Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese – “Making Shutter Island”

Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese - "Making Shutter Island”

Source: http://www.filmofilia.com/shutter-island-martin-scorsese-interview-13438/

Cue the Director’s Adrenaline

“Shutter Island” was a film directed by Martin Scorsese starring Leonardo DiCaprio released in 2010.  The attraction to the dark story, the claustrophobic structure, and its troubled hero, Teddy are discussed below in a New York Times article written by Terrence Rafferty.  It’s a fascinating read and will shed light on the journey these two great artists took in making this riveting film.  Here’s Part 1 to be followed next week by Part 2.

“Based on an exceptionally tricky 2003 mystery novel by Dennis Lehane, “Shutter Island” wears its something-elseness proudly, even defiantly. It’s a true oddity, an outlier, as isolated and enigmatic as the gloomy, rain-whipped island on which the action takes place. The hero, a federal marshal named Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio), is a tormented soul, the type of man to whom Mr. Scorsese has never been a stranger.

“When I read the script,” Mr. Scorsese said, “I was just taken by the character, felt very empathetic with him. “Teddy, accompanied by his curiously passive partner, Chuck (Mark Ruffalo), is on Shutter Island to investigate a disappearance. This island, an unprepossessing chunk of rock out in Boston Harbor, houses an asylum for the criminally insane, one of whom — a woman who murdered her children — has somehow managed to vanish from her cell. We learn fairly early on that Teddy might have other agendas: the man he believes killed his wife may be an inmate there, and he’s suspicious of the motives of the asylum’s psychiatric staff.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese - "Making Shutter Island”

Source: http://www.filmofilia.com/shutter-island-martin-scorsese-interview-13438/

What makes “Shutter Island” feel so peculiar for this director to have made isn’t the troubled protagonist, or the detective-movie plot mechanics. It’s the claustrophobia, the tight, hermetic, locked-down structure that’s so unusual for Mr. Scorsese, whose films are generally a lot more expansive. As Mr. DiCaprio, who has starred in all four of the non-documentary features Mr. Scorsese has directed since 2002, explained, “With scripts like ‘Gangs of New York’ and ‘The Aviator’ there’s a little more flexibility, certain things that can be done to reshape the character, but in scripts like ‘Shutter Island’ there are too many interlocking segments. If you take one piece out, the story starts to fall apart.” Mr. Scorsese makes the structure sound more delicate yet: “With the editing we found that just putting in one reaction shot could throw the scene off completely.” The movie’s balance is, like its hero’s, fragile.

Most of the film was shot at an abandoned mental institution in Medfield, Mass., which had, Mr. Scorsese said, “the feeling of a trap, a labyrinth — a labyrinth of the mind, which is what I wanted.”

It’s hard not to suspect, as you listen to him discoursing with a certain relish about the technical problems of the film and the rigors of shooting in a mental hospital — “It’s not a good feeling, being there every day” — that he has come to a point in his career where he actually thrives on difficulty, almost can’t do without it. Mr. DiCaprio described the process of working out the nuances of Teddy’s character as “pretty intense, because I didn’t really understand how emotionally complex this character is until Marty and I started breaking down this cathartic journey he goes on.” He paused and added: “When you’re working with someone like Martin Scorsese, you know you’re going to have to go places emotionally that you didn’t ever foresee.”

We’ll continue next week with the rest of this story.  I hope you’re as excited and inspired by this interview as I’ve been.  There’s so much to be learned from these two great artists.

Lynette McNeill - Acting Coach
By Lynette McNeill
Acting Coach & Director

Blog: Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese – “Making Shutter Island”
Source: New York Times article written by Terrence Rafferty

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