Shutter Island is a really fascinating, thought-through movie, but one thing never made sense to me when rewatching it, knowing the twist.

How did they manage to get everyone to play along?

With the guards, orderlies and doctors it seems believable, but what motivation would the patients have to pretend that Teddy is a U.S. Marshall?

Of course there are a lot of signs that something is wrong, like

  • the guards being very cautious around him
  • the patients greeting him or talking behind his back
  • the note "run" etc.

But apart from George Noyce nobody seems to really tell him whats going on. How would they get mentally ill (!) patients to take place in a rather convincing play about an escaped woman, and how did they manage to make a delusional woman pretend she was Rachel Solando?

2 Answers 2


Firstly, not all the patients 'played' the game (For example, George Noyce). A special meeting was arranged where only a few of the patients were allowed to be questioned by Teddy and 'Chuck'. Having said that, its also possible that not all the patients knew he was also a patient. (Since he might have been kept in the 'Dangerous' ward, away from others) Maybe that woman knew, and that's why she was able to suggest 'Run'.

As far as Rachel Solando goes, we never come to know if she is really a patient, or a very good actor taking part in this experimental treatment.

  • 5
    Isn't it this nurse who works there that 'played' Rachel Apr 13, 2014 at 2:17
  • 1
    I have a question about the note: Assuming that the woman (Mrs. Keets?) knew that he was a patient and that Sheehan was a psychiatrist at the place. Why would she write that note? If a) she knew it was roleplay, then she knew that the note would have no effect and on the other hand if b) she didn't then would she not be suspicious of the whole thing?
    – Siddhartha
    Apr 26, 2017 at 5:48
  • @Siddhartha This is my interpretation: Mrs.Keets was herself a patient and she was asked to participate in the role-play by Dr.Cawley Et al. Like all the other mentally ill patients,even she wants to escape the place and assuming the role-play that being played on Teddy aka Andrew, she cautious him to RUN away from the place as he might fall in to the risk of participating in the lobotomizing experiments.I think Mrs.Keets as a mentally ill mistakes the role-play as something hazardous to her fellow patient (in case she understood what she was told that Laeddis is the most dangerous patient).
    – Harini
    Jul 2, 2017 at 3:50

Does Teddy really get mentally ill? According your post, I think your answer will be YES. And I believe so many people will say NO.

If Teddy is really ill, movie you see could showed from teddy's view, teddy's aspect. He's illness and believed he is a normal U.S marshall and can not distinguish even all the other people acting with some minor flaws. All you saw in the movie is a reflection of Teddy's internal.

If Teddy is not ill, hmm.....

  • 2
    The question is based on the assumption that Teddy is ill. Personally I am pretty sure he is, because if he wasn't there are too many aspects in the movie that just don't fit.
    – magnattic
    Dec 8, 2011 at 11:19
  • In my opinion, the different thought about teddy's ill is one of reasons why this movie is so fascinating.
    – Alex Chen
    Dec 8, 2011 at 11:51

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