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03 February 2008 @ 10:07 pm
Fear can make you prisoner. Hope can set you free.  

The movie "The Shawshank Redemption" is based on a short story by Stephen King called "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption". I didn't even know that before I watched it.

The movie's from 1994 and was nominated for 7 oscars. The main characters are played by two amazing actors, Morgan Freeman as "Red" and Tim Robbins as "Andy".

I know that he's orginally spelled "Dufresne", but as long nobody proves me how you get "Dufresne" sound like "Duprhane" I'm sticking to my way of spelling. ;)

If you want to see the movie in it's full glory, don't look further, because there will be spoilers. But only for one plot line, some questions will still be left open.

There must be a con like me in every prison in america. I'm the guy who can get it for you. Cigarettes. A bag of reefer, if that's your thing. A bottle of brandy to celebrate your kids high school graduation. Mainly anything within reason. Yes sir, I'm a regular Sears and Robock. So when Andy Duphrane came to me in 1949 and asked me to smuggle Rita Hayworth into the prison for him, I told him 'No problem.'

Andy came to Shawshank prison in early 1947, for murdering his wife and the fella she was banging. On the outside he'd been vice-president of a large Portland bank. Good work for a man as young as he was.

Most new fish come close to madness the first night, somebody always breaks down crying. Happens every time. The only question is, who's it gonna be? It's as good a thing to bet on as any, I guess. I had my money on Andy Duphrane.

"And we have a winner! It's Fat Ass, by a nose."

His first night in the joint. Andy Duphrane cost me two packs of cigarettes. He never made a sound.

"I'm Andy Duphrane."

"Wife killing banker. Why did you do it?"

"I didn't. since you ask."

"[laughs] You're gonna fit right here. Everybody in here is innocent. Didn't you know that?"


"I understand you're a man that knows how to get things."

"I'm known to locate certain things from time to time."

"I wonder if you might get me a rock hammer."


"But you understand my concern?"

"If there's any trouble I won't use the rock hammer."

"Then I'd guess you want to escape. Tunnel under the wall maybe?"

[Andy laughs]

"Did I miss something here? What was funny?"

"You'll understand when you see the rock hammer."

I can see why some of the boys took him for snobby. He had a quiet way about him. A walk and a talk that just wasn't normal around here. He strolled, like a man in the park, without a care or a worry in the world. Like he had on an invisible coat that would shield him from this place. Yeah, I think it would be fair to say, I liked Andy from the start.

Andy was right. I finally got the joke. It would take a man about 600 years to tunnel under the wall with one of these.

"The roof of the license-plate factory needs resurfacing. I need a dozen volunteers for a week's work." More than a hundred men volunteered for the job, Wouldn't you know it? Me and some fellas I know were among the names called.

It only cost us a pack of smokes per man.

"Thirty five thousand, That's what he left me."

"Holly shit. That's great!"

"Dumb shit, what do you think the government will do to me?"

"Mr. Hadley. Do you trust your wife?"


"What I mean is, do you think she'd go behind your back?"

"That's enough. This f**ker is having himself an accident."

"Because if you do trust her, there's no reason you can't keep the 35.000."

"You better start making sense."

"Give the money to your wife. The IRS allows a one-time-only gift to your spouse for up to $60.000."

"Bullshit. Tax-free?"

"Tax-free. IRS can't touch one cent."

"You're that smart banker that killed his wife. Aren't you?"

"I don't need a smart banker like you to tell me where the bear shit in the buckwheat."

"Of course not. But you need someone to set it up for you."


"Nearly free of charge. I'd only ask three beers apiece for each of my coworkers.

And that's how it came to pass, that on the second-to-last day of the job, the convict crew that tarred the factory roof in the spring of '49, wound up sitting in a row at 10 o' clock in the morning, drinking icy-cold beer, courtesy of the hardest screw that ever walked a turn at Shawshank State Prison.

We sat and drank with the sun on our shoulders and felt like free men. We could have been tarring the roof of one of our own houses. We were the lords of all creation.

As for Andy, he spent that break hunkered in the shade, a strange little smile on his face, watching us drink his beer.

"Hey, want a cold one Andy?" - "No thanks. I gave up drinking,"

You could argue he'd done it to curry a favor with the guards. Or maybe make a few friends among us cons. Me? I think he did it just to feel normal again, if only for a short while.


"Wait. Here she comes. This is the part I really like, when she does that shit with her hair."

"Yeah, I know. I've seen it three times this month."

"I understand you're a man that knows how to get things."

