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The 2010 thriller by Martin Scorsese, Shutter Island is a psychological film that is set on the basis of a novel written by Dennis Lehane that goes by the same name. The production of the film commenced in March of 2008 and stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Daniels aka 'Teddy', a US Marshal. Teddy investigates the activities of a psychiatric facility that is located in an island that goes by the same name as the title of the film. Set in 1954, the US Marshal accompanied by his partner, (Mark Rufallo) Chuck, who is newly assigned, raid Ashecliffe Hospital on Shatter Island. Located in Boston Harbour, the hospital is home for patients who are rendered criminally insane. The duo visits the hospital in an effort to probe the vanishing of a patient, Rachael Solando who is claimed to have disappeared from a closed room. Dr. Cawley, played by Ben Kingsley, who is the chief psychiatrist, enlightens the two Marshals that Rachael had been admitted to the facility after she drowned her three children. In their hunt for Rachael, Teddy notices a lighthouse which he is later informed that it had already been cleared.
Teddy requests to view the personnel records of the hospital; Cawley declines but lets him interrogate the staff. They become aggravated to discover that Rachael's psychiatric specialist left on vacation subsequent to her disappearance. On the same night, Marshal Teddy gets a weird dream. In his dream, he envisions his wife Dolores (Played by Michelle Williams) who had been murdered in a fire that occurred two years prior to the date. She informs Teddy that Rachael was still present at the island in addition to revealing to him that Andrew Laeddis was accountable for her very demise through his arsonist act. Teddy and Chuck are motivated to interview the patients and stuff in an effort to find Rachael and in the process encounter many physical and psychological difficulties. Teddy's revelation of the fishiness of the institution makes him determined to shut it down. In a twist of events, the chief psychiatrist informs Teddy that Rachel had been discovered to be present and later on brings her to him.
The film made gross earnings of up to 127 million dollars during its preliminary release into theatres (Scott). The delusional Rachael, played by Emily Mortimer is presented to the Marshal and she in turn mistakes Teddy for her husband who had met his death back in World War Two. Teddy begins to suffer acute migraines that see him discover another woman (Patricia Clarkson) who claims to be the real Rachael. She informs Teddy that she was a psychiatrist and was forced to remain quiet over her discovery of a psychotropic drug that the hospital was using. She informs the Marshal that he too had been drugged. On returning to the light house, Cawley reveals that Teddy is actually Andrew, a patient who had been admitted at the institution for two years after he murdered his wife. The entire plot is deduced as being a hallucination experience of the main actor Teddy but he still thinks there are fishy activities going on in the facility. The hallucinations are a part of his treatment procedure that tries to bring him to the reality of his actions and a desperate attempt at healing his mental condition. Teddy, now Andrew is taken back to the facility's lighthouse to be treated (or drugged some more), wondering how life for him will be. In relation to being a period work of art, Shutter Island's characteristics of different aspects of the film noir the genre of horror.
About Shutter Island
The film is in most cases viewed as paying homage to the works of Alfred Hitchcock. Scorsese maintains that when Teddy Daniel drew major reference of his work to Dana Andrew's qualities in Laura, he was additionally influenced by a couple of very low budget Val Lewton zombie movies of the 1940's. The movie was initially set out to debut in October 2nd 2009 before the postponement of the release to 19TH February 2010. Opening at number one at the box office, the film garnered a total of 41 million dollars as per findings made by studio approximations. This was considered Scorsese Martins best opening in his entire career (Gray). The film remained at the top of the chart by its second weekend of showing and earned up to a maximum of 22.2 million dollars. By May of 2020, a gross amount of 127,860,427 million dollars had been collected from the film in North America alone and an added 166,500,000 from other overseas markets making it the highest profit gained by Scorsese in a single film in the world (Brandon).
