By Teresa Conrick
In 1994,when I was pregnant with my second child, a film called, "The Shawshank Redemption," came out. Being pregnant, tending to my beautiful, toddler Megan, and working part-time, teaching in a psychiatric hospital demanded my attention and I missed this film. It wasn't until around 1999 that I happened to catch it one night on TBS and it was exactly what I needed, so I am here to share my thoughts and recommend that you watch it - now - as it is exactly what our community needs.
In 1999, my world had changed drastically since five years prior. Megan had lost skills, including speech, had become distant, sad, crying and physically ill with ear infections, rashes, fevers, vomiting, nosebleeds, reflux, and diarrhea more times than I could count. She was to then be diagnosed with autism in 1995. Since I did work in a psychiatric hospital and had finished my masters in Special Education, I had an inkling of what autism was but no experience except for "Rainman" and a brief observation of a male, nonverbal teen, hospitalized for a "medication adjustment."
As I watched Shawshank that first time, I became a huge fan. Here was an atypical movie for me. It had no romance, no great costumes, no catchy music. What it did have was a story that I could identify with and one that I relate to now more than ever, especially as the innocent Andy Wakefield, like our hero, Andy Dufresne is unfairly judged and "imprisoned."
Andy in the movie has been tried on circumstantial evidence and found guilty of killing his wife and her lover. He is then shipped off to Shawshank Prison where he must deal with other prisoners, hatred, despair, injustice and corruption in the form of the Warden and some of the guards. Andy is innocent and knows it but he must deal with prison life and he does so with intelligence and hope. His relationships, especially with Red, another prisoner who trusts Andy and sees him as different than all of the prisoners at Shawshank, is a good one - "He had a quiet way about him, a walk and a talk that just wasn't normal around here. He strolled, like a man in a park without a care or a worry in the world, like he had on an invisible coat that would shield him from this place. Yeah, I think it would be fair to say... I liked Andy from the start." Over nineteen years, the two would become close friends.
The Warden was a cruel, selfish and evil man. He put Andy to work for nineteen years as his personal accountant, taking money from the prison and "laundering" it. He also was responsible for a young prisoner's death, a lad who knew Andy was innocent and could identify the real killer, a psychopathic prisoner who confessed haughtily to the young lad of the killings. Andy went with his evidence of innocence to the Warden and because this information would release Andy, would get him out of Shawshank and out of the Warden's "laundering" job, the lad was killed and Andy was punished more for even thinking of revealing the truth of his innocence and the identity of the real criminal. The Warden was not about to let Andy or anyone get in the way of his money scheme and the power he held over Shawshank and the prisoners.