"I'm known to locate certain things from time to time. What do you want?"

"Rita Hayworth"


"It will take a few weeks, but I'll get her. Relax."

"Brooks, how long have you been the librarian?"

"Oh, I've come here in '05 and they made me librarian in 1912."

"And in all that time, have you ever had an assistant?"

"No. Not much to it, really."

"Why me? Why now?"

"I'm Dekins. I was thinking about setting up some kind of trust fund for my kids' educations."

"I'm a convicted murderer who provides sound financial planning. That's a wonderful pet to have."

"It got you out of the laundry, though."

"It might do more than that. How about expanding the library. Get some new books in there."

"Hod do you plan to do that?"

"I'll ask the warden for funds."

[Everyone laughs.]

"The budget's stretched thin as it is.

"I see. Perhaps I could write the state senate and request funds directly from them."

"As far as I'm concerned they have only three ways to spend the taxpayers' money for prisons: More walls, more bars, more guards,"

"Still, I'd like to try with your permission. I'll write a letter a week. They can't ignore me forever."
"They sure can. But you write your letters if it makes you happy. I'll even mail them for you. How's that?"

So Andy started writing a letter a week. Just like he said. And just like Norton said, Andy got no answers.

The following April, Andy did tax returns for half the guards at Shawshank.

A year after that, he did them all.

Including the warden's.

Yes, sir! Andy was a regular cottage industry.

In fact, it got so busy at tax time, he was allowed a staff.

Dear Mr. Duphrane

In response to your repeated inquiries the state has allocated the enclosed funds for your library project. "This is $200." In addition, the library dictrict has generously responded with a charitably donation of used books and sundries. We trust this will fill your needs. We now consider the matter closed.

Please stop sending us letters.

"It only took 6 years. From now on I'll write two letters instead of one."

I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singing about. Truth is, I don't wanna know. Some things are best left unsaid.

I like to think they were singing about something so beautiful, it can't be expressed in words and makes your heart ache because of it.

I tell you those voices soared, higher and farther than anybody in a gray place dares to dream, It was like a beautiful bird flapped into our drab cage and made those walls dissolve away.

And for the briefest of moments, every last man at Shawshank felt free.

"Was it worth it? Two weeks in the hole?"

"Easiest time I ever did."

"Bullshit. There's no such thing as easy time in the hole."

"A week in the hole feels like a year."

"I had Mr. Mozart to keep me company."

"So they let you tote that record player down there, huh?"

"It was in here, and in here.

That's the beauty of music. They can't get that from you. Haven't you ever felt that way about music?"

"Well, I played a mean harmonica as a younger man. Lost interest in it, though. Didn't make much sense in here."

"Here is where it makes the most sense. You need it so you don't forget."


"Forget that there are places in the world that aren't made of stone. That there is something inside that they can't get to, that they can't touch. That's yours."

"What are you talking about?"


"Hope. Let me tell you something, my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane. It's got no use on the inside. You'd better get used to that idea."

"Here, a little parole rejection present."

"It's very pretty, Andy. Thank you."

"Are you gonna play it?"

"No, not right now."


Andy was as good as his word. He wrote two letters a week instead of one. In 1959, the state senate finally clued in to the fact they couldn't buy him off with just a $200 check. Appropriations Committee voted an annual payment of $500, just to shut him up. And you'd be amazed how far Andy could stretch it. He made deals with book clubs, charity groups. He bought remaindred books by the pound.

By the year Kennedy was shot, Andy had transformed a storage room smelling of turpentine, into the best prison library in New England.

Behind every shady deal and every dollar earned by the warden, there was Andy, keeping the books.

"There's a river of dirty money running through this place."

"The problem with having all that money is, sooner or later, you're gonna have to explain where it came from."

"That's where I come in. I channel it. Filter it. Funnel it. Stocks, securities, tax-free municipals. I send that money out into the real world, and when it comes back..."

"Clean as a virgin's honeypot, huh?"

"Cleaner. By the time Norton retires, I'll have made him a millionaire."

"If they ever catch on though, he's gonna wind up in here, wearing a number himself."

"I really thought you'd have a little more faith in me than that."

"I know you're good Andy, but all that paper leaves a trail. Now anybody gets curious FBI, IRS... whatever. It's gonna lead to somebody."

"Sure it is, but not to me, and certainly not to the warden."

"All right, who?"

"Randall Stevens. The "silent" silent partner."

"He's the guilty one, your honor. The man with the bank accounts. It's where the filtering process starts. They trace anything, it's gonna lead to him."

