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Journey To Shutter Island
Shortly after completing his novel Mystic River, which would go on to become an Academy Award®-winning film directed by Clint Eastwood, writer Dennis Lehane radically shifted gears. Moving away from the gritty, blue-collar, Boston settings for which he was best known, Lehane fashioned an intensely atmospheric, terror-filled psychological shocker set at the height of 1950s Cold War paranoia, and at the crossroads where the lines between sanity and madness, truth and delusion begin to blur beyond recognition.

This was Shutter Island, which merged elements of Gothic mystery, pulp fiction, conspiracy thrillers and turn-of the-screws, Edgar Allan Poe-style horror to create a riveting and unsettling effect that took his readers by surprise. Unfolding over just four searing days at the island-based Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane, in the midst of a raging Category 5 hurricane, the book presented a most unusual criminal investigation, one that was completely cut off from the outside world and in which the vise keeps tightening on the two lone investigators, ultimately forcing U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels to come face-to-face with a realm in which the human psyche has run dangerously amok, as well as harrowing secrets, frightening memories and deeply buried truths.

The book hinged on the riddle of a murderess' inconceivable, mystifying disappearance from the high-security facility, but within its labyrinth of eerie twists and turns it touched on such topics as the lingering trauma of World War II, the 20th century's potential for vast conspiracies, the debate over invasive psychiatric treatments and, most of all, on the extraordinary power of the human psyche, in spite of all scientific and legal efforts, to elude even the best efforts to bring it under control.

Writing in The New York Times, Janet Maslin called the book "startlingly original” and "instantly cinematic” and it went on to become one of the best-sellers of 2003. Producer Bradley J. Fischer, a partner at Phoenix Pictures who was then producing David Fincher's thriller about a real-life serial murderer, Zodiac, picked the book off an airport kiosk and found himself so transported by its anxietysoaked atmosphere and web of contemporary themes, he immediately wanted to bring it to the screen.

"I'd been a big fan of Dennis Lehane, yet I wasn't prepared for this novel,” recalls Fischer. "It's a thriller and a Gothic mystery, but there is also much more to it because it has so much depth and deals with serious moral issues. The dense, atmospheric plot features a series of twists and turns that leaves you reeling and is quite mind-blowing.”

As soon as he could acquire the rights, Fischer jumped into action, along with company head Mike Medavoy. Also coming on board as a producer was Phoenix Pictures executive Arnold W. Messer.

Fischer approached Laeta Kalogridis, a screenwriter known for her strong affinity to suspense, adventure and depth of character. Having previously worked with Kalogridis on the Viking-era action thriller Pathfinder, the producers at Phoenix knew she had the creative potential to realize this challenging material. "We felt Laeta would be able to take Dennis Lehane's brilliant words and make them come to life in a truly cinematic way,” says Fischer.

Kalogridis, who is also one of the executive producers on Shutter Island (along with Chris Brigham, Lehane, Gianni Nunnari and Louis Phillips), was thrilled by the challenge of working with the richly woven fabric of Lehane's story, which sinuously weaves its way through flashbacks, hallucinations and fantasies, playing with chronological time and the elusive nature of moment-to-moment reality. She immersed herself in the project, exploring the broad range of unsettling topics that Lehane raises, from the horror-filled past of insane asylum

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