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Posted on April 2nd, 2012, by

Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption is the book written by S. King, which was adapted for the screen in 1994 by the director Frank Darabont. In spite of the fact that the film is based on the novella by S. King and basically narrates the same story, the film is still quite different from the novella, especially in some details and stylistic elements used by the director. In all probability, Frank Darabont attempted to convey his own view on the story written by S. King. At any rate, the film is not a word by word narration of the novella but it is rather an interpretation of the original story by the director, through which Frank Darabont conveys his own vision of the story and brings in more tragedy and dramatic elements into the story.

On analyzing both the film and the book, it is worth mentioning the fact that the director of the film apparently attempted to make the film more vivid, action-oriented, and more tragic, whereas Stephen King conveyed his story in his own original, unique style. As a result, it is possible to trace many places and elements which reveal the difference between the book and the film.

To put it more precisely, in both the film and the novel, Warden Norton has embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars, but, in the novel, Norton quietly resigns after Andy’s escape whereas, in the film, when Andy escapes and makes Norton’s crimes known, Norton commits suicide in his office rather than allow himself to be arrested.

Obviously, such a difference between the book and the film makes the latter more tragic and dramatic. The suicide of one of the main characters and circumstances in which he commits suicide make the story truly tragic. At the same time, such a change or deviation from the original story changes the character of Norton consistently. In fact, Stephen King creates a manipulative, fraudulent character, who misuses his power for his own benefits. In stark contrast, Frank Darabont depicts Norton as a character, who has recognized his crime and commits suicide to save himself from the public disgrace. In such a way, a film character proves to be a noble man in his way. Such a change of one of the main characters reveals the difference in views of the writer and the director on Norton and his personality. The director apparently attempts to make him a bit better than he actually is in the book.

Another place, where the difference between the film and the book becomes obvious is the posters on the wall of Andy’s cell. In the book, Andy has posters of Jayne Mansfield, Linda Ronstadt, and Hazel Court which replace each other in the course of the book. In the film, he only has posters of Rita Hayworth, Marylin Monroe, and Raquel Welch. In such a way, the film uses posters of more renowned women, which are close to cinematography and mirror the vision of the director concerning the tastes of Andy in relation to women. The book, instead, reveals the original vision of the writer on the personality and tastes of the main character.

One more place in the film makes it quite different from the book. This place is when Brooks’ threatening to cut the throat of another prisoner to avoid being paroled only appears in the film. In both the novel and the film, Brooks is paroled and leaves Shawshank. His suicide soon after leaving prison only occurs in the film. In such a way, the director again makes the film character quite different from the one depicted in the book. In fact, from the aforementioned elements, it is possible to conclude that the film depicts Brooks as an aggressive, unpredictable person inclined to radical steps. He is ready to kill any one and his suicide seems to be logical in the context of the film. However, Stephen King did not intend to make his character as aggressive as that. At the same time, Stephen King leaves the fate of Brooks after he leaves the prison unknown. Therefore, it is up to readers to complete his story, whereas the film narrates the tragic end of Brooks’ life. In such a way, the director makes the film more tragic and more concrete than the book.

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that the substantial difference between the book and the film may be explained by the intention, conscious or not, of the director of the film to convey his own story, which has been already written by Stephen King. Frank Darabont makes the film more tragic and action-oriented through introduction of suicide scenes along with the scene of the Andy’s cell search for contraband that increases the tension and makes audience involved in the action of the film.

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