Shutter Island

Two men, Teddy, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and Daniel, played by Mark Ruffalo, travel to a mental facility on Shutter Island. These two men are U.S. Marshals looking for a patient named Rachel that supposedly escaped. This is the first time these men are working together and you can tell by the doubt and uncertainty Teddy feels while around Daniel. In the first few minutes of the film, while they are on the ferry, Teddy reveals to Daniel that his wife died in a fire some years back. Teddy has some uncertainty about the island they are headed towards because the ferry driver urged them to get off the ferry at a quick pace because supposedly there was a “storm” coming. Once they get off the ferry the Warden, McPherson, who shows them around the island and the facilities. While they are driving around, Teddy notices the high security of the hospital with the electric barbed wires surrounding the facilities. While their time searching for the missing patient, Rachel, they meet Dr. Crawley who helps the patients using surgical techniques. Teddy and his partner Daniel learn that Rachel drowned her three children and she still believes she lives at home and that’s why she was admitted into the mental hospital. As Teddy continues to try to figure out the mystery of the missing patient Rachel, he discovers more mysteries of the island itself and why he specifically was called there. He realizes he is the actual patient in the mental hospital and Rachel is not real. The reason he is there is because his wife drowned his three children and he then shot his wife and he could not live with what he did. We then learn that the workers of the mental facility ran this experiment and role-play for Teddy to try to regain his memories.


  1. Martin Scorsese takes a thriller approach to Shutter Island. He keeps the audience thinking one thing about Teddy when in reality the plot is one the audience truly does not discover until the end. I think it also is a mystery in itself because the plot is about Teddy and Daniel trying to find Rachel, but in reality it is a mystery about Teddy’s background.


  1. The message compared to the other movies and filmmakers we study, was a little harder to really distinguish in this movie. At the end of the movie when it appears Teddy relapses just when he finally had a breakthrough with remembering his past, he says a line that I think has a lot to do with the meaning of the movie. He asked his physiatrist, “Is it better to keep living as a monster, or die a good man.” Mark Ruffalo then realized that DiCaprio finally had broken through and finally accepted his past actions. I think this shows the meaning Scorsese has with his character of Teddy and the difficulties associated with recognizing our actions that have affected our past.


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  1. I feel like both character and the storyline play an effective value in the story. The storyline itself is so important because it has such a plot twist to it that affects how the viewer sees the story. You think the entire plot is to find Rachel but it is really to discover the truth about Teddy. The character teddy and his story are so important as well because without his story background, the plot wouldn’t be a mystery. The character of Teddy and everything he has endured including haunting memories of the war, and witnessing his own wife drowns his children and then murdering his wife. All of these things regarding Teddy’s character contribute to the storyline.
  2. I think the two main things that are conveyed in this film are emotional effect and the style in which the film is shot. There is so much that is hidden in the main character, Teddy. Basically Teddy is mentally unstable because he has buried his dark memories so deep to where he makes up an illusion of life. Scorsese shows Teddy’s pain throughout the movie. He shows fear throughout the movie. For example when Teddy was looking for Laetus in ward C, he came across several insane patients that were terrifying and this is where feared played in. Scorsese seemed to use his style of shooting to portray these emotions. It was very apparent when Teddy and Daniel first showed up to the island. The camera would move very fast creating a more suspenseful dynamic. Also, I think the music played a huge role in the effectiveness of portraying the mystery aspect. We watched a video talking about Scorsese’s use of sound and his disuse of sound as well. There were so many parts of Shutter Island that were extremely loud and then there were some that were so quiet. When they first got to the island the sound was so dramatic but at the end when Teddy remembers his tragic story of his wife killing his three children, that scene was completely quiet. I think the dramatic switch between silence and sound was an effective tool to get the audience’s attention.


  1. I think the film actually starts off with Man vs. Nature when talking about Teddy’s tragic history in the war and showing how that actually affected him in an immense way to begin with. I consider war in the nature realm because it’s about the history. The story than transitions into Man vs. Himself when the audience realizes the entire story is not about finding Rachel but it is about Teddy trying to come to terms with what he has been through and what he done to make him so dangerous.

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  1. The weakest point of the film is its length and I feel as if some scenes maybe were not necessary. The scene where teddy crawls down into a cave and supposedly talks to one of the ex-employees about the facility and its deceit. I almost feel like if that scene was not there it would not take away from the effectiveness of the movie. The strongest point of the film was the complete twist it had on the audience. The fact that I thought the entire story was just a mystery on where Rachel was, but in reality the flashbacks Teddy was constantly having had to do with his own life and why he was on the island in the first place. I think the strongest tool Scorsese used was his tool of foreshadowing. They were so effective and initially when he showed Teddy’s flashbacks I did not know that they would play such an important part in what was going to happen.


  1. I think the film succeeds because it made me really question what the actual story was about and it was not fully revealed until the end. It also had an effect on me that actually scared me during the movie. When Teddy was in ward C it was terrifying. Also when they arrived to the island the camera zoomed in on a patient who was close to bald and she was terrifying and I think this was effective because it already made me jump in the beginning of the movie!


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  1. I loved this movie. This was actually my second time watching it and I chose to watch it again because I knew it was one of those films that watching it a second time would provide me knowledge on things I did not see the first time. It made me appreciate the concept of the film more and the work of Leonardo DiCaprio. He did such an amazing job portraying Teddy and showing the internal battle of Teddy. I’m glad I knew the background of Scorsese this time while watching the movie because I did not realize how much he utilized sound and how dramatic it was. At moments I thought to myself that the sound was a little corny, but honestly it was so effective in the way it made me feel. Overall, I love this movie and I would recommend this to anyone who loves a good mystery and thriller.






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