Techniques used in Shawshank Redemption

When is it used in the film
Why/how is it used?
What does the director want us to think?

Parallel - when two or more things are compared
Red and Brooks. The experiences of the men when they leave prison are paralleled – they follow the same pattern.

He wants us to see the parallels between the two characters and show the effect of institutionalisation (developing the theme). We know Red well by this point in the film and we fear that he may follow the same route as Brooks.
Frank Darabont also wants us to see the effect that Andy has had on Brooks. We realise that people do have choices and that Red is able to adjust. The director emotionally pulls us into the plight of these two characters.

Contrast - when two or more things are different from each other
Red’s final parole hearing is different to the first two – his behaviour is different – a contrast
Contrasts are also used in the lighting/ dialogue etc to show differences
To show the changes that this character has gone through and to show us how Andy has affected Red. To signal a change in the film and where the action is going next
Symbol - something (such as an object) signifies an idea or something bigger
The harmonica signifies Red’s fear of hope, the rock hammer within the Bible represents freedom and salvation
Helping the audience to relate to the bigger ideas in the film, giving significance to actions and objects in the film and showing how crafted the film is
Structure – how the film is divided – the narrative structure
Shawshank Redemption is divided into four parts
When Andy first arrives through to Boggs’ beating up
The rooftop scene and the beers through to Brooks’ suicide
Through to Tommy’s death
Andy’s escape to the end
Develops the theme of institutionalisation by showing us how Andy responds to his environment
Shock and reality
Acceptance and creating a niche for himself
Resignation and desperation
Salvation and redemption
Setting – time, physical location, cultural and social setting develop characters and ideas in the film
Boggs’ beating up of Andy demonstrates the nature of prison and its cruelty. Andy becomes stronger as a result of the beating
Not an idealistic impression of prison – shows us how harsh the world is – makes it real
Character can help to develop ideas or other characters
Red and Brooks are key characters as both develop the idea of institutionalisation
Andy affects how Red responds when he is awarded parole
Paralleling and contrasting the attitudes and actions of the two characters helps the director show us an important idea and also the effect of other characters on actions. Andy’s influence prevents Red from committing suicide
Voiceover – used to develop and explain ideas and characters
Red tells us a lot about life in Shawshank and what life is like for the prisoners.
Red lets us know what he is thinking and provides humour and wry cynicism that prevents the film from becoming bleak
Production techniques - Music, lighting, camera shots etc
The light of the roof top scene is gentle and fits with the idea of the men feeling like free men
Director uses production techniques consistent with the mood or effect that he wants to create – also to show contrasts, relationships, ideas and conflict