In the film The Shawshank Redemption, directed by Frank Darabont the purpose of the beginning sequence is to introduce us to Andy Dufresne and his situation; being accused of the murder of his wife and her lover. This sequence uses lighting, music, sound and camera work to show us Andy’s struggle. A production aspect that shows us this idea is lighting. Low Key Lighting is used in the scene when we see Andy in his car drinking bourbon and loading his hand gun. Low Key Lighting is when the lighting in a scene is dim and it is often used in movies to show people are thinking dark thoughts. This tells the viewer that Andy is going through a rough patch in his life watching his wife enter the room with her lover and it makes the viewer think he is going to do something awful like take someone’s life. Low Key Lighting is generally used in films to show people feel bad or have a bad character and this creates a tense atmosphere for the viewer.
Another aspect used is Side Lighting. Side Lighting is when there is light on one side of the character and darkness on the other. Side lighting makes people look upset, angry or mean and is frequently used to emphasis people are dodgy or they are really unhappy. We see this when Andy is in court pleading his innocence to the court. His face is half lit, half in shadow which shows the viewer that Andy is not happy and it makes the audience unsure if Andy is innocent or guilty because he it makes him look like an angry person who could’ve killed his wife but he also seems convinced that he didn’t do it, so as the viewer we are not sure. It makes us want to keep watching and found out the truth.
Another production aspect used to show us this is Sound. One aspect of Sound is Diegetic Sound. Diegetic sound is actual sound like peoples movement, voices, animal sounds etc. These are turned up louder to create a tense atmosphere that emphasises to us what emotions the character is going through. This is used when we hear the bullets clinking together, as Andy is loading them into his gun. This sounds draws our attention to him loading the gun and creates tension as it suggests to the viewer that Andy is about to shoot someone and commit murder. It makes the audience feel afraid about what’s going to happen next. Another example of diegetic sound used to
create a tense atmosphere is when Andy first arrives to prison. We hear the inmates’ voices, whistling, screaming and banging the gates. This makes them seem mean and the scene tense and makes the viewer think that Andy has arrived to a dangerous and horrible place and that he could be in danger there. These sounds make us feel anxious for him about his new home because the inmates seem intense and mean.
Moreover another production aspect used to show us this idea is music. Music is used to create mood and help us understand what a character is going through. We hear violin and string instruments as Andy arrives to Shawshank Prison. Violin and string instruments are used in movies a lot to make the viewer feel sad about something happening or about to happen. We first hear Orchestral Music when we are shown Shawshank Prison we hear it playing in the background low volume and slow tempo and this increases in volume and tempo to create a sad mood for Andy’s arrival and emphasise that the prison is a dark and depressing place to end up. It suggests to the viewer that the prison is a sad place to end up in and that it is a corrupted place too. It makes us worried for Andy who seems like a good guy.
Another example of Music used to create mood is the synthesised piano. We hear this when Andy is being questioned in court. Synthesised piano sound creates a tense mood and is used in films to emphasise the tension in a certain moment. In this scene it suggests that Andy is uncomfortable being questioned by the pushy lawyer and it suggests that he’s in for a horrible result because no one believes he is innocent. It makes us think harder about whether he is innocent or guilty and it makes us feel for him so we start to think that he could be innocent. Finally, another production aspect used to show us this idea is Camera Work. Close up shots are when the camera focuses closely on someone or something to draw our attention to it. It helps us understand a character’s emotions. We see a Close- up shot on Andy when he is standing in front of the judge at his court case and the judge is reading out his sentence. The use of this aspect is to show us how Andy is feeling, the close up shot on Andy shows the audience that he is feeling shocked with the sentence he has received.
This makes us feel sorry for him and think that maybe he is innocent since he is so upset and looks like he didn’t expect to be given a guilty sentence. Another example of camera work is when Andy is in the back of the bus and the camera is zooming in to him. This camera movement is used in films to show us what a character is feeling. The zooming makes us feel like something is about to happen so it creates suspense. In this scene Andy is arriving to the prison and the camera zooms from the inside of the bus onto his face to show us that Andy looks nervous. We can see that he is feeling miserable about going to prison so it makes the audience feel a little sad for him. The movement of the camera makes us feel uneasy like he does so we think that something bad could happen in prison. In conclusion, the beginning sequence is used to introduce us to Andy and to show us the struggles he faces.