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The screenplay (written by director Frank Darabont) was based off of the Stephen King novella Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption. Staying true the novella, the movie is also narrated by the character of Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding, who is a fellow inmate a Shawshank prison. The viewpoint is taken from the prisoners and Red as he observes the events around him concerning his life in prison and Andy Dufresne, a character who eventually successfully escapes Shawshank.
As for viewership, it is most likely to be viewed by more mature people around 16 years of age and older, as it does contain dirty humour, language that is inappropriate, and references to taboo subjects, the most obvious of which is rape. Though, despite these hindrances, it can be enjoyed by anyone of any age (over approximately 16) as it is entertaining without resorting to pure stupidity, or endless unrealistic high budget explosions. The Shawshank Redemption is a truly feel bad, then feel good story.
Five years after filming The Shawshank Redemption, Darabont went on to direct and adapt another Stephen King novel The Green Mile to the big screen, thought quite different from The Shawshank Redemption in terms of realism, as The Green Mile had a supernatural element to it. Nonetheless, both movies are incredibly popular.
Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Shawshank_Redemption
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Frank Darabont, director of The Shawshank Redemption.
http://www.collider.com/uploads/imageGallery/Frank_Darabont/frank_darabont.jpg