In The Shawshank Redemption, Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is given two life sentences for murdering his wife and her lover, but escapes prison after a gruelling 19 years behind bars.
Though he self-styles as the only innocent man in Shawshank, where’s the evidence? Exhibit A: he says he didn’t do it. Exhibit B: gobshite Tommy (Gil Bellows) says someone else did. In other words, pretty weak.
The case against, however, is cast-iron. Firstly, Andy was at the scene of the crime, drunk, with a loaded gun intending to “scare them”. Just FYI, scaring your ex with a gun is a terrible thing to do in itself, and carries a lengthy jail sentence, so the man ishardly Mother Teresa.
Next, the story is narrated – and rather unreliably so – by Red (Morgan Freeman) who continually underestimates Andy, describes scenes he couldn’t possibly have been present at (Tommy’s murder for one), and has a massive soft spot for him – “Yes, I think it would be fair to say I liked Andy from the start,” he gushes. Later he imagines Andy, topless and Christ-like, sploshing to freedom – hardly the work of an unbiased, objective witness.
Whichever way you cut it, Andy is a tricksy customer, described as both “cold-blooded” and “icy” by people in authority. Despite being a bank VP on the outside, he immediately starts setting up tax dodges for the prison guards, graduating to fraud for Warden Norton (Bob Gunton) and his Inside-Out programme. “Behind every shady deal, behind every dollar earned, there was Andy keeping the books,” marvels Red.
Shawshank is a film all about misdirection – Andy does all kinds of goody-goody stuff to hide the fact he’s digging a tunnel to freedom – so what if the whole thing is just a (very) long con by an unrepentant criminal? Also, if Andy really is such a great guy, why does he steal $370,000 of Warden Norton’s ill-gotten gains? And how, exactly, can an 'innocent' man be redeemed?
Nope, the simple fact is he killed his wife and her lover, took all of Shawshank for a ride, crawled through a river of shit to somehow ‘redeem’ himself, then ran off to Mexico with Red as his boat buddy. Or is it just me?
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