Shutter Island

I love Martin Scorsese. And I loved his latest film, Shutter Island. My full review of the film–in which I focus on its noir treatment of post-war American anxiety and quote Emily Dickinson–can be found on Christianity Today.

But here’s a little excerpt:

With Shutter Island, Scorsese takes a leap into an unfamiliar genre—vintage film noir—though it’s not altogether a departure from his larger oeuvre. As a filmmaker, he is first and foremost an interpreter of America. That is, the gritty, violent, darker-than-we-seem nation still trying to reconcile its religious commitment to order and its baser, instinctual urges to dominate and “take what’s ours.” His films—particularly Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, and The Departed—can be seen as statements about unresolved American tensions and anxieties (particularly through the eyes of men), and the noir explorations in Shutter Island fit squarely into this theme….

DiCaprio’s character, Teddy, is a WWII veteran who was among the troops who liberated the Dachau concentration camp. In war he saw unimaginable horrors and encountered all sorts of evil, the most unsettling of which was found in his own heart. Back home, in the white-picket fence perfection of post-war Waltons America, Teddy had a lovely wife (Michelle Williams), three beautiful children, and a job in federal law enforcement—protecting “the good and the right” values that ensured America would never fall victim to the depraved temptations of other 20th century superpowers.

Alas, the post-war dream was marred by an insistent, unsettling anxiety—a Cold War/technocratic/Freud-era fear that the good vs. evil binary might in the end betray those who wholeheartedly subscribed to it. As a genre, noir was always about throwing such binaries into question, and asking the probing, frightful question of what might lurk inside the human heart—inside the “corridors surpassing material place.” (read more here)

One response to “Shutter Island

  1. Very excited for this. I love Scorsese (and would be interested to hear your thoughts on The King of Comedy, one of my favorites of his). As a side note, I have been pretty amused by the promos for Shutter Island that say ‘from Martin Scorsese, the director of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull‘– anyone who has heard of those movies doesn’t need to be told who directed them.

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