What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie is rated R for a reason: The gritty world of Shawshank Prison is populated with sadistic guards, a corrupt warden, and predatory fellow inmates. Two characters have sex (their clothes are on, and it's not graphic), one loveable character hangs himself, guards shoot an inmate and frame it as an escape attempt, inmates attempt and, we are told, succeed in raping Andy, and guards beat and kill an inmate in the opening scenes. But the film also shows inmates forming a loving community of friendship and support despite oppressive conditions.
- Families can talk about the ways oppressed people have kept their spirit historically -- for example, through spirituals created by slaves. How do Andy and Red handle prison differently? How would you handle such a bleak future? Why did Brooks feel more comfortable in prison than out of prison? Why did Andy get Red a harmonica? What did that represent? Why did Red and Andy disagree on whether they should have hope for a better life? Did their class and race affect their approach?