MK Themes in Shutter Island?

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Re: MK Themes in Shutter Island?

Postby vanlose kid » Wed Sep 15, 2010 6:24 pm

Sorry JR, you're possibly quite wrong here:

JackRiddler wrote:O…And at the same time very willing to be exploitative, no doubt about it. I mean, the corpses of people in the frozen mud at Dachau start making sad speeches, you know what I'm saying? It's nothing you'd expect anyone to pull off without enraging you, even Scorcese, but he just manages it. First thing that occurred to me when the Dachau scenes came (and this was mildly embarrassing for someone who's actually written a World War II book to realize I missed it the first time) is that Dachau is in a suburb of Munich and therefore liberated in the last days of the war, just before the unconditional surrender. So there weren't no snow there in late April. And 1945 was a historically beautiful summer.


frost on the ground is pretty common in april in these latitudes. but anyway:

Ten days before the arrival of the Rainbow Division fifty carloads of prisoners arrived at Dachau from the Buchenwald concentration camp in a starving condition after 27 days without food. When Buchenwald was threatened by advancing American troops the Nazis hurriedly crowded about 4,000 of their prisoners into open flatcars unfit even for cattle. 27 days later – days of exposure to freezing weather without anything to eat, a trainload of human suffering arrived at Dachau only to be left to die in the railyard leading into this extermination camp.


http://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/ ... l-29-1945/


avoided this thread first time around, but i've just watched the movie [twice!] (Scorsese!), am reading through the posts. might have something to add. might not.

*

edited to add this:



*
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Re: MK Themes in Shutter Island?

Postby Nordic » Wed Dec 22, 2010 5:12 pm

Finally watched this movie last night. Typical for me, taking so long ..... Now that my stepdaughter is old enough to watch such things, it sure makes it easier.

Anyway I was heavily disturbed by this movie, mainly because of the subject matter -- the crazy wife who kills the kids -- which I found almost unbearable to even contemplate, and certainly too horrific to be entertained by in any way ....

But I was also almost equally horrified by the way the story panned out, and wanted to see what others here thought, since I remembered there was this thread here.

The worst thing Andrew did was to indulge his depression and alcoholism and deny to himself that his wife was crazy.


This comments strikes to the crux of my nausea. Because no, the worst thing he did was not merely deny to himself that his wife was crazy, the worst thing he did was to not turn her over to the professional psychiatric wizards like the doctors we'd been exposed to for the last two hours.

And he was, after all, just a mad "conspiracy theorist" for even thinking -- THINKING! -- that these government employed psychiatrists might be up to no good. Oh sure, sure, some of them liked to do lobotomies, but they meant well -- it was after all just a difference of opinion between two well-meaning schools of kindly godly doctors, who only seemed like evil nazis to a guy who was completely crazy!

Because god knows all that kind of truly horrific evil ended with the nazis.

That was my take on it. And it disgusted the hell out of me.

Conspiracy theorists are crazy. Psychiatric doctors, even ones employed by the government, are just trying to help you. World War II was the "war to end all wars" and was won by the "good guys" and therefore put an end to all that kind of evil.

Vomit.
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Re: MK Themes in Shutter Island?

Postby sunny » Wed Dec 22, 2010 9:13 pm

Nordic, I have to admit I had rather the same sensation watching this movie. I don't know why but I expected better, maybe more subversive, from Scorcese. :shrug:
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Re: MK Themes in Shutter Island?

Postby Nordic » Wed Dec 22, 2010 10:03 pm

Yeah, Scorcese has always confounded me a bit. Obviously his films dwell on human evil and particularly violence, and I've always wondered as to his fascination with this, i.e. is he interested in exploring it in a damning sort of way or does he really get a bit of a thrill from it? Remember his cameo in Taxi Driver? Why did he choose to play that particular violence-prone individual? While he is a genius filmmaker, possibly the most genius ever as far as commanding the language of the art, I've never quite felt comfortable with his themes, which has been, honestly, one of the reasons he's so compelling.

But this one really pissed me off. I mean, he's smart enough to realize how utterly irresponsible such a story is. Or he should be. And what about Lehane? Has anyone read this book? I'm very curious now because I've always admired his other writing, in fact if there were a fiction writer who seems to be something of a thematic soulmate with Scorcese it could be him.

Why would men of such artistic status go for such a cheap propagandistic solution to this story? It's like something Michael Crichton would have come up with.

I would like to think that, as others have suggested here, Scorcese was trying to have it both ways a bit, but I certainly did not see that at all in here. I saw no ambiguity although perhaps I owe it a second viewing for that, although the subject matter of the crazy wife/drowned children was so horrific to me I doubt I'll go back.
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Re: MK Themes in Shutter Island?

