What Is The Meaning Behind Shutter Island, The Movie Explained


Shutter Island is one movie that you realise you need to see for The Seventh Art within the first 12 minutes. The movie’s opening shots – a ship navigating through fog and landing on an isolated island, as well as a detective aboard with strong seasickness who meets his new colleague – can make you feel like you are in great cinema. The island is home to a huge and haunting mental asylum, where the detectives must investigate a loss in the past of the patient. It is a perfect atmosphere, from the lights and colours to the beautiful non-original music hand-selected Robbie Robertson. Martin Scorsese immediately makes it clear that this movie is not just a psychological thriller/noir set during the 1950s. It’s also an island with a mental institution and you’re about to see more than a simple investigation. These opening scenes take the viewer on a journey through a mad mind and hide a terrible secret, even if it’s not obvious at first. This is a great Shutter Island Ending Explained article to compare to.

The magnitude of this movie and its script by Laeta Kallogridis (showrunner for Altered Carbon), is not fully understood until you see it again. You begin to understand the significance of the bizarre behaviours of our protagonist Edward Daniels (an excellent Leonardo Di Caprio) but you also realize that you would need to pay more attention to find the truth. There is a trick and you can see it. Dr. Cawley’s interview with Daniels/Di Caprio at thirtieth minutes, in which he explains his innovative working method with asylum patients, which is based upon giving them confidence and supporting them in their journey to self-awareness about crimes committed in the hopes of getting them healed. The moment we begin to connect the dots, we realize that the mystery is not related to Rachel Solando’s disappearance. But there is more to it. We lose ourselves in the film’s cinematic trap, get too distracted by the cinematic mechanic, and end up falling into the trap of Kalogridis, Scorsese, and Lehane.

Let’s order the key elements chronologically. Andrew Laeddis does not have the qualities of an evil person, but a loser who has made bad decisions that have cost him everything. After the liberation at Dachau concentration camp, Leaddis cannot overcome the trauma and returns to civilian life as an agent. He turns to alcohol to drown his sorrows. Dolores, his wife, has a mental disorder and set fire to their home. But he refused to listen to reason and the couple moved to a lakehouse with their three children. When he returns home, he finds his wife confused and wet. His wife has just drowned their children in the lake. Dolores cries out to Andrew for help, but Andrew kills her with an infected stomach shot. This heartbreaking scene, although it is the beginning of many more events to come, is placed at the end of the movie. Laeddis experiences a sudden and devastating breakdown that causes him to create an imaginary identity as Edward Daniels (anagram for Andrew Laeddis), a widower, childless special agent, whose wife was killed in a house fire set by Andrew Laedis. It is easy to see how the dissociation is occurring in the protagonist’s brain to hide the guilt that is eating them up. Andrew Laeddis is the man who is blamed for his wife’s death. This beautiful scene shows the encounter with the mental projection of Laeddis (alias Elias Koteas), which resembles Robert De Niro in Frankenstein. He continues to have nightmares and hallucinations.

Traumas can be compared to dreams. Max Von Sydow, a great Nazi scientist, is the one who helps us understand the movie. Trauma (“wound”) has the same origin as Trauma (“traum”) and Shutter Island is about traumas, dreams, and soul wounds. Due to his behavior, he is placed in Ward C at Ashecliffe Mental Hospital. Laddies/Daniels is the most violent of the island’s patients. His persistent mental breakdowns make it difficult for him to escape reality. After meeting George Noyce, his mind creates an absurd theory that would lead him to be part of a conspiracy by the Institute’s doctors to perform brain experiments on patients. Who would believe them, if they were insane? To take advantage of it in the Cold War.

It is clear that Laeddis’ life has been dominated by traumatic events such as war, extermination camps discovery, and the deaths of his children and wife. Dr. Cawley makes an attempt to restore his sense of self before the film’s end. He plays the role of Dr. Cawley, a psychiatrist, and visits the asylum to search for a missing patient. The psychiatrist also acts as a fellow investigator, searching for evidence of a conspiracy and the murderer of his wife.

Rachel Solando, a war widow and missing woman, would have been admitted to hospital after she had brutally murdered her children. She also dissociated herself completely from the incident. This is an anagram for Dolores Chanal’s maiden name, which is able to erase the memory of his wife’s actions.

“You aren’t really looking.” […] You don’t really look. This is what Michael Caine, the great Michael Caine, says in The Prestige of Christopher Nolan. That is exactly what happens for Shutter Island viewers. It is an excellent example visual sleights in a movie. Who would not believe Caine’s conspiracy theory during the entire investigation of Laeddis/Daniels? Despite the fact that everything around him clearly proclaims the contrary. While the movie clearly portrays a fake reality, it is the key strength of this movie. The movie has no happy ending. Laedis, who regains consciousness following the revelation at the lighthouse scene, pretends to have fallen into a dissociative disorder mechanism. He then gives him up to the asylum’s guards to undergo the lobotomy.

This is a terrible story that Scorsese stages with impeccable and poignant clarity – it’s a textbook sequence in dreams and hallucinations. It’s wrongly regarded as Scorsese’s defective filmography. The movie encapsulates all of Scorsese’s obsessions and pushes him beyond his comfort zone. For example, the protagonist is not unlike Travis Bickle or Rupert Pupkin. The horrors of war have created an evil (Taxi Driver); you feel the atmosphere of a small, great tragedy whose protagonist will pay dearly (Goodfellas Casino, The Wolf of Wall Street). But everything takes place in a very oneiric, surreal atmosphere that is quite unusual for Scorsese – even if we exclude After Hours which has a completely different mood and Cape Fear, which is still deeply inde to his noir of the 1940s, especially Cat People (1942).

Anyone who loves cinema should see a movie at least three times. The first time to fall for it, the second to understand why it is so good, and the third to experience a cinema experience that makes us feel good and bad all at once.

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