The Shawshank Redemption was directed by Frank Darabont and was based on a Stephen King novella. Now, you would not expect the ‘King of horror’ to write about positive things like hope, friendship, freedom and perseverance. And yet, this was exactly what he did. The film was based on a novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, a part of King’s collection of four novellas Different Seasons.
The story is set in a prison called Shawshank State Penitentiary in Portland, Maine. Morgan Freeman’s Red (Ellis Boyd Redding), the narrator of the film, is an inmate serving a life sentence. He is good at smuggling contraband. A new inmate Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) arrives.
Andy is convicted of murdering his wife and her lover and is sentenced to two consecutive life sentences. And yet, he does not look like somebody who would kill people in a fit of rage, whatever the reason.
Back when it was released, the film evoked a tepid response but has since then become a cult hit and a favourite among film buffs.
If you liked the movie, here are a few books you should read:
1. Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption
The Shawshank Redemption was based on a novella — Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption — written by an author whose work is almost entirely without hope. The novella does add details and character to the story and also embellishes the world of Shawshank State Prison, but it suffers from poor pacing. It is, however, still a must-read if you loved the movie and wish to get even more immersed in its world.
2. The Green Mile
The Green Mile is the moving story of a black, hulking convict John Coffey who arrives in Cold Mountain Penitentiary, being charged with the rape of two little girls. Whether he’s guilty or not is another matter, but what’s important is the way this book touches on human emotions.
You should also watch the movie based on The Green Mile. Also directed by Frank Darabont and starring Tom Hanks and Michael Clarke Duncan, it is a work of art. Too long, but still an emotional roller-coaster of a watch.
3. The Count of Monte Cristo
French classic author Alexandre Dumas’s iconic novel also tackles a story in which the protagonist is wrongfully imprisoned and plots not only his escape like Andy Dufrene, but also to unearth treasure hidden beneath the island prison. The language, even of the translation, may be a little heavy, but the novel is still pretty accessible and should delight every modern reader.
4. Man’s Search for Meaning
Another evocative story of a wrongfully imprisoned man, Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning is set inside a Nazi concentration camp. The author recounts the atrocities he faced at the hands of Nazis from a personal lens, and this is a true story unlike others in the list. It is beyond belief that there existed thousands of people who inflicted such inconceivably cruel torture on their fellow beings. The story is ultimately about hope, though, as Frankly explains what kept him going amid all that misery. It is not an easy read, but ultimately worth it.