Martin Scorsese, the founder of World Cinema Foundation has received massive awards for exceptional films such as Raging Bull, Taxi Driver and Goodfellas that he incorporated the skill of his good friend Robert De Niro. Martin consecutively led to his win at the Academy Awards (Dirks). He got recognition for his work on The Departed and also received an MFA in his film directing role that was handed to him by the New York University Tisch School of Arts (Brandon). In the year 2007, Scorsese was named among the 100 most significant individuals in the world by Time magazine. Shutter Island has received nominations for Italian Online movie Awards for Best Film and Best Director with prospects of other nominations and award winnings. The experiences undertaken by the main actor clearly reveals how one can confront the evil in their life in addition to brave success in the process that will ensure one embraces a new life with optimism. Andrew seeks to uncover the truth about the murder of the woman alleged to have been burnt to death. In the process he embodies his life within Teddy and 'discovers' that he had killed his wife and later on seeks, by all means to redeem himself from this inhuman crime and later on live an optimistic life full of expectations. Shutter Island is therefore a film about redemption.
Basic Information in the Film
Shutter Island is a psychological thriller (Barsam &Monahan). The psychological maze that the plot takes the viewers of the movie arouses emotional sentiments to the viewers of the film. The setting, a mental facility creates a feel of emotional loss of the pain undertaken by individuals who have lost their mental well being. In addition, the main character, with whom the viewers of the film identify with is painted as being their hero having come a long way from the beginning of the film. Teddy is encountered by a series of emotional ups and downs from being concerned with the loss of Rachael and later on to his suffering of migraines and finally his admission to the facility after being discovered to suffer from mental illness having killed his wife (Barsam &Monahan).
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The film composes the narration of the experiences of its characters through telling the stories to each other. Teddy enquires about the whereabouts of Rachael in addition to her actual existence. He is informed by Cawley about her well being and is brought to him. He carries out conversations with Chuck, the staff of the mental facility and also the patients. In addition, the plot of the film can be said to be developed through dreams. Andrew's dreams and hallucinations reveal his unstable mental state when in the long run the viewers discover he is actually the patient. He convincingly acts as a US Marshal on a manhunt. His added zeal and agility in trying to uncover the whereabouts of Rachael convince the viewers that there may actually be acts of an unlawful nature going on in the facility.
This is however a useful tool to reveal the extent of mental damage that Andrew has suffered as a result of his cruelty to his wife that resulted in her death. The use of the rhetoric question at the end of the film by Andrew that asks whether it is live life as a monster compared to dying a good man shows the amount of pain Andrew is going through as a result of his cruel actions to his wife. In addition, this indulges the crowd emotionally by letting the crowd see the emotional toil Andrew's actions have on him. In addition, this shows Andrew's willingness to undergo these emotional cycles that offer minimal promise to fixing his emotional wreckage. Themes such as deception, depression, death, remorse and family are well portrayed in the film. Andrew who was married is seen as being willing to do everything to go back to what was his normal life with his family.
This is not possible as his wife is dead and he is mentally incapacitated. In addition, death is portrayed by the vision of the torched woman and also that of Rachael and the drowned children under different circumstances. Deception is seen through how Andrew is deceived into believing he is Teddy, a US Marshall for the benefit of his own recovery and well being. Deception is also seen by Andrew's violation of his own wife's human right to life that sees him kill her (The Dead May Taste Bad). He 'deceives' her to love and later on kills her. Depression is portrayed by the gloomy atmosphere that is portrayed in the mental facility. It is also showcased by the sadness that fills Andrew after he is brought back to the reality that he murdered his own wife which consequently leads to his remorse. These components develop the plot and at the same time cement the weight of the thesis, redemption. This is explained by the zeal Andrew has in trying to redeem himself of his wrongdoing (Barsam &Monahan).
Cinematography (Lighting, Colour Symbols and Photographic Shots
The film's cinematography is beautiful and bright. It does not depend on an over-grainy presentation that is witnessed in most contemporary horror films that are filled with suspense just like most thrillers do. The director makes use of lush yet bright colours in day scenes and sequences of dreams in order to eliminate acute feelings of horror. There is a rich use of colour symbols, different types of photographic shots in addition to lighting variances used in the movie Shutter Island. These elements of film are utilized to create different moods and also in passing specific messages that develop the plot of the story. Just as bright colours represent happy and jovial moods in art while dark and more faint ones represented a sombre one, the director was keen to incorporate these elements in the psycho-emotional thriller. The film commands respect due its use of lighting and colour in differentiating the tone and mood in particular parts of the film. The cinematography in the movie is quite impressive as the supporting cast help develop the main cast.
