Book vs. Film – Shutter Island Analysis

Almost every movie ever made was originally a book. Just looking at how many movies that were originally books would surprise you. Although both the movie and the book contain the same storyline, there are always differences between the two. Some book and movie versions have more differences than other book and movie versions do. Some movies may even change scenes around, create new scenes, and even change a few characters. Other movies may just leave out some details and some scenes, like Shutter Island (Scorsese), a 2003 novel by Dennis Lehane, and the 2010 movie version of it from Paramount Pictures, directed by Martin Scorsese.

Despite these differences, both the book and the movie have the same storyline. In late summer 1954, U. S. Marshall Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his partner, Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo), travel to Shutter Island, which is where Ashcliff Hospital for the Criminally Insane is located. They are there to investigate an escaped patient by the name of Rachel Solando (Emily Mortimer). As they are investigating her disappearance, it becomes clear to Teddy that the staff know more than what they are telling.

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Some patients point to the fact that the doctors may be performing experimental surgeries on patients in the island’s lighthouse, specifically the transorbital lobotomy. Teddy also believes that the doctors are trying to trap Teddy and his partner there to make them wards of the hospital. Throughout these four days, Teddy begins to have mysterious dreams involving his wife, Dolores Chanal (Michelle Williams), who died in a house fire. Some of his dreams even involve a little girl (Ruby Jerins) that Teddy does not recognize. As Teddy investigates the island, it leads him to the lighthouse where the head doctor, Dr.

Crawley (Ben Kingsley), reveals to Teddy that he has been living in a fantasy world. Teddy’s real name is Andrew Laeddis and he has been a patient of Ashcliff Hospital for two years. Dr. Crawley says that the staff at the hospital played along with the fantasy to bring him out of it. His partner Chuck Aule is really his primary psychiatrist, Dr. Lester Sheehan. Rachel Solando, who is also made up from Teddy’s/Andrew’s fantasy, is really a nurse named Emily, whose name is not mentioned in the movie. Crawley and Sheehan tell Teddy/Andrew that he and Dolores had three children and that Dolores was manic depressive.

Going crazy one day, she drowned their kids and in grief, Andrew shot her. He was partly to blame for what happened since he had not listened to anybody’s advice on getting his wife help earlier. So he created a fantasy where he was a hero. Refusing to accept this as reality at first, Teddy/Andrew has dreams that night of what really happened, like how he once had kids and that his manic depressive wife drowned them. At this point, Teddy realizes that he is really Andrew Laeddis. When this breakthrough is made, Dr. Crawley tells him that this breakthrough was made before but that he regressed.

Would Andrew regress again? This storyline as told is the same in both the book and the movie. But still, as always with any story, the book contains more information than the movie. So although there were not any major changes, the movie leaves out scenes like the journal of Dr. Lester Sheehan in 1993, Teddy as a kid fishing with his father, along with some dreams and flashbacks that are either shortened or completely cut. To start with, the first thing that was in the book, which was left out in the movie, was Dr. Lester Sheehan’s journal. The book actually began with this. As said before, Dr.

Sheehan pretended to be Chuck Aule because he was playacting, with the other Ashcliff staff members, in Teddy’s (Andrew’s) fantasy). Since this is the beginning of the novel, that part is not revealed yet. His journals are from 1993, where he and his wife, Emily, are in poor health. As stated early in his journal, “Soon I will lose her too. A matter of months, Dr. Axelrod told us Thursday……Lester, he added, you’re not looking too well yourself” (Lehane 1). Basically, Emily is dying, although her illness is unidentified, and Lester does not seem to be doing well himself, although he is not dying.

Lester then begins to talk about Shutter Island, and Ashcliff Hospital. But the most important thing in his journal was his relationship with his wife, Emily. As Lester states, “Emily, whom I met on the island” (Lehane 4), he first met his wife on Shutter Island, This means that Emily had relations to that hospital, right? Indeed, Emily was a nurse there, but not any ordinary nurse. She was the nurse who pretended to be Rachel Solando, when the staff were playacting Andrew’s fantasies. Near the end of the book, after Dr.

