written and directed by frank darabont n.
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Written and directed by Frank Darabont. The Shawshank Redemption. Unit Outline. Analyse film image and sequence in detail Understand the way film language creates setting and character, and manipulates our responses Describe how verbal and visual features are combined for different purposes

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unit outline
Unit Outline
  • Analyse film image and sequence in detail
  • Understand the way film language creates setting and character, and manipulates our responses
  • Describe how verbal and visual features are combined for different purposes
  • Respond to and interpret meaning, ideas and effects
  • Write an essay about an aspect of the text
plot summary
PLOT SUMMARY

In 1946, a banker named Andy (Tim_Robbins) is convicted of a double murder, even though he stubbornly proclaims his innocence. He's sentenced to a life term at the Shawshank State Prison in Maine, where another lifer, Ellis "Red" Redding (Morgan_Freeman), picks him as the new recruit most likely to crack under the pressure. The ugly realities of prison life are quickly introduced to Andy: a corrupt warden, sadistic guards led by Capt. Byron Hadley, and inmates who are little better than animals, willing to use rape or beatings to insure their dominance. But Andy does not crack: he has the hope of the truly innocent, which (together with his smarts) allow him to prevail behind bars. He uses his banking skills to win favour with the warden and the guards, doing the books for Norton's illegal business schemes and keeping an eye on the investments of most of the prison staff. In exchange, he is able to improve the prison library and bring some dignity and respect back to many of the inmates, including Red.

themes
THEMES
  • The Power of Hope: drive the inmates and gives them the will to live. Andy’s drive to maintain his own sense of self-worth and freedom is what prevents him from dying of frustration in solitary confinement.
  • Institutionalization: to become a part of a well organized system and follow a routine. It aims at integrating fundamental values and controlling the behaviour and conduct of those institutionalized. When the inmates are released after years of being suck in Shawshank, they find difficulty functioning in the real world, this is the effects of Institutionalization. The inmates follow a set routine and don’t make any of their own choices in life. After so long of not being able to make their own decisions, the inmates can start to lose their independent decision making skills.
what does the library represent to andy
What does the library represent to Andy?
  • It represents freedom outside the walls of the prison, it represents intellectual freedom.
  • Andy transforms it from Brooks’ private domain to a public one, symbolising freedom and democracy, the very opposite of prison.
  • Prison has Andy’s body, but he wont let it take his mind.
  • The prison becomes Andy’s office, where he does taxes for the guards and is a communal meeting space.
  • The library serves as a turning point in the novel: while building up the library, Andy tries to play by the rules and works within the system as a “legitimate inmate”, but after Tommy is killed, Andy realises he must think like a criminal in order to implicate the warden and escape.
identify a scene where music is important explain how it is used and to what effect
Identify a scene where music is important. Explain how it is used and to what effect.
  • Andy plays the duet from the Mozart’s album, it is timeless and a universal thing of beauty.
  • The inmates don’t understand a word of it, but everyone stops working and talking in the yard. Everyone is frozen.
  • It reminds them of marriage, love, women and freedom, all that is not Shawshank.
  • Andy is a martyr here for art. He is willing to punish himself to let freedom ring.
  • What is another scene that is similar to this one?

The scene where he arranges the bottles of suds for the guys while tarring the roof. Both these scenes make Andy and the inmates feel human again. Shawshank has their bodies but it does not have their souls.

themes1
Themes

There are many controversial issues dealt with in this film. These range from abuse of prisoners to loyalty and friendship. The following is a list of some of the most important themes touched on in the movie.

