The Shawshank Redemption

Thomas Newman

" Get busy living, and get busy listening! "

Written by Thomas Glorieux - Review of the regular release

The Shawshank Redemption is considered to be one of the best movies ever made, yet received a very lukewarm box office reception at the time of its release. Today it's considered to be a necessity, a movie you ought to have seen in your life, a Stephen King adaptation that does the source justice. It was only Frank Darabont's (of The Green Mile and The Mist fame) second movie, but it became one for the history books. It eventually received 7 nominations of which it did not win a single one (it competed that year against the almighty Forrest Gump). One of the nominations was for composer Thomas Newman, one of 2 that year and his first 2 in his career.

For me, the score opens with the dramatic and poetic theme in "Shawshank Prison (Stoic Theme)", returning in "Sisters" and becoming a small but integral part of the absolute highlight "The Shawshank Redemption". It's a typical yet wonderful theme of Thomas Newman, and shows both the solemn quiet side of Andy and the hope that will keep him alive. Another typical element is the dramatic dreamy music, showing the fragile life the inmates have inside or outside the walls of Shawshank prison ("Brooks was Here" and "Zihuatanejo"). And no Thomas Newman score is without a couple of eccentric and quirky moments. "Rock Hammer", "Lovely Raquel" and the rather fun "And that Right Soon" surely enrich the experience a bit.

But The Shawshank Redemption is first and foremost a heavy story. A story of injustice, horror, hope and eventually redemption. Here you'll receive them all. The dark atmospheric music of "An Inch of his Life" and "Elmo Blatch", the fight to save yourself in "His Judgement Cometh" and "The Shawshank Redemption" (2 masterful pieces that use powerful horn statements), and the hope to feel freedom again in "Suds on the Roof" and "So Was Red" that eventually leads towards salvation in the stunning "End Title". These last 3 tracks carry a Thomas Newman theme that is quite literally everything you want it to be. Orchestral, fulfilling, beautiful and powerful. It is a much beloved and used theme in trailers (Finding Forrester, The Horse Whisperer and The Rookie to name but a few).

Meaning there is much to find in The Shawshank Redemption. Though not everything turns out to be equally brilliant, it is powerful music where every single track and note has a purpose and a meaning. It fills your listening experience with deep meaningful feelings, and enriches an already masterful motion picture. It could have won the Oscar if it wasn't for the fact every single Disney picture score received an Oscar back then. Or if Forrest Gump wasn't running away with every single Oscar in that year. But listening to The Shawshank Redemption is certainly not a bad way to spend your evening, if solely for the reason to find out that Salvation lies within.


1. May (0.33)
2. Shawshank Prison (Stoic Theme) (1.53) Excellent track
3. New Fish (1.50)
4. Rock Hammer (1.51)
5. An Inch of his Life (2.48)
6. If I Didn't Care: The Inkspots (03:03)
7. Brooks Was Here (5.06)
8. His Judgement Cometh (2.00) Excellent track
9. Suds on the Roof (1.36) Excellent track
10. Workfield (1.10)
11. Shawshank Redemption (4.26) Excellent track
12. Lovesick Blues: Hank Williams (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) Excellent track
21. End Title (4.05) Excellent track

* Performed By Deutsch Oper berlin/Karl Böhm

Total Length: 53.24
(click to rate this score)  
(total of 14 votes - average 4.07/5)

Released by

Epic Records EPC 478332 2 (regular release 1994)

Orchestrations by

Thomas Pasatieri