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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Shutter Island - Watch It If You Havent Yet...

The mind is a scary place. A place that is dark and enlightened at the same time. A place that plays games, that plots and schemes, that keeps everything safe inside its chambers and yet sometimes has no memory to fall back on. A place that can be innocent as well as keep up a fa├žade, a place that is safe from the outside world, yet can be easily manipulated by another mind of equal or more power.

The movie Shutter Island is an American psychological movie that delves into the darkest chambers of the human mind. Based on the 2003 novel of the same name by author Dennis Lehanne, the movie, directed by Martin Scorsese, premiered at the 60th Berlin International Film Festival as part of the competition screening on February 13th 2010. The movie was co-produced by Columbia Pictures and Paramount Pictures. It was released on 19th February 2010.

Crew and Cast:
Martin Scorsese – Director
Martin Scorsese, Bradley J. Fischer, Mike Medavoy, Arnold W. Messer
Robbie Robertson - Music
Leonardo Di Caprio – U.S. Marshal Edward ‘Teddy’ Daniels
Mark Ruffalo – U.S. Marshal Chuk Aule
Ben Kingsley – Dr. John Cawley
Michelle Williams – Dolores Chanal
Emily Mortimer – Rachel Solando
Max von Sydow – Dr. Jeremiah Naehring
Jackie Earle Haley – George Noyce
Ted Levine – Warden
John Carroll Lynch – Deputy Warden McPherson
Elias Koteas – Andrew Laeddis
Patricia Clarkson – Dr. Rachel Solando

The movie, based in the year 1954, begins with a sea-sick U.S. Marshal Edward (Leonardo) and his newly-assigned partner Chuck (Ruffalo) heading towards the Shutter Island in Boston Harbour, which houses the Ashecliff Hospital for Criminally Insane. The two have been assigned to investigate into the disappearance of a patient Rachel Solando, who, it seems, has vanished from a locked room.
As they reach the island, a dark mood takes over the movie. The landscape is all dark and grey, filled with uniformed and armed guards who are searching the place for the vanished patient / prisoner. The ferry on which the two Marshals have arrived is the only source of link between Shutter Island and the world, they are informed, and as a storm is fast approaching, the captain of the ferry wants to leave them on the island and go back as soon as possible.
As the two Marshals step on the island, they realize things are quite serious. The sky is already dark with the looming storm and the sea is rough and black. As they near the hospital, they pass electrified fences of barbed wire and a cemetery with the words – ‘Remember me, for I have lived, loved, laughed.’ The cemetery is filled with black and grey slabs jutting out of the earth, an ominous sky above, a dark life inside the confines of the island. The hospital looms large all of a sudden. It is a massive stone structure, like a castle made only of grey stone, and everything about the place is already dark and gives you the creeps. The movie, though based in the US, is every bit English in its look – the dark grey castle, the grey sky filled with large dark clouds, the grey sea, it seems all the colour has been taken away from the life that exists here.
As the two enter the gates they are asked to hand over their arms to the guard. For all their time on the island, they are informed that they will have to follow all protocol and that they will have to obey orders from the in-charge.
The head psychiatrist, Dr. John Cawley, explains that the escaped patient, Rachel Solando, had been admitted after she drowned her three children. The two join the others during the search for Rachel. During the search Edward sees a lighthouse and upon asking if she could be hiding there, he is told the lighthouse has already been searched. Edward asks to see the files of the hospital staff but is refused. His frustration is further increased when he is informed that the psychiatrist who was handling Rachel’s case has already left for a long-planned vacation. When they want to speak with the doctor, they are told that all lines of communication are down due to the storm.
While talking to his partner Chuck, Edward reveals that he is here on a personal mission too. His wife, Dolores, was killed in a fire that was started by an arsonist named Andrew Laeddis.
In the morning while they are interviewing the patients, one of them scribbles the words RUN on the notepad. Later, Edward reveals to Chuck that Andrew Laeddis was sent to Ashecliff for his crime but had suddenly disappeared. Also, he had once met a former patient named George Noyce, who had told him how Ashcliff was experimenting on patients in barbaric and secret methods. George was a wonderful man, who had been sent for some work to the institute. But when he came back from there he became violent and had to be sent back as a patient. He was cured and was sent back to the outside world. But then again he began showing signs of violence and attacked people and was sent back to Shutter Island again. Edward says that the entire episode was fishy, as George was a perfectly normal person and there was nothing to trigger off something like this in him. He was sure the institute was responsible for George’s strange behaviour. Now Edward is going to reveal to the world about the institute and get it closed.
Some time later Edward is informed that Rachel has been found. They have a meeting, soon after which Edward begins to develop terrible migraines and hypersensitivity to light. The staff and the doctors assist him with medicines and make him rest.
The storm becomes dangerous and parts of the institute begin to flood. As power is off, the patients begin to run out. The whole place is in a mess and Edward takes the opportunity to take a look at Ward C, which he had been earlier informed, houses the most dangerous of the patients. There he finds George Noyce, who is now battered and bruised, and he tells Edward to leave the place and run, that everything is a conspiracy and that his life too may be in danger.
Rest……it is too good to be revealed.

The haunting background score is something that blends so well with the movie’s theme and mood that you wont even realize it was not made for the movie per se. Instead, the director had asked his long-time collaborator to create an ensemble of previously recorded material to be used in the film. The beauty in the music is that though it was made without any particular theme in mind, once used in the film, it gels so perfectly that you feel it part of your own thought process. As you are tense, the music is tense, as you are hopeful, so is it full of hope, as you are sad, the notes are teary, as you are on the edge and have begun to chew your nails, the music will grip you.

Shutter Island has provided the director as well as the lead actor their best box-office opening yet. According to studio estimates, the film opened #1 at the box office with $41 million.

Personal verdict on the movie – AWESOME