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The Shawshank Redemption
Composed, Conducted, and Co-Produced by:
Thomas Newman

Co-Produced by:
Bill Bernstein

Orchestrated by:
Thomas Pasatieri

Epic Soundtrax

Release Date:
July 20th, 1994

Also See:
Little Women
The Horse Whisperer
Fried Green Tomatoes

Audio Clips:
2. Shawshank Prison (Stoic Theme) (0:32):
WMA (211K)  MP3 (269K)
Real Audio (189K)

8. His Judgement Cometh (0:28):
WMA (188K)  MP3 (239K)
Real Audio (168K)

18. And That Right Soon (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

21. End Title (0:31):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

Regular U.S. release.

  Nominated for an Academy Award and a Grammy Award.

The Shawshank Redemption

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Sales Rank: 43999

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Buy it... if you are among the Thomas Newman collectors who prefer the composer's harmonic melodies and layered orchestral constructs.

Avoid it... if not even one of Newman's most effective and popular scores in the orchestral realm can compete with your preference for his instrumentally eclectic and synthetic side.

The Shawshank Redemption: (Thomas Newman) The highly acclaimed adaptation of a Stephen King short story from 1982, The Shawshank Redemption is a dark, but ultimately uplifting 1940's tale of mistaken imprisonment and remarkable escape. Directed by novice Frank Darabont, the film explored the concepts of friendship and hope, following the developing friendship of the story's two main protagonists from the gloomy prospect of serving life sentences together in a brutal prison to their unlikely but extremely satisfying escape and reunion with riches in hand. As the title suggests, the element of redemption is crucial to The Shawshank Redemption, and in the face of domineering judgement and justice, the characters' prevailing psyches are more likely the stars of the films. For composer Thomas Newman, who had not yet breached the mainstream of film scoring in 1994, The Shawshank Redemption was, by his accounts, an extremely difficult project. Ultimately, through some negotiation with Darabont in the creative process, Newman managed to stike an elegantly restrained balance between the grim tones of the Shawshank Prison and the more melodic influences of hope. Newman would be rewarded for both The Shawshank Redemption and Little Women in 1994 with Academy Award nominations, and the year would serve notice of the composer's legitimate arrival on the scene. Both scores, along with Scent of a Woman and Fried Green Tomatoes, would define Newman as a creative artistic master of orchestral and vocal ensembles, and when you see and read about Newman fans who are split between the two halves of Newman's own musical personality, The Shawshank Redemption is a strong (if not the strongest) representative from Newman's orchestral half.

As the composer would meander further towards experimental, minimalistic ensembles in the late 1990's and early 2000's, the Tom Newman that enjoyed The Shawshank Redemption seemed lost until Finding Nemo and Angels in America would resurrect his orchestral dominance. Despite its reputation, however, The Shawshank Redemption isn't Newman's best score, nor should it be in the running for some of the decade-spanning awards that others have given it. It's a very good score, but doesn't quite deserve the occasional super-hype it receives. The balance between the genius, the humor, and the hope on one side of the score is integrated well with the gloomy shades that occupy much of the score's first half. Among the main thematic ideas is the "Stoic Theme" for the prison itself, a repetitive four-note motif performed by bass string and cello that seems to rise with false hope until inevitably dropping back to the extreme low regions to start the phrase once again. Bleak layers of strings, aided by low brass tones, provide this theme with an appropriately smothering persona without resorting to the fragmentation of dissonance. A similar performance with more exasperation appears in "Sisters" and a mutilated form with significant low string and brass droning overpowers in the ultimately hopeless "His Judgement Cometh." Another source-like element of prison life is the use of the fiddle in "May" and "Workfield." Many conversational cues in the prison are paired with solo piano performances, often hinting at the "hope theme" that would eventually prevail in the score. Also known as the "redemption (or sometimes even the primary) theme," this idea would accompany the few small tastes of freedom that the laboring prisoners would experience throughout the film, such as "Suds on the Roof."

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As the primary character manages his escape, as well as the unrest that ensues, Newman throws the score into a second gear, and this is the music that you'll find yourself enjoying on album time and time again. In "Lovely Rachel," Newman translates the pulsating string thumps from "His Judgement Cometh" into the lighter, more sprightly affair for plucked strings that we have come accustomed to hearing from the composer. If you throw the cue "The Shawshank Redemption" in among the final five cues on album, you have fifteen minutes of orchestral bliss. The folksy string rhythms of "And That Right Soon" echo the personality of Danny Elfman's concurrent Black Beauty, while the "hope theme" is finally expanded during the famous scene of rainy freedom ("The Shawshank Redemption"). The sincerity of Newman's ensemble melodies, assisted by the same strong bass presence that previously provided the score's dread, leads to an "End Title" performance both dramatic and uplifting in an ultimate release of orchestral satisfaction. Throughout these final bursts of melody, Newman still maintains the elegant restraint evident at the score's outset. He also utilizes soft percussive effects very well throughout the score, including an array of lightly mixed tingling and rattling sounds appropriate for a prison. The score is indeed among Newman's most enjoyable, both in film and on album, but compared to the immense talent of diversity heard later in his career, The Shawshank Redemption is one step from his top tier work. The album, which features a dynamic sound quality, especially in those plucked strings, contains a handful of various source cues from the film. A simple arrangement including the final five tracks on the album will be rewarding for any listener. Patience is necessary, and revisits are advised. **** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Thomas Newman reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.17 (in 29 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.11 (in 54,272 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.94 Stars
Smart Average: 3.72 Stars*
***** 1028 
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  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   Re: Question!
  Euphman -- 5/30/07 (5:47 p.m.)
   Alternate review of The Shawshank Redemptio...
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   Re: Question!
  Jorge Nez -- 5/29/07 (1:29 a.m.)
  Christian -- 1/28/07 (4:28 a.m.)
   A true masterpiece
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 53:44

• 1. May (0:33)
• 2. Shawshank Prison (Stoic Theme) (1:53)
• 3. New Fish (1:50)
• 4. Rock Hammer (1:51)
• 5. An Inch of His Life (2:48)
• 6. If I Didn't Care* (3:03)
• 7. Brooks Was Here (5:06)
• 8. His Judgement Cometh (2:00)
• 9. Suds on the Roof (1:36)
• 10. Workfield (1:10)
• 11. Shawshank Redemption (4:26)
• 12. Hank Williams: Lovesick Blues** (2:42)
• 13. Elmo Blatch (1:08)
• 14. Sisters (1:18)
• 15. Zihuatanejo (4:43)
• 16. The Marriage of Figaro/"Duettino - Sull'Aria"*** (3:32)
• 17. Lovely Raquel (1:55)
• 18. And That Right Soon (1:08)
• 19. Compass And Guns (3:53)
• 20. So Was Red (2:44)
• 21. End Title (4:05)

* Performed by The Inkspots.
** Performed by Hank Williams.
*** Written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, performed by Deutsche Oper Berlin, conducted by Karl Bohm.

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert contains no extra information about the score or film.

  All artwork and sound clips from The Shawshank Redemption are Copyright © 1994, Epic Soundtrax. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 8/28/98 and last updated 9/4/06. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1998-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.