The Shawano Redemption tells the story of Andy, who Is falsely Imprisoned for the murder of his wife and her lover. Yet Instead of quietly serving his two life sentences, Andy Defense occupies himself with extensive plans for escape. The Shawano Redemption portrays an intricate and multilayered weave of values and attitudes that are explored using an array of films techniques, such as music, voice-oversee, plot, camera shot, characterization and dialogue.
By doing this, the director, Frank Dartboard, encourages the audience to identify with the central character, Andy, and his attitudes towards hope, determination, friendship, and Justice and honesty. One value expressed in The Shawano Redemption is that of hope. While Andy firmly believes that hope Is a good thing, because it keeps you holding on and It can’t be taken from you, Ellis ‘Red’ Redding disagrees, claiming that, “hope can drive a man Insane”. Andy however, refuses to be persuaded that hope Is Indeed as dangerous as Red believes.
When Andy plays a Mozart aria over the PA system using a record, the whole of Shawano comes to a standstill. Red comments as a voice-over, “For the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawano felt free”. Through the use of music, Dartboard is able to convey hope as a positive attitude to the audience, because no matter how long those men had been shut within the walls of Shawano, or how dire their life was, it was music that gave them hope. Even after two weeks in ‘the hole’ Andy was still insistent that music was precious, because it brings hope.
It is this stubborn belief in the advantages of holding on to hope that the viewer identifies with Andy, and is encouraged to accept his attitudes as their win. Another example of hope as a positive attitude Is towards the end of the film, when a voice-over of Andy reads a letter addressed to Red, “Remember Red, hope Is a good thing. Maybe even the best of things”. It Is then that Red changes his attitude towards hope, and, Like Andy, displays this value with a positive attitude. In the final scene, through the use of voice-oversee, Red expresses his hope for the future, and being re-united with Andy.
This sense of hope is felt so strongly within Red that he decides to break his parole, and take a risk so that he can join Andy. By doing this, Dartboard is adding credibility towards Anta’s attitude, and is showing the audience that hope can drive a man like Red to risk everything just to be with his friend again. It is through this use of music and voice-over that Dartboard is able to get the viewers to successfully identify with the central characters attitude towards hope, and that such an attitude towards hope can keep a person going long after everything else they ever had Is taken from them.
Another value portrayed In The Shawano Redemption Is determination. Through the use of plot, Dartboard Is able to convince the audience that through determination, anything can be achieved. One example of this is when Red, upon Shawano that nobody would bother. Andy proved him wrong, when after eighteen years, Andy escapes and his tunnel is discovered. After the evidence of his innocence was destroyed by the Warden, Andy became more determined than ever to escape. Voice-oversee by Red state, “Geology is the study of pressure and time. That’s all it takes really; pressure and time”.
It was the combination of the pressures of his wrongful conviction, and the prospect of two back-to-back life sentences that drove Anta’s determination to be free. Indeed, by having the character Red doubt Anta’s determination to spend eighteen years tunneling out, Dartboard is encouraging the audience not to accept others opinions about their own abilities and to keep on trying, no matter how hopeless life may seem. Another example of Anta’s determination is during his first two years at Shawano, when the ‘sisters’ were physically and sexually abusing him.
No matter how many times Andy was beaten and raped, Andy always fought back. It was Anta’s determination to not give up that pushed him forward and onward. Eventually, Anta’s determination reaps its rewards hen the Warden sees to it that Bog and the sisters can no longer harm Andy. By using plot to express Anta’s determination, the audience is positioned to accept that it is possible to achieve or withstand anything when one is determined enough. A third example of Anta’s determination is in his letter writing.
In hope of improving the Shawano Prison Library, Andy writes a letter a week to the State Senate requesting funds for the library. And when some second hand books and a once-off donation arrives, accompanied by a letter stating “this matter is now closed. Please stop writing letters”, Andy responds by writing two letters a week until an annual budget of $500 is awarded to him. Camera shot is used here, with a close-up of Anta’s face, as he slowly smiles in response to the guard’s congratulations, despite the boundaries between them.
