The Shutter Island Mystery: A Visual Analysis (and explanation of the ending)

After eight handwritten pages of notes taken over two viewings (aside from the first recreational viewing), I have only more questions and not enough answers as to the truth of Shutter Island. The easiest explanation is the one that is offered in a straightforward fashion by the film itself. However, there are lots of questionable bits. My hope in writing this is not to assert my own “absolute truth” and to impose it on others, but to bring to light the many things that poke holes in the straightforward narrative fed to us by Dr Cawley. What follows are a series of questions and points of consideration that I ask all of you to try to examine in order to form your own interpretation of what happened on Shutter Island.

What Happened on Shutter Island? A Summary of Considerations

Before I present to you my narrative as based on the evidence I’ve provided, I want to show you a concise list of things that bring to light just how questionable the reality presented by the doctors really is. I invite my readers to keep this list in mind and to form their own conclusions on what really happened in this movie.

  • Teddy makes sure to mention that “it was the smoke that got her, not the fire.” It is important to him that his wife was not burnt to death.
  • Teddy never mentions his children by name or in his verbally recounted personal narratives. Additionally, when he says that four people died in the fire, he only mentions his wife specifically. Think about it: if your whole family died in a fire, wouldn’t you say that “my wife and kids died in that fire”, or “my whole family died in that fire”? In contrast, he does mention his wife by name.
  • Everybody is trying to get Teddy to accept false memories. One big example is when Deputy Warden McPherson says that Teddy said himself that nobody would survive the rocky cliffs without shoes; in fact, it was Dr Sheehan who said this. Also note how everybody calls him Marshal over and over again, to reinforce the idea that he is indeed a U.S. Marshal.
  • In the scene where he is denied access to the records, Teddy doesn’t know where his report is going to go: Dr Sheehan completes his sentence for him, saying that the report will go to the FBI (“Hoover’s boys”).
  • We can’t really trust anything the doctors say: they proved their duplicity by trying to pass the nurse off as Rachel Solando.
  • Dr Rachel Solando (in the cave) calls Teddy a Marshal, but she couldn’t have known that he is a Marshal if she was really on the run because Teddy only identifies himself as a cop.
  • Teddy doesn’t know what a real revolver feels like: he confuses a cheap water pistol for a real one.
  • The name ‘Andrew Laeddis’ looks made up when compared to the name of ‘Edward Daniels’. That is to say that Edward Daniels is the source of the anagram, not the re-arranged product.
  • The quote, “Why are you all wet, baby?” is misspoken in Teddy’s ‘memory’ of what supposedly happened as described by Dr Cawley. Instead, he says, “Baby, why are you all wet?”
  • Although this is a weak point, his wife Dolores calls him Teddy in his dreams.
  • Why does Dr Sheehan call out the name Teddy at the very end of the movie?

What really happened – An Explanation of Shutter Island From Beginning to End

Teddy Daniels’s real name is Edward ‘Teddy’ Daniels. He is a World War II veteran. Coming back from the war, he became the maintenance man at his own apartment building; he was never really a U.S. Marshal. He was married to Dolores Chanal, but has no children. He is a pyromaniac who burnt down his own apartment, killing four people—one of which was his wife. He is also a conspiracy theory buff.

In his extreme mental distress at learning that his fire killed his wife, he broke down and dissociated himself from reality. He created a new history. In this new history, a hideous man named Andrew Laeddis (really a reflection of the ugly and unbearable side of himself) was the man who “lit the match that caused the fire that killed [his] wife.” Andrew Laeddis was sent to Shutter Island. To explain his own existence on Shutter Island, Teddy Daniels remade himself as a U.S. Marshal, originally sent here to hunt down Andrew Laeddis.

In reality, the newly incarcerated Teddy Daniels was declared insane and was sent to Shutter Island. At Shutter Island, Teddy became the subject of an experiment. The experiment was one in which the psychiatrists would attempt to implant false memories into Teddy’s mind. Teddy, in a state of delusion, claimed that he was a U.S. Marshal to justify his presence. He met Dr Cawley who invented Rachel Solando for him to hunt down. Dr Sheehan, posing as Teddy’s fellow Marshal and partner Chuck, stays close to him to push him in the right direction. He encourages Teddy to continue the hunt (“I’ve never quit anything”); instills paranoid fear in him (the mausoleum scene); and plays upon that paranoia (urging him not to go to the lighthouse in an exercise in reverse psychology), all in an attempt to ensure that he reaches the lighthouse (in a highly unstable state) for the final event.

When Teddy reaches the lighthouse, he is confronted by the inconsistencies and flawed logic of everything that he has been going through. He is presented with a far more reasonable explanation, though it is a fabricated one. This is the point at which the experiment is judged to have either failed or succeeded. If Teddy accepts this fictitious account, the psychiatrists have succeeded in attempting to implant a false memory into a patient.

Teddy has been through this before, and he now realizes that there is no way out of Shutter Island. He tells the doctors that he accepts their narrative in order to avoid lobotomy. However, sitting on the steps outside, he reconsiders and decides that lobotomy would be better than chasing Andrew Laeddis for the rest of his life: he figures they’ll just try to keep forcing this lake house narrative on him over and over again. When asking whether it’d be “better to live as a monster or die a good man,” Teddy is making a choice to take the lobotomy and thus die a good man. He refuses to accept the reality that he is just a maintenance man whose wife died because of his pyromania, and is instead perpetually stuck in a delusion in which he is Teddy Daniels, U.S. Marshal hunting down Andrew Laeddis (an entity created in his dissociative disorder), the man who killed his wife.

Things to Question

Here are some things to take into consideration, questions to ask yourself to formulate your own interpretation of the film. What follows is the reasoning behind my interpretation.

Is Shutter Island really a government operated correctional facility for the criminally insane?

Military field radios at Shutter Island

I like to start with this because it’s one of the first pieces of reality that is presented to us.

At the very least, it is affiliated with the military. The Warden drives a military jeep that has government plates, and in the ending lighthouse scene, Dr Cawley uses a military field radio to notify someone to tend to the guard that Teddy knocked out.

The Warden is also described by Teddy as an “ex-military prick” (this of course is not necessarily reliable or specifically confirmed: the orderly only says that he won’t “argue with you there”). Finally, the guards are using the M1 Garand rifle, a military weapon. Of course, I’m no expert on the historical use of military weaponry in non-military correctional facilities (such usage is more common at maximum security facilities in the modern day).

A military jeep with government plates on Shutter Island

With that said, the first two points still stand. While there may be nothing inherently suspicious about a correctional facility run by the government, it would reason that an actual military-run prison—one that is not conducting any shady experiments—would have military police and not corrections officers. I’ll admit that this is a rather weak point, but it’s something to take note of nonetheless.

