Crawling through a river of human waste is distinctly unpleasant for any amount of distance; yet if you ever wondered exactly how much human waste the wrongly accused Andry Dufresne (Tim Robbins) crawled through to escape his cell in The Shawshank Redemption, your time has come. Somebody actually did the maths.
NYC graphic designer Shahed Syed, aka dehahs, has beautifully presented the calculated distances in his infographic piece The Shawshank Computation. His self-imposed goal: "Starting in the second year of his life sentence, it took Andy Dufresne nearly 17 years to tunnel his way to freedom. But just how long was the tunnel that Andy dug out? Let’s find out with known dimensions and the power of mathematics."
The graphic not only proposes the tunnel's length, but also charts out the timeline of Dufresne's 17 year-long dig. Knowing that the character, as the film states, began his tunnel in 1949; Syed utilised the various pin-up posters glimpsed in his cell as a mark of the passage of time: from Rita Hayworth (1949) to Marilyn Monroe (1957) to Raquel Welch (1966).
That's a total progress of 1/64th of an inch every day for 16.9 years. Working towards a grand total of 10 feet. Now try and think of the last time you showed that much commitment to anything in your life.
The 1994 Stephen King adaptation has become a widely-regarded triumph of cinema precisely for its tale of humanity's will to overcome; of one innocent man's determined journey to find his own truth, freedom, and justice. It currently sits at the top of IMDB's Top 250 list, though it lost the 1995 Academy Award for Best Picture to another favourite, Forrest Gump.
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