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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Shutter Island

By
John P. McCarthy
Source: Catholic News Service

Martin Scorsese's prolix psychological thriller "Shutter Island" (Paramount) takes place in 1954 and follows U.S. Marshal Ted Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his brand-new partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) to a storm-swept island in Boston Harbor, home to a hospital for the criminally insane.

The officers have been assigned to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a patient-cum-prisoner who persists in denying she drowned her three children.

From the outset, Daniels is haunted by visions of his late wife, Dolores (Michelle Williams), who died in a fire in their apartment, as well as by flashbacks to his experience liberating the Dachau concentration camp while he was a soldier during World War II.

Housed in three wards, one of which was a Civil War fort, Ashecliffe Hospital is run by the bemused Dr. Cawley (Ben Kingsley), assisted by the menacingly urbane Dr. Naehring (Max von Sydow) and a large staff of orderlies and other medical personnel. A warden and a full contingent of armed guards oversee the craggy island, an ideal location for a federal prison. No one appears particularly keen to help Daniels and Aule with their investigation.

As violent weather approaches, the institution becomes the venue for much elaborately staged hysterics born of trauma and guilt. The pervasive sense of paranoia Scorsese generates is undercut by a certain turgid quality.

Even more damaging to the movie's entertainment value is the unrelenting use of coarse language, which, together with certain elements vital to the plot, necessitates the O classification. Not only does the language offend and detract from the artistic impact, it is arguably anachronistic.

Adapted from a Dennis Lehane ("Mystic River") novel, "Shutter Island" skirts around topics related to justice and revenge. In particular, it labors to ask how society ought to treat those who have committed heinous acts in various contexts.

Ultimately, the picture amounts to a genre exercise for Scorsese—an opportunity to dabble in a mid-20th-century brand of straitjacket melodrama, replete with hallucinatory sequences and riddled with sinister subtext. It also affords DiCaprio (using a thick Boston accent) and other respectable actors the chance to declaim vulgar dialogue in service of an overblown mystery.

The film contains pervasive rough, crude and crass language; frequent profanity; a number of sexual references and discussions of violent acts; many potentially disturbing images of corpses in a concentration camp setting and in connection with an act of infanticide; a number of fairly graphic episodes of gun violence; and an instance of partially obscured frontal male nudity. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is O—morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

*****
John P. McCarthy is a guest reviewer for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Office for Film & Broadcasting.



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Bernadette Soubirous: Bernadette Soubirous was born in 1844, the first child of an extremely poor miller in the town of Lourdes in southern France. The family was living in the basement of a dilapidated building when on February 11,1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette in a cave above the banks of the Gave River near Lourdes. Bernadette, 14 years old, was known as a virtuous girl though a dull student who had not even made her first Holy Communion. In poor health, she had suffered from asthma from an early age. 
<p>There were 18 appearances in all, the final one occurring on the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, July 16. Although Bernadette's initial reports provoked skepticism, her daily visions of "the Lady" brought great crowds of the curious. The Lady, Bernadette explained, had instructed her to have a chapel built on the spot of the visions. There the people were to come to wash in and drink of the water of the spring that had welled up from the very spot where Bernadette had been instructed to dig. </p><p>According to Bernadette, the Lady of her visions was a girl of 16 or 17 who wore a white robe with a blue sash. Yellow roses covered her feet, a large rosary was on her right arm. In the vision on March 25 she told Bernadette, "I am the Immaculate Conception." It was only when the words were explained to her that Bernadette came to realize who the Lady was. </p><p>Few visions have ever undergone the scrutiny that these appearances of the Immaculate Virgin were subject to. Lourdes became one of the most popular Marian shrines in the world, attracting millions of visitors. Miracles were reported at the shrine and in the waters of the spring. After thorough investigation Church authorities confirmed the authenticity of the apparitions in 1862. </p><p>During her life Bernadette suffered much. She was hounded by the public as well as by civic officials until at last she was protected in a convent of nuns. Five years later she petitioned to enter the Sisters of Notre Dame. After a period of illness she was able to make the journey from Lourdes and enter the novitiate. But within four months of her arrival she was given the last rites of the Church and allowed to profess her vows. She recovered enough to become infirmarian and then sacristan, but chronic health problems persisted. She died on April 16, 1879, at the age of 35. </p><p>She was canonized in 1933.</p> American Catholic Blog In humility, a woman ultimately forgets 
herself; forgets both her shortcomings and accomplishments equally and 
strives to remain empty of self to make room for Jesus, just as Mary 
did.

 
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