Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Shutter Island - The Book vs. The Film

Read 3/10/10 - 3/13/10
5 stars - Highly Recommended

I never pass up the chance to read a good ole fashioned thriller. And with two of my Goodreads groups voting in Shutter Island as their March group reads, and with the film releasing into the theaters, the timing was just too perfect!

From page one, this novel of a US Marshall arriving on Shutter Island (a prison designed to hold and treat the most mentally unstable patients) to investigate the disappearance of a female inmate is a true page-turner.

Believed to be home to unspeakable illegal experiments on the minds of the patients there, Shutter Island can only be reached by ferry, and is surrounded by electric fences and sheer rock cliffs that would destroy any attempt to escape.

Teddy Daniels has been researching this island. He is certain it is holding the man who killed his wife and he is determined to find him and uncover the evil goings-ons, while searching the island with his partner Chuck for the missing Rachel Solando.

Collecting evidence and interviewing the staff and patients turns out to be more difficult and weary than he had planned. The more questions he asks, the more Teddy believes that things are not as they appear, and that the Doctors of Shutter Island are trying to make him insane.

It's a story that is filled with cryptic clues, and crazy twists and turns. One that makes you question everything you see and hear, and will have you rereading previous pages to rethink what you thought.

Of course, having finished the book, I had to go and see the film. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Teddy Daniels, and I was pleasantly suprised at how well he portrayed Teddy Daniels.

The film followed the novel very closely, which is always a wonderful thing for a book lover like myself, since I cannot help but compare the two. Of course, no film covers every inch of the book. For me, the most important thing is that it not leave too much on the cutting room floor.

Here is where Shutter Island - the film - failed me. (If you have not yet read the book or viewed the movie, advert your eyes, I may spoil some things):

* In the book, we know Teddy's full name is Edward Daniels. We are also privvy to his wife's maiden name. In the film, this information is never fully disclosed. If you read the book, you understand why that is important.
* In the book, Rachel Solando's cryptic note "The Law of 4" had some additional codes to it. These codes are also very important to the storyline. However, in the film, we only see "The Law of 4; Who is 67". We never discover the meaning behind "the 4", as we do in the book.
* Since the film does not show the additional information on Rachel's note, it also does not contain the rock piles that are part of Rachel's code in the book. A shame, really.
* Finally, they added an additional line to the end of the film that adds one last twist. For me, changing the ending of a book to please an audiance is just cowardly. I am sitting on the fence here because this change did not ruin the film... just puts a different spin on things.

The things I loved about the film (again, look away lest you be spoiled):

* The knowing glances - when patients are being asked about Dr Sheehan, or Andrew Leiddis, and when Teddy talks about how insane criminals should not be treated kindly to Dr Cowley.
* The landscape and the buildings were practically characters themselves in the film. Seeing them on screen added an additional layer to the story.
* Not to mention that the cast was phenominal. Watching Teddy question his own sanity... Seeing the compassion and concern in Dr Cowley's eyes...

Read the book. See the film. I would defintely recommend reading the book before seeing the film, though.

Other films that do justice to the books they are based on:
High Fidelity ; The Princess Bride ; Angel and Demons ; The DaVinci Code ; Blindness ; Where the Wild Things Are ; About a Boy ; Bringing Out the Dead


  1. I must say I didn't read the book edition but watched the shutter island movie. It's an amazing movie I've ever watched and most importantly story line of this movie truly exceptional. Very complicated but have so many lessons to learn through watching such movie!! Thanks.
    which is better shutter island or the crazies

  2. Excellent review. I just finished watching this on disc, and I waited until that was completed before reading this piece.