The Role Playing Game as a Brainwashing Experiment

Try watching the movie with the perspective that the doctors are all trying to impress their version and reality onto Teddy. Note how they always address him as Marshal. This is a way for them to reinforce the idea that he is indeed a U.S. Marshal investigating Shutter Island. They never ask him to recall anything. Instead, they simply present a narrative for Teddy to accept. It’s quite possible that they are experimenting with ways to implant false memories: not a bad way to create a patsy. Note: 2 May 2012. It’s also possible that calling him Marshal is an easy way for the writer to avoid committing the character to either identity (Teddy or Andrew).

Earlier in the film, there is a scene in which Teddy is examining Rachel Solando’s room. Dr Sheehan is the one who points out the fact that Rachel did not bring the shoes. Deputy Warden McPherson was not present in this scene. Yet in a concurrent scene in which Teddy asks about the caves he sees in the distance, McPherson says, “You said yourself Marshal, she’s got no shoes.” Teddy never said this. It was Dr Sheehan. This is more evidence that what we are watching is an experiment in implanting memories. In a meta sort of way, it’s also a way to implant memories in the audience watching the movie: some people may “remember” that Teddy said that line. Clever, no?

Perhaps this whole role playing game that the doctors at Shutter Island created is actually a form of mind control in and of itself. Forget the lobotomies and other cruelties: what Teddy is going through is a cruel new experiment.

Was Teddy actually a U.S. Marshal?

This is not so clear. When he is getting angry at Dr Cawley for his lack of cooperation, he says, “We’re going to file our reports and hand it over to…,” fumbling with the correct government agency that would be in charge: Dr Sheehan finishes his thought, saying that the report would be given to “Hoover’s boys” (the FBI). Unusual for a law enforcement man who’s been on the job for a while, I’d say. Yet earlier, he was able to identify MI5 and the OSS as intelligence agencies.

What does this imply? It’s up for grabs, really. But maybe Teddy is just a conspiracy theorist obsessed with intelligence agencies. Perhaps when Deputy Warden McPherson tells him that “Executive Order 319 in the Federal Code of Penitentiaries” gives him final authority, Teddy’s leg was being pulled: maybe there is no such order. Just a thought.

But really, the questionability of Teddy’s status as a U.S. Marshal is evident in the ending lighthouse scene, when Teddy claims he knows that his gun is loaded because of the weight. However, he is entirely wrong: the revolver is a water pistol. It’s quite difficult to mistake a metal firearm for a cheap plastic one that can be broken by hand. Does Teddy really know what a real loaded revolver feels like in his hand? The dent in the barrel he described could be just a sign of his “highly intelligent and complex fictions.” All of this points to the fact that Teddy could very well not be a U.S. Marshal.

So if Teddy was not an actual U.S. Marshal, then what is he doing at Shutter Island? And if he wasn’t a Marshal, then what is he?
Note: 2 May 2012. Whether Teddy is a Marshal or not doesn’t seem to matter too much, I feel.

Teddy Daniels as Andrew Laeddis, Pyromaniac

It’s quite possible that he actually was the Andrew Laeddis that he described to Dr Sheehan: the maintenance man of his apartment building, the one who lit the match that burnt his house down. Perhaps Teddy Daniels is the pyromaniac. After all, there is consistent use of imagery depicting matches in Teddy’s hands. He also seems to be quite knowledgeable about how to start fires, especially big ones: he somehow knows how to set a car on fire, improvising with a tie and a pebble to create a fuse. I doubt that’s standard training in the U.S. Marshals.

There is compelling visual evidence that Teddy Daniels is indeed the pyromaniac. During a dream sequence, Teddy meets a scarred man (I call him Scarred Laeddis).

Extreme closeup of matches in Shutter Island

This scene contains the first use of the extreme close-up shot of a hand lighting a match. In this scene, that hand belongs to Scarred Laeddis. In the rest of the film, the only other time we see this same extreme close-up of a hand lighting a match in the same way is when we see Teddy lighting it. Thus, I posit that Teddy is this scarred man named Andrew Laeddis. I feel extremely strongly about this: considering these shots, it’s as if Scorsese is telling us that Teddy is the same person as the scarred man, the person who lights matches in the same way.

Psychologically speaking, the big ugly scar speaks to a reflection of the scarring of his psyche, as well as to the horrifying ugliness he sees in himself. Scar Laeddis offers him his flask of alcohol, saying “I know how much you need it.” This is Teddy’s dissociated identity speaking to himself.

Matches in Shutter Island

So let us consider that Teddy is a pyromaniac. Teddy is thus the pyromaniac who set his apartment on fire, a fire that proceeded to kill his wife. Quite reasonably, he carries an immense amount of guilt for the death of his wife, which is why he soothes himself by saying that “it was the smoke that got her, not the fire.” Perhaps Teddy is not an actual Marshal. More likely, he is in reality only a World War II veteran-turned maintenance man who burned down his own apartment building. In which case, what is he doing on Shutter Island? It could be for any number of reasons. If he is just a pyromaniac, perhaps he was taken to the island the first chance they got: when he was caught for committing arson.

Teddy’s Children

Because Teddy never mentions his children in his personal verbal narratives (they appear only in hallucinations and dreams), it’s quite likely that he indeed has no children. Remember, he only mentioned his wife specifically amongst the four people that died in the fire at his apartment. Who on earth wouldn’t say that their children died in the fire as well? Teddy in fact had no children.

For one, Teddy never sees the boys at all: not in hallucinations, not in dreams. The only one of his “children” that he saw was the little girl. And that little girl first shows up when he dreams of the frozen bodies at Dachau.

The little girl frozen at Dachau

How can Teddy have hallucinations of Rachel Laeddis (his daughter) if he never had any children?

Remember, the doctors said that he had regressed many times. This means that it’s quite within the realm of possibility that he was exposed to those same photos that he was shown at the last lighthouse scene. The daughter never appears anywhere but in hallucinations. Besides, there is even stronger evidence that his supposed daughter is ac tually the little girl he saw in Dachau.

What is the Lake House Narrative?

The lake house scene in Shutter Island

The lake house narrative is the story that Dr Cawley and Dr Sheehan tell Teddy is what actually happened. According to them, his wife burned down their apartment. From there, they moved to a lake house where she drowned their three children in the lake. Teddy then killed his wife – presumably to “set [her] free”.

This narrative is completely false: it is a version of reality that the doctors are trying to get Teddy to accept. Perhaps it is only a mistake in the filming of the movie, but a closer examination of the lake house scene shows that the children’s bodies don’t even appear in the lake until after Teddy starts looking for them. Not only that, one should note that Teddy says, “Baby? Why are you all wet?” when he is “recalling” this lake house narrative, rather than “Why are you all wet, baby?” as repeated by Dr Cawley as well as his wife in his hallucinations.

