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Shutter Island explained | Man or monster

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  1. Interesting take on the story,well thought out and insightful, particularly the part about fire representing a falsehood n water representing truth…Unfortunately though, the scene with patient/nurse “rachel soldano” in the cell not the cave ,breaks the story and creates a horrible plot holes, thus ruining the believability. Nevermind the woman in the cave for a moment. You see Rachel can’t be both the patient and the nurse. The scene where Dicaprio’s character along with Kingsley’s character and Ruffalos character,are all in the cell with Rachel when she lashes out emotionally at Dicaprio and Kingsley even apologizes for it,shows us that she is indeed mental because even if she was pretending to be psycho, that is going 2000% above expectations, and a nurse wouldn’t have the acting talent nor motivation to put on that level of performance. Also it wasn’t a hallucination because like 3 other people including Kingsley witnessed it. So when we see her again towards the end of the movie dressed as a nurse, the story has now completely broken its own logic. I wonder if the novel handles that scene any differenly.

    • I wondered about that scene as well. It seemed like pretty extreme crazy behavior for a nurse to put on. But, because Andrew is hallucinating so intensely, it is possible some of the content of that encounter was fabricated in his mind. Just because there’s others in the room doesn’t meant Andrew isn’t experiencing something different from reality

  2. Two things I still find curious. Why does Cawley tell Teddy he doesn’t have a partner when the latter arrives at the facility just after “the big meeting”? Is Andrew’s hallucinated narrative so predictable that it includes the idea Teddy had a partner that goes missing? I guess I answered my question, and it explains why “chuck” disappears- they have to follow Andrew’s story.

    Would the doctor have been willing to let Andrew blow up his car for the sake of the charade? That doesn’t seem worth it or wise ?

  3. Just watched this on Netflix w the BF. We loved it! And r discussing heavily about it, particularly the Rachel in cave part. Thx for this article! Lots of points to ponder~

  4. The fire is also present i think when he’s talking to authority figures/medical professionals who are off duty. Having a drink with the two doctors, there’s candles lit when they’re talking about shackling up the inmates for the storm, and when he’s talking to the nurses and staff there isn’t any fire but it shot with a much warmer lighting 🙂 loved this thank you hehe xo

    • That’s a good point about it being a bit of a motif!

  5. Hi Chris!

    My gf and I just watched this movie and it’s definitely a fun one to ponder. I love your thoughts because they confirm my beliefs and they provide way more support for what I made the movie out to be. We are left with two questions, though: 1) In the scene where Teddy is interviewing the patient who “axed” her husband, and Chuck gets up to get her water, why does she write “Run” in his notebook? Is that just a patient being afraid of Dr. Sheehan? Not trusting him? 2) In that same scene, Chuck brings her a glass full of water, which she accepts with her right hand. We then see her mime drinking it with the same right hand. Then we see her place and empty cup down with her left hand. Is that just a huge continuity mess up? Or is that supposed to mess with us? How does this fit into the water being associated with reality theory you’ve pointed out?

    I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts on it. Especially on question 2!!

    Thanks again. Really appreciate all your thoughts on this movie!

    • Hey Juan! For the first question, there’s at least a couple readings. You could view it as just a patient helping another patient (even though Teddy doesn’t realize he’s a patient), like, “You have this opportunity. Escape while you can.” Or “They’re doing this thing to you, you need to run.” It could also be part of her assignment in the whole production to wake Teddy up. As in she was told to write it. Either way, the end result is the same: Teddy is more paranoid about what’s going on. As to the second question, it’s interesting. I don’t think there’s a definitive reading at the moment. It’s such a strange thing because it’s pretty subtle. And there is an argument to be made that it’s just continuity errors. But then…why all in that one scene? And you could argue that it’s one of the few times Scorsese puts the viewer in Teddy’s POV, messing with our heads a bit, giving us these fractured details similar to how they would be for Teddy. It would foreshadow the cave encounter with Rachel. But if Scorsese meant to do that, you’d expect a few more instances of things like that. Like in Fight Club when they foreshadow Tyler Durden. We get these flashes of him appearing before he actually appears. Or American Psycho increases the amount of insanity until you wonder if anything was ever real. Maybe Scorsese is being more subtle about it. But to only have shifting details in this one scene with the glass is strange. But. As you said. Water is associated with reality. So the idea of drinking water would be associated with accepting reality. And Teddy just avoids seeing the water at all because of the negative associations with the lake and reality. So the glass being empty is like his sense of reality being empty. And the glass being half full on the table at the end of the scene is more like “The truth is somewhere in the middle of all of us.” I’ll absolutely need to add a section about this to the article.

      • The word “Run” was deleted by rain and later on in the movie when he opened his small notebook the word wasn’t there.

        • Good catch!

  6. Also worth mentioning that in reality, his wife had burnt down their apartment in the city before moving to the cabin, so to him, seeing Dolores in ashes is a reminder that her spirit was long gone before the lake incident. However, he coped with that “fire” of the past decent enough, so still, the memory of his own behavior in that regard is uplifting.

    • Hey, Dave! Thanks for the additional view!

  7. Another interesting thing: The patient form Chuck wanted to hand Teddy, later on flying next to the cliff, has Laeddis and US Marshall written on it. That much I could tell with a 1080p resolution.

    • Ah, thank you. That’s a really great note!

  8. Rachel is not real and it fits perfectly to the plot.
    Notice that snapping Andrew back to reality didn’t just happen in the lighthouse but a gradual process digging his subconscious, until the breakthrough moment at the lighthouse. As Dr. Cawley struggled to restore him, he started having subtle changes in his hallucinations to help alter his perception and that’s how he gradually drove along. Notice when he finally met his fantasy Laeddis. Laddies turned to Chuck and what did Chuck say?: Something like… ” We don’t have much time left, we have to go”.
    His case was already too notorious that even some fellow patients understood his recursion, like George Noyce. He told Andrew: “U can’t dig out the truth and kill Laeddis at the same time”… You’re not investigating anything, you’re a f*cking rat in a maze “… it’s all about you. U ever worked with chuck before?”…
    You can notice how Andrew was a little sceptical with chuck the next day. Now, the Rachel in the cave hallucination gave him everything to understand his true self a complete understanding of what’s going on in his head. However he only misunderstood as he was only hallucinating from his Teddy persona and Rachel not only was talking in parables but was also somehow ambiguous. Knowing that he will always relapse, Rachel told him he will never leave this island. He insisted to talk about his friend Chuck, to his dismay, Rachel also told him: “you have no friend”.

    Rachel and Teddy was a scene going in in Andrews subconscious to bring him back to reality or at least bring him closer to breakthrough.

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