Andy Dufresne - Shawshank Redemption

"Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying"

The Shawshank Redemption is a very itriguing movie somewhat documenting what life was like for prisoners during the 1940's. The movie outlines the lies, deceptions, and scandals that fill Shawshank Prison to its walls. We meet Andy Dufresne at the beginning of the movie where he is, as we later find out, wrongfully accused of killing his wife and a local golf professional in his town. Nevertheless, he is found guilty and sent to prison. Dufresne soon makes it his goal to somehow rise above and escape those sinister ideas of Shawshank Prison by outsmarting the prison guards, earning the respect of fellow prisoners, and even befriending the prison's warden. Dufresne seems to move through a variety of feelings and emotions throughout the movie. Due to his thorough understanding of the banking business along with hope and desire for freedom, he rises above the corruption of the prison and eventually escapes.




U2 - "Numb"

At the beginning of the movie, "The Shawshank Redemption", various town officials are accusing him of killing his wife and the local golf pro after he found them in bed together. Dufresne continues to deny the accusations and during the trial you can clearly see that he knows he has nothing to prove him innocent. His face is stolid. He shows no emotion and he certainly doesn't appear to be distraught. He appears numb.

I thought that this U2 song pretty much conveyed the idea of numbness. It is entitled "Numb." The first couple of stanzas seem to convey how Dufresne is feeling or, isn't feeling for that matter. Also, the way that the lead singer is singing the lines also shows the lack of emotion:


Don't move
Don't talk out of time
Don't think
Don't worry
Everything's just fine
Just fine

Don't grab
Don't clutch
Don't hope for too much
Don't breathe
Don't achieve
Or grieve without leave






Nowhere to go
We've been brought here for a reason
Be it fate, or internal treason
Souls will be saved
Or mutiny's waged
As we plead for something to believe in


Mushroomhead - "Nowhere to Go"

One could only imagine the helplessness that comes along with being put in prison. As Dufresne walks through the gates of Shawshank Prison he still appears to be very numb, but obviously he feels trapped. The first night he is in the prison we see a prisoner get beaten to death by the prison guards for crying because he wants his mother. We don't get to see Dufresne's reaction to this but, I'm sure it wasn't the best first night that a new prisoner could have.

"Nowhere to go" by Mushroomhead seemed to me to be a fairly good song to capture Dufresne's feelings on the first night he was there. He has just been convicted of murder and he is in this hell hole to fend for himself. The momentum of the song is clearly chaotic - an adjective that I would assume would describe the thoughts of someone recently found guilty and put into prison. For a prisoner like Dufresne who is serving two life sentences, he must find "something to believe in."

Mushroomhead - XIII - Nowhere to Go



Thrice - "Lockdown"

From the time he first enters Shawshank to the time he leaves, Dufresne is constantly asking questions. A very smart man, he is always trying to find the answers. He wants to know why things happen in Shawshank like they do. He wants to change them. As his fellow prisoners' faces read, they've never questioned why anything happens. They get there and follow orders.

"Lockdown," although written by Thrice, might as well have been written by Dufresne himself. The song tells of the problems with simply following orders and not even asking why. One can not simply be contempt in certain situations and Dufresne is clearly not contempt with being held in Shawshank Prison. Once again, the chaotic nature of the song is still fitting it would seem. The prison yard is a chaotic place where you have to watch your back, especially as a new prisoner that hasn't established himself as a member of a gang or clique. Nevertheless, Dufresne is looking around in the beginning of the movie wondering why no one is asking questions. He isn't accepting the "lies" and trying to think for himself.


Please open your eyes, everything they told you was a lie
Think for yourself, won't you even try to look past all those lies?
Think for yourself, think for yourself!
For generations the answer has always been no
No one remembers and nobody cares to ask
Asking a question is deemed criminal and slowly the silence grows




One nerve remaining, waiting on one look
Have you got it? Have you got it in you?
Have you got it in you?

All at once, not a whisper, nor word
Then all at once, let me have it all
Let me have a battle on, easy target
Look can we just..just get it over with?
It's getting worse, against all odds


Imogen Heap -

"Have You Got it in You?"

From the moment he gets inside the prison there is a target on his back. He was a successful banker before he went to prison. Now that he's in prison he is merely another helpless individual. However, because he is very intelligent, he wants to try everything in his power to remove that target from his back. After a while, he actually ends up gaining the upperhand. Prisoners that have been there far longer than him start respecting him.

The song "Have you got in you?" by Imogen Heap relates how Andy Dufresne needed to respond in order to be respected by his fellow prisonmates. He could have just done nothing and dealt with the disrespect from the prison guards and other prisoners, but he didn't. This song is a slight change of pace from the previous. However, it fits rather well into the story of Andy Dufresne. At this point in the movie, things are settling down. Dufresne is finding his place in the prison as the one who is going to make changes and everyone is taking notice of it.

