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Shawshank Redemption And Murder In The First

1294 words - 6 pages

Years ago, the world’s penal systems such as Alcatraz Penitentiary; (refer to Appendix A) were biased, corrupt and unjust. Today if such a system existed and was identified there would be immediate action. ‘Murder in the First’ and ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ are two similar yet equally engrossing pieces of film-making; both films are set in the 1930’s and 1940’s in American prisons and both convey the similar message. The Shawshank Redemption was directed and written by Frank Darabont who adapted horror master Stephen King's 1982 novel ‘Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption’. This film’s main characters consisted of Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), Boyd Ellis Redding “Red” (Morgan Freeman), The ...view middle of the document...

As the plot of the film develops so does Dufresne and his intentions which are exposed at the end of the film. ‘Murder in the First’ is also a film which reinforces the themes of injustice and brutality within the penal system. It is about a young man (Henry Young) who is thrown into the ‘Alcatraz’ jail for stealing $5 to feed his starving sister. While in the prison, he is later thrown into the solitary confinement for three years for an escape attempt, which left him mentally and physically impaired (refer to Appendix C). When Young is released out of the hole and returned to the general population of the prison, he “snaps” and plunges a spoon into the artery in the neck of another prisoner (Tommy Lee Jones). Young is then taken to trial for first degree murder, where an inexperienced lawyer (Christian Slater) is assigned as his defense. The film follows events which end in an uplifting and extraordinary relationship between two men; an Alcatraz in-mate and a principled young attorney, who both in different ways triumph over adversity.

The themes throughout both these films illustrate the same message; corruption and injustice, brutalization of men (guilty or innocent), triumph over adversity and friendships. The ‘Shawshank Redemption’ explores the issues of power, authority and corruption by using Andy to reveal the depth of corruption within the prison system, “Yeah. The funny thing is, on the outside I was an honest man, straight as an arrow. I had to come to prison to be crook” (Andy). In the film ‘Murder in the First’, the central issues are based upon the penal system; level of corruption which leads to unlawful solitary confinement throughout Alcatraz penitentiary and how two inconsequential men battle to change the system for the better, “You can’t change Alcatraz . . . it just is” (Henry Young). In ‘The Shawshank Redemption’, the main messages are portrayed by the characters; one of the main characters (Red) narrates throughout the film which gives the audience a clearer understanding of what the inmates went through. Themes throughout both these film also collaborate the psychological consequences of imprisonment within the prisons, “These walls are kind of funny. First you hate them, and then you get used to ‘em. Enough time passes, it gets so you depend on them. That’s institutionalized. They send you here for life, that’s exactly what they take. The part that counts, anyways” (Red, Shawshank redemption).

The characters within these films also reinforced the themes. In ‘The Shawshank Redemption’, Tim Robbins (Dufresne) is a good quite enigmatic...

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