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What Really Happened In The Shawshank Redemption

by Shit Pistol
20 May 2014 26 Comments

Ah The Shawshank Redemption, look at you proudly sitting there, number 1 on IMDB's Top 250, a story of how hope can overcome any obstacle huh? You don't fool me for a second.

Andy Dufresne

In all honesty this is something that I used to say to wind people up. I used to watch the film in complete silence waiting until just after the credits start to roll letting everyone in the room (usually just my girlfriend at the time) sit content in the knowledge that Red and Andy had been reunited as free men on a sunny beach in Mexico before piping up:

“I still think he did it”

It promotes a brilliant response. People can become so defensive when you suggest that the character they love so much may be a fraud. The reactions got better over the years as well as my girlfriend learned my little game and came to expect me to say it at the end of each viewing, often with readied arguments to prove that Dufresne was innocent.

It’s something I do just to play devil’s advocate but the more I’ve been forced to display evidence of my outrageous claims the more I’ve started to believe my own joke.

He just strolls in calm as a Hindu cow, makes contacts, makes a bunch of friends (for protection) and starts digging a tunnel out. The brother is straight up gangster

First up the idea that he murdered his wife and her lover is much more realistic and more believable than Dufresne’s lame story about getting drunk with a loaded gun and a strong motive but just fucked off the whole thing and threw the gun away. Not to mention the fact that they dragged the river and never found the gun.

Secondly for a man who didn’t kill his wife and is sentenced to life in prison for the crime he seems to handle it pretty well. This is Stephen King not Albert Camus. He just strolls in calm as a Hindu cow, makes contacts, makes a bunch of friends (for protection) and starts digging a tunnel out. The brother is straight up gangster, two steps away from getting a tattoo and pumping iron.

Next up, and this is a really big one for me, the story is told by Red. All of it. From the very start the film is narrated by Red. Does Red really know what happened before he met Andy Dufresne? Of course not. Red only knows what Andy tells him. Of course Red believes Dufresne is innocent, they’re best mates. Red would take a bullet for Dufresne. But because it’s Morgan Freeman’s soothing voice we’re taken in by his story. But he can’t possibly know for sure that Dufresne didn’t plug his wife he just takes his word for it and so do we.

This is my favourite evidence for Dufresne’s guilt because it can be used to level any argument to the contrary.

“But wait” I hear you cry. “What about the kid’s story about his cellmate who admits to the murder?”

Well lets clarify that. The kid’s STORY is about a cellmate who confesses to A murder not THE murder. America was a big place, still is. Do you think Dufresne is the only person in the country serving time who claims he didn’t kill his wife?

“Me? My lawyer fucked me. Everybody’s innocent in here. Didn’t you know that?”

The film is better for the possibility that he might actually be guilty. For one thing it changes the meaning of ‘Redemption’ in the title.

The cellmate is described by the kid as a loud-mouth who likes to “talks shit”. On top of that, have you ever actually looked at this cellmate character before? (This is something I just noticed the last time I watched it) He’s like a comic book villain; huge insane eyes, enormous teeth in an insane grin that seems to take up fifty percent of his face.

This is all before addressing the strong possibility that the kid is just making it all up to make Dufresne feel better like the Warden suggests he is. The Warden I should add is also the most qualified to assess the psyche of an inmate whether he’s crooked or not.

Whether these clues are intentional or not doesn’t matter. The film is better for the possibility that he might actually be guilty. For one thing it changes the meaning of ‘Redemption’ in the title.

Anyway it’s just something I was thinking about. Try it next time you watch it.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Dufresne:

“I killed her Red…”

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image descriptionCOMMENTS

Carl_Lazlo_Esq 11:42 am, 16-Aug-2012

You utter bastard.

The Swearmeister 11:56 am, 16-Aug-2012

Read the book. The film is an adaptation and has it's own slant

Anon-e-mouse 12:01 pm, 16-Aug-2012

"I killed her, Red. I didn't pull the trigger, but I drove her away. And that's why she died, because of me." How could he shoot his wife if he didn't pull the trigger?

Colonel Willowby-Gore St. Johns 2:37 pm, 16-Aug-2012

Well, whether he did it or not, no-one deserved to be bummed like that, do they?

Markxist 2:38 pm, 16-Aug-2012

Haha! Brilliant :) I watched Shawshank once. That was enough. Yeah it's a good movie, but it's a one watch for me.

Amanda Wilson 4:53 pm, 16-Aug-2012

Aw what? You've just trodden all over my dreams. The bastard WAS guilty all along. Of course he was.

Chris 5:12 pm, 16-Aug-2012

Crap book, great film're talking bollocks. Probably. Been a while since I've seen it admittedly. I get 'The Thing' and 'Bladerunner' theories but... bah!

Andy 5:27 pm, 16-Aug-2012

Hahaa, just wrote a long reply had to delete it. Nice wind up man...

