Comparison Of The Book And Movie The Shawshank Redemption


Shawshank Redemption, the novella and movie, follows the story of Andy Dufrene who is wrongly convicted of killing his wife and her boyfriend. The plot covers Andys time in prison and ultimately his carefully calculated escape. Along the way, Andy makes friends and develops a life inside the prison that at many times appears enjoyable even in the unfortunate predicament. His friend and prison mate Red, often talks about their group as a family and the idea and feeling of a community inside detainment manifests itself into the theme of institutionalization. Director Frank uses his skills to elaborate on the theme outlined in the book by adding scenes and giving deeper meanings to plot details. Because of this, the director should have the creative license to adapt their version of a theme without changing the author's entire narrative of the story. 

In the story, the character Brooks, an older man who works in the prison library is an important character, but has a more meaningful part in movie adaptation. In the book, Brooks, who spent most of his life in prison, “was crying when he left. Shawshank was his world.” Prison became a place where he ended up spending most of his life. He was crying because “in prison, Brooksie had been a person of some importance.” The life he led inside prison while it was a product of institutionalization, was a comforting place with friends and structure and he is sad to leave. The novella ends his narrative there and King has him die of old age. In contrast, the film shows more of Brooks life outside of prison, working in the grocery store and having his own apartment, but also showing how he still felt purposeless. Director uses his creative license and chooses to continue this small narrative to then include a sad scene of Brooks taking his life in his apartment. The movie’s more emotional ending emphasizes the effects of institutionalization as Darabont uses the idea that Brooks was ‘trained to like it’ in prison and felt worthless outside the prison walls. This creative choice by Drarabout enhances the storyline because it is a deeper depiction of the theme. 

Similarly, the book follows the same theme with the plot line of Tommy Williams, a man who comes to Shawshank from another prison and connects with Andy and friends. One day he tells Andy he knows the man who killed his wife and it sparks Andy's real glimmer of hope. Andy tells the Warden that he has a way out, but afraid of the world finding out the corruption and fraud of the prison that Andy knows about, the Warden decides he needs to remove Williams. He gives him a choice to go to another prison that is “nicer” and has the ability to visit his family or testify for Andys case. Tommy wanted to see his family and “with only one string attached: not one more word about Elwood Blatch “ he felt it was the better deal. He chooses the new prison and the window to Andy's hope is closed. Darabont adapts this plot a little differently to emphasize institutionalization, even the somewhat short term effects it can have. In the movie scene of this event, the Warden takes Williams out to the yard and asks him to testify. Williams says he will and the guard shoots him. Here Darbont emphasized the friendships in prison as a byproduct of institutionalization. Williams chose to stay by his friend and thus died for it. Very different then the original plot of the novella, Darabont deliberately uses his creative allowance to emphasise the theme rather than the plot details and it makes their friendship developed through institutionalization a more compelling part of the narrative. 

As for the ending of the movie and novella, the differences account for the intent by both creators. After Andy manages to escape prison, Red is later released on parole and his new freedom is a somewhat boring and sad life. As Red is an “ institutional man” he longs for the friends and structure he once had. While in prison he “accepts {the four walls} ... [and] adjust to life on a scale, you get to love them,” his hope for the future and a better mindspace is slim until he finds the box that Andy left him in the field with money and a letter. But the novella ends on an unfinished, but hopeful note as Red talks about one day seeing Andy again. On the other hand, the film ends differently with a happy reuniting scene of Andy and Red on the beach. The artistic license used by the Director and his cinematic platform was a way for the audience to feel connected to visual representation of a completed story and to illustrate how their institutionalized minds that gravitated towards friendship in the end drew them back to each other. Using this creative license to show their friendship was a byproduct of the institutionalization was necessary in the cinematic format because it allows for there to be a parallel to the entire film and thus necessary means to end the visual adaptation. 

Most of the time many bestselling books get their film adaptation because of the potential for money, but a lot of films are made from novels because of their great writing and ability to capture an audience. When writers are approached by producers and directors many contemplate what should be adapted and who has influence over it. Directors often have writers play a role or have some influence, but in most cases the creative allowance is granted to the director.  Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King is known for its poetic nature and well written story. King, who has the most adapted novels to screen as any other writer, once in an interview shared he feels greatly about the whole adaptation process that writers deserve a fair share of compensation, but also know directors should have a creative license. The film adaptation of Shawshank Redemption, has many similarities, but also some notable differences that if anything, enhance the storyline. The director took their visual platform to create a masterpiece to follow the theme of institutionalization and thus is a seemingly perfect example of the director's role in alignment with a creative license for the purpose of conveying a theme or overall message.

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