Brooks commits suicide
Brooks (James Whitmore) commits suicide in Frank Darabont's Shawshank Redemption (1994). From Castle Rock Entertainment and Columbia Pictures. This video posting is part of an academic project. To read more about the Shawshank Redemption and Michel Foucault please visit www. thenewhydra. blogspot.com
Added: 5 years ago
[scene opens with Floyd running down the stairs from the prison library, stopping to talk to fellow inmates Andy Dufresne and Red Redding]
FLOYD: Red, Andy ... It's Brooks.
[cut to the three of them rushing into the library (as the sounds of a struggle can be heard off camera), as Red turns to Floyd]
RED: Watch the door ...
JIGGER: Please Brooks, just calm the fuck down!
[camera pans around to show Brooks, an elderly prisoner, holding a knife to the throat of fellow prisoner Heywood]
BROOKS: Stay back! Stay back! Stay back, I tell ya!
RED: Okay ...
[he turns to Jigger]
RED: The hell's going on?
JIGGER: You tell me! One second he's fine, then out comes the knife!
[Red turns and slowly inches towards them]
RED: Hey, Brooks! Brooks, we can talk about this, right?
BROOKS: Nothing to talk about, godammit! It's all talked out! I'm gonna cut his fuckin' throat!
RED: Heywood? Wait a minute, what's he done to ya?
BROOKS: It's what they done! I got, I got no choice ...
ANDY: Brooks, you're not gonna hurt Heywood. We all know that, even Heywood knows that. Right, Heywood?
HEYWOOD: [struggling] Sure. I know that, sir.
ANDY: Y'know why you're not gonna hurt him? Because he's a friend of yours, and because Brooks Hatlen is a reasonable man.
RED: That's right! That's right! Isn't that right, guys?
[the other prisoners agree]
ANDY: Yes. So put the knife down. Brooks, Brooks! Look at me, put the knife down.
[Brooks continues holding the knife, but seems to waver slightly]
ANDY: Brooks, look at his neck, for god's sake. Brooks, look at his neck, he's bleeding.
BROOKS: [crying] It's the only ... It's the only way they'd let me stay.
ANDY: Come on, this is crazy, you don't wanna do this. Come on. Put it down, put it down.
[Brooks lets Heywood go, drops the knife, and starts bawling into his hands, as Andy tries to comfort him]
ANDY: Hold on, take it easy. You'll be alright ...
[Heywood looks at them while holding his neck]
HEYWOOD: Him? Him, what about me? Crazy old fool godamn near cut my throat!
RED: Ah shit, Heywood! You've had worse from shaving! What the hell'd you do to set him off, anyway?
HEYWOOD: I didn't do nothing! I come in here to say fare-thee-well! Ain't you heard, his parole's come through.
[cut to the prisoners talking in the yard]
ANDY: I just don't understand what happened in there, that's all.
HEYWOOD: Old man's crazy as a rat in a tin shithouse, is what!
RED: Aw Heywood, that's enough outta you!
SNOOZE: I heard he had you shittin' in your pants!
HEYWOOD: Fuck you!
RED: Would you knock it off? Brooks ain't no bug, he's just ... he's just institutionalized.
HEYWOOD: Institutionalized my ass ...
RED: The man's been in here fifty years, Heywood! Fifty years! This is all he knows. In here, he's an important man. He's an educated man. Outside, he's nothing. Just a used-up con with arthritis in both hands. Probably couldn't get a library card if he tried. Y'know what I'm trying to say?
FLOYD: Red, I do believe you're talking out of your ass.
RED: You believe whatever you want, Floyd. But I'm telling you, these walls are funny. First you hate 'em, then you get used to 'em. Enough time passes, you get so you depend on 'em. That's institutionalized.
JIGGER: Shit, I could never get like that.
PRISONER: Oh yeah? Say that when you've been here as long as Brooks has.
RED: Godamn right. They send you here for life, that's exactly what they take ... Part that counts, anyway.
[cut to Brooks walking through the library with the lights off, carrying a crow in his hands]
BROOKS: I can't take care of ya no more, Jake. You go on, now. You're free ... You're free.
[he brings the crow up to the window, where he lets go and it flies through the bars, then he puts his head down and walks out of the library]
[cut to Brooks being let out of the prison gates, as one of the guards shakes his hand]
PRISON GUARD: Good luck.
[he walks out carrying his suitcase (unsure of what to do), then cut to Brooks riding the bus with a blank look on his face]
BROOKS: [in voice over] Dear fellas, I can't believe how fast things move on the outside.
[cut to Brooks trying to cross the street, and almost getting hit by a car]
DRIVER: Watch it, old timer! You tryin' to get killed?
