Shutter Island – Are you nuts?
Shutter Island, the new Scorsese movie with Leonardo di
Caprio is one scary movie. Any movie involving the mentally ill always is; the
line dividing us and insanity always being so thin, a veil, which we can so
easily find ourselves on the other side of. Our grip on reality is so light, a
feather’s touch. It’s like the magic trick with the coin - it was there when
you closed your fist but is it still there? So with reality, maybe it’s there
The island, the lighthouse
, the usual symbols of loneliness
and isolation (madness is such a lonely place). But the lighthouse is also a
symbol of hope, a hope to save others, and the hope for to see the light.
The film conveys well this constant feeling of hysteria – am
I ever going to get off this island? Personally, I don’t like horror movies. I
don’t get them. I don’t mind gory movies, or startling movies (like Scream),
but these movies which keep you in constant fear from beginning to end, I don’t
like that feeling. They can be very good movies, like Hide and Seek with De
Niro (the icnonic Scorsese actor) which people didn’t understand but was a brilliant
movie, but what’s the point? Why do people like feeling this constant sensation
Before saying a few words about the plot, and spoilers, as a review of the movie let
me just say that Leonardo is his usual great. He holds the movie together and
seems to be Scorsese replacement for De Niro with his sane-insane look. Obviously great photography (the Auschwitz images are strange as they could have only come from a non-Jewish director). I guess
I’d recommend going, but because it’s a good movie, not because I like the
feelings such movies bring up.SPOILER ALERT
– Please don’t read this part until after
having seen this film. You DON’T
want to go to the film while knowing anything
of the plot. Are you nuts?
I wanted here to turn your attention to the constant phrase
his wife tells him: “If you don’t let me go you will never leave here.” That’s
nice. He understands he needs to acknowledge the past and let her go but he can’t.
The movie is about the last line: “Do
you want to live as a monster or die as a good man?” He prefers not to
acknowledge the past, he prefers to die with the allusion of being a good man,
than face the monster, face the monster that is himself. It’s an interesting
defense mechanism, and an interesting choice. At the end the movie shows us a
strong image of a psychological character.
Perhaps the tour-de-force of the movie is how we never question Di Caprio's sanity. Like him, we are sure he is sane and everyone around him is lying. It shows well our belief in our own sanity. (On the other hand, the others were playing with him.)
I’m not sure all the details add up, and I’m definitely not sure
there isn’t a much deeper meaning that I need to think about, but Scorsese is
not so much about meaning but about sensations. That sensation he wants to
transfer, that sensation transfers well here. In that, it’s a smart movie. It's a scary one too, especially afterwards