The Shawshank Redemption
I believe in two things: discipline and the Bible. Here you'll receive both. Put your trust in the
Lord; your ass belongs to me. Welcome to Shawshank.
In 1947, a young banker named Andy Dufresne is convicted of murdering his wife and her lover based on strong circumstantial evidence, and is sentenced to two consecutive life sentences at the notorious Shawshank Prison in Maine. At the prison, inmate Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding is rejected for parole after having served twenty years of his life sentence. Later that day, he witnesses the arrival of the new prisoners, Andy among them. After meeting the disciplinarian Warden Samuel Norton and sadistic Chief Prison Guard Captain Byron Hadley, the new inmates are deloused and shuffled to their cells. One of the prisoners breaks down sobbing at night, whereupon Captain Hadley savagely beats him, inflicting fatal injuries.
Andy gradually becomes acquainted with Red's circle of friends, and specifically Red himself, who is known for cleverly smuggling in contraband. After a month of adjusting to his new life, Andy approaches Red and orders from him a rock hammer, so as to pursue his hobby of rock collecting. Andy initially works in the prison laundry, where he is harassed and sought out to be raped by a group of sadistic inmates known as "The Sisters." He endures the abuse for nearly two years but never speaks a word. One day, while tarring the roof of Shawshank's license plate factory, Andy overhears Captain Hadley discussing the taxes on an inheritance he is set to receive. Although he nearly gets thrown off the roof, his knowledge of financial matters proves valuable to Hadley. In return for three beers for each of his "co-workers", Andy sets up a tax shelter for Hadley.
During a film screening, Andy asks Red to get Rita Hayworth for his cell. As he leaves the theater, he is attacked by The Sisters and is beaten "within an inch of his life", and has to spend a month in the prison infirmary to recover. Captain Hadley, in retribution, viciously beats the gang's leader, Bogs, leaving him permanently paralyzed. Andy is never again victimized by The Sisters, and word gets out that Andy is now protected by the guards because of his assistance to Captain Hadley. When Andy returns from the infirmary, he finds a welcome-back gift from Red: a large poster of Rita Hayworth, free of charge.
Word of Andy's assistance to Captain Hadley gets out, and he is appointed to assist elderly trustee Brooks Hatlen in the prison library and writes to the Senate for funds to improve the library. As other guards begin to come to him for financial help, Andy sets up a makeshift office to provide tax and financial services and his "clientele" grows to include the entire prison staff, guards from other prisons, and even Warden Norton himself.
After Andy has spent nearly ten years in Shawshank, he and Red find a distraught and hostile Brooks holding a knife to Heywood's throat. After Andy gets Brooks to let Heywood go, Red inquires of Heywood about what he did to set Brooks off in the first place. Heywood tells Red and the other inmates that he only came to tell Brooks 'good-bye'. Brooks' parole has finally been granted and he, in prison since 1905, is so accustomed to life inside that he fears the real world. Outside the prison walls, Brooks encounters nothing but loneliness, isolation, and a dead-end job of bagging groceries. While he was a respected man within prison, he is merely (according to Red) "a used-up old con with arthritis in both hands" in the outside world. In addition, he is given no sympathy by society and is harassed by his unlikeable supervisor, whom he briefly contemplates killing to return to prison. He ultimately writes a final letter to his friends back at Shawshank before carving "Brooks was here" into the banister, and then hangs himself....
Warden Samuel Norton capitalizes on Andy's skills and devises a program to put prison inmates to work for local construction projects. His motive is to exploit the prisoners' free labor for his own personal profit, with Andy acting behind the scenes as a money launderer, hiding the funds for Norton by creating a fraudulent identity of "Randal Stevens." To keep Andy happy, the Warden expands the prison library, and Andy is given the opportunity to help inmates obtain their high school diplomas. He also lets Andy keep an inordinate amount of contraband in his cell, including carved rocks, a rock blanket, and various posters.
In 1965, a young prisoner named Tommy Williams enters Shawshank.. Andy takes a liking to him and begins to educate him. After attempting to complete the exam, he learns of Andy's supposed crime from Red, but then makes a shocking revelation: Elmo Blatch, one of his old cellmates, had gleefully described murdering two people who fit the description of Andy's wife and her lover and how her "hotshot banker" husband got blamed for it. Andy hopes that he will be able to get a new trial with Tommy's help, and he approaches Norton for advice and assistance. When Norton hears the story, he tries to convince him that Tommy sympathizes with his predicament and concocted the story to cheer him up. Andy then reassures the Warden that he will never reveal anything about the corruption at the prison.
Fearing exposure if Andy is set free, Norton sends him to solitary confinement for one month and orders Hadley to kill Tommy following a discussion in which the young man states he is willing to testify on Andy's behalf. After subtly revealing that Tommy's murder will be covered up as an escape attempt, Norton makes it very clear that Andy will continue to receive protection from the guards only if keeps his mouth shut and continues to help Norton embezzle funds. If he doesn't, Norton informs him that he will 'cast him down with the Sodomites', and destroy everything that Andy's worked so hard on over the years, including the library. He then sentences him to another month in solitary confinement.
After spending two total months in solitary confinement, Andy is released, only to return to the main prison population as a seemingly broken man, resigned to his fate. Out in the yard, he gives ominous instructions to Red, telling him that if he is ever released he is to go to a specific spot in a certain hayfield near Buxton, Maine to find something that has been buried there. Andy's friends are concerned that he may commit suicide like Brooks, because he recently ordered a long coil of rope. The following morning, however, Andy is missing from his cell. . In a fury over Andy's vanishing into thin air, the Warden throws one of the rocks on Andy's windowsill into the poster, where it goes through, and falls hitting a pipe. The Warden punches a hole through it, and then tears it off, revealing a hole that an average sized man could fit through. Warden Norton loses his composure and commits all of his resources to tracking the escapee down, but only muddy prison clothes, a bar of soap and a rock hammer worn to the nub are found.
In a flashback sequence, it is revealed that when Andy attempted to carve his name into the wall earlier in the film, the wall chipped significantly, and over the 19 years Andy spent at Shawshank, he spent hours chipping away at the wall. To rid himself of the evidence, he discreetly discarded rock chippings from his night activities into the prison yard. He completed his escape by crawling 500 yards through a sewage pipe. After his escape, Andy assumes the fake identity of Randall Stevens he created earlier for the purpose of concealing the warden's embezzlements, which has a birth certificate, driver's license, and Social Security number. Wearing Norton's clean suit and shoes, Andy withdraws the funds that he had deposited over the years as "severance pay" for his unjust treatment and work in prison. He also sends evidence of the scams to a local newspaper, exposing the corruption and crimes of the warden and the guards. The morning the story runs, police and the district attorney swarm to the prison. Byron Hadley is arrested, and Norton commits suicide in his office before the authorities can get into the room by putting a gun to his head.
Soon after, in 1967, Red is finally released on parole after serving 40 years at Shawshank. After trying to cope with life outside prison (and being given the same job and apartment Brooks had had years earlier) he considers doing anything to break his parole and get sent back to Shawshank, but he recalls his promise to Andy shortly before Andy's escape. One day, Red heads to the field in Buxton that Andy told him about. Under a large out-of-place volcanic glass rock, he finds a small metal box containing money and instructions from Andy. He travels by bus to Texas (where Andy crossed into Mexico) and, eventually, reunites with Andy in Zihuatanejo on the coast of Mexico.
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