| Photo: Disclosure
Last year – less than 1995 millions of viewers – the Oscars had the lowest audience in history. Considering that there have already been more than 04 millions — it is opportune to recall the ancient ceremonies when the awards were remarkable. In 1995, “The Shawshank Redemption” was nominated for seven Oscars.
Narratively, the protagonist is convicted of murdering his wife. Andy is innocent, but the sentence is life imprisonment. Would the Oscar nomination still exist today? We could say yes, especially if the character converted the injustice suffered into tears of victimization, slander of the system, denunciation of the oppressed. The political bias enchants critics, see the indication of “Don’t Look Up”. But that year there were still traces of the antifragile — the one that benefits from chaos — that writer Nassim Taleb talks about; instead of tears, Andy shows fortitude. He teaches that freedom resides in the constancy of emotions and security resides in the conquest of personality.
Analytically, the central theme of the film, which could be oppression against the innocent, is rather the dilemma of remaining intact even when circumstances lead to its destruction. The scenes delineate the literal prison, but these can be expanded to mental prisons. Those that enslave the human personality: hopelessness, anger, folly, compulsion. Each one takes the domain of conscience from itself and sinks the spirit in the utopias of ideologues or in the dismay of skeptics.
While in adverse circumstances few can love life as it is. On the contrary, many hold their crosses and cry to Heaven in the face of triumphs, but act like Job in the face of wreckage. They forget that man is not a product of the environment; it influences, not determines. Life, as Ortega y Gasset says, is “a process that goes from the inside out, in which we invade the environment with acts, works, customs, manners, productions according to the original style that is foreseen in our sensitivity.”
The scenes outline the prison literal, but these can be expanded to mental prisons. Those that enslave the human personality: hopelessness, anger, folly, compulsion.
Thus, the disposition to which we should lean is well translated by the Latin expression amor fati: love of fado. It is about the integral acceptance of human destiny, even in its most hideous aspects, which is the formula for the greatness of man. The Stoic philosophers and Nietzsche translate it like this: “To want nothing different from what it is, neither in the future, nor in the past, nor for all eternity. Not just bear what is needed, but love it.” It is far, therefore, from the vulgar “stay zen”; understands the need for action, but only in what is in our power.
Andy embodies this active principle, in opposition to another prisoner, who claims his freedom, claiming his innocence; however, he “cries like a little girl”, and is killed by the jailers. His murder is a symbol that the world never sympathizes with the weak, but attacks them in order to gain power. In the verses of Gonçalves Dias: “Life is a close fight, which slaughters the weak…” In the words of Jordan Peterson: “Victimists do not know how to live.” Andy, on the other hand, has wisdom, he never gives in to circumstances.
The most sublime representation this bravery is outlined by the scene in which a group of inmates go to rape him. The bad guys ask Andy to surrender, on the grounds that it would be impossible for just one to win against many, but the victim continues to fight. The lesson is that even when we feel defeat in battle, we must not lose our dignity in life. In its conflagration, more than victory, initiative matters.
The world never pities the weak, but attacks them in order to gain power
Andy’s spirit is so active that it shows vigor even to the director from prison; gives you effective advice, raises the police’s finances, wins the sympathy of others. Thus, he is protected from abusers, gets a position in the library and transfigures the universe of the penitentiary.
It shows that the character has dual intelligence: discursive and practical. This Aristotle calls prudence, the most forgotten by postmodern intellectuals, and the most necessary for life. Is it not true that many contemporary scholars use his gifts as a denial of everyday reality? They read beautiful books and can’t stand the sometimes harsh reality, so they pretend to be above the world; but they are below. “Understanding,” however, says Jordan Peterson, “is dealing and facing; not just represent objectively.” Therefore, while they believe they are rising to the bliss of knowledge, they are cultivating – with their flight – only a coefficient of alienation.
On the other hand, everyday life, always modest and sometimes infamous, should be valuable for the simple fact that it happens. Good mood means never denying reality in the name of ideas, but doing what Novalis says: “Giving the common a high meaning, the usual a mysterious aspect, the known the dignity of the unknown, the finite an infinite brilliance.”
Andy learns to cultivate this disposition inside the prison. His example, recent in the glorious cinema, shows that freedom is not a quality granted by the world, but conquered by personality. This must be strong and translate the following reality: “Whoever has an interior life is not a slave to the surroundings.”