Crawley reveals that Teddy is in fact Andrew Laeddis, and that Teddy does not exist, Emily reveals herself to him as the one who played Rachel. When Teddy/Andrew recognizes her, telling her what an excellent actress, and he calls her Rachel, she says, “I’m Emily…You sleep now” (Lehane 352). Nothing about this relationship between Lester and Emily is in the movie. In fact, the name “Emily” is not even used in the movie. You do see her near the end of the movie as a nurse, and recognize her as the one who pretended to be Rachel Solando. But you only see her carrying out a trey of medical supplies.

She does not say anything to Andrew, so in just watching the movie, you never learn her name, or the fact that she and Dr. Lester Sheehan, Andrew’s primary psychiatrist, developed a relationship and got married. In addition, the second major scene in the book was also left out of the movie. Both the book and the movie address that Teddy (Andrew) is seasick. But the scene left out of the movie was Teddy fishing with his father when he was a boy in 1928. This is in fact when Teddy sees Shutter Island for the first time, before Ashcliff Hospital was built.

Teddy asks his father, “Why Shutter? ” (Lehane 8), wanting to know why someone would give an island such a name. His father tells him, “Some places just get a name and it sticks” (Lehane 8). Right after, Teddy becomes seasick for the first time, as told, “Later he got sick, repeatedly and violently, pitching black ropes of it over the side of his father’s boat and into the sea” (Lehane 8). His father thought it was motion, but it was not. “It was all that water. Stretched out around them until it was all that was left of the world” (Lehane 9).

After this, they headed back to the mainland, away from Shutter Island and his father said, “It’s the sea. Some men take to it. Some men it takes” (Lehane 10). Teddy’s father later went out on a whaler in 1938 and drowned when the boat sunk at sea. The third major scene of the book is when Teddy and Chuck were heading on a ferry to Shutter Island in 1954. This is where the movie begins. While Chuck is on the deck, Teddy is in the bathroom, vomiting from seasickness. When he comes out onto the deck, in the book, Chuck asks, “You okay? You look pale” (Lehane 13). In the movie, it is simply reworded, “You kay boss” (Chuck Aule).

Teddy’s seasickness is also mentioned on the island, both in the book and in the movie. But only the book shows how it all began as well as Teddy’s first viewing of Shutter Island, both that happened on Teddy’s fishing trip with his father, in 1928. Furthermore, Teddy’s/Andrew’s dreams were a big and important part to Shutter Island. Throughout the four days Teddy was investigating Ashcliff Hospital, he began to have migraines and weird dreams. You would eventually find out at the end that these weird dreams pointed to Teddy’s real life as Andrew Laeddis.

Of course these dreams that the book described were changed around, shortened, or completely left out of the movie. The first major dream that Teddy has in this story was right after Dr. Crawley gave him pills for a migraine. This dream “began with Teddy walking through the streets of Hull, streets he had walked countless times from childhood to manhood” (Lehane 181). Basically Teddy started his dream off walking through his childhood town, looking at all the familiar buildings, except the town was empty and he was the only one there. Then he ends up in a granite hall, where he runs into Rachel Solando, who is covered in blood.

Her three children, a little girl and two boys, that she just murdered, lay dead on the ground. She gets Teddy to help her carry the dead kids to the lake and sink them into the water. Rachel says to him, “You’ll be my Jim. I’ll be your Dolores. We’ll make new babies” (Lehane 183). When Teddy agrees, they meet with Chuck in the hospital hallway, where Crawley tries to take Rachel away. Teddy starts to chase them until he meets up with the little girl in the graveyard, looking at a Tombstone that says, “EDWARD DANIELS, BAD SAILOR, 1920-1957” (Lehane 185).

Teddy says that he is a bad sailor because he does not like water. Then Rachel arrives and Teddy lets he take the little girl away. As written near the end of the dream, “Teddy kept waving, even though the girl wouldn’t wave back as her mother carried her towards the mausoleum and the little girl stared at Teddy, her eyes beyond hope for rescue” (Lehane 187). This dream was changed in the movie. In the movie version, Teddy starts his dream walking through a Jewish concentration camp that he had once helped liberate. There, he sees the little girl and Rachel Solando among the piles of dead bodies.

