11 December 2011

Shutter Island

Martin Scorsese’s one of the most recent psychological thriller movies, Shutter Island, is about a US Marshal Teddy’s investigation to the most dangerous criminal psychological institution in Shutter Island, Boston. He chooses this case to find out about the man who killed his wife. As the movie progresses, he begins to doubt everything from his partner to eventually himself. To me, the movie was not clear till the end whether it was Teddy himself or the ones from the institution who manipulates him into believing that Teddy has a dangerous psychological illness. This is difficult to figure out because the film is only told in Teddy’s point of view. We can only see things through the lens of Teddy. As some of the other Scorsese’s film, such as Taxi Driver, we are only exposed to the information or perspective of the main character. This choice of point of view, however, is an exceptional choice for a psychological thriller movie like Shutter Island. It invites the audiences into the mind of the main character which allows the audiences to experience the emotions the main character experiences.

In addition to the choice of point of view, Scorsese used numerous extreme close-ups. The majority of the interactions and conversations were screened as extreme close-ups. Extreme close-up was used consistently when Dolores, Teddy’s dead wife, appeared in his mind. This allowed the audiences to notice even the slightest facial expressions and movements. Even when Teddy does not seem to be making any particular facial expression, through the extreme close-up, the audiences are able to feel what he is feeling. This use of cinematography also reveals that Teddy’s dead wife is still holding on to his life. Later in the movie when Teddy attempts to get over his dead wife, she is only seen in medium to medium long shots. It is the same when Teddy is investigating the criminal patients in the institution. Scorsese uses close-up shots to reflect the patients’ mental state.

The tone and the color of the movie were effectively used in the film. There was an irony in the use of tone and color. The entire film is painted with grey or black, however, when Teddy’s wife appears, it is always in vivid colors. There is an irony in this use of tone and color since Teddy’s wife is dead while the others in the movie are alive. This reveals Teddy’s world; he is not living the current life but of his dead wife’s.

The movie effectively used its cinematography. It not only intensified the emotions – shock, surprise, and suspense, but showed how Teddy sees the world.

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