilda.
  • Warden Norton whistles the hymn “Eine feste Burg ist unser Gott”, the English title of which is “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”.
  • The mugshots of a young-looking Morgan Freeman that are attached to his parole papers are actually pictures of Morgan’s younger son, Alfonso Freeman. Alfonso also had a cameo in the movie as a con shouting “Fresh fish! Fresh fish today! We’re reeling ‘em in!”
  • On the wall in Andy Dufresne’s cell is a picture of Albert Einstein. Tim Robbins, who portrayed Andy Dufresne also played in the fictional movie about Einstein, I.Q..
  • Andy Dufresne’s Prison ID Number is 37927.
  • Heywood and Floyd are the names of two Shawshank inmates. Heywood Floyd was the main character in 2010.
  • Although a very modest hit in theaters, it became one of the highest grossing video rentals of all time.
  • Stephen King sold the rights to the movie very cheaply out of his friendship with Frank Darabont. They had originally become friends when Darabont adapted a short story of King’s called “The Woman in the Room” (King has a policy stating that any aspiring filmmaker can adapt his short stories for a buck) and King was thoroughly impressed. They maintained a pen pal relationship and didn’t actually meet until Darabont optioned Shawshank.
  • The prisoners are drinking Stroh’s beer on the roof.
  • After the film gained popularity, Ted Turner sold the television rights to TNT, his own network, for much lower than normal for such a big film. Because it is so inexpensive to show, the film is broadcast on TNT extremely often.
  • Voted #1 Must See Movie of all time by listeners of Capital FM in London.
  • The man sitting behind Gil Bellows (Tommy Williams) on the bus is Dennis Baker, a former warden of the Ohio State Reformatory, where the primary filming took place.
  • An agent who apparently hadn’t done much research requested an audition for his supermodel client for the role of Rita Hayworth.
  • At the end of the movie, there is a dedication to Allen Greene. He was Frank Darabont’s agent and also a close personal friend. He died just before the completion of the movie due to AIDS complications.
  • Stephen King has said that his original novella was a culmination of all the memories he had from watching prison movies when he was a child.
  • The City of Mansfield, Ohio held all day open auditions for extras. So much interest was shown that they accepted no more people after 3pm.
  • The close up of Andy’s hands loading the revolver in the opening scenes are actually the hands of Frank Darabont. Later in the film while Andy carves his name into his cell wall (seen twice in the film), Darabont’s hands are used as well in the insert shot. These close ups were inserts that were filmed during post production, notably because Darabont felt that only he could do exactly what he wanted in the close ups.
  • Director Frank Darabont watched Goodfellas every Sunday while shooting Shawshank and drew inspiration from it on using voice-over narration and showing the passage of time.
  • The Shawshank prison, in the book and in the movie, was loosely based on Thomaston prison, an aging prison located in Thomaston, Maine. That real life prison closed in 2004 due to its small size and dilapidated structure.
  • The role of Andy Dufresne was originally offered to Tom Hanks, who couldn’t accept due to scheduling conflicts with Forrest Gump. Hanks did, however, work on Frank Darabont’s next film, The Green Mile.
  • Kevin Costner turned down the role of Andy Dufresne, a decision he strongly regretted later on.
  • Frank Darabont wrote the script in eight weeks.
  • In the scene where Andy arrives in the library as Brooks’ assistant and Brooks’ crow Jake is squawking, Tim Robbins had to time his line, “Hey, Jake. Where’s Brooks?”, so that the crow wouldn’t squawk over his line, since the bird could not be trained to squawk on cue. Robbins was able to adapt to this and time his line perfectly from learning the bird’s patterns in squawking, for which Director Frank Darabont praised him. Robbins’s improvisation is noticeable, and we can see that when he walks into the room right up to the crow, he waits a short moment for it to squawk while looking at it, and then proceeds with his line after it does so.
  • Tim Robbins thought of the idea of his character, Andy Dufresne, turning up the volume of the record player in the scene where he plays the Opera music over the PA.
