Stephen King


NOTE: This spoiler was sent in by Tahna Los who says...
"Perhaps the best movie of all time, it’s a shame that this movie didn’t win all its Oscars it was nominated for. Then again, with its competition that year (Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction), it shouldn’t be surprising. Its only saving grace is that the nominations made the movie one of most wanted in DVDs and videos, which is probably why this movie hasn’t been shown in many TV channels yet. If you’re wondering why this spoiler is so long, it’s because there is so much detail involved and leaving it out pretty much ruins the spoiler in my opinion."

The movie begins with a car radio playing a song (“If I didn’t care” by Jack Lawrence). Inside the car is Andy Dufresne (played by Tim Robbins). He’s obviously drunk as he downs the last of bottle of Bourbon. He then shuts off the radio, and reaches for the glove compartment, where he gets his gun.

At this point, we hear the voice of a District Attorney (played by Jeffrey DeMunn). We then cut to Andy’s trial, where the D.A. asks about the day Andy’s wife decided to leave him, shortly before she was murdered. Andy’s wife had asked for a divorce in Reno, and Andy angrily shouted “I’ll see you in Hell before I see you in Reno”. The D.A. then asks what happened next and Andy replies that his wife packed a bag and left. He then went to a few bars before deciding to confront his wife at the cabin of Glen Quentin, a golfing pro.

Quentin, it turns out, was having an affair with Andy’s wife. Andy was going to confront his wife and his lover by scaring them with his gun, but says he got wise and drove away, tossing the gun into a nearby river. The D.A. counters with two facts: that the housemaid found Andy’s wife and her lover riddled with .38 calibre bullets, and that the police never found Andy’s gun he claims he dumped in the river. The D.A. calls this convenient, as without the gun, they wouldn’t have a case against Andy, while Andy calls this inconvenient, as it perhaps wiped out any chance of him being innocent.

Back to Quentin’s cabin. Andy stumbles out of his car, dropping .38 calibre bullets from his gun, as well as his bourbon bottle, which shatters on the ground. We now hear the D.A.’s summation: “Ladies and Gentlemen, you’ve heard all the evidence, you know all the facts. We have the accused at the scene of the crime. We have footprints, tire tracks. We have bullets strewn on the ground, which bear his fingerprints. A broken bourbon bottle, likewise, with fingerprints. And most of all, we have a beautiful young woman and her lover lying dead in each other's arms. They had sinned. But was their crime so great as to merit a death sentence? A revolver holds six bullets, not eight. I submit that this was not a hot-blooded crime of passion. That, at least, could be understood if not condoned. No - this was revenge of a much more brutal and cold blooded nature. Consider this. Four bullets per victim. Not six shots fired but eight. That means that he fired the gun empty and then stopped to reload so that he could shoot each of them again. An extra bullet per lover, right in the head.” We then see Andy’s wife and her lover, Glen Quentin, making out at the doorway of Quentin’s cabin moments presumably before they are killed.

The Judge then addresses Andy Dufresne. Andy has already been found guilty. The judge calls Andy “icy and remorseless”, and that it chills his blood just to look at him. He is then sentenced to consecutive life sentences for both murders.

We then cut to the parole hearing of Ellis Boyd Redding at Shawshank Prison, nicknamed “Red” (played, brilliantly, by Morgan Freeman). The parole hearing asks Red if he feels as he has been rehabilitated after 20 years in prison. Red answers yes, and that he is a changed man, blah, blah, blah, and is promptly rejected. As he walks with his friends within the prison, we find that he is a person who can get things from the outside (cigarettes, whiskey, reefer, etc). Soon after, the siren blares. More convicts are coming into the prison. The Captain of the Guards, Hadley (played by Clancy Brown) is sent to escort the new inmates into the prison.

