Shawkshank Scene Notes

Caitlin H
Note by Caitlin H, updated more than 1 year ago
Caitlin H
Created by Caitlin H about 3 years ago


Key scene notes

Resource summary

Page 1

Opening Scene This scene is important as it is the first time we are introduced to Andy Dufresne. He appears manic, drunk and dishevelled. We learn that his wife and her lover were murdered and flashbacks place him at the scene of the crime. During the trial Andy is emotionlessness, he is quite rude to the defence lawyer and the judge acknowledges he is “cold.” He is given a double life sentence for murder and we believe he is guilty, convinced that he is a sinister man.     Camera Work · Close ups of Andy in the car – showing him emotional, dishevelled and clearly drunk. · The flashbacks place him at the scene of the crime. · Close up of the gun and bullets being loaded – signifies an upcoming murder and Andy’s guilt. · Panning shot of the jury – we see that they’re not moved by Andy’s version of events. · Close ups of Andy in court – he looked really cold and calm. He doesn’t get emotional. · Zoom in to his face when he finds out he’s going to jail - shock Sound · Tense music – court (n) · Old fashioned song at the start tells us it’s set in the past (d/n) · Andy’s voice – cold and controlled – he actually sounds a bit impatient and bored (d)   Mis-en-scene · The gun – being loaded with bullets · Bottle of alcohol · In the car he’s drunk and upset · In the courtroom his face in black with hardly any expression · This all points to Andy seeming guilty   Character · He seems guilty · He’s sarcastic and cheeky with the lawyer · He seems weak and emotional in the car, but totally controlled in the courtroom · Creates idea of cold man capable of murder

Page 2

Arrival at Shawshank Our first sight of the prison presents it as ominous. It is a huge, towering building amongst grey and depressing scenery. We understand the control and power it represents and are quickly introduced to bleak prison life which involved violence from those in control. We are still convinced of Andy’s guilt at this point and have not warmed to his as a character as he still appears quite cold. Camera Work · Long shot of prison bus entering Shawshank. · Tracking shot following bus into the prison. · Establishing shot shows us how vast the prison is. · Close ups of Andy’s face – still not really showing much emotion. · POV shot – giving us idea of what it feels/looks like for the prisoners on the bus, as they arrive at Shawshank · Low angle shot looking up at building as Andy’s going in – highlight powerlessness of Andy in prison   Sound · String instruments playing ominously. (n) · Prison noises – Cell/jail door, rattling fences, the other prisoners shouting, sirens (d) · Red’s narration (n)   Mis en scene · Fade to black – signifies end of his freedom as he enters the prison – one part of his life is over · Prison uniforms – lets us know the setting · Cells, fences, etc. · Warden dressed immaculately with cross on his jacket – signifies he is religious · Yellow line – creates idea of control and separation – no freedom (conflict)   Character · Andy – broken man, still little emotion on his face, seems nervous, hunched over, doesn’t say anything – at this point we are convinced that he’s guilty and should be in prison. · Red – we can tell that there will be some sort of relationship between Red and Andy because he focusses on him · Warden and Hadley – v. religious, strict, severe, violent, enforcing discipline, totally in control

Page 3

Rooftop Scene This is a key scene because it is here that we start to like Andy. He is bold in approaching Hadley and admirable as he is clearly being selfless, earning his friends beer that he does not even drink. He smiles more and seems warmer, which is a dramatic change from his character at the start of the film. Previously, we have not really liked Andy, but now we start to see redeeming qualities and our opinions of him change.   Camera Shots · Close up of Andy’s face – show us that he’s listening and paying to attention to Hadley – he seems interested. · Other prisoners are just working – shows that Andy’s different from them · Tracking shot follows Andy and Hadley over to edge of the roof – goes quickly – suggesting danger of situation · High angle – looking down showing how far Andy would fall if Hadley dropped him – highlights power of Hadley and danger · Close ups of other characters – shows reactions – they clearly think he’s crazy but at the end we see how happy they are to get the beer · Close ups of Andy’s face at end – shows Andy looking pleased   Sound · Soft, happy uplifting music – different usual gloomy music – tells us that there’s some kind of change happening (mood/feeling) · Red’s narration – he talks about why Andy would do that for Hadley – he suggests Andy wanted to feel normal – he talks positively about him · Andy – do you trust your wife? Really brave and makes us instantly panic for him   Mis-en-scene · Andy’s curious facial expressions highlight that he’s listening to the wardens and interested in their situation – very different from other prisoners · Warden is clearly furious and grabs him – aggressive and willing to be violent · Other prisoners are really shocked when Andy approaches the warden and gets away with what he does · Beer – Andy gets this as a reward for the other prisoners – he wants some kind of normality · Andy is smiling – looks pleased with himself · All the other prisoners – happy facial expressions · Sits away from other prisoners – looking on   Character Andy ·Generous – he wants to do something for other prisoners · We see Andy doing a selfless act – we like him for this · Brave – approaching Hadley when no one else would · Intelligent – he knows a lot about money · At this point, we start to really like Andy as a character and see that the he has good relationships with the other prisoners.