  • The opera song that Andy Dufresne plays over the loud speakers is “Canzonetta sull’aria” from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro”.
  • Director Frank Darabont decided not to have the deleted scenes on the DVD release of the film because he’s embarrassed by them and doesn’t want them to be seen publicly.
  • While Mansfield locals were eager to be extras, many weren’t available during the day due to their jobs or were only available for one day, which obviously wouldn’t work in a prison film. So extras were found at a halfway house, some of them real-life ex-cons.
  • Clancy Brown, who plays Captain Hadley in this film, played another character named Captain Hadley in The Guardian.
  • Since filming schedule was very tight in Mansfield, Ohio anyone who held up production time were threatened to be fined. Both Tim Robbins and William Sadler showed up late once but were never fined. Filming in Mansfield, Ohio finished ahead of schedule.
  • In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #72 Greatest Movie of All Time. It was the first inclusion of this film on the list.
  • Rob Reiner loved Frank Darabont’s script so much that he offered $2.5 million for the rights to the script so he could direct it. Darabont seriously considered Reiner’s offer but ultimately decided that it was his “chance to do something really great” by directing the movie himself. Reiner wanted Harrison Ford and Tom Cruise to play Red and Andy respectively.
  • When Andy first gets reassigned to the prison library, the first officer who comes to him for investment help approaches him by saying, “I’m Dekins.” Roger Deakins was the cinematographer for the movie. While this is the case, Frank Darabont wrote the character Dekins into the original script before he hired his crew, as the same character was in the novella, and the different way of spelling confirms this.
  • Clancy Brown said that he received several offers from real-life corrections officers to work with him to make his portrayal of Captain Hadley more realistic. He turned them all down because Hadley was an evil character and he didn’t want to misrepresent real corrections officers.
  • This movie was released in Taiwan as “1995: Fantastic” (it was released in Taiwan in 1995). Many viewers thought it would be an action movie.
  • Voted #4 on Empire magazine’s 500 Greatest Movies Of All Time (September 2008).
  • Red says he has no idea what the ladies are singing about. Actually, they’re composing a letter to the husband of one of them inviting him to an assignation with the other in order to expose his infidelity.
  • (May 14 – June 20, 2009) The world premiere theatrical adaptation of the film was staged at Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre featuring, Kevin Anderson (Andy), Reg E. Cathey (“Red”) and Keir Dullea (Brooks). Adapted by Owen O’Neill and Dave Johns, the play was directed by Peter Sheridan.
  • The final scene was filmed on the U.S. Virgin islands in the Caribbean, but in the film it is supposed to be the Pacific Ocean.
  • Tom Hanks, Kevin Costner, Tom Cruise, Nicolas Cage, Johnny Depp and Charlie Sheen were all considered for the part of Andy Dufresne. Hanks turned it down because he was committed to Forrest Gump. Costner liked the script a lot but was then embroiled in the filming of Waterworld.
  • Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Paul Newman and Robert Redford were all considered for the part of Red. In the original novella, Red is a middle-aged Irishman with graying red hair. However, Frank Darabont always had Morgan Freeman in mind for the role because of his authoritative presence, demeanor and deep voice.
  • James Whitmore was cast in the part of Brooks because he was one of Frank Darabont’s favorite character actors.
  • Stephen King sold the film rights for his novella for a dollar.
  • In 2007, two inmates of Union County Prison escaped from their prison using similar techniques to those featured in the movie. Their (partially) successful escape led to the suicide of prison guard Rudolph Zurick. When the two convicts were recaptured, they denied responsibility for Zurick’s death.
  • The film’s initial gross of $18 million didn’t even cover the cost of its production. It did another $10 million in the wake of its Oscar nominations but the film was still deemed to be a box office flop.
  • Initially, Frank Darabont was planning to make his directorial debut with a ‘Child’s Play’ type of horror movie, although he wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about the prospect of doing so. Instead, he decided to adapt Stephen King’s atypical short story. The resulting script soon became a hot ticket around Hollywood, attracting interest from stars like Nicolas Cage and Tom Cruise.
