Adapted from a Stephen King short story and originally released in 1994 to a middling reception, Frank Darabont’s The Shawshank Redemption currently tops the IMDB’s Top 250 and is probably playing on TNT right this minute. The whole world now knows how wrongfully accused Andy Dufresne (a never-more-earnest Tim Robbins), “crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side,” and how it took him 17 long years to do it. But how much tunneling did Robbins’ character do during those 17 years in Shawshank? New York graphic designer and “front end hacker” Shahed Syed, known online as dehahs, decided to apply some good old-fashioned mathematics to the situation. The result of his labor is a gorgeous infographic called The Shawshank Computation. Here, Syed spells out his charmingly nerdy premise: “Just how long was the tunnel that Andy dug out? Let’s find out with known dimensions and the power of mathematics.”
Syed’s chart includes a timeline that follows Robbins’ progress from 1947, when he was originally incarcerated, to 1966, when he finally escaped. Various pinup posters in Andy Dufresne’s cell, from Rita Hayworth (1949) to Marilyn Monroe (1957) to Raquel Welch (1966), are represented as tiny icons to mark the passage of time. The film says that Andy did not begin digging his tunnel out until 1949. From there, he made slow but steady progress. Syed’s graphic clocks him at a mere 1/64th of an inch every day for 16.9 years. Good thing Tim Robbins had Morgan Freeman there to give him some much-needed encouragement along the way.