Symbolism in Shutter Island Essay

2175 Words Aug 5th, 2012 9 Pages
Sam Collins Film Essay:

2012 question: Analyse how symbols are used to present an idea or ideas in a film

Shutter Island by legendary American director Martin Scorsese is an elaborate labyrinth of a film. It's ever changing plot line and deeply emotional scenes make it compulsory viewing for any avid film goer. Scorsese has constructed this intricately woven film by using various film techniques the most significant of which is symbols. In the film symbols are used to present many different ideas to the audience. Scorsese who is a modern film icon constantly uses symbolism throughout his films to convey subtle ideas to the audience without them knowing. Three different motifs or symbols are used in the film to achieve this result.
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This means there is no escaping the truth for Teddy and eventually he will discover it. When Teddy gets on the island we discover he will not be " leaving" until he realises what he has done. The volume of the water shown presents the idea that it is a lot for Teddy to mentally accept what he has done. He cannot just accept the whole truth straight away, as it will destroy him. Scorsese knows Teddy associates water with his wife's death and subsequently his actions in terms of killing her, so by being surrounded by it his physical reaction to water s realistic.

The symbol of water is used to represent truth in another of Scorsese's films, titled Raging Bull. This is the film where Scorsese records the boxing life of the perennial underdog Jake LaMotta. LaMotta fights not only his opponents but the poverty, mob connections and inner turmoil which encapsulates his life. Throughout the film water is used to represent the truth or reality which Jake experiences. The story is narrated by LaMotta in the future after his career ended and he became a comedian to "pay the bills ". Water is used in this film to portray truth or reality which LaMotta struggles with. The use of this symbol is highlighted when before a fight when sleeping Jake has a vision. Jake sees his wife cheating on him with his upcoming opponent. He comments how it seemed "so vivid, I just thought it was real". He then realises it was a fantasy and from then on before he goes to

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