Red meets up with his friends: Floyd, Skeet, Jigger, and Heywood. They are making bets with cigarettes on who would crack first during the first night. Heywood is betting on a fat guy he calls “Fatass”. Red bets on Andy, after looking at him and deciding that a stiff breeze might blow him over. As the convicts are being led into the prison we hear the seasoned vets yelling at the rookies. (One of the prison vets is actually played by Morgan Freeman’s son, yelling “Fresh Fish!!! Fresh Fish today!!! We’re reeling ‘em in”)

The new prisoners are escorted into a room where the Warden of the Prison, Samuel Norton (played by Bob Gunton), introduces them. Norton goes over a few rules, as well as the fact that bibles are standard issue in this prison. After one of the prisoners asks when they can eat, he is promptly on the receiving end of a blow from the nightstick of Captain Hadley.

All of the prisoners are stripped, showered, and de-loused with a white powder. They are then escorted to their cells. Andy’s cell is on the end of the second tier, close to the wall (IMPORTANT LATER). The prison is then locked down for the night, but the seasoned veterans are now taunting the newer arrivals, hoping to crack one of them. Heywood’s cell is right next to the Fatass, and Heywood starts taunting him about making him right at home and introducing him to some bull queers (prison perverts who rape men). This pushes Fatass over the edge and he starts crying and screaming about how he doesn’t belong here. Heywood wins, but the Fatass wouldn’t shut up. The guards then come in and Hadley beats Fatass into a pulp.

Turns out that Andy’s first night cost Red two packs of cigarettes. Andy never made a sound.

Next morning, the cell bars are opened and the inmates are then ordered out of their cells for rollcall and breakfast. Andy sits near Red’s group and promptly finds a maggot in his food. Just as he is about to kill it, an older inmate, Brooks (played by James Whitmore), asks his for it. He’s got a baby crow named Jake in his pocket and feeds him with the maggot.

Heywood then comes in. He’s all happy about winning the bet, and everyone coughs up their cigarettes. Heywood wants to know about how the Fatass is doing so he can thank him for the win, but it appears that Fatass died during the beating.

We then cut to the prison shower. One of the fellow inmates, a bull queer named Bogs (Mark Rolston), tries to make advances toward Andy, but Andy walks away. Bogs then says he likes those that are “hard to get”.

It’s been a month since Andy’s arrival. Andy is now working in the laundry and has been pretty quiet since then. We see him introducing himself to Red. Red asks if Andy killed his wife. When Andy proclaims his innocence Red then says “you’ll fit in right here! Everyone in here’s innocent!” The two talk about Red getting a rock hammer (looks like a minature pickaxe) for Andy. Andy enjoyed learning geology and would like to get into carving rocks. Red thinks that Andy would like to tunnel out of the prison with it, but Andy laughs, telling Red to look at the hammer. Red then gives Andy a warning about Bogs and the sisters (the bull queers), who have an interest in him, and a second warning about surprise inspections and the likelihood that the rock hammer would be found.

The next few scenes detail how Red is able to get the rock hammer. It is smuggled to Red via the laundry using some bedsheets and Red uses Brooks to give Andy the hammer. Red notes that it would take over 200 years to tunnel through the wall with a rock hammer that is only 7 inches in length.

Andy’s in the laundry one day when the head says they are running low of hexite detergent. Andy is then sent to get a barrel of the cleaner, but is then attacked by Bogs and the sisters, who hope to rape Andy. This is how everything would be for the next two years.

One day, Andy, Red, and his friends are chosen for a job involving re-tarring the licence plate factory. Hadley is supervising them and mentions to his fellow guards about his brother who recently died rich and Hadley receiving a $35,000 inheritance. He is upset that the IRS would probably take half of it before he even touches it. Andy hears this, drops his tarring mop, and approaches Hadley. Hadley nearly sends Andy off the roof but when Andy tells Hadley to give the inheritance to his wife, tax-free, Hadley listens. Hadley agrees to let Andy to the paperwork for the transaction, in return for beers for Andy’s co-workers.

So after the job is finished, all of the prisoners are sitting on the roof, enjoying beer, courtesy of Andy. Andy himself does not have any (he gave up drinking), which makes the fellow prisoners wonder if Andy is doing this to curry favour with the guards or the prisoners. Red deduces that Andy wants to be himself (he was a VP of a major bank before he was sent to prison, and therefore, a very good accountant).

Andy and Red are playing checkers, when Andy mentions chess. Andy says he would like to make chess pieces with one side in Alabaster, and the other in Soapstone, but there are hardly any of those rocks in the prison. Andy then asks Red if he is guilty of his crime (we don’t know what crime Red committed), and Red says he is the only person in Shawshank to plead guilty to his crime.

