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Fridge / The Shawshank Redemption

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Fridge Brilliance:

  • Andy seems rather lethargic and calm most of the time. Think that's just his personality? Or maybe it's because he spends most of his nights working on that wall of his?
  • Family Guy criticized the concept of Norton being the bad guy even though he's "the only non-criminal character in this movie." Norton is a criminal, however, as are most (if not all) characters in this movie; even Andy, who's wrongfully convicted of the crime he's in for, commits some major crimes while in prison. And there is the brilliance of this movie; everyone's a criminal in this movie, just as to an albeit lesser extent everyone's a criminal in real life. Think about it; aren't there moments in your life where you've done things that are against the law?
  • "Maybe because I'm Irish". Red's evasive answer when asked directly how he came by his nickname on the heels of asserting that everybody in prison claims innocence becomes unspokenly chilling when spoken by Morgan Freeman. Hint- he's a murderer.
    • Hint- his full name, as shown on his parole form, is Ellis Boyd REDDING. So where do you think that nickname came from? Then again, for the real reason behind his nickname, see Mythology Gag.
    • In the Stephen King novella the movie was based on, Red was in fact a red-haired Irish-American. The line in the movie is a kind of cheeky way of addressing the fact that his ethnicity has been changed in the film to African American. (Of course, it's possible for an African American to have Irish ancestry, but I don't think that was the point here.)
  • Red tells Andy that escaping from prison is just a "shitty pipe dream." Then Andy escapes through a shitty pipe
    • As an extension of that, The iconic part where he reaches up to the sky after finally escaping Shawshank prison. The reason why he did it because he just crawled through a few hundred yards of shit and piss, and he wanted the rain to wash the smell off.
  • Andy gets away with stealing Norton's shoes by brazenly wearing them back to his cell because, "how often do you look at a man's shoes?" However by that logic, wouldn't it be safer to hope that one bank manager fails to notice the prison shoes, which might cause a bit of awkwardness, than risk that a guard would notice Norton's polished work shoes, which would result in the failure of his escape attempt and massive retribution? (Yes, Andy visited a dozen banks, but after the first he could have taken some cash and bought himself some proper shoes.)
    • Even if someone saw his shoes Andy has been making the Warden a truck load of money. He could claim the warden gave him the shoes and no one is really going to question it until the next day by which point he's gone. Also having the Warden's shoes wouldn't ruin his escape plan.
  • The sequence of Andy carving his name, which was cut halfway to show him, in a seemingly non-connected manner, asking Red for a Rita Hayworth poster. When they're revealing what he's actually been doing for 20 years near the end of the film, it turned out that it was during this sequence that he found out about the vulnerability of the wall. He asked for a poster because that's how he's going to cover the hole. The Fridge Brilliance comes in when you realise that the two scenes are actually connected and not a change of subjects.
    • This also subtly explains his vague dismay when Red said the poster's arrival could take some time.
    • And why the poster is mentioned right in one of Red's first voiceovers.
    • At the very least, Andy had something to do while waiting for the poster, recovering from his injuries from The Sisters.
  • The new fish who was slaughtered by Hadley. "What was his name?" "What do you care?" Look at the credits. Obviously, He's also not named; credited only as "Fat Ass".
  • After seeing the climax, you realize just how close Andy came to being totally screwed when Norton came into his cell. The Warden pointed disapprovingly at the racy poster and almost walked off with Andy's bible. Which also shows how utterly self-controlled Andy is. His entire plan is on the edge of falling apart, and he doesn't even flinch.
  • Anyone else interpret warden Samuel Norton's "it's a conspiracy" rant seems as a case of psychological projection? Given that he's rather corrupt himself, perhaps that would explain why he sees a conspiring nature in others?
    • My favorite part about Norton's breakdown is his sarcastic observation that Andy's disappearance is a "miracle" ("boy up and vanished like a fart in the wind"). Throughout the movie Norton has put on the airs of a devout and religious person (quotes scripture, makes the inmates read the bible, wears a cross, wife's needlework, etc.), yet when he is actually presented with evidence of an According to Hoyle miracle, he dismisses it out of hand.
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    • There is a subtle transition in the Warden's wardrobe to reflect this. In the first years he is wearing a shiny cross pin, and may actually still be a righteous man. But when he starts laundering money through Andy, it's replaced with a circular "community service' lapel pin.
    • Also, in the beginning of the movie, he says discipline is one of the two things he believes in (the other being The Bible). His very undisciplined ranting shows just how much Andy's disappearance has shaken him.
