The Shining (1980)
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The Shining is, without doubt, one of Stanley Kubrick's undisputed masterpieces and a true classic in horror cinema. It is a film that, over the course of the years, has managed to scare the living hell out of its audiences (and still does). The film is an adaptation of Stepehen King's original novel, written in the late '70s, and although the film is not very loyal to the book, it still stands as a thing of its own.
Right from the beginning, as we contemplate the car going to the hotel from those stunning aerial shots, deeply inside us we know that something in the film, somehow, sometime is going to go wrong. As we obtain that severe warning, an almost inaudible voice gently whispers to us 'sit tight', a sense of unexpectedness invades us all, and it is that very same feeling that makes our hair stand on end throughout out the entire movie.
The plot is simple: Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) becomes the caretaker of the Overlook Hotel in up in the secluded mountains of Colorado. Jack, being a family man, takes his wife (Shelley Duvall) and son (Danny Lloyd) to the hotel to keep him company throughout the long, isolated nights. During their stay, strange things occur when Jack's son Danny sees gruesome images powered by a force called 'the shining' and Jack is heavily affected by this. Along with writer's block and the demons of the hotel haunting him, Jack has a complete mental breakdown and the situation takes a sinister turn for the worse.
The film, unlike many horror-oriented films nowadays, doesn't only rely on stomach-churning and gory images (which it does contain, anyway) but on the incredibly scary music based on the works of Béla Bartók and on the excellent cinematography (the Steadicam is superbly used, giving us a sense of ever-following evil), as well. The terrifying mood and atmosphere of the film is carefully and masterfully woven by Kubrick, who clearly knows how to really make a horror movie.
Jack Nicholson's powerful performance as the mad father and husband is as over the top as it is brilliant. Shelley Duvall, who plays the worrying wife who tries to help her son, is also a stand out; she shows a kind of trembling fear in many scenes and is able to display weakness and vulnerability in a very convincing way. Undoubtedly, The Shining is full of memorable moments (the elevator scene or the 'Heeeeeere's Johnny' one-liner for instance) and, simply put, it's flawlessly brilliant.
Stanley Kubrick's direction is pure excellence, giving the whole film a cold and atmospheric look, thus creating an unbearable sense of paranoia and terror. There are moments of sheer brilliance and exquisite perfection in this film; the horrifying maze chase is a perfect example. Every single shot is masterfully created and there are some genuinely scary scenes which will make you sit on the edge of your seat.
The Shining is, in my opinion, a special landmark in horror cinema which will always be regarded as one of the scariest movies in film history. Since I saw it last year, when I was 13, I have rarely been able to have a bath in my bathtub.Just in case, ya know. Overall, The Shining is incomparably the scariest film I've ever seen in my whole life (and I can tell you I've seen a great deal of horror films).
It is an unforgettable, chilling, majestic and truly, profoundly scary film crafted by an eccentric genius who wants to show that the impossible can be done. The Shining is a sublime, hauntingly intriguing and endlessly watchable film that shows Kubrick at his best.
There are appropriately no words strong enough to convey the haunting beauty of the visuals showcased throughout the movie, from the drive to the Overlook to the final chase in the hedgemaze the movie is a feast for the eyes as it is for the mind. And it IS a feast for the mind as The Shining is as psychological as horror gets, toying relentlessly, and expertly with your emotions and expectations(some could even say SADISTICALLY), throwing something in that's completely out of left field and never, ever letting you catch your breath between the now classic shocks as the movie speeds toward it's memorable conclusion in the last half hour.
Kudos are in order for Kubrick, a director of the old school style, who builds an eerie atmosphere by exercising total control over the filmic environment, manipulating everything down to the tiniest detail to suit the needs of the picture, yet filming with a coldly detatched, objective eye, as though Kubrick were making a documentary about these events. This would account for the dialouge, which-thankfully-is not the typical phoney balloney Hollywood banter (Kubrick detractors/King purists usually bitch about this the most, having been weaned on the phony nature of 'Hollywood talk', which is usually nothing at all like real talk. Many of us speak 'on the nose', and do not try to convey subtext through use of carefully chosen words that articulate our state of being without being direct.) In this light, Shelley Duvall must be commended for her performance which is very naturalistic. It does not seem like acting at all. She is not concerned with glamour, nor does she clutter her performance with typical acting chops, but rather she is solely focussed on hitting the emotional highpoints of her character as 'Wendy' gradually comes to realize that her husband is a madman. And let's face it folks, how many of us would like a million bucks when placed in a situation like that? Who does NOT look like a blubbering idiot when they are hysterical? That's what I thought, so what did you expect? She was great. To say nothing of the rest of the cast.