We then see Andy carving up a chess piece in his cell. He sees the names “PETER” and “JENNY” carved into the wall. He then tries to carve his name into the wall. (IMPORTANT LATER)

Andy confronts Red in the prison cinema, which is playing “Gilda” starring Rita Hayworth. Andy says he would like to have a poster of her (IMPORTANT LATER). Red agrees to get it, noting that it would take a few weeks to get it. On his way out, Andy is confronted by knife-wielding Bogs and his henchmen. Bogs and his men manage to subdue Andy, and Bogs orders Andy to perform oral sex on him. When Andy threatens to bite anything that goes into his mouth, Bogs threatens to drive the knife into his ear. Andy then points out that if Bogs does that, then it would trigger a reflex that would cause the victim to bite down hard that the victim’s jaws would have to be separated with a crowbar. Bogs, infuriated, then proceeds to beat Andy up badly enough to send him to the infirmary for a month.

Bogs, meanwhile, is sent to solitary confinement for a week. After he gets out, he goes to his cell where he is confronted by Captain Hadley and a second guard. The two guards then proceed to beat Bogs up for retaliation for beating up Andy (after all, Andy DID do Hadley a very big favour). Bogs is then rendered paralysed and is then transferred to a minimum-security hospital upstate. With Andy now under police protection, the other Sisters decide to leave Andy alone. Red his friends then decide to do a favour for Andy and get him some rocks for his chess pieces. This leads to a humourous scene in which Heywood mistakes petrified horse feces for soapstone.

When Andy is released from the infirmary, he finds the rocks as well as a poster of Rita Heyworth in his cell, along with a note: “NO CHARGE. WELCOME BACK”.

The prison performs a surprise inspection, and Andy’s cell is tossed for contraband (he is reading a bible in his cell when this happens). Warden Norton comes into Andy’s cell and notices the bible Andy is holding. Captain Hadley notices some sandpaper and the hand-cut chess pieces in his room, but declares there is no contraband. Hadley and Norton leave, but Norton nearly forgets to give Andy his bible back. Norton then gives the Bible back to Andy, saying “Salvation lies within”. (IMPORTANT LATER)

Norton then summons Andy to his office, where Andy sees some needlework made by Norton’s wife (it says “His Judgement Cometh and That Right Soon….”). Turns out that the surprise check was done so that Norton could transfer Andy to the library, where his talents would be of better use. Brooks is the librarian, and as they are going through some facts about the library, Hadley comes in with a guard named Dekins. Dekins is looking for some financial advice regarding college education for his children, and Andy is happy to oblige. As Andy mentions this event to his friends during lunch, Andy says that he would like to expand the library and get more books in the prison. He talks to Norton, who then allows him to write to the state legislature for funds. Andy starts writing his letters, and for several years, does not get a response. During this time, he does the taxes for the guards at Shawshank, Norton’s taxes, and those of other guards playing in the annual baseball tournament. In fact, Andy got so busy that he had Red help him out during tax time, processing paperwork.

Floyd comes out of the library and summons Red and Andy. Brooks has gone insane and is holding a knife to Heywood’s throat. Andy manages to calm him down, and to let Heywood go. It appears that Brooks has been paroled, and fearful of life on the outside (he has been in prison for over 50 years), he was hoping to kill Heywood (or be declared crazy enough) in order to stay in Shawshank. All of the cons can’t believe that Brooks would go crazy, but Red points out that after 50 years behind prison walls, you become used to them, then you become dependant on them. “These walls are funny. First you hate them, then you get used to them. Enough time passes so that you depend on them….. They send you here for life, and that’s exactly what they take from you, the part that matters anyway.”