  • Courage
  • Loyalty
  • The power of the mind vs. the power of authority
  • Institutionalisation
  • Corruption
  • Justice/injustice
  • Freedom
how characters are affected by issues
How characters are affected by issues.
  • Themes
  • Importance of hope
  • Justice/injustice
  • Corruption/abuse of power
  • Friendship
  • Institutionalisation
  • Characters
  • Andy
  • Red
  • Tommy
  • Warden Norton
  • Captain Hadley
questions
Questions
  • Explain the meaning of institutionalised. How does it apply to Brooks?
  • What aspect(s) of prison life are emphasised throughout the movie? Give examples.
  • Why does the Pacific Ocean have such appeal to Andy?
  • How do all the prisoners accept one another’s crimes in the prison? How is this significant?
  • List some examples of corruption of the legal process and the corrections process in the movie.
  • In what respects is justice finally achieved in the movie? Comment.
activites
Activites
  • Themes and issues (activity).
  • A range of techniques are used to develop Andy’s character. Complete the hand out, discussing what each of these techniques tells us about Andy.
  • Opening scene notes
  • Opening scene close viewing analysis.
camera angles
Camera Angles
  • 1 . Extreme long shot

This can be taken from as much as a quarter of a mile away, and is generally used as a scene-setting, establishing shot. It normally shows an EXTERIOR, eg the outside of a building, or a landscape, and is often used to show scenes of thrilling action eg in a war film or disaster movie. There will be very little detail visible in the shot, it's meant to give a general impression rather than specific information.

long shot
Long Shot

This is the most difficult to categorise precisely, but is generally one which shows the image as approximately "life" size ie corresponding to the real distance between the audience and the screen in a cinema (the figure of a man would appear as six feet tall). This category includes the FULL SHOT showing the entire human body, with the head near the top of the frame and the feet near the bottom. While the focus is on characters, plenty of background detail still emerges: we can tell the coffins on the right are in a Western-style setting, for instance. A long shot is used to stress the environment or setting of a scene.

medium shot
Medium shot
  • Contains a figure from the knees/waist up and is normally used for dialogue scenes, or to show some detail of action. Variations on this include the TWO SHOT (containing two figures from the waist up) and the THREE SHOT (contains 3 figures...). NB. Any more than three figures and the shot tends to become a long shot. Background detail is minimal, probably because location has been established earlier in the scene - the audience already know where they are and now want to focus on dialogue and character interaction. Another variation in this category is the OVER-THE-SHOULDER-SHOT, which positions the camera behind one figure, revealing the other figure, and part of the first figure's back, head and shoulder.
close up
Close up
  • This shows very little background, and concentrates on either a face, or a specific detail of the scene. Everything else is just a blur in the background. This shot magnifies the object (think of how big it looks on a cinema screen) and shows the importance of things, be it words written on paper, or the expression on someone's face. The close-up takes us into the mind of a character. In reality, we only let people that we really trust get THAT close to our face - mothers, children and lovers, usually - so a close up of a face is a very intimate shot. A film-maker may use this to make us feel extra comfortable or extremely uncomfortable about a character, and usually uses a zoom lens in order to get the required framing.
extreme close up
Extreme close up
  • As its name suggests, an extreme version of the close up, generally magnifying beyond what the human eye would experience in reality. An extreme close-up of a face, for instance, would show only the mouth or eyes, with no background detail whatsoever. This is a very artificial shot, and can be used for dramatic effect.
high angle shot
High angle shot
  • A camera angle that looks down upon a subject. A character shot with a high angle will look vulnerable or small. These angles are often used to demonstrate to the audience a perspective of a particular character.
low angle shot
Low angle shot
  • a camera angle that looks up at a character. This is the opposite of a high angle and makes a character look more powerful. This can make the audience feel vulnerable and small by looking up at the character. This can help the responder feel empathy if they are viewing the frame from another character's point of view.
eye level angle
Eye level angle
  • puts the audience on an equal footing with the character/s. This is the most commonly used angle in most films as it allows the viewers to feel comfortable with the characters.
mise en sc ne
Mise En Scène
  • This term (which loosely means 'putting things in the picture' or 'arranging the frame') concerns the design and arrangement of the image. Every element of an image contributes to its meaning, and much time and thought is devoted to mise en scène by the creators of an image. Although an audience's attention may be focused on characters in the foreground, they will also be looking at the background for additional clues to meaning. For example, two characters having an argument in a softly lit bedroom, with many pillows, pastel colours, throw rugs, and Martha Stewart style room accessories are not seen to be as dangerously conflicting as two characters arguing in a deserted warehouse, under a naked light bulb, surrounded by the jagged angles of torn-apart packing crates, with concrete, not deep-pile carpet under their feet.
  • Mise-en-scène includes costumes, props, lighting, characters (as represented by actors or models), special effects, sound effects and anything else which is "put into the frame". The level of a image's realism relies heavily on mise en scène.
composition
Composition
  • The composition of an image is simply what it is made up of. An image will display a series of objects or people, and when referring to its composition we look at their arrangement within the picture. Often we infer meaning through two objects relationship with each other. Is one depicted as larger? More central? Better lit? How much space is there surrounding the objects?
  • Apart from arranging objects within the picture, another decision that is made in composition is focus, or depth of field. This dictates the depth into the picture in which objects are in clear focus. You may becide to blur out the background, in order to place more emphasis on central or foreground objects. or you may decide to have everything in your picture in equal focus, for instance in a landscape shot, or a group photo.
framing
Framing
  • Framing —deciding where an image begins and ends — is as vital to the meaning of an image as composition. There are a whole variety of camera angles which can be selected to frame a shot (see left button bar), and often what is left out is as important as what is included. What is beyond the picture, for instance, what could a model be looking at, is the source of much ambiguity and enigma. We infer meaning from the relationship between the camera and subject (a close up is intimate,
  • By framing two objects together in the same image, we imply a connection between them, especially if there is a physical link, perhaps through a graphic or colour, between them. If the connection is unusual (juxtaposition), we are forced to consider it more carefully and this may alter our reading
  • By isolating an object within the frame - for instance showing a swimmer against an expanse of nothing but sea - we can make them seem insignificant and lonely. Are characters surrounded by others (trapped? loved?) or do they have space (power? insecurity?). Are they where they need to be.
lighting
Lighting
  • Lighting is part of the mise-en-scene, and is one of the deliberate choices made. The use of natural or artificial light can change the composition of a shot. Lighting is a very important aspect for shaping meaning in films. What kind of atmosphere is created in a room lit by candles? Have you ever heard of mood lighting? A room that is brightly lit by neon lights might seem to be sterile or a shadowy room might be eerie or scary. The lighting technicians in a film crew have the task of creating lighting to suit the mood and atmosphere of each scene in a film.
opening scene
Opening scene

