Two things struck me when seeing Martin Scorsese’s new movie, Shutter Island.
One, the soundtrack is full of 20th century classical music like Ligeti, Penderecki, Cage, etc. My favorite music in the film was an ominous recurring theme that begins with cellos and double basses playing one note (a low D) in a slow pattern of 3-pause-3-pause-4-pause-3-pause-5-pause-etc. It’s from the fourth movement of Penderecki’s Symphony No. 3. (Also, an early work of Gustav Mahler, one movement of a piano quartet composed when he was a teenager in 1876, figures into the plot, but that’s a story for another day.)
Two, both Scorsese and Woody Allen have seemingly abandoned New York City as their go-to urban muse. Allen, the quintessential nebbish New Yorker, has set recent movies like Scoop and Match Point in London. Scorsese, who gave us a gritty NY in such flicks as Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, and Gangs of New York, now seems to be enjoying the toughness and argot of Boston. The Departed, while adapted from a movie set in Hong Kong, is thoroughly Bostonian in its setting and sound. Shutter Island takes place in Boston Harbor, though the setting is a computerized combination of locations in Maine and Massachusetts. The change in scenery has done Scorsese well; I’m curious to see where his next story will unfold.