We then see Brooks releasing Jake (now a fully grown crow) before being escorted to the outside of Shawshank. On his way to a halfway house, he nearly gets run over by a car (he has only seen a car once when he was a child). He also has a job bagging groceries at a local supermarket, a job that he doesn’t like, as the manager berates him for not double-bagging a customer’s groceries. As this is going on, we hear a letter written by Brooks: “Dear Fellas: I can't believe how fast things move on the outside. I saw an automobile once when I was a kid but now they're everywhere. The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry. The parole board got me in a halfway house called the Brewer, and a job bagging groceries at the Food-Way. It’s hard work and I try to keep up, but my hands hurt most of the time. I don’t think the store manager likes me very much. Sometimes after work I go to the park feed the birds. I keep thinking that Jake might just show up and say hello, but he never does. I hope wherever he is, he’s doing okay and making new friends. I have trouble sleeping at night, I have bad dreams like I’m falling, I wake up scared, sometimes it takes me a while to remember where I am. Maybe I should get me a gun and rob the Food-Way so they’d send me home. I could shoot the manager, while I was at it, sort of as a bonus. I guess I’m too old for this nonsense anymore. I don't like it here. I'm tired of being afraid all the time. I've decided not to stay. I doubt they’ll kick up a fuss, not for an old crook like me.” We see Brooks in his room, stepping up on a table, etching an inscription that says “BROOKS WAS HERE” into the ceiling before knocking the table down, feet hanging. Brooks has hanged himself.

We see Andy reading Brooks’ letter, with an addendum to apologize to Heywood for holding a knife to his throat.

It would appear that a shipment of used and unwanted library materials has come in from the State, along with a check for $200. Andy responds to this with excitement, noting that it took six years for the State to respond. Andy now says he will write two letters a week instead of one (the letter from the state told Andy not to write any more letters). As a nearby guard goes to seek relief in the bathroom, Andy rifles through the materials and comes up with a record of Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro”. Andy then proceeds to lock the guard in the bathroom, lock the room he is in, and hooks a record player with the record to the prison’s PA system. In a touching scene, the whole prison is brought to a complete standstill as everyone, prisoner or guard, looks up at the speakers, mesmerized by the music.

Warden Norton is not impressed, but he is unable to get into the room as it is locked. He orders Andy to unlock the door and turn off the record player, but Andy obliges by turning the volume even higher. Norton then has Hadley bust through the door and turn off the record player. Andy gets two weeks in Solitary for the stunt.

Two weeks later, Andy emerges from Solitary and meets up with his friends in the cafeteria. Heywood asks Andy if he was able to play Hank Williams, but Andy responds the guards broke down the door before he could take requests. Andy proceeds to mention that his two weeks in the hole went by very quickly as he had held the music in his mind and his heart, and that it gave him hope. Red berates Andy that hope is a bad thing, and that it could drive a man crazy, and that it is better off to let go of hope. Andy asks “Like Brooks did?” Red, disgusted, leaves the table.

Red has another parole hearing at 30 years. The same questions are asked, the same answers are given, and Red is again rejected. Andy gives Red a rejection present, a harmonica (Red used to play the harmonica as a boy). Red gives Andy a present for his ten-year anniversary at the prison, a poster of Marilyn Monroe in her famous “subway grate” scene.

In 1959, the State got tired of Andy’s twice-a-week letter campaign, and decided to give him an annual payment of $500. Even with this sum, he was able to turn a storage shed formerly smelling of rats and turpentine to the Brooks Hatlen Memorial Library. In a funny scene, Andy and his friends are sorting through old books obtained by Andy using the cash received from the state. By 1963, the Library was recognized as the largest and the best in New England, complete with a collection of Hank Williams records, to which Heywood is seen listening to.

It was also the year Norton instituted the “Inside-Out” program, where inmates work in construction projects for a lower price than other companies. Norton mentions a bare minimum of expense to the taxpayer, but Red notes that this is a scam; there are many ways to skim money off these expenses. Not only that, companies who rely on lucrative contracts give bribes to Norton to make sure he does not take the job. Whatever profits are taken from the jobs are processed by Andy with the records kept in a vault hidden behind the needlepoint seen earlier. Bank deposits are carried out by Norton to be mailed out. (IMPORTANT LATER)

Red and Andy discuss the situation, and it would appear that Andy has sent the money out to be placed in bonds, stocks, securities, and other accounts under the name of Randall Stephens, in order to deflect suspicion from Norton. Red is shocked that Andy would do such a thing, but Andy mentions that Mr. Stephens has a birth certificate, driverss licence, social security number, and the fact that the authorites would never be able to track down the money since Mr. Stephens doesn’t exist. (IMPORTANT LATER) Andy then says: “On the outside, I was an honest man, straight as an arrow. I had to come to prison to be a crook”. Red gives a hearty laugh.

