Review Essay

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Shutter Island is a thriller based on the novel written by Dennis Lehane. The story happens in the 1960s, set in the shutter Island, where there is a mental hospital called Ashecliff, which is used to imprison the most terrible criminally insane. Two marshals go to this island to investigate the missing prisoners in ward B. The movie focused on the moral value from different people’s perspectives. The film is full of suspenseful shots and conversations. The audience may think that the 2 marshals are trapped in the island, however, the director created many more traces for the marshals to discover. As the shots usually focus on Ted, one of the marshals, and his emotions, therefore, the psychiatrists who are not supporting Ted’s investigation are portrait as the villains. In scene 4 of Shutter Island, Ted and his partner, Chuck, go to the office of Dr. Cawley. Dr. Cawley introduces the building to them as an old recorder is playing Quartet for piano and strings in A minor by Mahler, a composer from the Second World War. The music gives a thrilling feeling to the scene. Also, the music reminds Ted of his memory from WWII. Audience should be expecting a conversation about the missing prisoner, Rachel Solando. However, her name and the case are not mentioned in their dialogue. Surprisingly, a new character, Dr. Naehring, a colleague of Dr. Cawley, appears in this scene. He remains sitting on a chair for the whole scene. Then, Dr. Cawley asks for what the gentlemen want to drink. Ted would like a glass of soda. He unexpectedly orders a non-alcohol drink. Dr. Naehring said that it is uncommon for Ted’s profession to not indulge in alcohol. As an intelligent marshal, Ted defends his profession by pointing out Dr. Naehring, as a psychiatrist, is holding a glass of wine in his hand. Dr. Naehring is impressed by Ted’s excellent defence mechanisms to protect him by being offended, and he says, “Men like you are men of violence.” Once again, Ted is brought back to memory. The shot shows a German office. There is blood on the floor and a dying officers lying on the ground. People may not think that the scene is important, as it is not a part of the investigation. However, this scene shows the relationship between the doctors and the marshals is distant. For example, since shot 16, the two marshals remains in the same place throughout the scene, while Dr. Naehring remains in his chair for the whole scene. Another reason that this scene is necessary to the film is that it provides opportunities for Ted to flashback. His memory hinted the audience that he had been a soldier and he had seen violence. It is foreshadowing that Ted’s background is related to the development of the story. More importantly, Martin Scorsese continues his style in the Taxi Driver and the Raging Bull by creating characters that display a crazed violence. In Shutter Island, there are many criminally insane. There is blood all over the floor and people dying. However, as an Academy Award winner, Scorsese does not apply a variety of shots to the scene. It is because he wants the audience to focus on the conversation among the characters. A very common shot that Scorsese used is the depth of field. He applies it to Ted when Ted is thinking or to show that he is worried. Using the depth of field technique, the audience can focus on the focal point. It is also a good way to create suspense as the audiences do not know what is in the background. However, without good acting from the character, the shot can be disturbing and not enjoyable for the audience, or the emotions from the actor cannot be shown clearly. To have a close study of a film, we can have a better understanding of the director’s filming style. We can learn that the director directs each scene and each shot with a reason. Every shot is useful for the development of the film. For example, in Shutter Island, the director took a shot at the recorder in an office, and it can be related to the recorder that...
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