Wendy 5:42 pm, 16-Aug-2012

My fav movie. I've never heard or read anything to suggest anything like that before. You got to be hell to live with.

Mikie 3:46 am, 17-Aug-2012

Redemption act of being saved from sin error or evil. Theres no redemption in bullshitting everyone to believe his claim that he didnt kill his wife. If he did it, thats a shit movie that makes no sense.

Mikie 3:54 am, 17-Aug-2012

His sin was his drinking and driving his wife away. The error was being falsely accused. The evil is shawshank.

washishu 1:18 pm, 29-Aug-2012

I thought everyone knew that his wife was killed by a one-armed man.

The Swearmeister 6:57 pm, 9-Dec-2012

Chris - crap book? A brilliantly written long short story. He did it though.

Chris 6:31 am, 10-Dec-2012

Mikie, the redemption in the title refers to the redemption of Shawshank prison I would think. It was redeemed by Andy's escape and the subsequent exposure of the corruption there. As for the theory, it's possible, and it wouldn't take anything away from the film, in fact, it might even add to the mythology of it if there is that ambiguity there. The most compelling argument may be that the narrative is Red's, it's all told from his point of view. It's certainly plausible that he could have been duped by Andy all along. It's imperative though (especially if Andy is actually guilty) that the audience implicitly believes his innocence from the offset, and they couldn't have found two more believable actors than Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins to pull that off, if, indeed, he was guilty. I've never seen or heard of too many people who do actually believe he's guilty before, so it's obvious that the film makers and actors were very effective in portraying his innocence, and whether or not he's guilty or innocence, the end result is a magnificent. PS- He's definitely innocent. Probably.

Gary A 7:09 pm, 18-Dec-2012

Brilliant article. Shawshank is the one of the most overrated films ever, mainly because of one huge hole in the escape - if he climbed into the tunnel, how did he stick all four corners of the poster against the wall?

Bob Shankly 8:53 pm, 7-Mar-2013

Me thinks you need to get out more often.Overanalyzers like your good self probably watched Mr Benn and thought it was really about cross dressing and wondered what sex Bod was.

mike 12:35 pm, 14-Mar-2013

the films ok, but to long, when the book is a short story from one of the four seasons by stephen king,the film should have been cut by at least 30 mins, still cant work out how imbd make it number one on there list,

Stan Dalglish 11:42 pm, 22-Mar-2013

Great film and the bit at the end where Bruce Willis is actually dead made me applaud.

Clay G 10:48 am, 5-Sep-2013

Good points. Now here is one of mine; Red never actually meets up with Andy in Mexico. Look at that ending; Unbelievably pristine and completely empty beach. Andy is wearing all flowing white and is working on a boat that's in really bad condition, even though he had a large stash of cash he had amassed while in jail. I have a sneaking suspicion that Red actually didn't make it down to Mexico but quite possibly hung himself in that very same apartment Brooks had earlier.

David 12:34 am, 29-Mar-2014

In the beginning of the movie it shows that Andy didnt do it in a flashback.

christina 3:29 am, 19-Apr-2014

Have watched this movie probably 20 times. I still love it and I read the book as well. As a huge SK fan I don't question much, but he did not have to stick the poster to four corners. The bottom two were probably unstuck. It is truly a story of perserverance and human survival. If you read the book, you can see that he didn't kill his wife.

Darren 2:05 am, 21-Apr-2014

Andy was guilty. They never found the gun. That is because he killed her and drove to the place where they first made love. He hid it in a metal tin. Under a rock that doesn't belong in a Maine hayfield. He knew the rock was there. 20 years later. He told Red "you'll have to pry it up". He busts out of prison, people on his tail, but he takes the time to go to a field and bury some cash and a note for Red? No. He went there to get rid of the gun once and for all or pocket it for his journey and THEN leave the cash/note. I have 3 or 4 more but I don't wanna blow your minds all at once.

NZBB 2:58 am, 21-May-2014

Whenever I'm reminded of this being the No.1 rated film on IMDB I'm reminded of the quote about Stephen Fry being a stupid person's idea of an intelligent person.

Mike Whitehead 6:48 pm, 21-May-2014

I love the film but the thing that gets me is that every night for 20 years this guy ground away at his own tunnel and no-one ever heard anything or found out? In 20 years they didn't do a cell-toss which included them tearing down all his posters? He took a hell of a risk and for that I commend him but the head of Prison security needs to take a long hard look at himself.

david 4:46 pm, 3-Nov-2014

Always thought Jim was guilty. Why did Jim have fake passports stored away. redemption - action of regaining or gaining possession of something IN EXCHANGE for clearing a debt. Not about hope but about the loss of woman. Two men both women killers. Everything told from a convicted felon's position. Does Red really go see Jim in the end. We the audience REDEEM Jim and Red.

RB 11:50 pm, 31-Jan-2015

He clearly did it.

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