Who pushes Teddy along on his journey?

Everybody works to move Teddy through the experiment. Dr Sheehan is always the one to push Teddy along in a particular direction. In the scene where they are sleeping in their bunk beds, he nudges Teddy to continue the investigation. In Ward C, George Noyce suggests that Laeddis is in the lighthouse. When they get close, Dr Sheehan, in an act of reverse psychology, tries to dissuade him from going; at which point Teddy becomes suspicious of Chuck’s identity and tests him with by asking him how the weather is in Portland, knowing that Chuck is actually supposed to be from Seattle. Teddy’s movement throughout the entire film is influenced by key players, a reminder that he didn’t go down this journey with free will.

Is the “real” Rachel Solando real?

Dr Rachael Solando in the cave at Shutter Island
Dr Rachel Solando (as opposed to Nurse Rachel Solando) is found by Teddy in the cave. When he says that he’s a cop, she slips up and says, “You’re the marshal.” If her story is true, if she was in hiding because of her inquisition into the conspiracy, then she couldn’t possibly know that he’s a U.S. Marshal: he’s in an orderly’s uniform. There isn’t any real Rachel Solando. Rachel Solando is entirely fictitious, an entity dreamed up by Teddy Daniels’ tortured mind. Think about it: the conspiracy theory she talks about is exactly something that a crazy patient would say. This Dr Solando is really just Teddy’s imagination at work. Where’s my evidence that she’s only a figment of his imagination, you ask? The white flashes.

What’s with the white flashes/lightning flashes?

Another visual theme in Shutter Island is the white flash. It happens when Teddy is sleeping in the orderly bunk, where we first see the warden (played by Ted Levine). Teddy goes to sleep and has a crazy dream. Then he “wakes up” in the same room he fell asleep in and sees his wife. We see very quickly that Teddy is actually just having another dream: he “woke up” from one dream into another one. When he really does wake up, it’s a white flash of lightning that wakes him. Later, when Teddy spends the night in the cave with Rachel Solando, he also awakes with a white flash. These white flashes are a reminder that Teddy is not experiencing true reality.

Who is George Noyce?

George Noyce in Ward C
George Noyce is very likely exactly who he appears to be: someone Teddy met outside of Shutter Island. The truth is that he was part of their psychological experiments and that he was imprisoned for stabbing those men. When Teddy came along to Shutter Island, they needed someone he knew from outside the experiment, someone he could trust (at least to a certain degree). Thus, the folks on Shutter Island took George Noyce out of Dedham Prison and put him back on Shutter Island. So it is true that he is here because of Teddy “and Laeddis.” To Noyce, all he knows is that Laeddis is some guy that Teddy is hunting down. He doesn’t necessarily know that Laeddis is just a fictional character created for the experiment. But he does know that all of this is an elaborate game made for Teddy.

Water imagery in Shutter Island

Some may interpret this to the benevolent reality that surrounds and traps him. This is a convenient explanation, but let’s take a closer look at what water actually does in the film.

Water surrounds Shutter Island. A violent storm—a form of water—serves to keep Teddy Daniels trapped on the island.

Shutter Island - Rainy Car Window 2
Water obfuscates Teddy’s vision.
Shutter Island - Rainy Car Window
Water distorts images.
Running ink
Water distorts this image too.

Water serves to obfuscate Teddy’s view throughout the film. Rain makes it difficult for him to see out of the back seat of the car. Rain smears the word RUN written by Mrs. Kearns in Teddy’s notepad. The ocean separates him from the lighthouse, prevents him from leaving the island. Supposedly, the lake is the cause of his children’s death. Water, in other words, is bad news for Teddy Daniels.

Teddy Daniels is Edward Daniels

Dr Cawley explains the anagrams on Shutter Island

The true identity of Teddy Daniels is Edward Daniels, and not Andrew Laeddis. The ending lighthouse scene consists of Dr Sheehan and Cawley feeding Teddy the lake house narrative, and implanting the idea that Teddy is actually Andrew Laeddis. These are folks feeding good old Edward ‘Teddy’ Daniels horse manure by the truckload. If Teddy accepts his identity as Andrew Laeddis, he must also accept the lake house narrative. Both of these are falsehoods though. Everything—and I mean everything—coming out of the staff’s mouths cannot be trusted. They are all in on some massive game. Everything about Andrew Laeddis is false. Besides, when you think about it, the name Laeddis looks made up. Edward Daniels seems like a much more plausible name, especially considering the time period.

Finally, in the last scene of the movie, Dr Sheehan calls out, “Teddy?” At this point, it is clear to him that Teddy is no longer ‘crazy’ and is of relatively sound mind. Teddy supposedly has accepted his identity as Andrew Laeddis. If he really was Andrew Laeddis as the doctors proposed, then Dr Sheehan would call him Andrew by instinct, considering the role playing game was supposedly over. Instead, he slips up and calls him Teddy because Teddy Daniels’s true identity is Edward ‘Teddy’ Daniels.

Andrew Laeddis: Fact or Fiction?

Andrew Laeddis, the scarred psyche of Edward Daniels

So if Andrew Laeddis and the history attached to the name is a falsehood, that means Teddy Daniels is Edward Daniels the pyromaniac who killed his own wife. So what is he doing on Shutter Island? Well, he got sent to prison after getting caught for setting the fire, and then he was transferred to Shutter Island. This is the narrative that Teddy invents for Andrew Laeddis, but it is actually his own story.

The reason he transfers his personal history to a dissociated identity by the name of Andrew Laeddis is because he carries an immense amount of guilt for killing his own wife (when he set his apartment on fire), so much that he assuages himself by saying that she died from smoke and not from burning (explained on the ferry scene, a point he emphasizes, almost as if he is telling himself for his own benefit and not just for Chuck). Instead of dealing with reality, he creates the alternate identity of Andrew Laeddis, a separate entity who is the man who killed his wife. Then, he makes himself a U.S. Marshal and gives himself the task of finding Laeddis. The doctors at Shutter Island are conducting experiments. In this experiment, they allow for his fantastic alternate reality to be played out. At the end—if the doctors were benevolent—Teddy should be able to see that there is no Andrew Laeddis and must accept the truth that he is actually the one who killed his wife in a fire.

Instead, the doctors are experimenting with implanting false memories and attempt to convince Teddy that he shot his wife after she killed his (non-existent) children, and that he is in fact Andrew Laeddis. So far, he has not accepted the doctors’ proposed reality. Assuming he gets to the vital point at which the whole game culminates (the lighthouse scene), then he must either accept the reality or not. If he does not, it counts as a regression. They could then detain him on the ferry until his memory ‘resets’, at which point he regresses into his identity as Teddy Daniels the U.S. Marshal, hunting down the man named Andrew Laeddis, the man who burnt down his apartment and killed his wife.