Page 4

Turning Point – Tommy’s Death Tommy’s death is a turning point as it allows to understand the fact that Andy is actually innocent. However, we soon see any hope of this being acknowledged stripped away by the warden. Tommy holds the key to Andy’s freedom and the warden doesn’t like this. His sinister character is truly revealed as we see that he will use murder to maintain control and corruption at Shawshank. We feel sorry for Andy now as we realise that he has been quietly serving time for a crime that he did not commit. Camera Work · Close up of Tommy’s face when he comes outside looking confused · Close up of Warden – serious, genuine, caring · Close up of Tommy – determined to help · Tracking shot – following Tommy moving over to the warden · High angle – Shows the warden in power and Tommy seeming vulnerable · Long shot of warden arriving from the shadows · Close up of him stubbing out the cigarette – like a signal, symbolising Tommy’s life · Low angle shot of Hadley with gun · Bird’s eye view of Tommy’s dead body on the ground, showing Warden standing over it   Sound · Prison gates rattling – signify that although he’s outside, he is still controlled by the prison · Quiet outside – can hear footsteps, all sounds quite sinister · Warden sounds sincere/genuine – seems like he’s asking for Tommy’s help (patronising) · Tommy sounds eager to help · Sound of Warden snubbing out cigarette · Gun shot – end of Tommy’s life (4) · Red’s narration missing – no one knows what really happened here   Mis en scene · Tommy – confused about why he’s meeting the warden, worried/nervous/anxious – relaxes – keen to help · Warden – slowly appears from shadows (seems sinister) Frowning with concern, seems genuine, gets quite close Tommy · Gates – highlight Warden has him trapped, still in control · Hadley hiding in shadows with gun · Warden looks up at Hadley – gives signal for death · Cigarette – Warden offer Tommy one (a lifeline) and then stubs out his own cigarette – signifying Tommy’s life endin   Character · This highlights his power over the prisoners and his control over Andy. · Talks about religion then murders – contradictory · We are now convinced that he’s evil and will go to great lengths to dictate and we realise how corrupt he and the prison are.

Page 5

500 Yards to Freedom – Key Sequence This is a key sequence (more than one scene) as we witness Andy’s carefully planned escape. We understand from this sequence, his determination as we realise that he has planning this escape for years. He has painstakingly made a hole in his cell wall and climbs through 500 yards of sewage to arrive safely outside the prison confines. We admire Andy for taking his freedom into his own hands and defying the prison institution. Camera Work · Close up of Andy’s in the tunnel, raising the rock – shows us his determined facial expression · Tracking shot – following him through the tunnel · Long shot of Andy getting out the tunnel – the prison is clear in the distance highlighting how far away he is from it and the fact that he is now free · High Angle shot of Andy as he is standing in the river – highlights his freedom and relief   Sound · Thunder and lightening – hides the banging of the rock as he escapes · Water running – highlight he is away from inside prison · Andy being sick · Tense music as he is escaping · Dramatic and uplifting music as we realise he is free   Mis en scene · Stone used to break pipe · Facial expression is determined · Small tunnel/poo that he has to get through · He takes off his shirt when he is free – feels liberated   Character · See how determined he is – we start to understand the serious planning that has went into his escape · We admire him for his determination and successful escape  

Page 6

Hope is a Good Thing – resolution This scene is a resolution as we see Andy enjoying his freedom and Red join him. It is a satisfactory conclusion as we have found these two characters so likeable, in contrast with the corruption of the warden and Shawshank. It is important as we realise that Andy never gave up hope for himself or Red, even though Red did give up on any ideas of freedom. Andy shows Red that he was right to remain determined and we admire his belief and effort in gaining his deserved freedom. His careful planning is again evident, as he clearly had hope that Red would make parole and would someday join him.   Camera Work · Red – close ups showing his shock/emotion at Andy’s planning · Medium shot – shows us Red sitting under the tree with the rural background · Panning – showing Red walking through fields and green scenery · Long shot showing Red with bare feet and rolled up trousers on the beach · Bird’s eye – shows Andy and Red walking towards each other and hugging · Close up show that they are happy to see each other   Sound · We hear Andy’s voice reading the letter he wrote to Red – we admire his determination, hearing his careful planning for Red to join him. He repeats his belief that “hope is a good thing.” · By hearing this, we can again appreciate how intelligent Andy is.   Mis-en-scene · Scenery is bright and green with lots of vast space (beach, fields, etc.) – in stark contrast with grey prison setting of the majority of the film · Andy and Red are finally out of their prison clothes – Andy is wearing shorts and a ripped shirt and Red has his sleeves and trousers rolled up – signifies their freedom and escape from institution · Andy are Red are both smiling and delighted to see each other · They embrace each other in the end – happy to be reunited   Character · We appreciate the careful planning of Andy’s escape at the end of the film – he is a determined and patient man. He is also very intelligent to be able to go to such great lengths to achieve a successful escape and have Red join him. · We admire Andy at the end of the film as we realise that he maintained hope throughout his time at prison and never gave up on the idea of regaining his freedom · We truly appreciate his innocence and the way he handled the corruption at Shawshank – we see justice prevail as Andy has obtained freedom for him and Red and the warden and Hadley meet suitable ends.   *Key quote – “Remember, Red. Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

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