Shutter Island Dream Sequence–Perspective of Past

Here is a a clip from Scorcese’s “Shutter Island” starring Leonardo DiCaprio. In the film, the protagonist is a mentally insane patient who operates within in a superficial reality, one in which he struggles to understand the death of his wife and children. The unfortunate inability to comprehend how the events of the past have led to the state of affairs in the present. This failure, in many instances, spurs from prolonged regret, suppression, denial, and eventual oblivion to what is usually a rational string of events. The scene, which features a nostalgic camera filter coupled with a mellow background score , much like a an experience from a dream, provides the audience insight into the character’s perception of reality. The character begins by drifting slowly towards the specter of his deceased wife, who reassures him that the world is as he sees it. As the scene progresses, the character’s surrounding rapidly turns to ash, and he watches as his wife disintegrates trough his embrace. The scene represents a direct visual reference to his failure to recognize the past as ephemeral and his resulting mental necessity to reconcile what he believes to have happened.

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One response to “Shutter Island Dream Sequence–Perspective of Past

  1. Great post. Shutter Island was one of my favorite movies. An interesting points you make is that the scene, though a dream, gives the audience insight into the character’s perception of reality. However, because it is only a dream, we still are forced to see the scene as events of the past that merely haunt the main character. By giving it the ‘excuse’ of a dream, we’re not sure whether the character is mentally ill or simply regretful of his past.

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