"But who is he?"

"He's a phantom, an apparition. Second cousin to Harvey the Rabbit. I conjured him, out of thin air. He doesn't exist, except on paper."

"Andy, you can't just make a person up."

"Sure you can, if you know how the system works. It's amazing what you can accomplish by mail. Mr. Stevens has a birth certificate, drivers license, social securíty number... If they ever trace any of the accounts, they're gonna wind up chasing a figment of my imagination."

"Did I say you are good? Shit, you are Rembrandt."

"Do you think you'll ever get out here?"

"Me? Yeah. One day, when I've got a long white beard."

"I tell you where I'll go. Zihuatanejo."

"Say what?"

"Zihuatanejo. It's in Mexico. A little place on the Pacific Ocean. You know what the Mexicans say about the Pacific? They say it has no memory. That's where I want to live the rest of my life. A warm place with no memory. Open up a little hotel, right on the beach. Buy some worthless old boat and fix it up new. Take my guests out charter fishing."


"In a place like that, I could use a man that knows how to get things."

"Red, if you ever get out of here, do me a favor."

"Sure, Andy. Anything."

"There's a big hayfield up near Buxton. You know where Buxton is?"

"Well, there's a lot of hayfields up there."

"One in particular. It's got a long rock wall with a big oak tree at the north end. It's like something out of a Robert Frost poem. It's where I asked my wife to marry me. We went there for a picnic, and made love under that oak. And I asked and she said yes.

Promise me, Red. If you ever get out, find that spot. At the base of that wall, there's a rock that has no earthly business in Maine. Piece of black, volcaninc glass. There's something buried under it I want you to have."

"I want to go home."

"I'm just about finished, Sir."

"Get my stuff down to the laundry. And shine my shoes."

"Yes, Sir."

"Man missing on tier 2, cell 245."

"He was in his cell at lights out, stands to reason he'd still be here in the morning."

In 1966 Andy Duphrane escaped from Shawshank Prison. All they found of him was a muddy set of prison clothes, a bar of soap and an old rock hammer, damn near worn down to the nub.

I remember thinking it would take a man 600 years to tunnel through the wall with it. Old Andy did it in less than 20.

Oh, Andy loved geology.

I imagine it appealed to his meticulouse nature. An ice age here, million years of mountain building there. Geology is the study of pressure and time. That's all it takes, really. Pressure and time.

That and a big goddamn poster.

Like I said, in prison, a man will do most anything to keep his mind occupied.

Turns out that Andy's favorite hobby was toting his wall out into the exercise yard, a hand full at a time.

I guess after Tommy was killed, Andy decided he'd been here just about long enough.

Andy did like he was told.

Buffed those shoes to a high mirror-shine. The guards simply didn't notice.

Neither did I. I mean, seriously, how often do you really look at a man's shoes?

Andy crawled to freedom through 500 yards of shit-smelling foulness I can't even imagine.

Or maybe I just don't want to. Five hundred yards. That's the length of five football fields. Just shy of half a mile.

The next morning, right about the time Raquel was spilling her little secret, a man that nobody ever laid eyes on before, strolled into the Maine National Bank. Until that moment, he didn't exist. Except on paper.

He had all the proper ID, driver's license, birth certificate, Social Security card. And the signature was a spot-on match.

"Would you add this to your outgoing mail?"

Mr. Stevens visited nearly a dozen banks in the Portland area that morning. All told he blew town with better than $370.000 of Warden Norton's money. Severance pay for 19 years.


Andy Duphrane, who crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side.

: creativecreative
Kathy: coffecoffecoffepaperwitch on February 3rd, 2008 09:56 pm (UTC)
aww, I love this movie and the end was a wonderful surprise for me, too, but I totally loved it. <3

thx for the picspam :)

btw. I read the shortstory ages ago but I didn't ever make the connection to the film until now *ashamed*...it is so obvious (besides the titel of course!).
Bibi [/Blocksberg]: tumnusasolitaryraven on February 5th, 2008 01:58 pm (UTC)

I ordered the book on amazon now (and the movie poster =D). When I watched the movie I didn't even now it was adapted from a book or a short story, I found that on imdb afterwards.
zarazadima on September 27th, 2010 08:42 am (UTC)
This film is about how the justice system could screw you big time, but, also, about what you can do to screw it back even better by using its own weapons. Since (according to this movie) virtually everybody is be able to ask for a replacement birth certificate, rivers license or social security number using a false name, interesting things can happen.