  • Minor one: Tommy Williams is a stereotypical 1950s greaser in 1965. Little late for that, right? But since he's spent so much time in and out of prison, he's actually several years behind. (And if he'd stayed longer, he might have even gotten like Brooks...)
  • There are two Bible verses that relate to the relationship between Andy and Warden Norton. During their initial meeting Andy acknowledges Norton's authority quoting Mark, "Therefore stay awake — for you do not know when the master of the house will come." Naturally the servants of a house should be wary of the judgement of their master who can deal out their punishment at any time. However the Bible also reminds the master of the house that he is not invincible and that he should be wary of thieves, "But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into." Fittingly Andy poses as Norton's servant for years while he secretly acts as an undercover thief, and this is ultimately what leads to Norton's undoing in that he trusted Andy too much and did not anticipate the hour of the thief's arrival.
    • As for John 8:12, the bible verse the warden quotes back, a commentary has this to say about it: "Strong and full of hope as these words are in the English rendering, the Greek is more emphatic still. The negative is in its strongest form, expressing “shall by no means,” “shall in no wise,” “walk in darkness.” The possibility is excluded from the thought. “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” If a man makes a false step in life, it is because he seeks other guides in his own thoughts or in subjection to the thoughts of other men." So the warden is not merely acknowledging Andy's submission by putting himself in the role of God, but rejects even the possibility of Andy having thoughts outside of complete submission to him.
    • And if the Warden is putting himself in the role of the Almighty, he is committing one of the more significant sins in Christianity: Blasphemy.
  • Under One Size Fits All it's mentioned that Andy is taller than the Warden and stealing his suit would be unfeasible, except the Warden also had Andy take care of his laundry, giving him time to get the suit he had picked out altered.
    • But where, other than in Desperation NV is it normal for a man to grow several inches taller, and need his suit altered accordingly?
    • This probably explains why Norton complained that his shirts were over-starched. At his trial Andy's clothes were perfect, and in his first few years in prison his shirt was tucked in perfectly and fully buttoned to his neck. He had the laundry guys apply a full starch because that's what he had worn in his banker days. Now he could take any of the Warden's shirts whenever he decided to escape, and also fool the laundry guys into thinking the Warden now liked full starch so as to not arouse any suspicion. Surely that shirt of Norton's he escaped with was nice and crisp.
  • After Andy's cell has been tossed, Norton returns his bible to him, saying "Salvation lies within". It's not revealed until much later on in the movie that Andy's salvation literally lay within the bible, as that was where he was keeping his rock pick hidden. Andy even includes a handwritten note to drive the point home: "You were right. Salvation lay within."
    • And he hid the hammer on the first page of the book of Exodus, the book in which the enslaved Israelites finally freed themselves from the tyranny of Egypt. The word "exodus" itself means "departure."
    • There's another way, as well: Andy's knowledge of the Bible and his ability to match the warden verse for verse in quoting it is the likely reason Norton made an exception for Andy's Rita Hayworth poster, after saying he disapproved of it.
  • Doubles as Fridge Horror: Brooks's pet crow, Jake. Brooks, freed on parole, sets Jake free from a window before leaving the prison. However, having been hand-fed by Brooks from a young age, Jake doesn't have the survival skills a crow would learn in the wild. He probably won't make it on the outside. Neither does Brooks. The Fridge Brilliance is the parallel between the two, which isn't apparent on first watching.

Fridge Horror:

  • Yes, Andy got out of Shawshank and got back at Norton and Hadley, and Red got released, reuniting with Andy, but Elmo Blatch, the psychopath who destroyed Andy's life in the first place, is still out there. As Gil mentions in his story, Elmo was back in prison for a lesser crime (robbery, if I remember correctly), so he's probably out again. Considering how amused Elmo was at seeing Andy pay for his crime, how likely is it that's he's going to destroy someone else's life?
    • Truth in Television?
    • If Andy wrote at length about the Warden's other offenses, it's quite possible he wrote about his own innocence, Tommy's testimony, and Blatch himself. Granted, it'd be highly unlikely that any investigation into this would occur, but given that Andy is owning up to the Warden's schemes, there's a chance they'd look up Blatch's involvement as well.
      • Since the newspaper explicitly mentions corruption and murder at Shawshank, it seems very likely that Andy wrote about Tommy's death. That, if nothing else, will be investigated, and that will lead them to wonder why.
      • And who's to say that Andy, with his new fortune, didn't send someone after Blatch himself?
    • Let's just pretend that Blatch also got what was coming to him. He picked a fight with the wrong guy one day and died in prison. There, fixed it.