However, back in the real world, the idea to hunt down Rachel Solando was introduced in an experiment. The key point here is that Teddy came to Shutter Island insane, believing he was a Marshal hunting down Andrew Laeddis. Only later, when they started experimenting, did Rachel Solando become part of his hunt.

The Lighthouse

The lighthouse isn’t in the same place as the beginning of the movie. Or at the very least, something changed. Look at these screenshots.

Shutter Island - First occurrence of the lighthouse

Shutter Island - Last occurrence of the lighthouse

The first one is from the first sighting, the second one is from the last shot. As you can see, the first lighthouse had a great length of land lined with fences. The second shot shows the lighthouse without the long fences. This implies that the lighthouse was changed. Are there two lighthouses? I’m not sure, but at the very least, this should seem suspicious.

The thing aboutthe lighthouse is that it is actually home to patient experimentation. If there was no conspiracy going on, then Deputy Warden McPherson’s claim that the lighthouse housed a sewage treatment plant would’ve been validated when Teddy finally got in there. Instead, that whole lighthouse was staged as the final part of the experiment. It was completely empty, save for the little office Dr Cawley set up on the top floor. I’m no plumber, but I highly doubt that it’s easy to dismantle sewage treatment equipment and leave no sign of it.

Shutter Island - Lighthouse Interior

Is Teddy really crazy?

Most people ask this question because they want to know whether Teddy Daniels is Teddy or Andrew. My interpretation is that Andrew Laeddis is a fictional identity that is being forced upon Teddy. But I also think that Teddy had to be a little crazy to end up on Shutter Island to begin with: he is, after all, a pyromaniac. He shows that he is capable of developing fantastic narratives, evidenced when he quickly invented a story for how the water pistol in his hand was real, loaded, and actually his, complete with a backstory for the “dent in the barrel.” He has hallucinations, but those may be the result of the cigarettes and pills that are given to him. But that doesn’t mean that Shutter Island is not home to a bunch of psychiatrists with military affiliations who conduct experiments on the patients.

Is it better to live as a monster or die a good man?

In the much debated ending of Shutter Island, Teddy asks whether it’s “better to live as a monster or die a good man.” He then goes willingly to receive his lobotomy. The interpretation: he is saying that he would rather effectively die (by undergoing a lobotomy) as a good man. But why?

The fictional lake house narrative is unbearable to Teddy because his own wife killed his children, and he, in emotional anguish, misguidedly killed his own wife. In absolute reality, he is a pyromaniac who killed his own wife. Either of these realities is too painful to accept.

Thus, there is only one scenario in which he can live with himself: when he deludes himself into believing that he is Teddy Daniels, U.S. Marshal on the hunt for Andrew Laeddis (his dissociated tortured self), he is the good man tracking down the man who killed his wife (a man who is not himself).

Final thoughts

As you can see, I reject the straightforward narrative that the doctors present. There are far too many suspicious factors at play. So if we reject that narrative, what about Teddy’s? There’s a problem with his narrative too, because he’s off his rocker. Because I could trust neither the doctors nor Teddy himself, I was left to my own devices to construct a narrative.

Of course, there are many issues with all interpretations of the story, mine included. Inevitably, there will be holes in anybody’s version of the “real” events. Perhaps the point is that there is no definitive version of the real events. Reality is a slippery thing, and our personal narratives are always colored by our most recent memories. From an artistic point of view, perhaps this is what it feels like to be insane: to be unable to discern reality from fantasy, to be unable to tell truth from fiction.

With regards to cinematic concerns, I have yet to determine the importance of the fire or water imagery. I still don’t know the significance of the repetition of the record player. Perhaps given more time, I’ll discover the themes behind the usage of such devices. But in the mean time, I am satisfied with this conclusion, given all of the visual and thematic evidence.

I do urge all of us to consider that we are watching a film; we should be mindful to keep to the director’s vision—not the novel’s writer’s vision—and to use the visual language of cinema as the lens through which we should examine this film. Speaking to the point of interpretation, I am of the school of thought that what a creative work’s creator says about his own work is not nearly as reliable as what we can conclude for ourselves: artists can say whatever they want about their work, but it does not necessarily reflect what is actually experienced. I am partial to the New Critic and deconstructionist school of theory; and this particular analysis, while not necessarily written through any strict theoretical lens, tends towards the deconstructionists. The film has far too many suspicious absences and omissions, contradictions, and conflicts for me to consider it to be unified: I find that the meaning and implication of the film is not what is suggested to us by the surface narrative of the film. I believe that the latent content says volumes more about the film than the overt content does.

Author’s note: This is a place for intelligent discussion. Please be productive when writing your comments. If you are going to provide your point of view, please provide us with at least a modicum of reasoning. Frankly I don’t care at all what you think happened unless you also express your reasoning. I will delete any comments that do not add to the discussion. I will also delete all comments with any sort of negativity in it. Be civil, be smart. Thanks.


Noone really gets it.
He was a war veteran who returned from the war and became a pyro who burnt down his apartment and wife, he never had kids. The kids are ones he saw in the concentration camp.

The whole game was that they were trying to plant false memories into his head. They said the wife drowned the kids and he shot her, his name is Andrew Laeddis etcetc.

In reality his real name is Teddy but he creates the U.S Marshall fiction to cope with his dark side (pyro) that he calls Andrew Laeddis. Watch when he lights the matches etc.

Not many people actually follow the whole mission of the institute to plant false memories and the drugs.


@jkr1997 "Not many people actually follow the whole mission of the institute to plant false memories and the drugs." Really? Maybe we can take that even a step further then? I heard an analysis that stated that this movie ITSELF is a test or experiment of mind manipulation ON the audience. See how easy it is to change people's belief by switching the identity of the MC (main character) from a US Marshall into a mental patient through the Lighthouse scene? (people are first led to believe he is a US Marshall Teddy, then later introduced him as Andrew Laeddis who burned and set fire to his house, then we are told by the "doctor" that he ACTUALLY drowned his and children). This movie is clearly a trap to lead us to believe that the MC MUST be one of the 4 combinations of characters introduced in the movie (war veteran,  Andrew Laeddis\FIRE, Teddy, Us Marshall\WATER). We are basically being sealed in the four corners of the castle when they introduced the "rule of 4." 

Seriously, now how about I say ALL of the characters introduced in the movie are false memories, and the MC actually is NONE of the 4 crisscross types of characters. While the whole TRUTH of exactly who is the MC appears to be stuck in MUD, there is one hint about the truth given in the cemetery scene when Chuck said "when you are looking into them, maybe they are also looking into you?" Clearly, TRUTH is in the eyes of the beholder. 

