Mansfield Celebrates The 20th Anniversary of "The Shawshank Redemption"
Visitors are descending on Mansfield this weekend to mark the 20th anniversary of the release of the film "The Shawshank Redemption." Many of the film’s scenes were shot on location at the prison in town that once served as a state reformatory.
"The whole thing is, if you put it up here,” actor Jim Kisicki explains, pointing to his head, “the music - they can't take it away from you. What's up here and what's up here, and in here,” he continues, pointing also to his heart, “and that's what the story is about."
Kinsicki, who lives in suburban Cleveland, played a bank manager in the movie, and distills the story’s theme from within feet of the spot where his character hands protagonist Andy Dufresne a sizeable sum of saved cash as the film nears its crescendo. Like small-role characters in many movies, Kinsicki was cast by local casting directors. He’s one of several actors participating in the weekend celebration, which includes plenty of stops and props, as well as discussion of the film and its seemingly universal appeal.
Other returning actors include Renee Blaine and Scott Mann, who appeared in the film’s opening sequence as Dufresne’s wife and her extramarital lover, respectively.
“I recognize some parts of [Mansfield],” explains Blaine, “but everything's grown, you know, in 20 years.” It seems Blaine, whose character is murdered in the story, sending Dufresne wrongfully to prison, is having as much fun as the hundreds of enthusiasts in town. “It's amazing, and the fans are just incredible."
Although she and Mann appear in only one scene that lasts all of a few moments, they chuckle about the hours it took to shoot it, the oppressive heat that day, and the many re-takes necessitated by continuity.
"Trying to have, you know this intimate scene,” says Mann, “but also keep in the back of your head that, okay, you know, her jacket and my jacket,” he laughs.
Although he doesn’t appear in the movie, Charles “Bud” Miller’s 1936 Plymouth car does a few times, including the same opening sequence, during which Dufresne sits in the driver’s seat, drinking outside the house where he knows his wife is carrying out her illicit affair, apparently contemplating their murders.
Miller recalls the shoot as if he’d been in it. "It was supposed to be a moonlit night, and consequently there was no moon, so they tried to create a light that would illuminate the area a little bit differently."
All the spontaneous anecdotes, the stories behind the story, are resonating with cast, fans, and even tour guides.
Visitor Mark Murphy brought his family, saying he’s passed his love for “The Shawshank Redemption” to his son.
"It's really neat to see, because you see all this stuff and you think 'Wow, how'd they do all this?' And then, when you get here, it's a whole different show."
Chief tour guide Ron Puff stands in front of the one-time real-life prison, reveling in the structure’s survival, fascination and the tourist dollars it continues to draw.
"Remember, this whole building was supposed to be torn down, so we still have it for people to see. It's great."
Apparently fans aren’t in any hurry to be paroled after twenty years and counting.