What Does The Ending Of Shutter Island Really Mean?

A Martin Scorsese Tribute (Influences And Inspirations)

There are several possible interpretations as to what Shutter Island's story really 'means', but there's little doubt as to what the director was going for stylistically. From beginning to end, Shutter Island's story serves as a canvas upon which Martin Scorsese can craft a tribute to cinema of the past, drawing on everything from shadow-heavy German expressionism and pulpy film noir to '50s melodrama and B-movie horror. Samuel Fuller's Shock Corridor, about a sane man going undercover in a psychiatric institution and succumbing to madness, appears to be one influence, while The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari and old Val Lewton zombie movies serve as mood inspirations. More specifically, there are references to John Huston's Key Largo in the all-encompassing storm and to Scorsese's beloved The Red Shoes in Teddy's ascent up the lighthouse's spiral staircase. The flashbacks to Teddy/Andrew's married life, meanwhile, have the feel of a skewed Douglas Sirk melodrama, while the WWII scenes come from a different place altogether, almost taking on a super-violent exploitation movie vibe. The multitudinous settings and interconnecting stories allow Scorsese to explore all manner of genre conventions - he takes the extremes of many different movie types and mixes them all together for a hyper-stylised melange. Shutter Island is narratively complex and does contain one hell of a finale, but on one level it's all just about Martin Scorsese using the story as an exercise to imitate his cinematic forebears.
Contributor
Contributor

Lover of film, writer of words, pretentious beyond belief. Thinks Scorsese and Kubrick are the kings of cinema, but PT Anderson and David Fincher are the dashing young princes. Follow Brogan on twitter if you can take shameless self-promotion: @BroganMorris1

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