Postby sunny » Wed Dec 22, 2010 11:17 pm

Nordic wrote:But this one really pissed me off. I mean, he's smart enough to realize how utterly irresponsible such a story is. Or he should be


That's it exactly. You KNOW he knows better, which in my opinion makes this project venal.
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Re: MK Themes in Shutter Island?

Postby vanlose kid » Wed Dec 22, 2010 11:59 pm

Nordic, sunny,

i saw the complete opposite, or should i say, my viewing of the film left me with an entirely different impression.

here's a clip of the last two scenes.



in the first he rehearses the lines he's meant to act out. he's asked to recite, point by point, the "reality" he's being told to stick to if he wants to live. at that point he's seen that he can't escape and so opts to save his own life.

in the following scene however, come morning, he decides to go back on "reality", to accept his fate, so to speak. that is to say, although he loses by not caving in to "reality" he wins in human dignity. the point is not to accept the lie that is "reality".

the fact that Scorsese does not hammer the point home is because, as i see it, he's an artist (and he's never done that anyway). and he's telling the story of one of the small people. reminds me of Dostoevsky (no comparison intended, Fjodor is way superior in my view but Scorsese is very good in my book) characters who are nobodies in the grand scheme of the world, e.g Raskolnikov, Sofia Marmeladov, Alyosha Karamazov, etc. small stories of small people.

the clincher, for me, is that final question/decision.

*

FINAL SCENE:

Chuck: How we doing this morning?

Teddy: Good. You?

Chuck: Can't complain.

Teddy: What's our next move?

Chuck: You tell me.

Teddy: I gotta get off this rock, Chuck. Get back to the mainland. Whatever the hell's going on here it's bad. Don't worry, they're not gonna catch us.

Chuck: That's right we're too smart for them.

Teddy: Yeah, we are aren't we? You know this place makes me wonder.

Chuck: Yeah, what's that boss?

Teddy: Which would be worse, to live as a monster, or to die as a good man?

*

a lobotomy is death, on the rock.

note Teddy's short, sharp look into Chuck's eye's when he asks that question. he knows exactly what he's just done. he is in no way delusional.

and the final image? the lighthouse. – but hey, i thought you said nothing went on there?

*
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Re: MK Themes in Shutter Island?

Postby Wombaticus Rex » Thu Dec 23, 2010 12:12 am

The closing shot is there for a reason, and it's pretty much the core of the entire film. I have seen it twice and picked lines apart with a friend once and remain convinced there's very deliberately two stories. The elegance of the film reminds me a lot of the shot-time symmetry cathedral that Kubrick builds with The Shining. It seems to me Scorcese put in way more work than usual on this one and it was very much an homage to Big Stanley.

In your eternal favor, of course, the actual source for the film is a Dennis Lehane novel that quite clearly ends with the "twist," so...


Edit: most of what's written re: the ending doesn't mention my interpretation @ all, so it's safe to say I'm just on a stoner tangent.

Martin Scorsese's latest has a whopper of a conclusion. It's almost a note-perfect adaptation of Dennis Lehane's book. "Almost" because there's one comment made at the end which throws the entire house of cards constructed by the author into question. Lehane already told us that he stays out of the writing process once an agreement has been made to adapt one of his books. But he did share his thoughts on the slightly altered ending seen in the film.

In this book, there's no question about how the ending plays out. Laeddis, seemingly on the road to recovery after his shocking ordeal, goes to sleep. He wakes up and meets with his doctor, who had been playing the role of his partner for the "case," outside the main facility. As the two sit there, it becomes clear that Laeddis has once again lapsed into his Daniels persona, essentially sentencing himself to a lobotomy.

The film is more ambiguous. Things play out similarly, but as Laeddis/Daniels sits and has a smoke with his doctor/partner, he asks the question "Would you rather live as a monster or die as a hero?" This raises the possibility that his relapse is in fact intentional, that Laeddis is so tired of being sick, he longs for the blissful ignorance that a lobotomy will bring.


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Re: MK Themes in Shutter Island?

Postby Nordic » Thu Dec 23, 2010 4:34 am

OK so all I get out of that is that perhaps he's made the conscious decision, rather than the unconscious one, to pretend to descend into the delusional world he'd created, so that, in this final case, he can be lobotomized. Since he can no longer comfort himself with a true delusion. A lobotomy is better than living with what he knows.

That doesn't really change much. Just the denoument, and it's ambiguous as to whether or not that's really the case.

I agree with Sunny, the project is venal.
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Re: MK Themes in Shutter Island?

Postby AhabsOtherLeg » Thu Dec 23, 2010 6:50 am

Nordic wrote:Yeah, Scorcese has always confounded me a bit. Obviously his films dwell on human evil and particularly violence, and I've always wondered as to his fascination with this, i.e. is he interested in exploring it in a damning sort of way or does he really get a bit of a thrill from it?


