I enjoyed reading your essay. Shawshank is one of my favorite movies of all time, and I finally got around to reading the novella. Actually, I've been listening to the audiobook. Like you, the description of Andy surprised me right off the bat. I hesitated and wondered if I should continue, not wanting to sully the perfection of the movie. I did continue, and I've come to appreciate both works. It's a fantastic example of what it takes to adapt a book for the screen.
The book does answer some of the questions I've always had about the movie:
Did Andy have an idea that the sewer pipe was beyond his wall? Red assumes that Andy had a look at the prison blueprints. Makes sense, as I had assumed the same. The blueprints also would have told Andy that the pipe was the old ceramic type, therefore able to be broken into. If it was cast iron, he'd be out of luck.
How did Andy know that he'd be able to get out at the end of the pipe? He probably didn't, and as a result was probably one of the reasons that he waited 8 years from breakthrough to breakout.
How did Andy know that the hayfield and rock would still be there after all that time? He didn't, and in the book he explains that he kept up with local news to see if there was any construction or other event that might have buried the key to his nest egg.
I liked the treatment of the escape and retribution as portrayed in the movie, culminating in Norton's suicide – I find that more satisfying than his mere retirement. It also sets the scene for one of my favorite lines: "I like to think the last thing that went through his head, other than that bullet, was to wonder how the hell Andy Dufresne ever got the best of him."
It's a combination of King and Darabont, and is just perfect. As a writer of kids stories, I listen to this movie all the time – for the craft, not the subject matter(!) – which hopefully helps me improve my own stories.
One final tidbit: On a lark I once worked for a day as an extra on the shoot of a TV series that Gil Bellows starred in. At lunch, Bellows sat down across from me. I typically will talk to anyone about anything, but for some reason I just said "hello" and finished my meal. I still kick myself for not asking him about working on Shawshank!
The Shawshank Redemption is a 1994 American drama film written and directed by Frank Darabont, loosely based on the Stephen King novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. The film stars Tim Robbins as Andrew "Andy" Dufresne and Morgan Freeman as Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding.
The film portrays Andy spending nearly two decades in Shawshank State Prison, a fictional penitentiary in Maine and his friendship with Red, a fellow inmate.
Stewie Griffin says he carved "Brooks was here" in Lois' birth canal on the way out of the birth canal in "Play It Again, Brian".
In "Sibling Rivalry", Freeman, as the title character in The Narrator alters the quote "get busy livin' or get busy dyin'" as "get busy talkin' or get busy dyin'". In "McStroke", he narrates the "Monopoly guy" fighting the guards playing the lead character, Andy Dufresne, in the rape story.
In "Model Misbehavior", Stewie refers to Brian's worms as "Shawshanking" their way through his intestines.
The film was the third segment of the episode "Three Kings", along with two other Stephen King films. Peter Griffin played Andrew Dufresne, Cleveland Brown played Ellis Redding. Seamus played Byron Hadley, and Carter played Warden Samuel Norton.
In "Tiegs for Two", after Brian picked up Peter from the police department, Peter claims that prison is the only world he has ever known after being there for 15 minutes and then he was shown hanging himself making a reference to when Brooks hung himself after being released from prison and not being able to live outside of prison.
Connie D'Amico and her friends tease Meg in "Dial Meg for Murder" as she fills a sack with pop cans, asking her if she is taking them to the "Shawskank" Redemption Center.
Bob Gunton who portrayed Warden Samuel Norton in the film provides the voice of the warden in "Cool Hand Peter".
Obsessed with Quagmire's Korean soap opera in "Candy Quahog Marshmallow!", Peter declares he hasn't been into something so big since The Shawshank Redemption. A cutaway shows Peter at a Q&A session with director Frank Darabont, Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins questioning how the poster was replaced so tightly in the prison cell from the inside.
After being kicked out of the Chateau Marmont in "Inside Family Guy", Peter moves to a dingy apartment where he observes graffiti noting "Brooks was here," referencing a scene from the film.