Shutter Island Opening Sequence Analysis
Shutter Island Opening Sequence Analysis
Shutter Island Opening Sequence Analysis
Shutter Island Opening Sequence Analysis

Shutter Island Opening Sequence Analysis

  • View

  • Download

Embed Size (px)



Text of Shutter Island Opening Sequence Analysis

The opening sequence of Shutter island starts with the credits announcing the title of the movie. The typography itself has an ombre effect of white square letters with the top parts of the letters going into a shadow darker colour of grey against the white. These letters against the black background connote a sinister feeling of uneasiness to the audience. The letters and typography end up imitating the word Shutter itself as if shutting itself out and an analogy for the island that shuns itself away from the real world. After this the setting of Boston Harbour Islands, 1954 is announced through simple typography against a black background. There is non-diegetic sound of the sea in the background, which also helps set the setting, which becomes diegetic ambient sound as it transitions to the next scene.

It then switches to a white fog, as a ferry slowly emerges bit by bit through the fog. The fog makes everything feels uncertain and reminisces a dream-like quality. The fog surrounding the ferry also makes the audience solely focus on the ferry and how enclosed everything feels, connoting a claustrophobic feeling. This shot could be an analogy for Teddy Daniels mind, and foreshadowing as his mind is surrounded by a fog and slowly everything becomes clearer. How he repeatedly surrounds himself in the fog in aid to avoid the unbearable truth. He uses denial as defence mechanism. The sound in this scene is all diegetic of ambient, such as the lull of the sea and the horn from the ferry. This helps set an atmosphere for the rest of the film, but also connotes a sense of normalcy. A jump cut is used to cut to a long shot of Teddy Daniels crouching over the toilet throwing up. The lighting is minimal and depicts darkness over which would otherwise be light greenish-blue colours. The shot also connotes a claustrophobic feeling, as everything is very narrow within. The light colours of blue looks similar to a cloudy day and the idea of freedom, but within the context of the bathroom makes it appear as if it is subverting the typical associations of such tones. Especially with the lack of light making it appear darker than intended, which reconfirms the idea of entrapment. But also conforms to the codes and conventions of the type of colours and tones used in thriller film. The next shot cuts an over the shoulder shot that with the use of the mirror can help denote to the audience Teddy looking at himself into the mirror. This shot also uses diegetic sound in the form of dialogue where Teddy is telling himself to pull yourself together, Teddypull yourself together, this suggests that the issue he is experiencing is rather mental than physical. It connotes the idea what he is experiencing is something he can control and its just a matter of being strong enough. This especially conforms to the idea of masculinity in the 1950s, as illnesses or sea -sickness would be shown as a sign of weakness or lack of control over yourself.

After turning away from the mirror, Teddy represses throwing up and it cuts to a shot of him looking out of the window at the ocean while further use of diegetic sound in the form of dialogue is used where Teddy reassures himself Its just water then reconsiders A lot of water reasoning that its not easily dismissible. This scene where Teddy Daniels is trying to control his sea-sickness can be interpreted by the audience as foreshadowing, as for him water holds negative associations in his unconscious. The water can be connoted and symbolised as the truth, and his reaction of sickness is his inability to keep it down. Just as he is using defence mechanisms to reason his sea-sickness in the first place by telling himself Its just water, but even he is still overwhelmed by it simultaneously.As the negative associations subconsciously remind him of the idea of drowning and his dead children, which is upsetting to the point that his body is unable to physically manage it.

In the next shot, a pan from the sink where the audience is shown how he holds some water and the shot goes upwards towards his face as he splashes water in his face as a way of washing away his anxiety. This is slightly ironic as he is making himself feel better about being sick because of being over-whelmed by water by washing his face with water. The shot also works as reinterpretation of the earlier mirror shot where he is facing himself.

The next scene transitions to a shot further outside the door of the toilets where the shot starts out by focusing on the chains emphasising this in the foreground. The chain and handcuffs themselves are temporarily unlocked, assuming to be used to transport patients to the island as they are considered to be criminally insane, the imagery and emphasis of the chains can also be connoted as foreshadowing.

It could indicate Teddy so-called illusion of freedom and his delusions of being an US marshal, and the doctors letting him indulge in his delsions and denials. The shot then slightly pans and switches focus to Teddy putting on his hat and coat, as he exits and goes outside.

This opening sequence continues as he goes outside and starts talking to his new partner Chuck, then as they arrive on Shutter Island. This whole sequence is full of foreshadowing and symbolism, that creates enigma, through the use of the microelements.