Shutter Island Textual Analysis

This is the opening title sequence for ‘Shutter Island’:

The thriller genre is easily established through this opening title sequence. The use of camera, editing, sound and mise en scene makes this very clear to the audience.

Personally, I don’t like or dislike this opening title sequence. It gives an insight to the movie and the themes and genres, such as thriller, drama and mystery. However, for me, this opening title sequence seems quite boring and doesn’t capture my attention.

Textual Analysis:

Instantly, dark lighting has been used to set the mood for the movie, as well as use of slow, creepy music. Non diegetic sound is used throughout the whole sequence as the same music is used throughout. This creates emphasis on the dark, empty setting as the audience already feels the theme of isolation and danger within the first few seconds. Quick flashes of red writing is used which stands out from the dark background. The use of the colour red connotes danger and the flashes help emphasise the thriller genre.

A bird’s eye view is used to present a spiral of stairs as the camera pans around in circles as if the stairs are spinning.  This is happening quite fast which keeps the audience intrigued as there is a lot to take in due to the speed. The rapidness also helps set the mood for the film, hinting that the audience must pay attention to the little details. Fades have been used to present a change of setting, which are a good addition to the dark tone.

A long shot has been used to present a dark, empty room where an open door can be clearly seen. It seems to be raining which means pathetic fallacy has been used as the rain sets an eerie tone.

A close up is used to present a hand, mainly the fingers. At this point the red writing has been changed to white as it stands out from the black background. A shadow of the hand can be seen which highlights the low key lighting that has been used to help set the eerie atmosphere.

A change of location is presented as the camera zooms in and is tracking through the outdoor air, between the two gates. This makes the audience feel as if they are walking through the gates themselves. Suddenly, the screen goes black and fire can be seen which could signify danger. This is followed by a close up shot of a gun, which is common to be seen in a thriller movie. The audience are then presented with a lit match with a flame at the end of it. Initially, the fire seems to symbolise danger and destruction, however in the movie, fire portrays hallucinations of the character ‘Teddy’. Whenever there is smoke or fire around, this character is hallucinating, so the fire in the title sequence foreshadows this.

Once again, a fade has been used as there is a change of location, which is presented through an establishing shot. Dark lighting has been used as the sea and mountains are revealed. This creates the effect that danger surrounds this particular location as the low key lighting creates a type of shadow around it, adding to the mysterious atmosphere.

Suddenly, a black screen appears with the title ‘SHUTTER ISLAND’ in red capital letters emphasising the theme of danger throughout the movie. A zoom in is presented into the letter ‘R’ following a black screen.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s