Roger Deakins on iconic Shawshank Redemption shot: “That’s one of those ones that I hate”

(Image credit: Columbia)

Over the last 25 years, The Shawshank Redemption has established itself as a classic movie, proudly sitting atop IMDB's top 250 movies of all time. Upon release, Shawshank was also a success with critics, being nominated for seven Oscars including Best Cinematography for Roger Deakins. 

However, despite the shot of Tim Robbins shouting up into the rainy heavens being one of cinema's most famous images, Deakins remains unhappy with it. Speaking to our sister magazine Total Film, the cinematographer – best known for his work on Blade Runner 2049, Skyfall, multiple Coen brothers movies, and Scorsese's Kundun – reveals all.

"That’s one of those ones that I hate, because I over-lit it," he says. "In the script, it was a much longer sequence. Andy comes out of the sewer pipe, goes to the river, crosses the field and there’s a whole sequence where he gets on the train. In our schedule, we only had a night to shoot the whole thing and it was like, 'That ain’t gonna happen.' So we shot him coming out of the tunnel, and struggling up the river."  

"By the time we got all the equipment there, we did that high shot and ended on that. Because it was a good way to shorten that whole sequence. It actually works much better than the extended sequence would have done."

Deakins went on to discuss his career at length, as well as his work on Sam Mendes' upcoming war film 1917. You can read the entire interview in the latest issue of Total Film magazine, available now.

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Jack Shepherd
Freelance Journalist

Jack Shepherd is the former Senior Entertainment Editor of GamesRadar. Jack used to work at The Independent as a general culture writer before specializing in TV and film for the likes of GR+, Total Film, SFX, and others. You can now find Jack working as a freelance journalist and editor.