And I'll introduce an even more bizarre speculation, and that is perhaps the MC actually was a "missing doctor" they refer to as "Rachel" who tried to disclose their operation done on the island, and tried to escape on the ferry, but was himself being brainwashed into thinking he is someone else, and everything in his memory are false implants. 

Then, in the end scene, where they take them for the lobotomy surgery, instead of actually cutting his brain, they would wipe away all his memories again and plant other false memories... an endless loop of repetition.   


@Kian Stenbolt So do tell us your clever analysis. ;)


The gun that they tell Teddy is his is actually Chuck's (remember the holster?) Why lie and tell Teddy it is his gun when it's Chuck? Answer: they're further trying to destabilize his mind. You're wrong on some points. He was a Marshall and not a pyromaniac. He was completely sane when he was lured to the island. 


[edited by moderator]...Dr. Rachel in a cave, and you say it's just in his mind.

"Dr. Rachel told him that it takes 36-48 hours for psychotropic drugs to take effect and make him pliable for them to control. The first sign will be tremors in his hands, which he already has."

Is this kind of specialized field knowledge an ordinary mental patient or a U.S. Marshall capable of fantasizing?

And another question, if you are a SANE person and just discover that your body already show signs of being drugged, would you stay in the cave and wait for the drug effect to wear off or would you immediately return to the cluthes of those who drugged you?

wistfulwriter moderator

@jsttestng I'm cleaning up your comment for you because the rules say to be nice. Thanks for sharing.


Just some thoughts:

How do we know that 36-48 hours actually is true, and not something that he made up by himself?!

How long a drug takes to have an effect could have been told to him earlier, like when he first was admitted (it's not unheard of that doctors etc tells the patient how long it will take before they feel the effects)

Drugs tend to start working rather quickly (just think about when they sedate someone), and at least within an hour.
But the time it takes for certain drugs to wear off is longer and could easily be 36-48 hours..

Drugs that are supposed to make people calmer/more pliable tends to make muscles etc more relaxed, whilst tremors often is a symptom of withdraw... Again, pointing to that he actually is coming off the drugs (and not as "Dr. Rachel" said, that he's feeling the effects).

And yes, the sane thing to do would probably be to wait in the cave...


Here's another interpretation of what REALly happened.

1. There really is a doctor Rachel on Shutter Island and she really did went missing... tried to escape because she knew too much of their secret experiments. 

2. The others (especially Dr. Cawley) is anxious to find and bring her back in fear that she might try to blow the whistle on what they are doing on the island.

3. They need someone to help them find Rachel, which would be Teddy, who is in fact patient #67.

4. Rachel and Teddy or Andrew actually met BEFORE, they even escaped togther (of course not shown in the movie), so that part about Teddy having a conversation with  Rachel in a cave of the cliff is NOT JUST his imagination or hallucination but an actual piece of his memory. (She addressed him as Marshall because Andrew keeps thinking he is a Marshall, so if Rachel is actually a doctor who had a conversation with him, she would know that.)

5. Andrew or Teddy got captured after their escape, but they still couldn't find Rachel, so they NEED Andrew to roleplay as Teddy and try to find where she is.  (Since they escaped together, he must have some memory of the incident.)

6. After Teddy tells about his conversation with Dr. Rachel at the cave, they know where she is and is able to locate her. So now "Teddy" has served his function, and there is no need for him anymore, so they sedate him and try to make him go back to be patient #67.

7. Apparently, Andrew refuse to let go of the identity of Teddy and would rather die for it. THE END.  


- Teddy was a U.S Marshall

- He did have 3 kids

- No apartment was burnt

- Rachel Salondo is not a patient.

Teddy Daniels a former U.S marshall couldn't bare to take the realisation of the drowning of his kids. This is evident as when 'water' is seen throughout the film, Teddy doesn't feel okay. (e.g starting scene where he's sea sick, headaches and hallucinations from the rain). 

Water isn't the only evidence that made me suspicious of this idea. I found it interesting how Teddy mentions he couldn't save them (his children) which makes me believe that this is the cause of his guilt because he was once a big hero U.S marshall but couldn't seem to save his 3 children from his insane wife which also makes me believe his children did exist. 

I do not believe there was a burning apartment because if you notice throughout the film, when fire is present in the scene this is often when Teddy is hallucinating. Scenes like where we see Dr. Cawley near his fire depicting him as an evil character, the cave scene with what we think is Rachel Salondo, Ward C where we talk to what we think is Andrew Laeddis and obviously the burning apartment. When we hear Teddy Daniels speak about how "the smoke got her" first, I think the 'smoke' is a representation of stress from Teddy's past and not being there for Dolores and the kids. this was too much for Dolores so the stress or "smoke" is what got her (made her snap) and she killed her kids, drowning them.


A few bizarre events are not covered, for example :

The Missing Alcohol bottle

In the dream sequence, Dolores initially held a bottle of alcohol(?) and later in the same scene, it was missing yet she was still grasping something. Teddy obviously knew it was a dream, yet the bottle vanished. Now, if something of major importance happens in a dream, one usually notices it, but nooo, woman grasping at nothing is not fastastical. I paused for a few minutes and thought, teddy knew it was a dream, so he more or less controls what happens there, so the missing bottle was his doing. Then it dawned upon me. Yes, as stated before, its part in the film itself is more or less insignificant. It can even be removed and it probably wont change anything. I believe the missing bottle was a hint for the audience, a hint of what actually happened, Dolores held a bottle, letting us know that it is a dream/fantasy(obvious, I know, hell, even Teddy knew but...) later on, when the bottle was gone, Teddy (Us too), saw that she was charred, telling us that Dolores/WhoeverSheWas indeed was burned for real. Also if you think about it, Dolores said "You can never leave" a tad bit too much. In a nut shell, Teddy tried to go back to fantasy(The Bottle in hand, alcohol signifying his sanity/insanity), but reality struck him (if only briefly) hence the missing bottle. What follows also fits, Dolores/WSH burned, Teddy cant leave the place, he is here, ashes raining down, i still cant dont fully understand what Dolores meant by "She's here though". Maybe it meant the fire burned but Dolores and the said young girl, hence "She's here (with me,death)". This  part of the article is about the Missing bottle and the missing bottle only, it doesnt deal with whether Dolores was his wife, whether he had a child or whether he started the fire.

The Invisible Glass

When Teddy was questioning the (In)sane patient, she drank from an invisible glass, this brings many questions:

Q.Was there a glass with water at all?

A. Yes, if you watched the carefully, Chuck handed her a glass with water in it, and when she placed it down, it had obvious signs of recently being filled with water with the water droplets running down the outer side of the glass.. simply put, it was wet.

Q.Did she actually drank from it?

A. Yes, suppose she didnt drink from it, she somehow emptied it, Teddy would have noticed anything unsual.

Q.Was it a hallucination of Teddy?

