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Shutter Island Versus The Shining Essay

1053 words - 4 pages

Rene Descartes was a philosopher who introduced a popular philosophical method called Radical Doubt in his book Meditations on First Philosophy. Descartes “proposed discarding any kind of belief that could be doubted, [because it] might be false”. In both Shutter Island directed by Martin Scorsese and The Shining directed by Stanley Kubrick, the viewers are introduced to characters that doubt the very existence of reality, much like Descartes, and who are drowned in the depths of insanity. Fear, paranoia, and doubt are the main ingredients that make both movies a psychological mind maze that constantly teases the brain in every turn. Martin Scorsese and Stanley Kubrick are both masters in cinema direction and are not regulars in the horror genre. Nonetheless, both have created a product that makes viewers question what it's like to be sane. The goal of this essay is to demonstrate the similarities and differences between Shutter Island and The Shining based on their themes of insanity, isolation, and alcoholism.
The story of Shutter Island revolves around Marshall Teddy Daniels, and his partner Chuck Aule, and their journey to a remote and barren island to investigate the mysterious disappearance of an inmate from the mental asylum. The island is home to a fortress-like mental institution, Ashcliffe Hospital, which houses 66 of the most dangerous criminals in the country. From the very beginning, Martin Scorsese introduces the viewers to the theme of isolation. In the opening scene, Scorsese uses the boat ride as a sign that illustrates how the island is being distanced from reality. The viewers are never introduced on unfiltered view of "the real world" outside of the asylum. The only available information about reality beyond the walls of the asylum comes from Teddy, through the scattered flashbacks he experiences throughout the movie, which easily brings in the theme of reality versus illusion. As soon as the detectives arrive at the asylum a hurricane strikes the island and all transportation and communication systems are cut-off. They continue their investigation in ominous isolation while being surrounded by dangerous inmates and an uncooperative and secretive staff.
It seems that Teddy is trapped in a maze, trying to find answers to the disappearance of Rachel Salondo, the missing inmate. Every time he finds a clue that could bring him closer to an answer, it turns out to be an answer he did not expect. Teddy begins to question the motivations of everyone that is involved, including his own decisions. He reaches a point in his investigation where he does not know who to believe anymore. He is, as one character tells him, "A rat in a maze", trying to find his way out of the island. As the movie progresses, so does its distance from reality. Scorseses throws Teddy into a psychological mind maze where he begins to question everything surrounding the investigation. What is real? Who to trust? Everyone in the asylum seems to be skewed by...

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