Level 2 Writing Portfolio – Task 2
Critical scene analysis
This assessment activity requires you to produce a written commentary that evaluates two excerpts from ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ by Frank Darabont. You will be assessed on the depth of insight shown in your evaluation of the two film excerpts. You will be required to discuss how two cinematography aspects worked together in each scene to present the director’s intention. Ensure you address the same intention in the analysis of both of the scenes.
Your task will be to analyse the ‘Rooftop’ scene and the ‘Mozart’ scene.
Camera angles and sound
- Hope inspiring freedom
“Fear can hold you prisoner, hope can set you free.” The film “The Shawshank Redemption” directed by Frank Darabont, reveals the story of the protagonist, Andy Dufresne, sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison for the murders of his wife and her lover. However, Andy is the only one aware that he didn’t commit the crimes. From this he goes through a journey to seek his personal freedom in The Shawshank prison. The main idea of freedom is introduced in the music and rooftop scene. Frank Darabont strategically uses cinematic techniques of camera angles and sounds to get a clear message across to an audience. I will examine these strategies that will point out the director’s purpose as well as link back to society.
The rooftop scene is one of the most important scenes in “The Shawshank Redemption”. It is the first time in the film that Andy is given a scene of feeling normal, hope, as well as favored over the other prisoners. Camera angles are used in this scene to indicate the amount of subject matter contained within a frame, how far away the camera is from the subject and the perspective of the viewer. The different shots within this segment of the film, consisted of a close up shot and a over the shoulder camera angle. These were being used when the guard was threatening to pushing Andy of the roof, therefore the guard is viewed as holding more power over Andy. Frank Darabont used these specific shots to dramatically emphasizes Andy’s expression granting the viewers to obtain these emotions. Due to this, the director effectively used the close up camera angle correctly allowing the audience to physically see up close facial expressions and his emotions that lets us connect deeper with Andy. It also lets the viewers be more interactive and engaged within the film therefore making it a more enjoyable film to watch. The use of the over the shoulder camera angle causes Andy to look small, weak and powerless. The camera was set in this particular way to gain this specific affect due to the directors intention is to display Andy’s position for the situation. Another cinematic technique presented in this scene was the use of sounds. The sounds in the scene change with meaning. Throughout this small part of the film it consists of diegetic and non diegetic sounds. Non diegetic sounds may include the narrator’s commentary, sound effects which is added for the dramatic effect or mood music. This particular scene dwells with these sounds. Morgan Freeman’s voice over provides a soft background sound to match the contents of the later scene. These being the prisoners being relaxed when they are drinking their beer. It is an annotation of the prisoners thoughts and helps us as the viewer to realize the sense of freedom every man on the rooftop felt. “We drank our beer with the sun on our shoulders and felt like free men” Darabont uses third person omniscient narration for Red’s voiceover. This is a common form of narration in which Red tells his perspective of the story. The benefit to this is it emphasizes strongly on telling not showing through this narration. The directors intention is for the viewers to gain important information and clarity about Andy. Another point supporting the directors purpose of using voice over narration is encouraged through the charter of Red. Extending upon this, Red’s role is played by Morgan Freeman who genuinely is given the position to play in the role of god. Only god can get a personal overlook of a person. Therefore, Reds narration speaks with truth and impacts the audience to change how they view Andy, including his fellow work mates. This allows the audience to gain another perspective of Andy they may of not of picked up on to this point. The two techniques of camera angles and Red’s narration interact with one another. Whilst we are viewing the boys drinking their beer the audience is presented with a close up shot of the boys facial expressions and the surroundings of Red’s calming, powerful voice over narration links perfectly with this view. We are constantly being influenced by words flooding into our ears to create this image. This being Red’s perspective and insight of his view to form own individual perspective of the scene. It will change our mood and the way we view the characters. This switches our viewpoint upon the film and allows us to gain a better understanding behind the theme and messages the over all film gives off. Having Morgan Freeman positioned for this role, grants the viewers to have a positive impact when he is narrating. This is because in another film of “Invictus” directed by Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman is put in the role of Nelson Mandela. In this film he presents himself as being a very powerful man with a passion and driven towards what he believes in. His determination of fighting through the racial and economic division in this film is similar to how God is viewed. There is one scene when Nelson Mandela is giving his speech quietly and in the background is the narration of Morgan Freeman. The audience through this scene is presented with close up shots of the public’s facial expression. This associates with “The Shawshank Redemption”, rooftop scene at the end. I personally think that Frank Darabont used these two techniques because of the outcome extremely beneficial when they are interacted. Camera angles and the use of Red’s narration sent a message to viewers and directs Frank Darabont intention across to an audience. This message animates in society, words can be extremely dominant, so much that they can have the power to change a person’s mindset towards an individual or actions.
Frank Darabont used the same cinematic techniques of camera angles and sound in the music scene. For Andy, this part of “The Shawshank Redemption” gave him a great scene of freedom, hope and determination to escape. A close up shot was used to show the significance of the playing music by Andy. It was used when Andy immediately switched the buttons to turn the speakers on. This particular close up shot of Andy’s face allowed us to focus on certain objects of the music being played, facial expressions and his hope seeking freedom. You could physically see the happiness and commitment in his eyes which the directors intention addressed. This choice of shot was also demonstrated when the audience was displayed with a close shot of all the men in Shawshank prison but in different locations. The use of the close up shot emphasized and zoomed up on their facial expressions and details within the shot. The directors purpose of using this specific shot was to direct the audience in the right way. The viewers can physically see how drawn they are to the music and everything around them stops. They seek the beauty in the music which is strengthened to present through the close up shot of there faces. The relationship between the close up shot and the music was emphasized with the prisoners staring up towards the speaker like it is the speaker from heaven. By Frank Darabont use of the camera angles and sounds in the music scene was an eye opening moment for the audience, associating with how curtal the song brought so much freedom to the men and more importantly Andy. We have all experienced a moment in time where one gets lost within their regular routine of life and are reduced by something small yet so beautiful. From the prisoners there reach out to the music, Andy’s seek to freedom interfered with their monotonous routine of living everyday. The use of the song of the marriage of figaro is Andy’s condemned to let the prisoners feel that sense of hope and freedom. Made them have faith and drive Andy’s determination to escape that much stronger. It was also his way of showing how wrong society was wrong about him and this was his way to show it. The same song is found in Filadofia when the same protagonist name has aids and society does not accept him for this. This then puts guilt on Andy even though he has done no sin. The song Marriage of Figaro occurs in the film “Philadelphia” being Andy’s relieving healing to inform and remind himself he has done no wrong and has the right to freedom. These two text interrelate almost in the same manner and give off the same effect that the audience takes upon. Following on from this there is a reason why these two films have the song in such a important sense followed by a close up shot of the protagonist. Both Andy’s are being judged and accused by society of something they are innocent of. They song is there proof to show this and their hope seeking freedom.
To conclude, the film “The Shawshank Redemption” directed by Frank Darabont, uses specific cinematic techniques in the roof top scene and the music scene to make the audience feel a certain way, positions the viewers to see either what the charters are seeing or as much as the director wants us to see. The use of camera angles and sounds interrelate across both scenes to allow this to occur to result in getting a clear message across. The overall directors intention was to emphasize these two critical scenes to display the hope seeking freedom Andy continued to array and prove society wrong. The only real prison is fear, and the only real freedom is freedom from fear.