By Mariana Llamas-Cendon from the March 2010 Edition
The newest psychological thriller “Shutter Island” isn’t just about telling a nerve wrecking story but to discover what happens to its main character: Teddy Daniels.
It opens in Mexico on the 12th of March
Martin Scorsese and his golden boy Leonardo DiCaprio reunite once again in “Shutter Island,” a movie based on the novel by Dennis Lehane, who’s other novels “Mystic River” and “Gone Baby Gone” had been turned also into great films.
“Moving away from the gritty, blue-collar, Boston settings for which he was best known, Lehane fashioned an intensely atmospheric, terror-filled psychological shocker set at the height of 1950s Cold War paranoia, and at the crossroads where the lines between sanity and madness, truth and delusion begin to blur beyond recognition,” reads the production notes of “Shutter Island”.
Scorsese, the director of the film, confessed that once he read Shutter Island’s scrip, which he couldn’t put down, “I was constantly surprised by the different levels of the story,” he said. Also, the blend of genres is what attracted Scorsese.
“This picture seems to have its roots in a number of genres, primarily I guess what you call a psychological thriller with touches of gothic horror or implications of gothic horror,” he said. According to the production notes Shutter Island “merged elements of Gothic mystery, pulp fiction, conspiracy thrillers and turn-of the-screws, Edgar Allan Poe-style horror to create a riveting and unsettling effect.”
Behind the story
In 1954, two U.S. Marshals, Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio), and Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo), are sent to an island off Boston Harbor that houses a mental prison for the criminally insane to investigate the disappearance of a patient.
“There’s a missing patient, the 67th patient, Rachel Solando and everyone is looking for her because there’s no way she could possibly escape this island when you look at the way it is fortified, the fact that she would have to swim miles and miles to shore and rough terrain and go through thick dense forest and climb down jagged rocks,” Leonardo DiCaprio said. “Teddy and his partner are there to uncover what’s really happening, and certainly the more they talk to people, the more they find information, the more things become suspicious to them and rightfully so.”
The film was shot Medfield State Hospital, in Massachusetts, that was officially shut down in 2003, which in its heyday housed around 2200 mental patients. Some say that the place is haunted due to its background.
“It was an old mental institution, I gather, with many of the original buildings still standing, very many of which had simply been abandoned and now had twisted vines totally covering them.
There were giant fortified brick buildings with solid walls surrounding the wrecked remains which gave a natural eerie feeling to the atmosphere we were trying to portray,” the Hollywood beau said. “I think there was a certain haunting element to all of what we were putting on screen of these stories of a mental institution.”
The location was utterly important since according to production notes what “Shutter Island” depicts is a time – specifically the 1950’s – when the mental institutions gave way to a “new era” of powerful brain surgeries and neurological drugs. It was a time when some patients were lost in a Kafkaesque system while others were part of cutting-edge experiments that forged many of our contemporary theories about criminal insanity”.
Scorsese points out that the lighting and camera movements play a crucial role in creating what he calls “a state of mind” that is both creepy and threatening.
“A state of mind had to be conveyed, a place that was more than just a place, it was a place of being,” the director of such films as “Gangs of New York” and “The Departed” said.
Martin Scorsese thought about DiCaprio to play the role of Teddy Daniels since he feels a strong professional bond with the 35-year-old actor.
“I immediately agreed that he should do it,” said the Oscar-winning Director.
DiCaprio, on the other hand, also felt allured by Daniels.
“I think here you have a character that is put into a situation where he finds out that there is a lot more to his journey that it first appeared to be,” DiCaprio said. “You understand that he also has this back story of what happened to him with his wife who passed away and trying to find who he believes is the killer.”
It is what happens to Teddy that is really moving for Scorsese. Teddy, according to DiCaprio, besides being an emotionally and wrenching character to play, he “becomes way too emotionally invested in the case that he is trying to uncover.”
For Scorsese this is “the kind of picture I like to watch.” The cast includes other great Hollywood actors such as Ben Kingsley as Dr. Cawley; Michelle Williams as Daniel’s wife
Dolores; Patricia Clarkson as Rachel Solando –the escapee-;and Photos courtesy of Paramount Pictures. Max Von Sydow as Dr. Naehring.