Not that long since it’s debut – only 2.5 years – and the time had finally come to sit through Shutter Island by Martin Scorsese. There were a few reasons as to why it had only been now that the film came to the fore – not the least of which being people’s reactions to the idea of watching it. Friends and family and that acquaintance, whose company you don’t really enjoy, dissuading you with her gold-laced opinion.
The slightest notion of watching this movie – even as recent as last week – is typically been met by groans and trepidation. Like almost all religion: it’s first and foremost about peace – but then it’s also about making that executive decision for the preservation of your soul, right?
“I’ve heard it’s not so good”, one says.
“Oh yikes”, says another with pained grimace, “Apparently it’s not very good”.
Concern. Slight shaking of the head. All the signs are there – be careful, it all reads. Here’s the kicker: In some, but not all, instances of this feedback those people haven’t actually watched it! It’s not all that surprising at the end of the day – people love handing out free information.
It’s warranted to note that no blame is intentionally being placed on others for the decision to postpone the viewing – after all it’s your decision and yours alone. It’s also important to note that not all responses were negative. However, the number of responses to the suggestion of Shutter Island that were negative did warrant questioning what could be so bad. What is being scrutinised here is the apparent bad wrap – a stigma, if you will – that has attached itself to Shutter Island.
Spoiler Alert: There are spoilers in the following exhibits – some more subtle than others. No responsibility is taken for the demise of your movie-going experience from this point onward.
Exhibit A: Compare/Contrast
Perhaps the most frustrating of all when reading a scathing review on the film was the insistence of people to appear to hide behind a general vent diagram of films that preceded this one. It is, after all, easy to do and gets the message across – it’s been done before. It’s a dog’s breakfast of Shawshank Redemption, Terminator 2, You’ve Got Mail, and A Few Good Men. Holy. Shit.
If you are trying to draw the link between the titles mentioned in the dog’s breakfast you can stop now – it’s a fabricated list to make a point. The point being: It’s a good wager that many people can watch a film and make a link to several other films that they watched in the past. It’s the kind of associativity that our brains are good at – you know, being human and all. It’s a sad situation where such a thing is used to slam the current film and deprive it of merit. Nobody is impressed by this. Wow, you’ve named half a dozen other titles and a few not-so-high profile names. At this point we can safely infer that you’re not an average viewer.
Exhibit B: Expectation
It seemed that many people went into the movie with preconceptions as to what the film purported itself to be. In the same sense that you would be given grating juxtapositions of other movie titles (see Exhibit A) you would also be given reasons as to why it was specifically no good.
Reasons such as strange hallucinations and confusing flashbacks, for example, were given as to why the movie stank. Paradoxically, these reasons are a point of confusion in and of themselves. The nature of the hallucinations are what captures Ted’s fractured mind and are essential to the plot. It’s strange that they were complained to be confusing. Would an insane persons mind make more sense to you if it was well structured and linear?
Exhibit C: Martin Scorsese
It’s Martin Scorsese! Admittedly, a certain amount of reputation would invariably precede such a film. The thought that the magician of the screen has somehow fallen a touch short of his usual form has been met by shudders, cries of terror. It’s clear what must be done now. A public prosecution – The People vs. Scorsese. He will burn for this. It’s the only logical solution.
There isn’t much that can be said on the topic of hype surrounding a film. It’s commonplace and disappointing that many of us then take our opinions from the lofty pedestal as a driving reason for our disgust in a film with loose plot and confusing characters. Here’s a rule of thumb to live by: don’t believe the hype.
A Belated Verdict
Deep breaths, folks. Brown paper bag at the ready. Hyperventilation standby.
It wasn’t that bad. Boom! In fact, it was well worth watching – quite good for what the film tried to be. It had some unanswered questions upon closing which was also something of a sticking point for people. Open ended story telling is not for everyone, that’s for sure. If the average rating on IMDB is anything to go by – and it is – then it’s clear that quite a few people agree. With an average rating of 8/10, a great representation of the film, it should be considered that in the same way that we aren’t to believe the hype, we should also resist the slander. Well worth a look – if you haven’t seen it you may in fact enjoy it!