A.Maybe, but improbable. Thaere was no reaction or any sign from Teddy that he saw her drinking from nothing. Maybe he thought she was mad and let her play along, but improbable as I stated before, no reaction from Teddy.

Some you theorize, water signified obscurity, reality, etc. Well, I am not here to express my opinions on the significance of water in this film. Maybe like the Alcohol, a hint for us audience that there was no "water" in that scene.


I question whether Teddy was actually married - why refer to his "wife" by her maiden name? This appears unusual for the 1950s. Could she have been his girlfriend before the war?

PTSD fantasies triggered by memories from the Dachau camp could be linked to both the record player and falling ashes. Musical activities and a crematorium were both significant features at the camp.

The lakeside house is a fictional setting of false memories. This place appears to be a retreat and not somewhere Teddy would go to resume normal life after he/Dolores had burnt down an apartment block.

The use of clothing that looks like German uniforms appears to be a device to create anxiety or provoke PTSD - maybe as a test for Teddy, or part of the treatment of other prisoners?

The children don't feel like real characters that Teddy knows or loves. When burning the doctor's car, the hallucination of Dolores does not interact with the little girl in a motherly way. All she does is hold her hand dispassionately, there is markedly less visible affection between Dolores and the girl than appears in Teddy's memory of the frozen little girl with her arm wrapped over a body at camp.

I don't believe Teddy was a marshal. I think his return to civilian life after the war was very brief before he ended up in a military psychiatric prison. He may have been a caretaker and burnt the apartment building down, killing a mother and her 3 children because he didn't realise it was a Saturday and they were at home.

Although he was involved in unlawful killing of German officers at Dachau, I don't believe Teddy intentionally murdered anyone after the war. I don't believe that he would be allowed to run around unsupervised at the Island if he was known to be a murderer, even as part of a treatment plan. The staff would never agree to it. When threatened with the idea of violence in the car, he only says he would put up a good fight, he is not frightened or aggressive.

He was never going to leave the island. The treatment was to see if he would accept a fictionalised version of his past, and if not to accept a lobotomy to cope with his mental illness.


Daniel's willingness to undergo a Lobotomi proves that he is neither Teddy the real US Marshal, nor Teddy (a personality created by Daniels'  conspiracy regression), nor Andrew (a personality created by doctors to make him believe he is).

1. If Daniels is Andrew, the real 67th patient, how is a mentally-ill patient willing to be lobotomized, or uttering a principle of being a good man and  a monster?

By calling his partner "Chuck" at the end of film, there are 2 possibilities: Chuck & Teddy Daniels are 2 real US Marshals, or otherwise Daniels is Andrew who regresses again into his hallucination as Teddy.

However, Daniels' willingness to undergo a Lobotomi is against 2 possibilities.

- If Teddy and Chuck are two real Marshals, how is he as US Marshal wiling to surrender without giving a fight to the malpractice of a bunch of civilian doctors?

- if Daniels is Andrew who regressed into previous illusion again as "Teddy" the US Marshal, how is he in the illusion as a US Marshal willing to surrender to the malpractice of some civilian doctors?


No no no, he says "is it better to live as a monster than die a good man?" he says this because he understands the true story the docs are telling him, but would prefer to "die a good man" in his mind, so he chooses to return to his self-created U.S. Marshal story.


I think Teddy is a U.S. Marshall, because when they are entering the institution, Warden McPherson tells them to hand over their guns, and teddy easily gives his revolver, but Dr Sheehan could not do it easily. This might be a reason that Teddy was familiar with his revolver and was potentially a Marshall!

However, about him , not being able to recognize a real and fake revolver, we could say that we was using high doses of drugs and he was really anxious on the lighthouse.


Nalk knows what he is talking about. You guys are the ones who like to overthink those types of movies dont you? :D You are like crazy conspiracy theorists just like the movie portrays Teddy.

something cool
something cool

I think that the whole movie is in Teddy’s head.  There is no Island, he is told that.  There is no storm, he is told that. 

If you notice, the rain is always pointed out to him by other people in the movie.  He believes it because he is in fact crazy.  He is suffering severly from PTSD during WW2.  And I would go as far as to say that he has no wife or kids.  All of this is put in his head in an effort to study the idea that they can implement ideas or memories in someones head. 

The next question is, why Teddy, sure he has PTSD but there are a lot of people out there suffering from distinguishing reality from fantasy.

The reason they pick Teddy is simple, he is a trained killer. He was in WW2 and people were very afraid in America, mainly psycologists how they would react when they came home.  Would they kill people? Would they go crazy?

Another factor is the time, there is a reason Scorsese tells us the year, 1954, the height of the “red scare”…

I think Teddy is apart of a massive experiment to utlize people trained during WW2 to perhaps implant memories into their head to be implanted in the Soviet Union to cripple communism in other countries.  This was not uncommon by our own military to take very crazy tactics to find every path to take down the Soviets in the event that we would ever be at war. 

So to conclude, nothing in this movie is REAL, other than the fact that Teddy was in WW2, he is suffering from PTSD and the government is trying to see if they can use these highly trained killers as future weapons. 

He was NEVER married, NEVER had kids, and he NEVER killed anyone. 

The use water and fire to drive this home because in 1945, the winter was so cold and the troops could not light a fire in fear of air raids. 

Teddy is obsessed with fire because he was told he could not light one, and being told you cannot do something will make you obsessed with it.  That is where the lighthouse comes into play, they know he is obsessed with things he cannot do, so by telling him he CANNOT go to the lighthouse, they know he will go there. 

As far as the record playing, that is information they must of gotten from him during post-war interviews to drive home his memories of the DEATH CAMP that made him have PTSD. 

It is all a government ploy to take advantage of PTSD victims during WW2 to combat communism if the situation go any worse. 

I would love to hear thoughts on this theory…please let me know where some holes are in it…


smog dude
smog dude

The part in mental hospital when the lady askes for glass of water but when she lifts her hand her hand is empty & then she sets down the empty glass on the table , what's the explanation for that?


@smog dude I noticed that too! I thought that my eyes were just playing tricks on me and I dismissed it. I'm glad to see someone else noticed it.


@Lainamermaid @smog dude No trick of the eyes: i paused en reviewed the scene a couple of times to make sure that what I saw the first time was true: no glass indeed!


Just having watched the movie and reading the comments posted here, I think that the memory sequences/flashbacks regarding the liberation of Dachau are neglected.

For instance take the Dachau camp commander's failed suicide attempt: We kinda see him crawling on the floor as he has shot himself on the cheek instead of the usual temple area - where Di Caprio's bandaid is placed throughout the entire movie; on his temple, probably covering the scar of a failed suicide attempt that may have happened after he shot his wife by the lake in reality.

