After my recent comparison between the book and film adaptation of Jaws, I thought I would do one for Shutter Island having recently just finished the book. Much like the first article, I will warn you now that this post my contain *SPOILERS* if you haven’t already seen or read Shutter Island.
Shutter Island is 2003 novel by Dennis Lehane that focusses on US Marshal Teddy Daniels as he visits Shutter Island to investigate the disappearance of a patient that has escaped from the mental institution that is housed on the island.
Things don’t sit right with Teddy as he and his partner, Chuck, begin their investigation into the grounds and he feels that the staff and other patients are keeping information from them. Not only that, Teddy has his own personal mission, in which he is trying to find a certain patient who he believes killed his wife in a fire. As the novel progresses, the reader is given more information into what Teddy believes is going on on the island, including experiments on the patients using psychotropic drugs and lobotomies.
Teddy’s partner Chuck goes along with his theories for the majority of the novel and tries to support him in any way, as much a good partner would, but he ends up disappearing. This only adds to Teddy’s already mounting paranoia about the island and when he starts to question the whereabouts of Chuck, Teddy is told that he arrived on island alone and never had a partner with him.
Whilst the novel starts out as a traditional crime thriller about the missing patient, Rachel Solando, it manages to swiftly change into one where the world of the main protagonist is turned completely on its head. It soon becomes apparent that not all is well in the world of Teddy Daniels and towards the end of the book, a monumental bombshell is dropped where we learn that he is in fact a patient on the island. The most dangerous one that any of the staff has ever come across, and the mystery patient that he is searching for, Andrew Laeddis, is actually a character he has created to hide the fact that he has actually killed his own wife. Lehane manages to handle this tonal shift and revelation with great ease and it comes as not only a surprise to the reader but also to Daniels as well.
Due to the popularity of the novel, it comes as no surprise to see there was a movie adaptation of it.
The film was released in 2010 and the screenplay was adapted by Laeta Kalogridis with direction coming from Martin Scorsese, at the time, it turned out to be the most successful opening weekend for a film Scorsese had ever made. The film starred Leonardo DiCaprio is the role of Teddy Daniels with Mark Ruffalo playing the role of his partner, along with Ben Kingsley, Max Von Syndow and Ted Levine in other roles.
I was impressed with the film the first time I watched it, but I have to admit I did not know it was adapted from a novel when I first experienced it. However, after reading the novel, my enjoyment of the film has actually gone down. I re-watched the film after finishing the book so I could prepare for this article and I have to say it wasn’t as enjoyable this time around.
There felt like there was something missing from this adaptation. The film really does try to build up the same level of tension, paranoia and intrigue as the book; but to me personally, it just misses the mark. This is one time, that I can safely say that novel is certainly better than the book. I am not trying to take anything away from the film and I would still rate it highly if I had not come across a copy of the book, but after the reading the source material I think I will be sticking with that from now on. The pacing of the film somehow doesn’t live up to what is put across in the book, it somehow seems to drag along compared to the novel. Maybe it was because I had just read the novel and then moved straight onto the film that I felt like this, but surely if a film is that good it would not have mattered if I had just read the book beforehand?
Some may disagree with me on my views on the adaptation, but this is just my own personal opinion. I am not going to say don’t watch the adaptation, because I thoroughly enjoyed Shutter Island the few times I watched it before I read the novel. I just feel that I got more enjoyment from the book.