BROOKS: [in voice over] I saw an automobile once when I was a kid, but now, they're everywhere. The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry.
[cut to Brooks entering his new home]
BROOKS: [in voice over] The parole board got me into this halfway house, called "The Brewer." And a job bagging groceries at the Foodway.
[cut to Brooks working at the supermarket]
BROOKS: [in voice over] It's hard work and I try to keep up, but my hands hurt most of the time.
[the camera pans over to show a female customer talking to Brooks' supervisor]
FEMALE CUSTOMER: Make sure your man double-bags. Last time he didn't double-bag, and the bottom near came out.
STORE MANAGER: Make sure you double-bag like the lady says, understand?
BROOKS: Yes sir, I surely will.
[the store manager turns and smiles at the woman]
BROOKS: [in voice over] I don't think the store manager likes me very much.
[cut to Brooks sitting in the park feeding the pigeons]
BROOKS: [in voice over] Sometimes after work, I go to the park and feed the birds. I keep thinking Jake might just show up and say hello, but he never does. I hope wherever he is, he's doin' okay and makin' new friends.
[cut to Brooks tossing and turning in bed]
BROOKS: [in voice over] I have trouble sleepin' at night. I have bad dreams, like I'm fallin'. I wake up scared. Sometimes it takes me awhile to remember where I am.
[cut to Brooks bagging groceries again]
BROOKS: [in voice over] Maybe I should get me a gun and rob the Foodway, so they'd send me home. I could shoot the manager while I was at it, sorta like a ... a bonus.
[cut to Brooks putting clothes away in his dresser]
BROOKS: [in voice over] I guess I'm too old for that sort of nonsense anymore. I don't like it here. I'm tired of being afraid all the time. I've decided not to stay.
[cut to Brooks in a suit and tie, looking in the mirror]
BROOKS: [in voice over] I doubt they'll kick up any fuss. Not for an old crook like me.
[Brooks climbs up onto a table, starts carving something into the wall with a pocket knife, then puts a noose around his neck and hangs himself ... the camera pans out to reveal he carved the words "Brooks Was Here"]
[cut to Andy in the prison yard, reading the letter that Brooks sent them]
ANDY: "I doubt they'll kick up any fuss. Not for an old crook like me ... P.S. Tell Heywood I'm sorry I put a knife to his throat. No hard feelings."
RED: He shoulda died in here ...
In The Shawshank Redemption (1994, directed and screen written by Frank Darabont), one of the most compelling scenes is when Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) walks into the prison library, and finds Brooks Hatlen (James Whitmore) with a knife to another prisoner's throat. Brooks, the long-time librarian, is hysterical, threatening to kill Haywood (William Sadler), the other prisoner, for no apparent reason. Everyone is quick to blame Haywood for setting Brooks off. Only afterwards do we learn that Brooks was threatening to kill Haywood because Brooks had been paroled, and would be let out of the prison where he'd spent the past fifty years. If he killed or injured Haywood, he would stay in Shawshank, the world he had come to know.
Shawshank follows Brooks into the outside world and we quickly learn why he had been so afraid of leaving the prison. Whereas he had been the head librarian in the prison, with a position of prestige and learning, on the outside he has no role or identity. He lives on the fringe of society, working as a bagger in a grocery store and staying in a boarding house. Utterly alone, bereft of friends, and without any hope for a future, he takes his own life in despair. His name carved above his hanging body seems to be the only lasting impression he made; suicide appears to be his only way out.
THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION
Darabont, Frank (Director). The Shawshank Redemption. United States: Columbia Pictures, 1994.
Starring: James Whitmore (Brooks Hatlen, Paroled Librarian); Tim Robbins (Andy Dufresne, Librarian); Morgan Freeman (Red Redding)
Based on the Novella: King, Stephen. "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption." In Different Seasons. NY: Viking Press, 1982.
I think Stephen King's works are critically underrated, and this novella is a fine example of his storytelling skill. A small but crucial part of this storyline: The Shawshank Prison "library" is a former janitor's closet that offers only National Geographic, condensed books, Look magazines and Louis L'Amour. Brooks Hatlen is the old librarian, a prisoner for 50 years when he is paroled and Andy Dufresne inherits the sorry collection. He begins a relentless writing campaign to government officials and eventually his diligence pays off. Over the next 23 years, Andy expands space and services (using entrepreneurial bargaining with prison staff) to include educational programs and music. You can just hear warm and fuzzy sighs from librarians in the audience. King (unlike Eco) has a soft spot for libraries and librarians. Most memorable quote: Hatlen believes his job is "Easy, peasy, Japanese-y."