Another prison bus has come in; this one contains an inmate by the name of Tommy Williams (played by Gil Bellows). As Tommy explains his last bust to Red, Andy, and the group, Andy suggests that Tommy go for a new line of work, since robbery is not working for him. Tommy retorts, asking Andy what he is in here for. Andy responds by saying that he’s innocent, in fact everyone is innocent in the prison, except of course, Tommy (who basically confessed).

Tommy then asks Andy to help him with his high school equivalency, since Andy helped some other inmates get their college diplomas. Andy initially rebuffs him, but Tommy promises an effort, along with a confession that he is illiterate.

Andy has now switched his poster of Marilyn Monroe for one of Raquel Welch.

Tommy then starts his schooling, and Andy helps him, starting with the basics. Soon, Tommy is trying to complete his credits, and during an exam, he gets frustrated after the time expires. Tommy leaves in a huff, throwing his exam papers in the garbage, but Andy retrieves them.

Tommy tells Red he feels bad about letting Andy down, but Red tells him not to worry about it, mentioning that he was a banker on the outside, who was sent to prison for killing his wife and her lover while they were in bed. Tommy then has a look of shock on his face.

Tommy then tells Red and Andy about a fellow inmate he once bunked with, Elmo Blatch. Tommy describes Blatch as a person with a short fuse who has a thrill for committing crimes and talking about his misadventures. Tommy asks Blatch he has killed, and Blatch responds: “I got me this job one time busin' tables at a country club. So I could case all these big rich pricks that come in. So I pick out this guy, go in one night and do his place. He wakes up and gives me shit. So I killed him. Him and this tasty bitch he was with! That's the best part! She's fucking this prick, see, this golf pro, but she's married to some other guy! Some hotshot banker! And he's the one they pinned it on!”

Andy, in shock, leaves and heads straight to Warden Norton’s office and tells him Tommy’s story. Norton rebuffs it, saying the story is a figment of Tommy’s imagination. Andy then becomes desperate, calling Norton “obtuse”, and then mentioning that he would never mention the scam that him and Norton are involved in. Norton, infuriated, banishes Andy to solitary for a month (the longest stretch so far in Shawshank)

Tommy gets a letter from the Board of Education; he passed with a C+ average. A guard delivers the news to Andy while delivering his food, the first good news to come to Andy while in solitary. The Warden then summons Tommy to meet him outside the prison walls. There, Norton offers Tommy a cigarette, and asks whether Tommy’s account is true or not. Tommy confirms that this is indeed true. Norton then puts out his cigarette, looks up, and walks away. When Tommy looks at the same spot, he sees Hadley with a rifle, who proceeds to shoot Tommy four times. It would look as Tommy was killed trying to escape; after all he WAS outside of the prison walls.

Norton delivers the news to Andy, and Andy says that he will no longer participate in the Warden’s scams. Norton becomes enraged, and threatens to remove any protection Andy previously had against the Sisters, and also threatens to close the library and burn all the books. “Are you catching my drift, or am I being obtuse?” Norton asks. He then orders another month of Solitary for Andy.

Red meets Andy after Andy’s two-month stint in solitary. Andy confesses to his role in his wife’s killing by being a bad husband. Red absolves Andy of the crime, and Andy mentions that the fact he is in prison due to a horrible twist of fate; “I was in the path of the tornado…. I didn’t expect the storm to last as long as it has”. He then mentions about a place he would like to go to once he gets out of prison; Zihuatenejo, in Mexico. Once there, he would like to start a hotel and get a boat to take his tourists charter fishing. He then invites Red to help him out, but Red declines, scared of the concept of life on the outside (like Brooks was). Andy mentions that since he is innocent of his crimes, the chance of life on the outside is not too much to ask for. Red then tries to bring Andy back to his senses by saying that this is just a fantasy dream, that “Mexico is way the hell down there, and you’re in here, and that’s the way it is”. Andy then says, “I guess it comes down to a simple choice really: Get busy living, or get busy dying”. As Andy proceeds to leave, he mentions to Red of a rock wall along a hayfield in Buxton with a large oak tree at the north end. According to Andy, this is where he asked his wife to marry him. On the base of that rock wall underneath the tree, there is a piece of black, volcanic glass, where something is buried underneath. Andy has Red promise him that he would find that spot, and that he would dig underneath the black volcanic glass for something Andy wants Red to have. (IMPORTANT LATER)