The little girl then opens her eyes, sits up, and says to Teddy, “You should’ve saved me. You should’ve saved all of us” (Ruby Jerins). He then ends up in a granite hall where Rachel Solando just murdered her three kids and is covered in blood. She asks Teddy to help her bring the bodies to the lake and let them sink, so Teddy reluctantly agrees and does so. Then, he wakes up in his bed at Ashcliff, but he is still dreaming. His dead wife, Dolores, walks through the door and tells him, ‘Laeddis isn’t dead. He isn’t gone. He’s still here” (Michelle Williams). When they hug, Teddy finally wakes up.

The next dream that Teddy has is when he is hiding from the guards at Ashcliff, in a cave. Basically this dream takes place in a lake house, where Teddy is gathering with people he has already known to have died. It basically involved Teddy, his parents, Dolores, Chuck, Rachel Solando, and a fake/imposter Andrew Laeddis. This dream was left completely out of the movie, due to certain content (no need to specify). Teddy’s last dream is all flashbacks, and it is when he realizes that he is really Andrew Laeddis, and that Teddy Daniels and Rachel Solando do not exist.

He dreams of all different memories from his real life, that are finally coming back to him. His dreams include the fact that “he and Dolores lived in a house by the lake. Because they’d had to leave the city…. Because she’d lit their apartment on Buttonwood on fire. Trying to rid it of ghosts…He dreamed that Dolores was insane” (Lehane 352). His dreams reveal that he and Dolores had three kids: Rachel Laeddis (the little girl), Edward Laeddis, and Daniel Laeddis. Dolores was manic depressive and many people told Andrew that he should get her help, but he would not listen.

He dreamed of his daughter, Rachael, telling him that she was concerned about her mom one night when he was putting her to bed. He dreamed of going to the baseball game with his son Teddy, talking about their home. He dreamed that Dolores was paranoid that the butcher who lived down the street from them was a Russian spy. She even woke him up one night, thinking that the spy was in their house. Finally, he dreamed that he came home after catching a fugitive to find Dolores all wet, where he says, “Baby, why you all wet? ” (Lehane 356) (Leonardo DiCaprio).

He then finds that she went crazy and drowned their kids in the lake. In a moment of grief, he shoots her, killing her. In the movie, most of this dream is left out and the only part they show is when Andrew came home, after catching a fugitive, and finds that Dolores drowned their kids. Same as the novel, Andrew kills Dolores in a moment of grief. Overall, both the novel version and movie version of Shutter Island, contain the same storyline, but interesting information is left out in the movie, like the journal of Dr. Lester Sheehan, Teddy’s first fishing trip with his dad, and the changes made with Teddy’s dreams.

Through and through, whether you are watching the movie or reading the book, most of this story is seen through the perspective of Teddy Daniels, It is not until the end that the reader/viewer realizes that Teddy Daniels does not even exist and that he really is Andrew Laeddis. Andrew basically created this fantasy world because he blamed himself for the deaths of his wife and children. So he created a world where he was Teddy Daniels, who was more of a heroic figure. He created Rachel Solando and the missing patient investigation with her, to create an explanation for him why he was on that island.

Shutter Island, both in novel and in motion picture, is basically a complex story and also very interesting. But of course there was extra information left out of the movie, like when Teddy/Andrew became seasick for the first time. It also left out that Dr. Lester Sheehan, Andrew’s primary psychiatrist who pretended to be Chuck Aule, and Emily, the nurse who pretended to be Rachel Solando, ended up developing a relationship and getting married. Finally, the movie left out one dreamed, changed up another one, and left out part of the last one.

Of course, this is the same with all other books and their movie counterparts. Some movies are closer to their novels than other movies, but no one movie is exactly like their novel counterpart, word for word, detain to detail. It would practically be impossible for that to ever happen, because the movie would end up being extremely long, confusing, and scenes would jump all over the place. A book can simply just tell it better. Try it with any book and their movie counterpart. No matter which story, there will always be something left out of the movie, whether it is a scene, or small details.

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Book vs. Film – Shutter Island Analysis. (2016, Sep 29). Retrieved from