I don't know if you are Catholic or not, Nordic. It's not like it's some weird, unknown belief system that only insiders can fathom - except for when it kind of is. But what you are noticing in Scorcese's films is the exact same thing that Martin Amis complained about in the books of Graham Greene and Anthony Burgess - it is the spectacle of men who you think should know better believing in things that you don't believe.

Hing oan a meenit. I have a quote, from Amis' review of Burgess' "Earthly Powers" :
As Toomey recounts the story of his life, we notice that terrible things keep happening to him — or near him, anyway. His brother-in-law is chopped up by Chicago gangsters; his closest friend is wasted by the voodoo of a Malayan warlock; his nephew is the victim of the bitter pill in a Jonestown-style massacre. Toomey inspects the elaborate severity of nature, experiences the neuroses and hysterias of his various host nations (censorship, Prohibition, the rise of Mussolini), staggers through liberated Buchenwald — 'what was the smell? All too human ... it was the smell of myself, of all humanity.' The ultimate moral, or theological - or theodicean - irony (whereby divine intervention preserves the life of the future cultist mass-murderer) is stark and ferocious; it is the kind of challenge that the literary Catholic enjoys throwing out to the world, as if to testify to the macho perversity of his faith.


"The macho perversity of his faith"... that just about sums it up, as far as Scorcese is concerned. These are the subjects he deals in. Groundless faith in the face of the worst that an uncaring God can throw at you. Pointless, unnoticed martyrdom. Redemption (usually partial, or failed) through suffering - he loves that subject, and keeps coming back to it, like a good Catholic boy. All this old, old stuff.

Like the nun says at the end of Brighton Rock, to a girl who has just been betrayed and abandoned by a murderous psychopath she loved: "You cannot conceive, my child, nor can I or anyone the ... appalling ... strangeness of the mercy of God."

Appalling strangeness is the main part of the sentence. The mercy of God is almost an afterthought, because you'd be a fool to expect it, and you might die waiting for it. But with the "macho perversity of faith" you can still believe in it, as an ideal.

In the meantime, you get all this appalling strangeness.

Nordic wrote:Remember his cameo in Taxi Driver? Why did he choose to play that particular violence-prone individual?


He's not really violence-prone, though, is he? In reality, he's prone to hiring taxis so that he can sit in the back and spout off his violent fantasies to the driver, in hopes of making an impression on somebody, so he can feel like less of an ineffectual cuckold. If he even is a cuckold. The whole thing might be bullshit, the whole story.

He does make an impression on Travis, unfortunately, with his gun recommendation, but that's cause Travis is Travis. Scorcese was playing a mixture of himself and Paul Schrader, I think, as they were at the time - coked up, in a cab, in the middle of the night, talking shit to the driver about who he's going to kill next.

I maybe misread the scene, but I don't think that guy would ever have gone on to kill his wife or her boyfriend. It's impossible to tell, but Travis didn't seem to take him very serious. Too much talking. He was confessing to the murder in advance, so that he didn't have to do it.

I'm doing too much talkin too, and not much of it makes sense.

Nordic wrote:While he is a genius filmmaker, possibly the most genius ever as far as commanding the language of the art, I've never quite felt comfortable with his themes, which has been, honestly, one of the reasons he's so compelling.


Exactly. The issues he raises which confound you are the same ones that confound him, I think. I don't think he's very comfortable with his themes either. And he feels compelled.

Christ Almighty, I'm boring, and I haven't even seen Shutter Island. Should I watch it? I heard that, on a level unrelated to Scorcese himself, or mind-control, or the Holocaust, or brutal secret psychiatry, it's a bit shite.
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Re: MK Themes in Shutter Island?

Postby sunny » Thu Dec 23, 2010 8:54 am

Ahab wrote:But what you are noticing in Scorcese's films is the exact same thing that Martin Amis complained about in the books of Graham Greene and Anthony Burgess - it is the spectacle of men who you think should know better believing in things that you don't believe.


I don't have a problem with the beliefs of this character, or any character in fiction, it is the stance of the narrative I have a problem with. As Nordic said:

And he was, after all, just a mad "conspiracy theorist" for even thinking -- THINKING! -- that these government employed psychiatrists might be up to no good. Oh sure, sure, some of them liked to do lobotomies, but they meant well -- it was after all just a difference of opinion between two well-meaning schools of kindly godly doctors, who only seemed like evil nazis to a guy who was completely crazy!


This is true, yes? Imo, this stance is propagandistic rather than artistic.

Ahab wrote:These are the subjects he deals in. Groundless faith in the face of the worst that an uncaring God can throw at you. Pointless, unnoticed martyrdom. Redemption (usually partial, or failed) through suffering - he loves that subject, and keeps coming back to it, like a good Catholic boy. All this old, old stuff.


