Symbolism in Shutter Island.

2172 Words Jul 22nd, 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. Water
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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 sleep Jake splashes water on his face and states, "You know what is real, you know her". This highlights how water being splashed on his face purifies LaMotta and stops his mind playing tricks on him. Water therefore allows LaMotta to understand and grasp what is real, and not simply a fantasy. He understands the importance of deciphering truth from lies. LaMotta like Daniels has a truth which they struggle to comprehend. Both characters however internally want to know the truth as it is necessary for