The dialogue at the end of the film before the rolling of the credits heightens the emotions aroused by the film. Viewers who have read the book end up living up to their expectations of at least some narration. The single piece of narration creates a spectacular final act. Shutter Island lives up to the hopes of the viewers who have read the novel. In doing the original source a great deal of justice, it incorporates some changes in the film making the viewer feel like they are encountering the piece of art for the very first time. Scorsese artistically makes a creation of the disturbing nature of the island. He paints every location as drenched and foreboding. He also includes hints of unforseen jeopardy in unlit corners (The Dead May Taste Bad). The caves, lighthouse, the war fort housing of the civil war, the idea of 'the most precarious patients' in addition to the secluded island itself creates a picture of gloom.
Sound and Symbols in the Film
Every region in the island is portrayed as being unnecessarily huge and claustrophobic while simultaneously isolated. Gunning and running sounds, hospital sounds and moods, the lighthouse, the isolated island, and other symbols are used accurately to show danger, conditions in the particular scenes and hope in the case of the lighthouse. The film bears the capacity of making its viewers experience claustrophobia due to its capitalization of these elements making the themes more relevant to them (Henderson 315). The unreserved desperation to flee the island from this confined and persistent nightmare is what the director has achieved to create through Teddy who tries so hard to redeem himself from this situation.
Instead of opting for cheap gags, the film creates tension trough suspense. In addition, the film opts out of mindless series' of action scenes. To captivate its viewers, there is a well plotted frenetic scene of aggression and violence after every short while. This aspect has made Shutter Island have an added advantage over films such as Planet Terror and Evil Dead II through the gunning and running of Chuck and Teddy at the facility staff. This helps maintain the mood of the movie too. In addition, the film cannot just be termed as a pretty face but also a magnificent story. Scorsese has made it possible for viewers to be interactive through the movie's phobia and paranoia that is expressed through its different symbolic parameters. Doing justice to the novel by Lehane, the viewers benefit from the actualization of events therein (The Dead May Taste Bad).
Sequences in the Film
The most significant use of sequences in the film is the use of dreams. The director successfully uses a sequence of dreams in his effort to flush out a distinctive sensitivity of terror within the cast and also the viewers. The events leading to the condition suffered by Andrew are indicated by the flashback shown in the film. In addition, more events are explained or represented in the film through the use of dreams. This acts as a more subtle way of putting forth horrendous ideas and themes without discerning the audience (The Dead May Taste Bad).
Comparison to GoodFellas
As compared to GoodFellas, Shutter Island is an impressive work that maintains its captivative nature to the very end. It conveniently curves out a place for itself in the directors resume. Some movie critics may claim that it shares the same platform as Bringing out the Dead or even The Last Temptation of Christ. Its simplicity in plot, style and emotional involvement of the viewers has managed to put the final nail to the coffin for this film. In addition, the cinematographic use of picture, colour and symbol has sucessfully made the film one of the bestworks of 2010 in cinema (Dirks). The trailer presentation of the movie leaves individuals wondering whether or not it will live up to the expectations of its fans, which the movie hardly disappoints.
The position of Shutter Island in Hollywood can be measured by its huge success in its first week of release and is consequent successes. In addition, the popularity of the movie to other parts of the non-English speaking regions has indicated the magnificent success of this film. It manages to arouse th emotions of many a viewers through the basic virtues of love, family, death, remorse and mental illness. These are common aspects within most human societies, an element that made the movie a success as the viewers can identify with these ideas and issues. Cultural ideologies such as famili and redemption for ones wrongdoings are indicated in the movie. It is common to find individuals who are interested in living their lives in honesty free from guilt derived from doing others wrong as willing to do everything in their power to redeem themselves from the guilt. By using different character proxemics such as the spooky doctor and the weird patients at the facility, the realistic aoerld of mental illness and its effects on the affected is painted. The directors use of Mise en scene in its vast cinematographic elements, colour, sound and symbols creates a captivative and beautiful piece to watch by societies comprising of a heterogenous population. In addition, the elements help in putting the theme, redemption into its accurate use within the film.