Andy’s ambivalence

  • Sound track song reflects Andy’s mood of disillusion and fatalism.
  • Car and clothes suggest 1946. Red later says that “Andy came to Shawshank prison in 1947 for murdering his wife and the fella she was banging.”
  • Andy is depressed because of the failure of his marriage, but the film gains a lot of its appeal by not telling us things such as this for some time. As with the poster of Rita Hayworth.
  • Immediately, therefore, suspense is a hallmark of this thriller.
  • The darkness mirrors his mood. The shattering of the bottle= the shattering of his dreams.

The trail

  • CUT and AURAL BRIDGE to the courtroom without completing the previous action, leaving us suspended in mid-plot- the scene outside the cabin is intercut with the trail scene.
opening scene1
Opening scene
  • Having found out about the affair, Andy angrily refused to give her a divorce an Reno, Nevada.
  • V.O from the trail melds the three scenes together: the two having steamy sex, Andy pondering in the car and the courtroom: smooth CROSS-CUTTING giving variety in story telling.
  • Andy claims to have thrown the gun into the Royal River on his way home- “I feel I have been very clear on this point”
  • LOW ANGLE CU of the prosecutor, raised voice and leaning forward, accentuating his menace.
  • Throughout a piano tinkles with suspenseful strings, heightening the tension.
  • CU LOW ANGLE of judge heightens .his forbidding demeanour; his words come slowly and precisely: “you strike me as a particularly icy and remorseless man, Mr Dufrensne. It chills my blood just to look at you.”
opening scene2
Opening scene
  • HIGH ANGLE CLOSE on Andy , stressing his helplessness before the power of the law. “By the power invested in me by the state of Maine, I hereby order you to serve two life sentences back to back, one for each of your victims. So be it!”
  • His gavel thumps down in symbolic representation of the law’s awesome force, Andy closes his eyes in hopeless resignation and the screen goes black, representing the awful fate that awaits him.
  • The audience is left deliberately in the dark re Andy’s guilt; indeed, we probably share the judge’s distaste for this seemingly cold, unemotional man. A PAN across the jurors suggests they do too.
clos viewing analysis
Clos viewing analysis
  • Analysis = what + how + why
  • What = details, film techniques, features
  • How = effect; how they communicate or contribute to viewers’ understanding of ideas (theme, character, setting, whatever the question is asking)
  • Why has this technique been used

