Shawshank Redemption and Frank Darabont and making of a legend

Shawshank redemption and Frank Darabont and making of a legend.

When you think of something like Shawshank redemption – What do you feel? As for me I forgot the number of times I have seen the entire movie or parts of it (whenever it is playing on one of the channels). My good friend Wendy – a marketing and sales professional says the same thing about it.  I see a few things – I feel a sense of satisfaction. I remember the first time I saw it in WVU around 1999. A deep sense of completeness, satisfaction and triumph.

But how does one create such enduring stories. I would like to say honestly I don’t know. I never have written any story that was enduring. But Ryan Holiday had me thinking. Ryan has about 6 bestsellers before 30.

Maybe it is admiring and building up on others works. Here it was Frank Darabont building on Stephen King. But where did Stephen King get his idea from? According to IFC – “King’s novella shares several plot points with a nine-page short story by Russian writer Leo Tolstoy called “God Sees the Truth, But Waits.” Both are about men sent to prison for murders they didn’t commit.”

Now Stephen King did sell the rights to Shawshank to director Frank Darabont for $1.00!!  Yes that is not a typo. 1 dollar. (I have read long time ago that Stephen King had it framed. I cannot vouch for this).

2014 was the 20th anniversary of the film. It did not perform well at all in the box office. It could hardly just about breakeven given all the costs. Just around 25 million dollars.

This is what Vanity fair says – “Darabont, who “wanted to honor the source material,” mimicked the novella’s narrative thrust in his screenplay and even lifted some dialogue verbatim. Other plot points were entirely his invention, sharpening the film’s themes and adding dashes of cinematic violence. In King’s story, a minor character, Brooks, dies uneventfully in an old folks’ home. The movie dedicates a poignant montage to the now more pivotal Brooks’s inability to make it on the outside and his subsequent heart-wrenching suicide by hanging. Tommy, a young con who can clear Andy’s name, trades his silence for a transfer to a minimum-security prison in King’s version. The script has Tommy “chewed to pieces by gunfire.” And Darabont condensed King’s several wardens into the corrupt Warden Norton, who eventually blows his brains out rather than pay Lady Justice for his sins.”

Notice – Frank improved/modified the story according to who Frank was. “Darabont says he “wasn’t ready” to sit down at his word processor right away, and five years passed, as he focused on paid jobs writing scripts for The Blob and The Fly II.”

Darabont sold his first screenplay titled ‘Black Cat Run’ in 1986. His television movie and his directorial debut ‘Buried Alive’ in 1990 for USA network.

Castel Rock Entertainment’s Rob Reiner offered 2.5 million dollars to Darabont and he declined it! Why did he decline it?  (Reiner wanted to star Tom Cruise as Andy Dufresne and Harrison Ford as Red!! )

Why did he decline! What did Darabont see? That is a lot of money even now!

Then someone called Liz Glotzer with “a prison obsession” likes the script to make it into a movie. Now look at this Liz works for Castle Rock. Rob reiner got offended that Darabont would not sell the script to him for 2.5 million dollars. Then somehow defying all odds, against human nature and intuition, Reiner he pays 3 million dollars (around that- Darabont would not say how much) to direct the movie. The movie bombs on the box office. Then after a decade or so it is the all time favorite of many, many people

Morgan Freeman relies on less empirical evidence. “About everywhere you go, people say, ‘The Shawshank Redemption—greatest movie I ever saw,’ ” he told me. “Just comes out of them.” Not that he’s a disinterested observer, but Tim Robbins backs his co-star: “I swear to God, all over the world—all over the world—wherever I go, there are people who say, ‘That movie changed my life.’ ” Even the world’s most famous former prisoner connected with the movie, according to Robbins: “When I met [Nelson Mandela], he talked about loving Shawshank.”

How does that happen?

I don’t know

Happy traveling mates!

btw today July 19 in 1799 the Rosetta Stone was discovered. How did the French Egyptologist Jean-Francois Champollion (1790-1832), who had taught himself ancient languages succeed when others failed?


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