Surprisingly, one of the best films of world cinema of the last decades was filmed in three summer months of 1993. The performer of one of the main roles, Morgan Freeman, later recalled that the team worked 16-17 hours a day without a break.
According to the plot of the film, a young banker Andy Dufresne receives two life sentences for the murder of his wife and her lover. In reality, this crime is committed by someone else, but the circumstances and motives are not in Andy’s favor. On the day of the murder, he drinks himself unconscious, comes with a revolver to the house of the man with whom his wife cheated, but when he comes to he leaves. The very next day, the circumstances of the terrible massacre are clarified and suspicions fall on Andy. The court sends the protagonist to serve his sentence in the Shawshank prison.
The Shawshank prison is considered the most terrible and cruel in the district. The chief and his subordinates openly mock the new prisoners, and even kill one. Dufresne is assigned to work in a laundry where he meets a certain Red. Red is known in prison for having a large number of “connections” in the wild and for a fee he can get any things. One day, Andy even buys a real geological hammer from him in order to make chess pieces out of stone.
At first, Dufresne is badly poisoned by a couple of prisoners, known by the nickname “Sisters”. They repeatedly harass him and try to suppress the will to resist.
Time passes and Andy is gradually getting used to this terrible place. One fine day, the main character and a group of prisoners are sent to repair the roof. They are led by the head of the prison guard, Heldi. In a conversation with him, Andy gives advice on how to avoid paying taxes when registering inheritance rights. Heldy appreciates this gesture and soon Dufresne is transferred to an easier job in the prison library.
In the library, he helps Brooks, an elderly inmate librarian. Very soon this place becomes the real center of Shawshank life. Here, Andy, a professional civil lawyer, begins to arrange real legal consultations for those who wish. Having learned about this talent of the protagonist, the head of the prison involves him in his financial fraud through non-existent figureheads. In addition, thanks to Dufresne’s contacts in the state government, the prison library receives funding and new books are purchased.
One day, partner Andy Brooks receives a message that he has been released early. This shocks the old man, because he spent half a century behind bars. With inexplicable feelings, Brooks leaves the Shawshank, but his life in the wild goes downhill. He simply cannot find his place in the new world and commits suicide by hanging himself in a cheap hotel room.
Two decades pass. Norton by this point accumulates a huge amount in the accounts, and the situation of most of the prisoners does not improve. Andy finds a new field of activity – he prepares a guy named Tommy for the exam. From him, the main character learns that the real killer of his wife and her lover is a psychopath from a neighboring institution.
One day, Andy escapes from prison. It turns out that he daily punched through the wall in his cell with the help of a geological hammer, bought from Rede at the very beginning of the term. The fugitive successfully cashes out all the money from the accounts of the head of the Norton prison, sends detailed compromising evidence on his illegal activities to one of the state newspapers and leaves with a decent amount for Mexico. At the end of the movie, Norton commits suicide, and Red, after his early release, leaves the United States and goes to Andy Dufresne.
The meaning of the film is hidden in the fact that a person, wherever he finds himself, must preserve his personality, identity and principles. Even in custody, the characters of the film try to build some semblance of a normal life, to establish communication with the guards and other prisoners. For example, Andy Dufresne does not “break” in the dungeons, but all the time continues to believe that his freedom will come sooner or later. This gives him the strength to dream and lead other people.