‘Shutter Island’ preview

CAST: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo and Ben Kingsley. Directed by Martin Scorsese.

BACK STORY: Dennis Lehane’s novel “Shutter Island” calls to mind what Winston Churchill said of Russia: A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. Who better to sort out the brain-twisting whodunit than “The Departed’s” Scorsese?

Adapted by Laeta Kalogridis (“Alexander”), Scorsese’s movie faithfully follows Lehane’s plot: U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) arrives at the remote Shutter Island to investigate the disappearance of a patient at a hospital for the criminally insane. A more ominous version of Alcatraz, the island is enveloped in a violent storm, and Daniels’ search (he’s assisted by Ruffalo’s Chuck Aule) soon turns as unsettled as the weather.

Scorsese, working with cinematographer Robert Richardson (“JFK”) and production designer Dante Ferretti (“The Aviator”), tried to establish a physical environment to match Daniels’ mental state. “Even though we’re on an island, we wanted to create the feeling of being in a maze, of being closed in,” Scorsese says. Having directed DiCaprio three times previously, Scorsese believed his “Gangs of New York” star had “the depth of emotion and psychological complexity” to play Daniels. “It gave us a chance to mine those areas that he has in him,” the director says, “to see how many perceptions of reality he has in him for one line reading.”

Kalogridis labored to convey the book’s point of view: a 1950s world imbued with paranoia about communism and brainwashing, where everything is not as it seems. “I wanted to take audiences to a place you would not normally experience,” she says, “so audiences also feel like in a weird way they are privy to his thoughts without hearing a voice-over.”

FILM CLIP: The book was originally being developed by director Wolfgang Petersen (“Poseidon”), but producer Mike Medavoy picked it up in turnaround and got it to Scorsese and DiCaprio.

-- John Horn

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