Tim Robbin’s on the main, important metaphor of Shawshank Redemption

Shawshank is on many all time best lists. Great story. I’m not sure I’d ever stopped to think harder about all the metaphors that arise when you contemplate what the prison might represent for viewers of the film. Robbins, however, during an interview in 1994, does a deft job of doing this and I had to share (quote happens in the first two minutes):

Tim Robbins:  My character, when he goes into prison, I don’t think really knows how to love anyone, and in the course of this friendship discovers that in himself. It’s also, I think, about much more than, than prison or prisoners. It’s, it’s really about the voices inside all of us that try to keep us down, whether they’re our own voices or whether they’re the voices of the past, teachers or parents or that try to keep us down, that try to keep us–our, our horizons limited, that, you know, if from an early and we’re told, ‘You can’t be this.’ You can’t do that. Don’t go there. Don’t dream that.” And it takes a lot of will to not listen to those voices because usually they’re from the people you trust. And in a way, what the prison is for Andy is these voices. And he finds a way to not listen and to live outside the walls. I, I walk down the street in New York here, and I, I can see people that are in prison. They’re– it’s, it’s a matter of, of– it’s a state of mind, and it’s, it’s–I think what’s nice about the film is that its resolution in the end is uplifting, and, and life-affirming in a way that is not corny and not hokum, but it speaks also to people that have never been or close to a prison.


Here’s the full interview