Shutter Island

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28 February 2016

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Discuss the techniques that Scorsese uses in order to create and maintain suspense and mystery throughout. During the film ‘Shutter Island’ there is a vast array of different techniques used by Martin Scorsese to give the movie a deeper meaning. Many have been introduced to keep the audience on the edge of their seat. Lighting techniques and sound were used during the movie to give it an atmosphere that would create confusion. The storyline is extremely manipulative of the audience and succeeds in surprising anybody who watches the film repeatedly with plot twists and false clues planted throughout the movie. Camera angles are extremely important to the making of any film. they are used to show emotions and feelings i.e. If it is a long shot of the character standing alone it gives the audience a sense of loneliness and being isolated. This helps the storyline by making the audience understand why certain events happen without being in the situation that the character is in. Close ups that are used to show emotions on people’s faces were used in many different ways. Bird’s eye view shots were used as well to give the audience an idea of what is happening in the scene and where people are i.e. When ‘Teddy’ is escaping from the prison they use a bird’s eye view shot of him hiding behind a wall while two guards walk by only meters from him. They weren’t used so much as other camera techniques however they are just as important as many other shots. Sweeping shots were used several times during the film and were used to create a feeling of knowing exactly what is going on in the scene i.e. when the US soldiers line up the German SS guards and shoot them it gives a feeling of death and massacre.

Lighting is a technique that was used repeatedly during the movie. . for instance the institute is lit with candles, as candles don’t give off much light so most of the film is in the dark or very dim light, this gives a very dark feeling to the movie, and as the weather is always overcast and stormy there isn’t much ambient lighting from outside. Sound is used throughout the movie to create suspense and create a background atmosphere that is suited to the situation that the character is in. whenever an event is about to happen there is a music build up which prepares the audience for an event but does not allow them to know exactly what is going to happen. There is also a large amount of other techniques used with sound such as random high pitched piano notes throwing off the attention of the audience and creating an uneasy environment. Loud foghorn sounding blasts are used during the film when there is suspense and evil aspect to the part of the film. This is used in several scenes such as when ‘Teddy’ find out about the conspiracy in the lighthouse on Shutter Island. This noise created a feeling of suspense and mystery and makes the audience believe in ‘Teddy’s’ theory’s. Music is a big part of shutter Island as is used to give it the vintage feeling that it needs, for instance in every flashback there is the same instrumental music played by a Jewish composer. This is something that is not easily picked up by the audience but none the less creates the needed atmosphere. Silence is used to create suspense and is also in the ward C scene, there is no music playing and therefore doesn’t prepare you for the criminal jumping out at ‘teddy’. The music used in this film is well placed and appropriate.

The film is very manipulative of the audience there is a number of plot twists in the film that nobody could predict simply because once the audience is led to believe one thing instantaneously what you were led to believe becomes fake. This keeps the audience on their toes trying very hard to try and work out what is happening. There are scenes such as the interrogation scene in which ‘Teddy’ is asked for a glass of water, once the patient who asked for the glass receives it she proceeds to drink it, however if you watch closely you see that she only pretended to drink the water however from ‘teddy’s’ angle you can clearly see her drink the whole glass. Once they have both left the table it shows another cut where the glass is half full. This confusing scene leaves the audience wondering whether what they are seeing is just a part of someone’s imagination. In conclusion this is a film that was extremely well made with a massive amount of techniques used to keep the audience tense and on the edge of their seat trying to work out the storyline, it was an extremely well structured storyline and gave the audience the exact feeling that was intended for it. Overall the martin Scorsese film ‘Shutter Island’ is a masterpiece.

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Shutter Island. (28 February 2016). Retrieved from

"Shutter Island" StudyScroll, 28 February 2016,

StudyScroll. (2016). Shutter Island [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 4 December, 2023]

"Shutter Island" StudyScroll, Feb 28, 2016. Accessed Dec 4, 2023.

"Shutter Island" StudyScroll, Feb 28, 2016.

"Shutter Island" StudyScroll, 28-Feb-2016. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 4-Dec-2023]

StudyScroll. (2016). Shutter Island. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 4-Dec-2023]

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