Video Essay

I created this video essay on the escape scene from the Shawshank Redemption movie Directed by Frank Darabont and starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman.  I got my clip from

The scene is dominated by camera shots showing the characters expressions in order to capture the emotions of what’s going on at that moment.   This scene is about the warden’s demand for answers that he is convinced the others have but won’t give him.  The scene takes place in a small space so there is little to capture with the camera other than the facial expression of the characters.  But the use of close up camera shots to capture the characters eye movement does an exceptional job of capturing the emotions of the moment.

The warden is irate about the missing convict and convinced it is a conspiracy that they are all in on.   He and his main guard that acts as his enforcer enter the cell and while the warden yells at everyone looking for answers the hardass guard stands upright with his chin up and a deadpan star at those being berated by the warden.   In their discomfort they either look to the ceiling or the floor as a means of dealing with the awkwardness.  Because of the small space there is not enough room for the characters to pace or twitch in an effort to use their body language to show how uncomfortable they are feeling.

In the climatic finish to the scene the warden uncovers the escape tunnel which provides him and everyone else in the scene with the answers he was seeking.  The camera shot to capture this moment is taken from inside the tunnel and looking in towards the cell at the expressions of the three men who lean in to look directly into the tunnel (and directly into the camera) with their jaws dropped and an expression of disbelief at what they are seeing.  This is a great idea for capturing this moment when the characters are seeing the tunnel for the first time, including Morgan Freeman, who the warden was convinced would have already known about it since he was a close friend of the escaped convict.  The shot clearly captures the surprise of everyone at what they are seeing.

Video Essay


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