We then see Red talking to his friends about Andy. With Tommy dead, Norton controlling Andy’s life, and no possibility of any freedom for Andy any time soon, Red is beginning to think that Andy is becoming suicidal. This is confirmed when Heywood confesses that he gave Andy a six-foot length of rope. Another prisoner tries to convince himself that Andy would not kill himself, but Red says that everyone has a breaking point.

Andy is back working at Norton’s office, finishing up on some work for Norton’s scams. Andy collects all the files, and he gives Norton the details on tonight’s deposits while he places his files in the safe. (VERY IMPORTANT LATER) Norton gives orders to Andy to take his clothes down to the laundry and for Andy to shine his shoes. (IMPORTANT LATER) Just before he leaves, Norton says that he is glad that Andy is back working for him, that the place just wasn’t the same without Andy.

Andy then proceeds to polish Norton’s shoes before heading back to his cell. As the cell doors close, Andy gets the piece of rope he got from Heywood earlier. Red is worried sick that his friend may not be alive by the next morning. We hear a lightning storm in the distance.

The next morning, all the inmates get out of their cells for Roll Call. All except Andy are present. The head guard yells for Andy to come out, and after a few seconds, goes to Andy’s cell to see what Andy is up to. Once he gets there he looks in, but has a shocked expression on his face, saying “Oh my Holy God”.

Norton is preparing for his day by getting the shoes he asked Andy to shine earlier, but instead of his shoes, he finds standard prison shoes. As he tries to figure out what is going on, we hear a prison siren go off. Norton is upset. He wants everyone in the cellblock questioned, starting with Red, who he knows is Andy’s friend. Then he berates the head guard by wondering why Andy is not in his cell (Andy didn’t kill himself, he’s simply “gone”). Norton then questions Red, asking him what is going on. In a fit of rage, Norton grabs a couple of Andy’s rock sculptures and starts throwing them around, including at the poster of Raquel Welch that Andy now has on his wall. The rock Norton throws punctures a hole in the poster and bounces around before hitting a pipe. Norton then sticks his finger through the poster, then his hand, then his arm, and rips out the poster to reveal a large hole in the wall. Andy has escaped.

A police search can only find Andy’s prison clothes, a bar of soap, and the rock hammer that Andy purchased from Red. It was that rock hammer that Andy used to tunnel through the wall, which Red estimated would take 200 years. It turns out when Andy tried to scratch his name into the wall with the hammer many years ago; part of it gave away and crumbled to the ground. With his knowledge of geology, Andy knew that the wall was made of very weak cement. It was then he used the poster of Rita Hayworth to cover up his hole (he also used the posters of Marilyn Monroe and Raquel Welch). Whatever wall chunks he was able to get out, he was able to hide in his pants and safely dispose of them on the prison grounds without the guards noticing. Soon after Tommy was murdered, Andy started his plan in motion. The night of his escape, we see Andy switching the incriminating files with dummy copies and concealing the files underneath his jacket. All this was done while the Warden was opening the safe. Andy gave the Warden the night’s deposits as he was putting the dummy files in the safe, as a means to momentarily distract the Warden from noticing. Andy then shined the Warden’s shoes as ordered, before switching them for his own. The guard simply didn’t notice as not many people look at a man’s shoes. Andy also took one of the Warden’s suits and wore them underneath his prison clothing.