Imogen Heap - Speak for Yourself - Have You Got It In You?





Solstice Coil - "Brilliance"

There is no doubt that throughout the movie Andy Dufresne lets his brilliance shine on numerous occasions. He is slowly turning Shawshank Prison around as far as the people who are contained within it. It is still a corrupt institution but Dufresne is using the corruption in his favor. He is a step ahead of every prison guard and the warden. He seems almost untouchable.

The song "Brilliance" by Solstice Coil perfectly explains Andy Dufresne's own brilliance in its lyrics. Before he got to the prison, everyone was merely listening and doing without thinking. This song is sort of a dialogue from Dufresne perhaps to the other prisoners and possibly even the prison guards. He's telling them to not listen to everything, for everything they are being told may not be true. The feel of this song is that of a classical piece. At one point in the movie Dufresne locks himself in the library and starts to blare classical music over the loudspeakers for everyone to hear. Most people tend to associate brilliance with people who appreciate classical music and I think Andy is no exception to that rule.

Solstice Coil - A Prescription for Paper Cuts - Brilliance


Don't listen to what they say
Fifty thousand people, are wrong everyday
For a decaying piece of bread
Fifty thousand people will stomp on you everyday




Some things are worth fighting for
Some feelings never die...

There's no easy way out, there's no shortcut

But I'm feeling like a prisoner
Like a stranger in a no named town

There's no easy way out, there's no shortcut


Robert Tepper - "No Easy Way Out"

When Andy Dufresne has been in Shawshank for almost a decade, the impression he gives off as that he is at ease with his position in the prison - as strange as that sounds. He has made his presence known and gained the respect of everyone around him. He has gained the respect of the warden because he is helping him with his taxes. He has gained the respect of his prisonmates because he wrote to the State Senate and received money to make the prison library exponentially better. The night before he escapes he has a smirk on his face. To the audience it seems like he is contempt with being there, but if you read into it deeper, you can tell that he is up to something. That smirk holds more than contempt, it holds a little bit of worry, but an assuredness that he will succeed in whatever he is plotting to do.

Shawshank Prison is obviously guarded very closely. Throughout the movie they have random cell checks and the guards certainly don't play around. The song "No Easy Way Out" by Robert Tepper is a perfect match for the endeavor he is about to embark on. Going through with his escape will not be easy. In the case of this song, the "feeling that never dies" is the feeling that he deserves to be free because he knows he is not guilty. The movie, much like the song, is building up to an ultimate climax.

Robert Tepper - Rocky IV - No Easy Way Out





Thin Lizzy - "Jailbreak"

This song needs no introduction for Andy Dufresne most certainly escapes Shawshank Prison in the most ingenious way. It was a "Jailbreak" that no one inside Shawshank Prison had expected. The morning after Dufresne escapes, the guards and the Warden realize he has been building a tunnel from his prison cell to the sewage pipes. From there he broke open the sewage pipe and crawled 500 yards to a creek just outside of the prison - he was gone. He was finally a free man. The fast pace of the song is very similar to the anxiety probably felt as Dufresne was making his escape. A lot of adrenaline and drive was needed to pull off an escape of this caliber. It's almost as if the drummer is moving with the rhythm of Dufresne's beating heart.


Tonight theres gonna be trouble
Some of us won't survive
...busting out dead or alive

I can hear the hound dogs on my trail
All hell breaks loose, alarm sirens wail
Like the game, if you lose
Go to jail

Tonight theres gonna be a jailbreak
Somewhere in the town
Tonight theres gonna be a jailbreak






When the sun goes down, and the weather is hot
You can stretch right up, and touch the sky...

We're not threat, people
We're not dirty, we're not mean
We love everybody, but we do as we please
When the weather's fine
We go fishin' or swimmin' in the sea
We're always happy
Life's for livin' yeah, that's our philosophy


Mungo Jerry - "In the Summertime"

The Warden of Shawshank Prison soon finds out that Dufresne has escaped with thousands of dollars to his name. The Warden used Dufresne's knowledge of the legal system and banking to avoid paying taxes. All the money that was stolen was being dumped into a fake account to which Dufresne had all of the information required to remove it. Dufresne got away and moved just on the other side of the Mexican border. He and his friend from Shawshank Prison, "Red", are seen at the end of the movie embracing and revelling in their freedom.

"Life's for living, yeah, that's our philosophy" is the perfect line to describe the feeling at the end of the movie for Andy Dufresne. It's almost like a play on words with the beginning quote "Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying." "In the Summertime" by Mungo Jerry certainly uses the right instruments and words to convey those feelings. Dufresne has made it out of Shawshank Prison. He refused to die in that prison and found a way to get out so he could, without a doubt, "get busy living."

Mungo Jerry - The Very Best of Mungo Jerry - In the Summertime