Absolutely! Again, I have no problem with the character. Teddy did what he felt like he had to do within a narrative that had rendered him powerless in the face of god-like doctors.
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Re: MK Themes in Shutter Island?

Postby norton ash » Thu Dec 23, 2010 11:32 am

Rest with ambiguity ffs. Joe and Jane Simple might actually Google something... were there REALLY Nazi doctors in the good ol' USA?

Loved your post Ahab. Nice to see us chewing on our Catholicism in this cold, pitch-dark festive season under a bloody moon.
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Re: MK Themes in Shutter Island?

Postby JackRiddler » Thu Dec 23, 2010 2:18 pm

.

Liked the Ahab meditation on Catholicism very much. Thanks.

Now I wish to be circumspect, because I've already made some bad errors of fact in this thread. Ugh.

But it's not a factual statement, only wise advice, when norton ash says:

"Rest with ambiguity ffs."

There is no way on earth that Scorcese of all people, one of the original Film School Directors, was unaware during production that the product would be subjected by the likes of us to different interpretations, regardless of authorial intent; and lookie, the film has enough nods to ambiguity to encourage us. Do you think these are actually there to fool us? And if so, to fool us about what? What the movie "really" says? However, even an after-the-fact authorial statement giving a definitive "meaning" would not, in fact, be definitive, because this is fiction. The movie's not real and not pretending to be "based on a true story," so a "real" historical answer that might say "what really happened" to the fictional characters can't be conceived. You could apply that to any work of art, of course, and perhaps that would be exaggerated, but this one IS about characters who have no hold on reality or live in multiple realities. Unavoidably, we are free to associate our own meanings, each with an equivalent factual content of zero.

Not to defend Scorcese, because I don't know, but maybe the financing situation was that he had a choice of approaching Paperclip and MK-Ultra by making this film, even with its "twist" ending that seems to render them harmless, or not getting to make any film on these subjects at all.

I have a question for everyone that is philosophically related to this conversation:

In the Matrix movies, is Zion the real world, or another matrix?

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Re: MK Themes in Shutter Island?

Postby Nordic » Thu Dec 23, 2010 5:30 pm

Ahab, that was a beautiful post, and anything but boring. I love it, and it seems to fit comfortably with Scorcese.

I am not Catholic. I am now married to one, and find it a bit fascinating, and have to admit I do not understand the connection that Catholics have to Catholicism, but then again I wasn't raised that way. :)

Scorsese has always seemed like a good guy, when I've seen him interviewed, and his art is unquestionably magnificent.

I have to admit my own fascination with human depravity and evil. When I first came to LA and was sending out my first couple of scripts, when people who were interested in them would meet me, they would be surprised to see a regular-looking midwestern sort of nordic-looking guy. They expected me to be all Goth, or at least dressed in black or something because of the subject matter and themes in my work. My outlooks and themes have actually gotten a lot less dark on the individual level and I'm not fascinated with, well, the stuff we discuss here. My last spec script was in fact based on some of the info in Gary Webb's last works.

I still hate what Scorcese did with Shutter Island, and my hatred stems from my huge admiration of Scorcese. Or maybe he's just more interested in the vagarities of the human mind, the individual, rather than with "conspiracies". Yet I find his take on this to be, in fact, irresponsible to the public at large. As a film director, I believe you have a responsibility to the public, which is a view that I'd say few directors share.
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Re: MK Themes in Shutter Island?

Postby justdrew » Mon Jan 03, 2011 12:13 am

ya know, shutter island has a hell of a lot in common with Shock Corridor

Shock Corridor is a 1963 film, directed and written by Samuel Fuller.[1] The film tells the story of a journalist who gets himself committed to a mental hospital in order to track an unsolved murder.

While pursuing his investigation, he is sidetracked by the behavior of his fellow inmates. After a hospital riot, Barrett is straight-jacketed and subjected to shock treatment. Barrett also has visions of his girlfriend (who's pretending to be his sister for purposes of their cover story), and experiences many other symptoms of mental breakdown. He learns the identity of the killer, and writes his story, but the damage to his mind is irreparable, and he never leaves the hospital.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shock_Corridor



fyi the trailer on youtube kinda misrepresents the movie.
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Re: MK Themes in Shutter Island?

Postby surfaceskimmer » Mon Jan 03, 2011 3:06 am

Haven't seen the film. Scanned the thread past page one. Am familiar with the topics.

Would strongly recommend reading H. P. Albarelli's book "A Terrible Mistake", which is long, detailed, well-researched and documented. Among other related information, page 578 notes MK Ultra Subproject 39 (1954-1956), the stated objective of which was to "exploit the research potential that is represented by a group of 142 criminal-sexual psychopaths confined in the Ionia State Hospital for the Criminally Insane as well as the Psychopathic Clinic in Detroit, Michigan."
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