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  • Greetings, and welcome to Earthling Cinema. I am your host, Garyx

  • Wormuloid. This week's artifact is The Shawshank Redemption, based on

  • the novella by acclaimed wordperson King Stephen, who

  • ruled America with an iron fist for over two hundred years.

  • The Shawshank Redemption tells the story of Earthling Andy Dufresne, a

  • suspiciously over-qualified banker who is sent to prison for the

  • murder of his nameless wife. Once incarcerated, he befriends Red, who

  • is known to locate certain items from time to time and whose gentle baritone

  • could lull me right to sleep. Tired of doing boring stuff like

  • sliming the tops of buildings, Andy offers the guards financial advice,

  • which is like catnip for humans. The Warden quickly gives Andy an

  • unpaid internship, which seems like it's gonna be a great opportunity,

  • but ends up just being a lot of bitch work.

  • After twenty years, Andy decides he's had enough, despite the fact

  • that he's barely aged a day. The guys all think he's gonna kill

  • himself, but why bother when he's got that sweet hole in his wall

  • Later, Red gets lonely, and

  • asks if he can go now, and everybody says ok. He easily finds

  • Andy halfway around the world, presumably using satellite

  • technology, and then they chill at Club Med.

  • Other than the value of keeping posters in your room, the primary

  • theme of The Shawshank Redemption is freedom.

  • Many times we see the camera framed by doors and windows, suggesting

  • imprisonment. Conversely, aerial shots are used to indicate

  • liberation. In this shot, Andy experiences his last gasp of life

  • on the outside as the limo brings him to Shawshank. Later, he plays

  • Wolfgang Puck's “The Marriage of Figarofor the other inmates,

  • using art to set them free. At the end, we see Andy and Red fully

  • torqued on freedom. But the movie goes even deeper.

  • Sure, it's about a prison and all the wacky adventures that happen

  • there, but lurking beneath is a hefty load existential undertones.

  • Typical Hollywood. In his essay "Existentialism is a Humanism,"

  • Jean Paul Sartre suggests that in the absence of God, humans must

  • define their own essence through the choices they make, and also

  • through the shampoo they use. In this film, instead of God, we

  • have the Warden, who is a "perverse deity" -- Satan masquerading as a

  • holy figure. He is always quoting the Christian bible and bragging

  • about how many passages he has memorized, yet he is arbitrarily

  • cruel and spiteful. He has a stitchwork quote about judgement on

  • his wall, but behind it is the vault where he keeps records of his

  • illegal activities, and probably some nudie mags.

  • According to Sartre's analogy: An artisan uses a tool to craft an

  • object. He determines its essence, and the object has no say in the

  • matter. Sucks for you, object! Similarly, if humans were crafted

  • by God, that would mean humans have no say in their essence either.

  • Sartre contends that "each man makes his essence as he lives," and

  • God plays no part in it.

  • And he was right, just a little premature: as we all know, the

  • being known as God abandoned Earth in the year 1991.

  • Because of the Warden, inmates are not in charge of their own essence,

  • or even their own bowels. The institution breaks them and the walls come to

  • define who they are. Brooks loses his ability to live in

  • the free world and turns to the seedy underworld of graffiti before

  • ultimately calling it quits. Prison robs people of their will to

  • freedom, and by extension, their humanity.

  • Sartre contrasts human beings with objects such as rocks, noting that

  • rocks are their characteristics, whereas human beings create their

  • characteristics, even if those characteristics are forged by

  • wasting away in front of their television sets. Most of the

  • prisoners become rocks -- they allow their lack of physical

  • freedom to dictate their sense of absolute freedom. In contrast, Andy

  • doesn't become a rock, he sculpts and breaks rocks with his trusty

  • hammer, Thor Jr. The salvation lying within the Bible is not God,

  • but rather Andy's choice to embrace hope and liberate himself [shot of

  • hammer-shaped hold in bible] by any means necessary: in this case, a

  • conveniently human-sized pipe.

  • Andy tells Red he'll laugh when he sees the rock hammer -- in a place

  • like Shawshank, hope is truly laughable. Plus, small things are

  • funny.

  • For Earthling Cinema, I'm Garyx Wormuloid.

  • To sign up for your very own prison pen pal, click the subscribe button.

Greetings, and welcome to Earthling Cinema. I am your host, Garyx

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B2 US shawshank sartre shawshank redemption essence redemption freedom

Hidden Meaning in The Shawshank Redemption – Earthling Cinema

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