It’s approaching 25 years since Andy Dufresne crawled through a “river of sh*t and came out clean on the other side.” “The Shawshank Redemption” was released on Sept. 23, 1994 by director Frank Darabont, starring Tim Robbins as Dufresne, a wrongfully imprisoned banker, and Morgan Freeman as Red, the narrator of the film “who knows how to get things.” If you haven’t seen the film, you can watch “The Shawshank Redemption” online!
Let’s take a peek behind the scenes behind the bars.
10 facts about The Shawshank Redemption
1. Morgan Freeman hurt his arm throwing the baseball
Early in the film, Andy meets his soon-to-be best friend Red as he’s playing catch with some other “innocent” inmates. The scene took a lengthy nine hours to shoot, and while Freeman never complained, he did show up the following day with his arm in a sling.
2. The stream was worse than the sewers
In what’s probably the most famous scene in the film, Andy crawls through 500 yards of sewage before emerging a free man on the other side. “We got a local chemist to test the quality of the water,” said production designer Terence Marsh on the DVD, “and he said this water is absolutely lethal.” “It was cow country,” Robbins grimaced, “enough said.” The only reason the actor agreed to do the scene was that there was a hot shower nearby. Funnily enough, the actual ‘sewage’ was just water, sawdust and chocolate syrup.
3. Freeman’s real-life son has a cameo
Red pleads for parole multiple times throughout the film, and we are shown a picture of what a young Red (and a young Morgan Freeman) might have looked like. The mugshot bears a strong resemblance for a reason: The picture on the parole papers is actually Freeman’s son, Alfonso. That’s not his only presence in the film either; he’s also a con shouting, “Fresh fish! Fresh fish today! We’re reeling ’em in!”.
4. Red and Andy don’t meet at the end
Rather than the happy ending where Red and Andy reunite on the beach, Darabont wanted to end it when Red gets on a bus and goes out to look for him. In later interviews, Darabont said the ending that he’d envisioned was more open, ambiguous note. The production company, Castle Rock, pushed for the ending we got in the film.
5. Freeman was always choice #1
A number of actors were considered to play the part of Red, including big names such as Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Paul Newman and Robert Redford. In the novella, Stephen King originally wrote the part as a white Irishman. Before the film’s production, however, Darabont already knew he wanted Morgan Freeman.
6. Cruelty to maggots
For scenes involving Brooks crow, the American Humane Association was brought in to monitor the scene. Ironically enough, it wasn’t the crow they ended up having issues with. Instead, the AHA objected to the use of a live maggot during a scene where Brooks feeds the bird, citing that it was cruel to kill it. The maggot that made it into the film was already dead of natural causes.
7. The 40 minutes that took 3 weeks
Morgan Freeman recorded the complete voice-over for “The Shawshank Redemption” before filming even began. This was used as a guide track to establish the rhythm of each scene. There was a slight hiss on the track, however, and the sound engineers were unable to remove it. Instead, they had to re-record the entire thing – and this time it took three weeks.
8. Solitary Refinement
It’s hard to feel in-character when you’re playing an inmate if you’ve never been convicted. For some pretty hardcore method acting, Tim Robbins requested time in solitary confinement to better get a feeling of what the experience is like. “I wanted to go in for a day or two,” Robbins said in an interview, “but they wouldn’t let me for security reasons.” He was in solitary for a couple of hours.
9. That voice
Morgan Freeman has graced many films with his famous voice, from The Lego Movie to March of the Penguins. “The Shawshank Redemption” was actually his first time narrating. “He’s got the muse in him,” said Robbins. Apparently the experience came very naturally to him!
10. The sound of retribution
The sound effect used towards the end of the film when the corrupt Warden shoots himself is actually the same sound effect as the man stamping ‘approved’ on Red’s paper during his parole hearing. Now that’s the sound of justice being served!
Hopefully these facts will make you enjoy your next viewing even more! Let us know your favorite scene in the comments below, and get busy living!