It makes perfect sense for a man with his story: Wanting to put a bullet in his own head after losing all his children and killing his wife. Failing, crawling for an hour only to be rescued and placed in a mental institution with potential physical (brain damage, remember migraines) damage on top of a heavy trauma.

The camp commander tried to reach his pistol and finish the suicide job - to end his pain. Di Caprio (the soldier) prevented him from doing so and made him suffer longer. You can see the resemblence with the mental institution's "military prick" warden, a soldierly figure keeping him alive and in agony - while all that Di Caprio wants is to end his pain.

Food for thought regarding the Dachau scenes and the mysterious bandaid, can be elaborated further..


@insomnis My guess about the BandAid on the temple. It covered a small lesion, where an experimental electroconvulsive shock therapy "ECT" electrode was used. The jolt that can stabilize the mood of a frenzied mental patient will usually erase some memories, as well. This fits with the motives of the Men of Science, who needed an effective "reset button" on the occasions of The Subject's repeated relapses into 

delusions. Edward/Andrew character suffered Migraine? Shock treatments cause brain swelling, and headaches. 

Insomnis, we relished your Food for Thought. It is no mystery that Writers and Directors often "make it up as they go along". Then, they hoot with loony laughter, as we The Audience try to interpret their convoluted plots. Bewildered, in the Scorcese Maze. L.O.L.


Watch movie again! The ending is clear and correct. Andrew made up teddy in order to escape from the fact that he killed his wife and his wife killed all his children. Pay attention to doctors, psychiatrists and interviewed patients: their words are especially emphasized on lake, daughters, wife, etc. They try to make Andrew remember and wake up from his unreal hallusination. Pay attention to what goerge noyce told him: he called him Laeddis. Subconscious of Andrew create a hallusination in which everybody seems like a part of a conspiracy. And look at the final scene: Andrew shot the doctor with his gun and he saw blood on the wall, but then blood disappeared and he then understood that the gun is fake! The interpretation above is a sign of danger: man, you gotta go to a hospital; too much imagination :) 

There is only one thing that leaves an open door: the mad woman wrote "RUN" on the notebook. But considering that this woman is crazy, we can ignore it. What if she hallusinates that the therapy that is done on Andrew is a conspiracy. If she was not mad, they would not keep her there. And I guess, the woman in the cave was Anddrew's halusination. Remember, thousands of rats came out of that cave! How real can it be! Whatever she said was a product of defense mechanism of Andrew. Anyway, watch movie twice and everything will be clear. 


I have an idea on "The Law of 4", what it refers to and why it was never explicitly explained. It was purposely left unexplained in the movie because it was not intended by the doctors to direct the hero toward the conclusion they wished him to find. Rather it was intended by the director, Scorsese, as a message to us, the movie audience. In the theatre, there is a concept known as "The Fourth Wall". What we see on stage is three walls but there is an imaginary fourth wall which the audience looks through to see the action on stage. The fourth wall separates the actors from the audience. Sometimes an actor will separate from frozen action on stage and as an aside speak directly to the audience to provide them with information, a special secret just between the actor and audience. This is called, "Breaking the Fourth Wall". Regardless of how it was intended in the book, I'm thinking that's exactly what Scorsese is doing with "The Law of 4" in the movie. Not only is he breaking the fourth wall to deliver this message to the movie audience, but the message itself is all about how both situational fourth walls permeate the movie and how the movie-movie audience fourth wall effectively falls away, capturing us within the insanity of Shutter Island. This is why we are left feeling so disoriented after watching the film, not sure anymore what is real and what is delusion. A bit like life on our planet these days.



@TwerkedTruth But it was explained directly. It's about the anagrams. Dolores Chanal - Rachel Solando and Edward Daniels - Andrew Laeddis. It is explained quickly but it is explained. Watch it again and you'll se. It's in the lighthouse. 


I'm thinking the mystery here is, what is the hero thinking at the end of the movie? If I were in his place I would be convinced I have no idea of what the actual reality is anymore. How could I have been so deluded about being an investigative Marshal in the first place? How could they so easily role play and hallucinate me into this new reality of wife killer? If they have such monstrous capabilities, how can I trust any reality in this place? This wife killer reality could easily be just the latest in a long series of realities they've shuffled me through over who knows how long I've been here. Who knows how I really got here? I may not be guilty of anything. Maybe everything is bogus; the military, the wife, the burned apartment, the Marshal's badge, everything. It's all been implanted. Maybe the only thing real is this vague sense at my core that "whatever they're doing here, it's bad". Maybe that's the real source of my being a "man of violence". Regardless of what is and isn't true, it's clear I'm now their lab rat in this dystopian maze of mind control. Clearly, they can do whatever they like with me like the guards at Dachau. Whatever I do makes me a part of this monstrosity, makes me a lab rat monster in the horror factory of Shutter Island.

Yet, what act of rebellion is even possible? What act of sabotage, however minor, can conceivably be achieved? Only death can remove me from this spinning wheel of manipulation. Death, or the death of lobotomy they threaten. Here's an idea. What if my last act as a whole man turns the tables on them? What if I manipulate the manipulators? What if I fake regression to the Marshal reality thereby manipulating them into removing me from their little collection of experimental subjects? One less rat on their island rock. A small act of sabotage committed under their all knowing noses. Maybe the last sane act of the hopelessly insane man they've turned me into. I hear the doctor call out "Teddy". He's not convinced. He wants to see if I'll turn. I should turn to convince him.

Maybe I'll just stop watching the news.



another thing that was so great about this movie was the disappearing objects. In the scene where Teddy confronts Delores for the first time, she is seen holding a bottle of liquor, but in the next scene the bottle is gone, although her hands still seem to be grasping it. Then, in the scene where Teddy is interviewing Mrs. Kearns, she lifts the glass to drink water, but then the glass is gone, and she is then seen resting the glass on the table. 

I think that this could be interpreted as Teddy's broken reality, and foreshadowing for the audience that something is not right....

I also disagree about Teddy not having any children, I think the whole reason he ended up in there as a patient is because he is in denial about the death of his children. It is so unbearable to think that his kids are dead,and that he could have prevented it, but he has to deal with the reality that his wife did it. Especially in the scene where he is seen carrying his daughter and she asks why he didn't save them, i think that this hallucination is a direct way of telling the audience that he did in fact have kids. 


also, after watching the movie a few times, i think that any scenes where you see fire are scenes of Teddy's fantasies (Rachel in the cave talking about hidden government agendas)... whereas water represents reality (reality of his kids drowning)


For you info you may want to reconsider your diagnosis of D.I.D... He is actually a paranoid schizophrenic with PTSD displaying withdrawal symptoms from the medications used to treat his disorder.... The fact that he is no longer medicated cause him to regress, and thus he experiences both delusion and hallucinations.