  • Tommy has a wife and infant daughter. Red surmises that "maybe it was the thought of them on the streets or his child growing up not knowing her daddy" that goads him to ask Andy for help with his GED. At least the novella version lets you hope he eventually left prison for good. As for the movie version ... What do you think happened to his loved ones after his death?
    • It would hardly be the first time a family lost its husband/father. What's happened to those left behind pretty much runs the gamut of all human experience. Some fall, some triumph.
    • To be fair, even though it is obviously NOT the first time a tragedy like that happened, it STILL counts as fridge horror because of the nightmare fuel of Tommy being MURDERED in cold blood by a guard, how horrific the implications are about what happens to Tommy's family, and the added uncertainty in that we do not see the grieving family on-screen.
    • Try this - Andy used some of his small mountain of untraceable cash (the sum total of which may not be entirely necessary to live in Zihautenejo) to support them remotely.
    • In the novella, at least, he gets bribed into silence with a transferral into Cashman, a prison with a program that effectively paroles him on weekends. Not too shabby.
  • That pipe was dumping raw sewage straight into a stream - totally gross!

Fridge Logic:

  • How do you suppose Andy put the poster of Raquel Welch back after he had crawled head-first through the hole behind it?
    • Andy could have easily lifted the poster up and then let it drop behind him when he went through the hole. So long as the top portion of the poster had tape on it then it wasn't going to fall down after he went through the tunnel.
  • Wasn't it convenient that Andy had a corner cell—or that never in 19 years did he get moved to another cell—or that lightning struck at just the right moment? How much oxygen would there have been in that sewer pipe? How likely is it, even in 1966, that a large sewer pipe would have dumped directly into a creek? Even presuming he had a suit wrapped up and protected in that bag, how did Andy manage to present himself spic and span and dry at a faraway bank a few hours later? And most puzzling, why did Andy even consider clearing his name legally when the new convict showed up? What was he going to tell the next occupant of that cell—never tear down the Raquel Welch poster? It's best not to think too hard about Andy's escape.
    • Why would the next occupant of the cell tell anyone about the hole in the wall? One would think the next occupant would rather make use of said hole...
      • You mean the person who moves into the cell after prison authorities find the hole? One would think that repairs to the wall would be considered rather urgent before putting a new inmate in that cell.
    • Although to be fair the novella does take account of some of these issues. In the book Andy did have a cellmate for a while, and he was forced to stop working on the tunnel for a couple of years. Even then the cellmate had a few suspicions since the cell was unexplainably drafty. Andy's presence, solo, in the cell for that period of time and with no other cellmates was part of the price for doing the wardens' dirty work - it was a privilege given to him in return for cooking the books. Bear in mind also that Shawshank itself is an old facility — it had been around for ages before Andy turned up there — and some of the plumbing had more or less been forgotten about after it had been built on and over so many times. The lightning storm and bashing open the sewer pipe, though, are Dramatic Licence and designed to keep some suspense going; Andy can't make his bid for freedom until the night of a suitably loud thunderstorm.
      • But Andy started digging his tunnel before the warden established a working relationship with him, and therefore before he could count on lasting protection. Guards come and go from the prison, only the warden is likely to have a tenure there long enough to be relied on for such a long-term project.
      • This is probably the reason for the back and forth buildup to his initial offer to Hadley. He realized it was an opportunity to build privilege and avoid potential complications but he had to be absolutely sure and figure out a rock solid way to get Hadley to agree. Otherwise, he would have been discovered even sooner. But once that trust was built, he could reasonable afford to ask not to be moved from his cell, ask not to get any cellmates, and other perks under the defense of it bothering him and making it harder to think about the money laundering (or even just to avoid more than the necessary amount of people discovering the laundering).
    • Corner cell: that's just pure convenience. Andy got lucky there. Thunderstorm: Nothing saying he couldn't wait around for a storm to happen. He waited nearly twenty years, surely he could wait another couple days/weeks/months (depending on the season). Sewage pipe: I really don't know enough about 1960's plumbing, but it doesn't seem THAT far-fetched. At least it wasn't an Absurdly Spacious Sewer. Cleanliness post sewage pipe: They showed that he had a bar of soap among his stuff. That and a rain storm could get someone reasonably clean. If he had some money, he could have bought a bottle of cologne or something on his way to the bank, too. Clearing his name / hole in his cell: In most US states, it is a felony to attempt to escape if you were incarcerated for a felony (which Andy obviously was); however, a prerequisite for that is that the prisoner was being lawfully imprisoned. If Andy's case went back to trial and he was let off, his lawyer might have reasonably been able to argue that his client was not being lawfully held (depending on the facts of the case). The state's attorney or whoever might not even want to bring a case against him for that; I mean, what jury would convict someone for trying to escape when they were innocent?? Also, I have no idea what the penalty for a conviction on attempting to escape from jail is but I have a feeling that it's no where near the penalty for double homicide (and thus, an easy trade off).