E.g. Darabont uses the harmonica as a symbol of hope. Andy gives the harmonica to Red, representing the hope and inner strength he is helping Red to find. It helps s to understand that our friends can aid us in holding on to our self-belief, even in times of struggle, like Red’s long prison sentence. When Red blows it we know Andy is helping him hold on to whatever hope he has left. As Andy’s gift to Red, the harmonica is a clear development of the symbolism established in the aria scene. Here Andy plays The Marriage of Figaro over the prison intercom, when “for a moment, every last man in Shawshank felt free”. Here the power of music represents the power of the individual to inspire. We see the same inspiration when Red, framed in a tight close-up in his cell in Shawshank’s inly blackness, holds the gleaming harmonica in his hands. We desperately want him to play it- he “played a mean harmonica once’- and the single, forlorn note he blows shows us just how close Shawshank has come to breaking his spirit.

viewing analysis of opening scene
Viewing analysis of opening scene

Task

In groups you will write an analysis of the opening scene. While watching the scene take notes on the following:

  • What information is given to the audience
  • What characters do and say
  • What production techniques are used (music, camera work, lighting, symbols, colours, costumes etc.)
  • Darabont’s purpose ( what he wants us to think/feel about the themes and story).
arrival at shawshank
Arrival at Shawshank

Institutionalisation

  • Red steps into the prison yard and we got our first look at Shawshank prison. Grey walls.

“How did it go?” asks one inmate.

“Same ol’ shit, different day.”

“I’m up for rejection next week.”

  • Red begins the V.O narration that anchors the film. He is the prison’s respected retriever.
  • Prison sirens blast as a ritualistic prison event is heralded – the arrival of fresh, new prisoners in a drab-grey school bus.
  • An aerial (helicopter) shot moves up from the arriving bus, ascends the main tower od the prison and peers down into the prison courtyard where ant-like prisoners swarm towards the main gate to gawk and jeer while the new arrivals (fresh meat) disembark.
arrival at shawshank1
Arrival at Shawshank
  • A sweeping helicopter travelling shot of the approach to the prison and the prison yard behind reveals the massive Gothic Victorian towers and high walls, the immense area of the compound, in comparison with which humans are puny and insignificant.
  • This shot is highly symbolic, reflecting how it is impossible to escape, how crushing the system is. The system is awesome and forbidding.
  • Cellos and violas reinforce the sombre atmosphere.
  • Subsequent shots emphasise the intimidating nature of the surround- steel mesh fencing, grey walls, a bleak sky, ruthless guards, gates guarded, tight security, guards up high with machine guns- while in contrast, green fields and trees lie beyond.
  • Jeering inmates rattle the steel mesh fencing like caged animals in the zoo. They are beasts.
  • Captain Hadley eyeballs every prisoner as they step off the bus, chained to each other.
  • The crude prison vocabulary makes the scene more authentic, suggests the brutality and inhumanity prisoners show to each other and makes for an original, fine script.
arrival at s hawshank
Arrival at Shawshank
  • “I didn’t think much of Andy the first time I set eyes on him. Looked like a stiff breeze would blow him over. That was my first impression.”

Statement implies that something will happen to change Red’s opinion, so creating tension.

  • Andy looks up and the camera is his eyes: A POV< LOW ANGLE SHOT. The enormity of the walls is emphasised and only a small patch of sky can be seen, which is grey. Strong feeling of entrapment.
  • The main characters are quickly characterised: Heywood his a slight stammer and sweeping blonde hair. Hadley looks as if he would be at home in a Nazi concentration camp.