  • Despite its box office failure, Warner Brothers shipped 320,000 rental copies to US video stores, a figure a spokesman freely admitted was “out of whack” with the film’s performance in the theaters.
  • Many critics have spotted many allegorical themes in the film, generally along the lines that Andy Dufresne is a latter day Jesus Christ. Frank Darabont refutes all such claims although he is delighted that so many people have read so much into his film.
  • Frank Darabont took a pay cut in order to be allowed to shoot his own script.
  • The most rented video of 1995.
  • Among the changes that Frank Darabont made to the story from the original novella was that there were originally three wardens and that Brooks’ poignant story was conveyed in one paragraph.
  • Beer bottles didn’t have screw tops in 1949.
  • The prison that played Shawshank, the Ohio State Reformatory, now serves as a museum. Because it was scheduled for demolition at the time of filming, several set pieces remain intact in the prison, including the tunnel Andy crawled out of and the warden’s office.
  • One of the reasons why they didn’t employ the full title of the Stephen King novella – “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” – was because there was a perception in Hollywood that this was actually going to be a biopic of Rita Hayworth. Indeed, Frank Darabont even received solicitations from several actresses about playing the lead.
  • Andy and Red’s opening chat in the prison yard – in which Red is pitching a baseball – took 9 hours to shoot. Morgan Freeman pitched that baseball for the entire 9 hours without a word of complaint. He showed up for work the next day with his arm in a sling.
  • Unusually the voiceover narration was recorded before filming began and was then played on set to dictate the rhythm of each scene. The guide track was recorded in an Iowa recording studio by Morgan Freeman in only 40 minutes. Unfortunately, there was a minor hiss to the track which sound engineers in Los Angeles were unable to eradicate. Consequently it had to be re-recorded in a proper studio; this time it took 3 weeks.
  • In the novella, the prisoners watch a screening of The Lost Weekend. Because the rights to this were owned by a different studio, Frank Darabont looked to see which old films he could show without incurring costs. He was delighted to see that one that he was able to use was Gilda – one of Rita Hayworth’s greatest hits.
  • The ambulance that took Boggs away had to be pushed as its engine had died.
  • The prison is located in the flightpath of C-130 Hercules aircraft of the 179th Airlift Wing, Ohio Air National Guard, which caused all sorts of sound problems.
  • Raquel Welch – whose poster plays a significant role in the film – is a big fan of the finished movie.
  • The original story appears in Different Seasons, a collection of short books by Stephen King that also includes “The Body” (Stand by Me) and Apt Pupil.
  • Shawshank prison is a staple of Stephen King’s writing, most of which is set in Maine. While it only appears in this story, several other books and short stories mention characters who were sentenced to serve time at Shawshank.
  • Buxton, where Andy says he proposed to his wife and buried the “treasure” for Red under the tree, is a real life small town in Maine (population 7452 as of the 2000 census) about 15 miles west of Maine’s largest city of Portland, where the movie says Andy was a banker.
  • Morgan Freeman’s favorite film of his own.
  • The character Andy Dufresne had a cameo appearance in ‘Apt Pupil’, another Stephen King novelette. Andy handled the investments for Dussander, the Nazi in hiding.
  • The original story, ‘Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption’, appears in Stephen King’s book, ‘Different Seasons’, along with three other short novellas. Only one of them, ‘The Breathing Method’, has not been turned into a movie.
  • The Hungarian title of the movie is “A Remény Rabjai” which means “The Prisoners of Hope”.
  • Although it is never directly stated in the film, allegedly Brooks is in prison for murdering his wife and daughter after a losing streak at poker.
  • The Italian title for the movie is “Le ali della libertà”, which means “The Wings of Freedom”.
  • The Norwegian title for the movie is “Frihetens Regn”, which means “The Rain of Freedom”.
  • The Spanish title for the movie is “Cadena Perpetua”, which means “Life Imprisonment”.
  • Stephen King optioned “Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption” to Frank Darabont for $1000.

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