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Shawshank Redemption’s Most Emotional Scenes Weren’t In King’s Book

Stephen King’s original version of The Shawshank Redemption doesn’t have a few emotional scenes that director Frank Darabont added to the movie.

Some of the most emotional scenes in Frank Darabont’s The Shawshank Redemption are completely original additions to Stephen King’s iconic story. Andy Dufresne’s fight for freedom is riddled with challenges. He remained collected for 19 years until he finished his makeshift tunnel through Shawshank State Prison and found a new chance at life outside. Andy’s patience, as well as his determination and his intelligence, allowed him to remain one step ahead of Warden Norton and Captain Hadley.

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While Andy Dufresne’s journey is the same in Stephen King’s original novella, there are certain moments that are vastly different. For instance, Andy spends 27 years locked up in the novella, and he faces five different wardens. Tommy also doesn’t die in the original story. Instead, he just gets transferred to a different prison. Whereas Red receives instructions from Andy at the end of The Shawshank Redemption movie, he spends several months searching for the treasure in King’s story. In fact, a few iconic moments from The Shawshank Redemption are surprisingly absent from Stephen King’s 1982 collection of novellas Different Seasons which includes Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption.


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First off, the scene where Andy plays the duet “Sull’aria” from Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro to the rest of the inmates is exclusive to the movie. This moment marks the biggest victory for Andy since he was convicted, and it proves to the warden and Andy’s fellow inmates that Andy is bound to be free sooner or later. Likewise, the “Brooks was here” carving that Brooks Hatlen leaves on a wooden beam of his halfway house is also an original addition, as Brooks dies of old age in the original story. Moreover, Andy and Red’s reunion in the paradisiac Zihuatanejo beach contrasts with Stephen King’s Seasons novella, where the story is left open-ended, with Red wishing to see his friend once again in the future.


How Shawshank Redemption’s Original Scenes Improve The Story

All the new scenes added to the movie version of The Shawshank Redemption stand on their own as deeply emotional moments, and they also elevate the themes of Stephen King’s story. Andy’s musical gift to the prison represents the beauty of the little details in life, and it could only work so well in the film medium. Brooks’ death after so many years at Shawshank shows how a lack of freedom can become part of one’s self, and plotwise, Brooks’ carved words inspire Andy Dufresne to start scratching the wall in his cell, which marks the beginning of his escape. Lastly, Andy and Red’s reunion gives the audience a satisfying ending and a well-deserved resolution for both friends.


It’s rare for movie adaptations of written stories to capture the source material’s essence so accurately, let alone improve it. The way Frank Darabont achieved it with The Shawshank Redemption goes to show how well the director understands Stephen King’s style. Clearly, Frank Darabont’s masterful adaptation of Stephen King’s The Green Mile was no accident, either.


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