      • Regarding the above, it's my understanding that Andy's case would not be unlawful imprisonment, as the only authority that had any reason to doubt he was guilty was the warden. If that had come out after he escaped, it might qualify-sadly, the witness Tommy is dead, along with Warden Norton, and Hadley may not have even know why he was ordered to kill Tommy (plus it's hearsay with the original witness dead). In some states, escape from prison is punishable through doubling the sentence the prisoner was originally serving (in Andy's case, two life sentences). Thus from a legal standpoint, I'd say Andy was out of luck, and escaping was his only way to free himself.
      • It's possible he might have been convicted of escaping imprisonment but his sentence being commuted for time served for the crime he didn't commit. This would allow him to be found guilty without him being punished for what may would probably see as a reasonable act.
    • I know in the book Red mentions that the sewerage system of his particular block was the last to be changed over to a more up to date system, and also, I believe the novel is actually set considerably earlier (1940's initially) and thus it stands to reason that the prison itself would have been probably built before the turn of the century and any sort of pollution laws.
    • All of this is somewhat addressed in the book. It's stated that Andy's theory about what happened the night of the murder was just that he was the victim of massive bad luck. So, what happens after he's convicted of a crime he didn't commit? A whole heap of good luck. This is Stephen King, remember...
    • Why wasn't there a grate on the far end of the sewage pipe? Even if you're not concerned about human access, you're probably concerned about animals …
      • The authorities at Shawshank don't seem like the type to care about animals in the prison unless it directly affected them. Hadley might have enjoyed having prisoners squirm over rat shit.
  • Did Andy really need to sign his name on the comment he made for Norton? If anything, that would only draw more attention to his role in this thing and create more incentives to catch him.
    • Seems to me that him being an "escaped murderer" would be all they needed to put all resources into catching him. His part in the fraud schemes is negligible compared to the crime he was convicted of.
    • But it's possible that the evidence Andy provided of "corruption and murder at Shawshank" could also serve as evidence that he was wrongly imprisoned; if they know Tommy was killed, they might look into why. If Andy ended up being exonerated from that, his only obvious crime would be breaking out of prison; why chance that with evidence of his involvement in money laundering on top of that?
    • Considering that Andy is a prisoner under the control of Warden Norton (and thus probably shouldn't have access to the finances anyway), and Warden Norton is quite obviously corrupt and abusive of his authority, it probably wouldn't be too hard for him to make a case that he was coerced into participating in the fraud should anyone actually manage to find and arrest him for it.
  • There's another piece of Fridge Logic that Family Guy commented on; how did Andy know that same oak tree and box would be there after decades? So much could have changed since then.
    • He didn't, it was a story he told Red to give him the information he needed without telling him he was going to escape. He put the box there after he escaped.
      • Yeah, did the Family Guy people actually watch the movie or just read someone's synopsis? How could Andy's letter to Red possibly have been written before Andy went to Shawshank? He didn't even know who Red was! If you crunch the numbers (Andy arrives right after Red's 20 year parole hearing, Red is released on his 40 year parole hearing; Andy escapes after 19-odd years), the box only had to stay hidden for less than a year.
      • Family Guy wasn't saying that the area would change between Andy escaping and Red being released, they're saying the area could've changed between Andy being imprisoned and Andy escaping. It had been at least 20 years since Andy last saw that spot, the odds of it being identical to the point of being able to use a single tree and a loose brick wall as a point of reference are amazingly low.
      • Actually, in many places (especially in New England, where the story is set) it's illegal to demolish a stone wall. Presumably this is because they are useful as historical property markers. So the chances of the stone wall being there are incredibly high in a Maine country town. As for the tree, a single tree in the middle of a field was likely planted there deliberately (or at least not cleared) and thus unlikely to be cut down.
      • Plus, even if the area had changed in that time, with the tree or wall missing, Andy could easily have included new information about where to find the cache along with his postcard from Zihuatanejo.
    • Again this is mentioned in the novella, Red specifically mentions that he wouldn't have been able to cope with the worry about something happening to the stone in the field, but Andy had always been much cooler and calmer than him.
    • Also Andy could have planted the tree figuring it grow to a decent size by the time Red was released.
      • The tree was already there to begin with. When Andy tells Red about it, he says that he'd gone on a picnic with his then-girlfriend in the hayfield and proposed to her under that exact tree.