By linking one of Anta’s few smiles to the rewards for his determination, Dartboard is reinforcing the positive attitude towards determination. Even when Andy had been granted part of his wishes, he continues his efforts until his dreams are fully realized. By using plot and camera shot to rotary determination in a positive way, Dartboard is successful in encouraging the audience to identify with Anta’s determination, and be encouraged to never give up, nor settle for second best. A third value displayed by the character Andy is friendship.
This is shown through the films technique of characterization. Throughout the film, Andy is portrayed as a man of integrity and loyalty. Anta’s loyalty to his friend is proven when, before escaping from Shawano, Andy leaves Red with instructions to find a specific tree, and a package hidden beneath it. It was in this package that Andy left money, and a deter telling Red where to find him. By doing this, Andy ensures that once Red is released, he will have a life and meaning, despite Red’s belief that he has been ‘institutionalized’, however, this may have been the result of fear.
Previously, another prisoner named Brooks, having been locked up for so long, was unable to adapt to life on the outside, and chose to end his life. But Andy had faith that Red would persevere long enough to get his letter, and find hope for a new life. Another act of Anta’s that may seem to question how much he trusts his friend, is the fact that Andy as another indication of Anta’s integrity. Red was always honest about his crimes, and his guilt, and had every intention of serving his time honestly. It was Anta’s innocence that drove him to escape.
Andy, through his friendship with Red, understands his friend’s desire to pay for his crimes, and chooses not to tempt Red away from Shawano because of his own desires for freedom, freedom which was unattainable by any other method. It is this strong characterization of Andy that portrays clearly to the audience a man of loyalty and integrity, who values his friends, and ensures that they are never left alone and forgotten. Anta’s intentions and personality is highly multilayered, much like the plot of the film itself.
By using such strong characterization, Dartboard encourages the audience to identify with Andy, and be reassured of the value of friendship, and how ones friends may not always be as they appear, but true friendship will last out through the ages. A fourth value expressed in The Shawano Redemption is that of Justice and honesty. During his trial, Andy remained solemn and calm. Naively, he isn’t worried about the verdict of the trial, because he knows he is innocent, and believes that justice will be served and he will be cleared of all charges. But the Jury decided guilty, and Andy lost faith in the American Justice system.
Once in prison however, Andy learns that honesty is no longer the best policy if he wishes to survive, and begins his plans for escape. By becoming the Wardens book keeper, Andy really does become a criminal, by laundering the Warden’s ill-gotten-gains and hiding his corrupt business dealings behind a false persona, which he later uses to his own gains. The Warden’s ‘Inside Out’ program provides cheep labor, which means that there local businesses are out-bid in their efforts to gain contracts. When telling this to Red, Andy explains, “On the outside I was as straight as an arrow.
I had to come to prison to become a crook”. Andy understands that if he wishes to remain sane within the walls of Shawano Prison, he can no longer be the honest person he once was. This change in tone within Andy Just shows that the blurring of black and white to make gray is often more complicated than it first appears. Indeed, it is something as simple as guards accepting bribes so that Red and his friends win the chance to be he ones that get to tar the roof of the license plate factory shows that the prison corruption runs right the way through the levels of authority.
Like his personality, all of Anta’s actions are multilayered, and not always as it seems. Through the films conventions of plot, dialogue and tone, the viewer understands how Anta’s attitude and faith towards Justice and honesty change. By doing this, Dartboard encourages the viewer to identify with the films central character, to understand that even though it may seem Justice is being served, it may not always be so clear-cut.
Dartboard’s film, The Shawano Redemption conveys to the audience an image of hope, determination and friendship, and leaves them thinking upon Just where the straight line bends in Justice and honesty. Through the use of films techniques such as music, voice-oversee, plot, camera shot, characterization and dialogue, the audience identifies with Anta’s personality, and accept for themselves of the invincibility of hope, the rewards of determination, the many forms friendship can take, and the timeless, and are still as relevant to a modern audience as they were when the film was first released in 1994.