The escape is now set. Andy prepares by placing the incriminating files (as well as his chess set) deep into a plastic bag. He then proceeds to crawl through the hole carved earlier. He then climbs down a pipe to the ground (you see where the rope is attached here). Andy then comes across a large sewer pipe, and busts through the pipe using a fragment of the wall that he previously hacked away (he times his hits with lightning strikes). Andy then proceeds to crawl 500 yards through the pipe (he throws up several times due to the smell) to the other side of the prison walls, where he sheds his prison clothes in the rain and embraces his freedom.

As Norton, Hadley, and Red discover his escape, we see a man walk into the Portland branch of Maine National Bank. This person claims to be Randall Stephens, but in fact, is really Andy Dufresne, complete with identification for Mr Stephens, including driver’s licence, and Social Security number. He is seen closing an account at the bank, receiving a cashier’s check, and dropping off some mail to be delivered. The mail is sent to a reporter at the Portland Daily Bugle. It contains the incriminating files that Andy stole earlier, as well as a note.

The next morning, Norton slams down a newspaper bearing the headline “Corruption, Murder at Shawshank - D.A. Has Ledger - Indictments Expected.” In shock, Norton looks at the needlepoint where his supposed documents are held (the message on the needlepoint: “His judgement cometh, and that right soon” is now more relevant than ever). As police cars bear down on the prison, the Warden unlocks the safe to find Andy’s bible. On the first page is a note: “Dear Warden. You were right. Salvation lay within. Andy Dufresne”. He then opens a page in the book to reveal where the pages were hollowed out to conceal Andy’s rock hammer (coincidently, it is opened to the Old Testament book of Exodus).

The D.A. gets out of his car with some officers outside the prison and approaches Captain Hadley, whom he places under arrest. Norton is dead set against going the same way, so he opens his drawer to reveal a gun. As he loads it with bullets, the D.A. and some officers try to enter Norton’s office, which is locked. After a few seconds, Norton kills himself by discharging his gun underneath his chin.

A few weeks after the Warden’s death, Red receives a blank postcard from Fort Hancock, Texas. Red laughs when he realizes that Fort Hancock is where Andy crossed into Mexico. We then see every one of Andy’s friends sitting at the cafeteria table, laughing at Andy’s exploits (they are talking about the tarring incident with Captain Hadley), but Red is a little more sombre. Though he understands Andy is innocent, Red misses his long-time friend.

We then see Red at his parole hearing after 40 years behind bars. The parole officer asks the same questions, but Red refuses to answer, saying that the whole exercise is pointless, as his parole will be rejected anyway. But his parole is approved and Red is allowed to leave the prison. He arrives at the Brewer, in the same room where Brooks was (he sees the inscription “BROOKS WAS HERE”). He also has the same job at Food-Way, though he appears to be better at it. Red appears despondent about his predicament as he feels that he will never fit in on the outside. He then stops at a store window to look at a compass. He is thinking of ways to break is parole so he can go back to where he belongs, but remembers a promise made to Andy.

Red hitches a ride to Buxton, where he walks around the hayfields, hoping to find one with a rock wall that Andy mentioned earlier. He uses the compass to navigate through the area, and eventually finds a rock wall with the oak tree that Andy mentioned. He then proceeds to find the fragment of black volcanic glass. Underneath it is a tin container, which he unearths. Inside, wrapped in a plastic is an envelope filled with money, and a note, which reads: “Dear Red. If you're reading this, you've gotten out. And if you've come this far, maybe you're willing to come a little further. You remember the name of the town, don't you? I could use a good man to help me get my project on wheels. I'll keep an eye out for you and the chessboard ready. Remember, Red. Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things and no good thing ever dies. I will be hoping that this letter finds you, and finds you well. Your friend, Andy”

Red recalls that Andy went to Zihuatenejo, in Mexico. He heads back to his room to pack his belongings. He leaves another inscription in the ceiling, which says “SO WAS RED” underneath what Brooks had previously wrote. He then purchases a bus ticket to Fort Hancock. As this is happening, he reflects, saying: “Get busy living, or get busy dying. That's goddamn right. For the second time in my life, I am guilty of committing a crime. Parole violation. Of course, I doubt they'll toss up any roadblocks for that. Not for an old crook like me. I find I am so excited I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it's the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.”

Red is walking barefoot towards Andy, who is polishing up an old boat. As the camera pans away, we see the two lifelong friends embrace each other.

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