Several people who worked on the film set of “Shutter Island” are excited to see Martin Scorsese’s new film, which opens today. The film, based on the best-selling novel by Dennis Lehane, is set in a 1954 hospital for the criminally insane and includes flashbacks to a Nazi concentration camp recreated in Taunton.
Andrew Leahy is hoping to see himself die on the silver screen this weekend. Leahy, a Raynham native, was executed by a mock firing squad while working as an extra on Martin Scorsese’s new film “Shutter Island,” which was partly filmed in Hull and Taunton in 2008 and opens today.
Leahy portrays a Nazi SS guard in the film who is put to death by American soldiers. For the scene, about 200 SS soldiers are lined up against a barbed wire fence and shot.
Leahy is hoping the final film version includes his scene.
“I’m sure it will be really quick, but I’m excited to see it though,” said Leahy, 27, a Quincy resident who works in the admissions office at Stonehill College in Easton.
He is going to see the film with his family today and then again with friends on Saturday.
“If I even see myself, it will be for a split second, so I’m going to have to see it a couple of times,” Leahy said.
The film, based on the best-selling novel by Dennis Lehane, looks at the apparent disappearance of a murderess from a hospital for the criminally insane in 1954 and includes flashbacks to a Nazi concentration camp.
Scorsese used the old industrial buildings in the rear of the former Whittenton Mills complex in Taunton to replicate Dachau, a World War II concentration camp. Scenes were also filmed at the closed Medfield State Hospital.
During the Taunton filming, the film had been called “Ashecliffe.”
In Taunton, crews built a fake railroad track and railway cars that were put under the archway to Whittenton Mills. The movie was filmed in Taunton for several days in March 2008.
During filming, the presence of Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Kingsley and other actors had the city abuzz.
Not to mention the money spent locally to support the production, from hiring police details for security to ordering pizzas from a local eatery to feed the crews.
“We are so excited. We feel like we were part of the movie,” said Paula Nunes, co-owner of That’s Amore Brick Oven Pizza, a Taunton eatery that fed the production crew seafood salads, pizzas and subs. She said she planned to see the movie this weekend.
Also planning to see the film is Israel Geller, a concentration camp survivor who lives in Canton.
“Sure, I will (see the film). I can take it,” said Geller, 85, who was imprisoned in several labor camps in Europe during World War II.
When he was 14, Nazi soldiers occupied Geller’s hometown of Pabianice, Poland, in 1939. He spent most of his teen years performing forced labor in the Jewish ghettos of Lodz, Benchen and Warsaw, all in Poland.
In 1944, Geller was sent to Auschwitz, and then to Dachau months later.
His parents were sent to Auschwitz. His four siblings went to other ghettos. None survived.
His wife of 53 years, Marilyn, said they both will see the film, which flashes back to the liberation of Dachau and the execution there of Nazi soldiers by American GIs.
If her husband is upset by those scenes, she said he will “probably walk out.”
“Listen, if he sat through ‘Schindler’s List,’ why not?” said Marilyn Geller, 77, about another Holocaust film.
At least 28,000 people died at Dachau from 1940 to 1945, according to the U.S. Holocaust museum.
On the Taunton set, lean-bodied, head-shaven extras in concentration-camp garb mingled in their off-camera time with fellow extras in Nazi soldier uniforms.
Leahy said he was executed about five times on camera. The scene takes place in winter, so huge fans were set up to blow fake snowflakes around.
During filming, he said all of the extras were “trained” on how to die.
“We were told, ‘If you get shot in the head, here’s how you move. If you get shot in the shoulder, here’s how you move,’” Leahy said.
“I got shot in my shoulder and my chest,” he recalled.
But since the camera was filming him from behind, Leahy doesn’t expect to see his face. “I’ll see the back of my head,” he said.
Maria Papadopoulos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.