    • The tree is many hundreds of years old. The stone wall looks like it might be older than the United States. The place is beautiful, easy to find with directions, probably impossible to find without, and significant to Andy personally. It might be a less likely spot to be plowed under by real estate developments after so many decades than most, though of course it's not foolproof, and Andy couldn't know for sure Red would ever get his message, even if he got out. Kind of fits with the movie's message of hope, don't you think?
    • If nothing else, Andy could have used a little of his money to setup some kind of trust or other mechanism to ensure that the plot of land remains untouched while also being able to keep a (legal) eye on it. Heck, he might have done that while in prison as one way to launder the money (buying up land).
  • The point of making up Mr. Stevens in the first place is to provide a kind of fictitious human shield just in case the money is traced. By becoming Stevens, wouldn't Andy's position become a little bit uncomfortable? Not to mention he actually gave the ledger to the press/police.
    • What do you mean, gave the ledger to the press/police? Care to clarify? . . . Anyway, he only "became" Mr. Stevens temporarily, so that he could get the money, and so that he could use that money to flee to Mexico. He is going to be on the run from the law anyway, so I think the idea was to get the money so that he could be further from the US and enjoy that spot he had longer to go to.
    • We don't really know how much of the evidence really led to "Randall Stevens" at the time of Andy's escape in 1966. Andy tells Red that the idea behind Randall Stevens is to make up a fictitious person to assign guilt to, but Andy himself was in charge of the operation and could have rearranged things to cover Randall Stevens' tracks. Also, as noted above, he only needed to be Randall Stevens long enough to steal Warden Norton's stolen money—a few hours of bank visits. He could well have created another fake identity to go to ground with.
    • If you notice, he only tells the woman to "place this in your outgoing mail" once he's gotten his check. I always assumed that was the last bank he had visited. That way, he has plenty of time (a day or two depending on how fast the mail works) to make a run for it.
    • As far as anyone on the outside was concerned, Randall Stevens was just a name on the paperwork until the day he showed up to withdraw the money. A few days later, the whole corruption is revealed, including a lot about Andy's part in it. If the investigators don't quickly get the bank personnel looking at Andy's prison photo, they simply aren't doing their jobs. By the time they can put that together, though, Andy is long gone, with a small mountain untraceable cash.
    • Also keep in mind that Stephens was part of the laundering scheme but not Andy. At least initial, as far as the investigators might be concerned, Stephens was a device made up by the Warden and Co - and Andy's role would have been interpreted as a job under duress at first. Hadley would have had to say that he literally threatened to kill Andy for Andy to start doing the job. And given that Stephens had a license and what not, it's probable that Andy intentionally setup Stephens to be similar to himself, further adding to the idea that the warden was using Andy. It's plausible that Stephens running away with the money might be seen as a way for the Warden to escape with his cash before he was caught. So there's a lot of smoke and mirrors before realizing that Andy WAS Stephens and Andy was intentionally duping people. Also, this was likely part of the reason he went over the border - even once his intentional use of Stephens was found out, he's outside of the US jurisdiction. And if nothing else, even if the connection wasn't found out, he was already an escaped felony and wrapped up in money laundering. It's not like using the alias makes his potential punishment worse - it's a risk he surely thought he would take.

  • Why did the rest of the prisoners let the Sisters get away with raping people? From what we see there are only five or six of them; you'd think that the rest of them could pretty easily put a stop to it. Hell, Andy's group of friends has seven or eight guys. You'd think they could have helped him out.
    • If they attempted it, they could put themselves in danger of being attacked themselves. Andy's group also seemed to have a large amount of older or out of shape guys in it, not a group that would want to take on the younger, violent Sisters.
      • Also note that the Sisters are stealth predators, if their treatment of Andy is of any indication— they seem to single out their prey and wait until he's alone and unaware before closing in. Neither Andy nor anyone else can be protected by his friends all the time.
      • Also keep in mind that rape is about power. Challenging that power (much less keeping it suppressed) would likely just provoke the Sisters even more not make them back down because the Sisters clearly want that power over others. And given some of the dialogue by Nortan and Hadley, I wouldn't be surprised if the Sisters had some amount of leeway (or at least, a blind eye turned to) as an indirect form of control by the guards and warden over the other prisoners. Threatening a means of exerting power by the warden would potentially mean getting isolated intentionally with the Sisters. Note that even after helping the warden, Andy was still beaten up and it's possible that the warden continued to use that threat to keep Andy in line, balancing attacks with promises of moments of reprieve. It was only when the Sisters went too far were they taken care of - and note that Red only says that Andy was never attacked again, not that the Sisters stopped attacking other people.

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