I think this film is telling us something about the occult, and CIA mind control programs like MK Ultra and Project Monarch. Could Teddy, as someone interested in learning the truth (conspiracy theorist) have come into some info or witnessed something? Could he, as a respected reputable member of his community, have begun talking and exposing this truth? In order to discredit him, was his family murdered and was he set up/blamed for it, then knocked out and drugged and taken to this psychiatric prison and experimented on? Wouldn't he then be completely discredited as mentally ill, and everything he may have known and was talking about would be craziness....(Look into operation Paperclip) Were they trying to break him down and create a new identity and new memories? There is a lot of occult symbolism in this film. The match could represent Lucifer, the rain is ominous. The lighthouse, like the match, is a light in the dark-illumination/knowledge. Lots of food for thought here...

wistfulwriter moderator

@Clay4  Thanks for sharing! I like to think there's something sinister going on that is in the margin of the stories, and your references to these conspiracy theories are quite interesting. If you ever look into it a little deeper, please do share what you find with us!


I appreciate your perception of this film Wistful Writer - it is as I saw it after watching it just once.  After seeing it more, I am not so sure.  However, there is something that I have noticed that gives credence to your theory that Teddy, is in actuality, Andrew Laeddis.  Throughout the movie each time I have watched it, I've wondered about the significance of the "bandaid" on the left side of Teddy's forehead - this has bugged me because I couldn't figure out why it is there throughout the entire movie.  For that reason, I know there is a significance to it.  Your theory, that he is Andrew Laeddis, who has that "big scar" across his face finally answers that!  Teddy sees it as a scar that runs across his face, when it is actually the scar on his forehead that stays covered during the duration of the movie.  I'm not sure that I accept the theory that he killed his wife when he set the first and that there were no children, but this does lend some evidence to that theory.  Thank you for your perspective!


There is one more observation I'd like to share.  Throughout the film, Teddy refers to Rachel as "the prisoner."  I find this interesting since Teddy knows it is a mental institution.  Each time Teddy does this, Dr. Cawley corrects him by saying "patient."  It is as though Teddy is using this as a reflective statement, insinuating that he himself feels like a prisoner.  Perhaps an indication that he understands his own situation in the institution?  I watched this film several times for an assignment in my psychology class.  I am completing a case study on Leonardo DiCaprio's character, which is pretty cut and dried, but now I want to figure out all the nuances of the film.  I can't quit thinking about it!

wistfulwriter moderator

@babs12560  Please do share with us any further insights you may have, I'm especially interested in what you have to say in regards the application of psychology to the film. 


There is one important water based imagery that you've overlooked... At the interview with the patient Mrs. Kearns, after Chuck brings her the water, she picks up the glass with her left hand, it cuts to Teddy's view of her where her right hand is at her mouth WITHOUT the glass of water and it cuts back to the table where her right hand puts the empty glass back on the table... Perhaps this was some trick played by Teddy's mind where it deliberately canceled out the water because it associated it with the death of the children!

wistfulwriter moderator

@Sankalp  That's a great thought, thanks for sharing! 


There's nothing contradictory about the doctors narrative. You cant construct an alternative narrative for the movie based on the hallucinations of the protagonist, and the near entirety of the movie consists of his hallucinations.


Hi, after a quick etymological research here is what I ended up with: 
1. Laedis, with one "d" means, in latin, hurt, strik, wound, offend
2. Dolores means as a name "douleur" (also a noun in french) which means, suffering, sorrow
3. Chanal, is a family name given to the ones who lived near WATER canals

4. I found nothing about solando

5. This is the most tought by the writer I think, Sheehan is from the Irish word 'síocháin' meaning peace. And there is also "USS Sheehan (DE-541), a United States Navy destroyer escort launched in 1943 but never completed"

wistfulwriter moderator

@Ted Thanks for that, very insightful stuff!

Bhaskar Saikia
Bhaskar Saikia

Guys let me tell u... this movie is actually made to feel how the world seems for a mad person....teddy is actualy edward... One point in the movie explains everything and from that point even teddy realizes that he's actually edward and recalls all events occured in his life..... That point is "When he triggered the gun to shoot the doctor inside the lighthouse...He almost killed the doctor.... but soon he realized that it was a vision of one of his fantasis as soon as he heard doctors voice"


A fair portion of the film is given over to Teddy's supposed fantasies of Dachau. In particular, when he's explaining to 'chuck' in great detail the death of the commandant. That it took an hour for him to die after a botched suicide attempt, which is a statement accompanied by a scene in which said commandant is writhing on the ground. But in the first scene of the commandant Teddy is standing over him, slowly nudging a pistol away. Could there be some extra significance to this other than this is purely Teddy's mind at play. The gunning down of the German soldiers is of significance also. And the guard who is semi-threatening and conversational about violence with Teddy. What does this mean?

Just suggesting hehe
Just suggesting hehe

What i think the reason for Dr. Sheehan calling Andrew "Teddy" is probably because remember that prisoner he strangled at ward C.. he once lost his mind and almost killed him because that prisoner called him Andrew. (He wanted to run from reality that he is in fact Andrew, the one who killed his wife and so when the prisoner called him Andrew, he panicked and remembers about what he had done and so.. lost his mind) So if Andrew did regressed, Dr. Sheehan doesn't want risking him losing his mind if he calls Andrew by his real name and let him be led away peacefully. (though i may be wrong, this one seems quite vague) But please read on, i think the next reason is much better.. Another reason is maybe because of what Andrew/Teddy said at the end.. Which made Dr. Sheehan confused and surprised.(As maybe Andrew didn't regressed at all and faked it) Thus, Dr. Sheehan called Andrew "Teddy" to test if "Teddy" will answer him. Which obviously we know that Andrew didn't answer which i probably think that because he was already sane and accepted that he is Andrew. (And also, if he had regressed and is "Terry" now, wouldn't he turn back and respond to "Chuck"? But he just walked away calmly to be taken away by the Warden even though he said they are gonna get off the island away from this place) (Sorry hehe, but also if he had returned back to being "Teddy" wouldn't he be surprised as to why they are only taking him away and not "Chuck" too? As both of them "knows about what this facility has been doing to the patients"{the experiments and stuff that he thinks its true}) What do you guys think? :D So yeap that's what i think but as alot of people say.. There is no right and wrong but i just wanna let out what i think about it hehe :) This movie was really entertaining to watch. So many clues and such but there is never 1 conclusion. Really makes our mind think alot. Very interesting movie. Glad i watched it :D Thanks for reading my explanation hehe :D


The real story is the one presented by the doctors in my opinion: the reason why Teddy makes up the "pyromaniac" story is that, being fire the opposite of water, this version takes his thoughts and memories as far away as possible from the real "watery" version :-)