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10 Years of Martin Scorsese’s Baffling ‘Shutter Island’

Paramount Pictures


10 Years of Martin Scorsese’s Baffling ‘Shutter Island’

A decade later and audiences are still divided over “Shutter Island’s” ending.

“Shutter Island” is complex, to say the least. The psychological thriller from legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese has sparked countless debates regarding the reality of the story’s events and characters. Based on Dennis Lehane’s 2003 novel, “Shutter Island” follows Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio), a U.S. Marshal sent to investigate a mental hospital after a patient goes missing. The narrative of “Shutter Island” takes so many twists and turns, not even DiCaprio understood what was going on most of the time. 

“There were a few weeks there certainly towards the end of filming when we were doing some of the end sequences, where there was almost a lapse in the understanding of where I was because we kept pushing this guy further and further and it was day after day of re-enacting a traumatic event that was either a dream or reality for this guy,” DiCaprio told IndieLondon. “I remember saying to Marty: ‘I have no idea where I am or what I’m doing right now… what’s going on with this guy?’ And he said: ‘Don’t worry, just do the scene again and keep pushing him.'”

It has been said that you have to watch “Shutter Island” at least twice in order to get a grip on what’s going on. Scorsese himself would agree with that requirement. In an interview with Gofobo, Martin Scorsese recounts his reaction to reading “Shutter Island’s” script for the first time:

“That night when I read the script it was late at night (…) and I stayed awake because I was going to read a little bit of it and then put it away, and instead I got all the way through the end of it and I was very surprised by it. I was kind of carried along with the story and the character. Then what happened was that I was so taken by it that I went back and reread it because each scene is different once you know the play out of the piece. Each scene is actually many different levels of reality.”

The video from Storytellers above examines multiple theories about what really went down on Shutter Island 10 years ago. What was real and what wasn’t? The debate surrounding the meaning of “Shutter Island’s” ending has raged on for a decade, but hopefully, the video above will clarify a few of the film’s most mind-bending moments. 

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