Shawshank Redemption remains to this day as one of my favorite movies of all time. The words "Fear can hold you prisoner, Hope can set you free",... is what dictates my life personally. The dynamic relationship between Andy Dufresne(Tim Robbins) & Red(Morgan Freeman) is what drives the story. Frank Darabont (director) skillfully chooses the right angles to bring Steven Kings story to life on screen. Here are 3 composition studies I did from the movie.
In this scene, Red and other inmates have just finished re-tarring the roof.
This was were Red mentioned how they felt like "Free men." As you can see he takes up most of the shot, with the sun hitting him with warm light. The guards hang in the lower 1/4 area, in darkness. This gives the "feeling" of Red dominating the situation. If only for a while.
In this shot, Red approaches Andy after doing time in "the hole" for a very long time.This is the breaking point for Andy,.. where he remains in the shadow of the wall. As the scene progresses, Andy steps out into the light area,.. leaving Red on the other side. Again this is a very smart way of using environmental surroundings to help magnify the storytelling. Also the perspective of the wall helps the audience focus on Andy, which is placed exactly in the lower right side"Sweet spot"( based on 1/4th grid). The use of dark and light also conveys enlightenment vs being held prisoner.
Here's another great example of how the right lighting, props and composition can take a scene to the next level. Here all heads are facing directly at Red. The way the two men on each table are sitting at an angle gives the sense of really putting Red on the spot. Also notice the legs of the chairs. The fact that they are very pointy(giving a very threatening feeling) casts a shadow pointing directly at Red. As if they were being used as a weapon in a threatening manner, during an interrogation! Again very smart! It's all in the details!!!
Here is a grid based on 4ths/anamorphic aspect ratio. This is a great tool to have, I use it a lot when I compose my shots. I use it to reference 1/2's, 1/4 spaces, the sweet spots (circles), etc. Feel free to download and use it!