An Unexpected Stephen King Adaptation


For a movie set in a prison, Shawshank Redemption is the opposite of a cold, gray, and harsh tale of one’s prison sentence; instead, depicts a heartwarming narrative of a man who relentlessly seeks the truth. This adaptation by director Frank Darabont of a Stephen King story illuminates a typical King theme that ordinary people, when they come together in common purpose, can achieve extraordinary things against overwhelming odds.

Director Frank Darabont presents a successful adaptation of King’s novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. The film centers on an archetypal Stephen King character, one who is at overwhelming odds with prejudice and is persecuted by the justice system. Surprisingly, this film differs from the typical King themes of horror and supernatural aids and instead showcases a prisoner’s tale. The film spans an engaging 142 minutes, connecting viewers to the main character whose amiability makes the movie worth watching to the end.

Image result for shawshank redemption

The film begins with a New England banker, Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), who is wrongly convicted of murdering his unfaithful wife and her lover in 1946 and sentenced two consecutive life terms in a maximum security facility in Maine, Shawshank State Prison. Very quickly, a lifelong friendship emerges with another inmate named Red (Morgan Freeman), who is known as the “go-to” man in the prison if inmates need something. Robbins enters into a circle of friends with other inmates whom all eventually do their best to protect each other from vicious guards, predatory inmates, and a crooked warden.

Over two decades, Andy befriends rational guards and other workers in the prison complex. More importantly, he befriends the warden, whom he is secretly swindling. Andy is very calculated throughout the two decades we get to know him and this is completely understood and appreciated when we see how Andy is redeemed later in the story. Darabont aimed to show redemption among many characters in the film, not only in Andy’s situation. The effective narration throughout the film by Freeman shapes how we feel about Andy; our insights are otherwise limited because he is a quiet character, but through Freeman’s perception of him, viewers start to root for him.

Darabont combines the well-developed and dynamic characters’ separate narratives situated in one prison and showcases the intelligence and grit of friendships that grow in the darkest of times. The story is enhanced by the cinematography of Roger Deakins. Darabont and Deakins allow the shots to follow the dialogue and monologue rather than antedate them, and he successfully establishes the fortress-like prison from the outset by using a shot from a helicopter.

Darabont structures the film to be a slow evolution of Andy’s character and his motives. The movie is set across two decades. It takes us two decades, with limited information from Andy himself, to figure out what actually happens and forces viewers to question and invest in Andy’s journey to justice. Despite being labeled a “prison drama,” Shawshank Redemption uses a calm and composed narration to guide us into a story about justice, friendship, and true grit.


-Meghan Murphy

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10 Responses to An Unexpected Stephen King Adaptation

  1. mediaphiles says:

    I have heard great things about Stephen King, and I appreciate how you have take a “surprised” approach regarding his story-telling. It seems like while this film takes on a more serious tone, the way that the director portrays the characters is still quite compelling. Cant wait to watch this sometime in the future!
    -Courteney Case

  2. mediaphiles says:

    I have heard about this movie for years! It sounds very compelling. I, personally, love any film that Morgan Freeman is in, so I’m sure that I would love this one also. Your review is incredibly informative and interesting. The summary definitely makes me want to watch it soon!

    -Allie Kleinman

  3. mediaphiles says:

    Shawshank is one of my favorite films and you truly capture why its so special. I love how you describe the slow build on Andy’s narrative from Red’s perspective, which definitely gives the story a unique perspective. You are right on point when you say this is more than a prison drama and I think that’s why this film has remained so relevant even today.
    -Kayla Pierle

  4. mediaphiles says:

    I’ve heard of this movie before, but never knew what it was about or what made it so compelling. I like how you discuss the narration choice to have Morgan Freeman’s character voice-over the film despite the protagonist being another character, and how having such a quiet, unforthcoming main star leads to the viewer discovering the story bits and pieces at a time. It sounds like an interesting, moving tale according to your review!

    -Meg Schmit

  5. mediaphiles says:

    I think your choice of choosing to talk about the narration of Morgan Freeman’s character voice over and how he isn’t the main character is extremely interesting. I don’t think anyone else except Morgan Freeman could play a role like that and it really interests me into watching this movie. I really like the review, it really describes the movie really well. -Paul McBride

  6. mediaphiles says:

    This is one of my favorite films of all time, and I think you perfectly capture what makes it so great. With the slow build up and mystery surrounding the character of Andy and Red’s poignant narration that keeps the viewer completely engaged from start to finish.

    -Walker Rise

  7. mediaphiles says:

    I love this movie, as does everyone else. The coolest part about it is how it spans over two decades. The whole movie comes together with an impressive screenplay, a legendary director, and a few stars in the cast. This is one I can always sit down and watch.

    -Samuel Ederle

  8. Stephanie Albrecht says:

    This is one of my all time favorite films and you did an excellent job of explaining not only the synopsis but the true meaning of what makes it such a beloved movie. I also enjoyed the article that you attached to it! It was a great accompanying article to a great review. – Steph Albrecht

  9. mediaphiles says:

    This is one of my favorite movies and your review captures the film extremely well. The description of how the movie is about Andy’s slow evolution learning to live within the walls is extremely accurate as is your comment about the effectiveness of Morgan Freeman or “Red’s” narration of Andy. The narration throughout the movie explains who the mysterious and quiet Andy Dufresne is and how stands out, even if people believe he’s just as innocent as every other person in there.
    -Sam Cantor

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