"Shutter Island" is one of those movies that doesn't get old with numerous viewings, even if you know the film's twist. Of course, that can be said by several of Martin Scorsese's films. Adapted by screenwriter Laeta Kalogridis from the 2003 novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane, "Shutter Island" was one of the more successful films of 2010. In this psychological neo-noir, Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Deputy U.S. Marshal Edward "Teddy" Daniels, a man with a dark past who is investigating a missing patient case on the remote island that houses an infamous psychiatric facility.

The narrative sets Teddy up as the protagonist and a voice of reason. However, as he gets deeper and deeper into the case, Teddy and the audience themselves begin to question how accurate the character's perception of reality truly is. "Shutter Island" is a strong, visual example of a story about an unreliable narrator — and there are certain scenes that act as clues for the viewers as to what exactly is going on within the walls of this particular insane asylum.

Fragmented Frames

As Teddy and his partner — Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) — scour the asylum for answers, their clues grow increasingly bizarre and an escape seems logically impossible. In one scene, Teddy and Chuck interrogate several of the patients. One, in particular, asks for a glass of water and while Chuck gets up to fetch her one, she writes "run" on Teddy's notepad. The glass is delivered in her hand but the next minute it has disappeared. It's a quick moment that can be missed by those not paying close attention. Martin Scorsese is not one to have continuity errors in his films. So, the edit is a vital indicator of the film's twist.

In a chat with Quentin Tarantino for DGA's Fall 2019 issue, Scorsese elaborated on the scene, "[Leonardo DiCaprio's character is] interrogating her at a table, very nice woman, and she's talking about [how] she had killed her husband with an ax. And there's a shot over her shoulder — which is a very Hitchcock kind of thing — she has a glass and she takes a sip and puts it down; and cut back to Leo, he's interrogating her; come back to her; and then another shot over her shoulder where she takes the glass and goes like this and puts it down and there's no glass in her hand."

Scorsese continued, "She was rehearsing. But I said, 'Let's do that.' You think there's a glass there. And hence, the whole story: what's true, what isn't true, what is imagined."

Man Or Monster

Once the protagonist is revealed to be an unreliable narrator, the missing pieces begin to come together. Upon a second viewing, an added layer of entertainment comes with knowing the twist and how the film is shot to mislead the audience.

A similar set-up appears in Jordan Peele's "Us." Viewing the film through the eyes of the protagonist-turned-antagonist allows audiences to see the symbolism and foreshadowing that may have been missed initially. At the same time, it provides a stronger appreciation for the technical aspects of the film. The costume design, the set design, and the color motifs can contribute to foreshadowing.

With "Shutter Island", the isolation of the asylum grows more foreboding as it resembles a physical manifestation of Teddy's worldview, a lonesome reality that he has constructed in order to fit the necessary narrative for him to deal with his trauma. The motifs of fire and water also represent juxtaposing aspects of Teddy's introspective journey. Fire is often present when he has a flashback that supports his psychotic delusions, while water emerges during times of truth and when he must face harsh acceptance.

The contrasting nature of reality and delusion complements the film's underlying question about what it means for a man to be a monster and how that line can be obscured. Exploring trauma, grief, and violence through mental illness, Martin Scorsese and Laeta Kalogridis challenge the concept of insanity during a time when psychological medical practices were at their most gruesome. The ending makes the audience wonder if both Teddy's decision and the subsequent medical decision are good for him. Morality aside, a concept of quality versus quantity exists at the core of Teddy's final prognosis. After all, the human mind can only take so much.

Read this next: Every Martin Scorsese Feature Ranked From Worst To Best

The post Martin Scorsese Explains How Shutter Island's Interrogation Scene Is A Key To The Movie appeared first on /Film.