Shutter Island is one of the most emotionally and intellectually engaging films to have come out in recent times. Directed by noted filmmaker Martin Scorsese, the film explores the potential depths of human psychology and the inevitable conflicts in human relationships. Although it wouldn’t rank as Scorsese’s best movie, it excels in so many departments that it is set to become a classic of the suspense/thriller/horror genre. The plot is centered on the characters of Teddy Daniels and Chuck Aule (played in the film by Leonardo Di Caprio and Mark Ruffalo respectively). The Shutter island hosts Ashecliffe hospital, which is a mental asylum for the criminally inclined. The two lead characters, who serve the US military, get trapped in this secluded island due to hostile weather conditions. Their mission was to investigate the case of a missing inmate. But due to the enclosed circumstances in which they find themselves in, their mission objectives become entwined with psychological complications. Teddy Daniels in particular steadily loses his mind amid the ensuing chaos.
What then unravels is a series of events and sequences whose connections are not apparent to the audience. The director employs non-linear narrative technique to juxtapose ‘real’ and ‘imagined’ sequences, so that the psychological confusion borne by the actors on screen is transferred to the audience as well. Eventually Teddy becomes highly deluded and it is at this juncture that the director comes into his own. Scorsese exploits the deluded mind of Teddy to present his audience with debates and questions at the center of human psychology. Such questions as the need for violence, the hatred manifest in social groups, the role of God in this decadent state of the human condition, etc runs through the deluding mind of Teddy. Delusional and pathological as these pondering might technically qualify, they nevertheless are valid introspections into the shared psychology of our species. Hence, in sum, the movie Shutter Island will be remembered as much for its technical brilliance as it will be for raising fundamental questions about the human condition in general and human psychology in particular.