And it is within this film's subtle touches of the canvas, the clackity-clacks of the young boy's big wheel riding along the empty hallways of the hotel, the labyrinthian garden representing the mind's fine line between sane and insane, Kubrick's purposely transfixed editing inconsistencies, continuity errors and set mis-arrangements, that we discover a world guided by the righteous and tangible, but coaxed away by the powerful and unknown. I have never read the book upon which the film is based, but without that as a comparison point, I am proud to say that this is one of the most terrifying films that I have ever seen. I thought that the runtime of the film could've been cut by a little bit, but then again, I am not one of the most acclaimed directors in the history of film, so maybe I should keep my two-cent criticisms over a superb film, to myself. All in all, this movie captures your attention with its grand form and vision, ropes you in with some terror and eccentric direction, and ties you down and stabs you in the heart with its cold-eyed view of the man's mind gone overboard, creepy atmosphere and the loss of humanity.
What runs deepest through The Shining is a frustration with family. Right from the beginning it's obvious that Jack isn't happy with his lot as he's being shown around the hotel he can't help but take a sneaky look at the backsides of a couple of women. Well, can you blame him? The poor man is married to a bug-eyed, bucktoothed Olive Oil look-a-like.
Then there's Jack's quiet frustration with his son Danny. As he's driving to the hotel, he's bothered by requests for food. And then his son makes out that he's knowledgeable because he saw a programme on TV. Already he's slightly irked - he's got to spend months alone with these people; one who resembles Popeye's missus and one who talks to his finger.
So really the hotel brings out nothing that isn't already there. It merely brings everything to the surface Jack's resentment as regards his wife, his frustration as regards his lack of writing talent and his annoyance at having a troubled son. It's kind of like he's testing his family. Are they strong enough as a unit to survive being cooped up together?
One of the underlying themes in the film seems to be television. What happens in The Shining is what happens when someone stops watching the idiot box. With it, a person can find solace in mindless programming and retreat from the strictures of family life. Without it they're faced with all their problems and all the failings of their loved ones. Even the strongest family can be brought to its knees when there's no escape from each other's company. Therefore it's quite telling, when Jack loses the plot completely, that he spouts lines from TV: "Honey, I'm home" and "Here's Johnny." Just watch some television, Jack.
But it's also the pain of writing that contributes to Jack's insanity. There's nothing quite as harrowing as an empty page. Plus there's nothing more annoying than being interrupted mid-flow. One of the best scenes in the film is when Jack tells his wife to get lost when she interrupts him. It's extremely violent in how cold Jack is towards Wendy. And because it's grounded in a reality, it's all the more effective.
Also rather unsettling is the scene where Jack talks to his son. He makes Danny sit on his lap and he proceeds to tell him how much he loves him and how he'd never hurt him. It works so well because it's so cold and because there's such an obvious lack of affection. The words are just empty platitudes. They mean absolutely nothing.
Jack's true feelings are only revealed when he gets to talk to Lloyd. It's in this scene that you realise the marriage isn't all it's cracked up to be Wendy has never forgiven him for accidentally hurting his son. And it's also in this scene that you realise (as if you hadn't noticed earlier) that Jack is absolutely crackers. He's talking to ghosts. But they could also be figments of his imagination, for there are mirrors behind most of the ghosts he talks to. Effectively he's talking to himself. And I love this matter of fact way of dealing with the supernatural. There are no fancy tricks. Everything just seems unnaturally natural.
In fact, everything to do with the ghosts is superbly handled. The twins are spooky, Lloyd is amiable and Grady is out of his mind. And it's Grady who's probably the most chilling presence in the film. He starts off as a bumbling waiter but then quickly becomes a stone cold killer. Just the way he says 'corrected' conveys more terror than a million slasher films. And Philip Stone's performance is a million times more subtle than Nicholson's. I mean, as much as I like Jack in the film, he does chew the scenery. But Kubrick likes his over the top performances, so that's the way he wanted it.
And undoubtedly it's Kubrick's movie. He's the real star. And I love everything he brings to the film. I love his command of lighting just look at The Gold Room scenes. I love his use of music. I love the way that he turns the Room 237 scene, one that could have been a standard 'jump' scene, into a comment on Jack's marriage his willingness to be unfaithful. I love the way that he leaves lots of unanswered questions. I love the shots of the blood coming out of the lift. I love the helicopter shots at the start. I love the way that pages and pages of typed words are the most frightening visual in the film. I love the maze. I love the fact that you see a ghost getting a blow-job from a ghost in a bear suit Man, I love absolutely everything about this film. It's horror for people who know that true horror isn't being stalked by a man in a mask, but being trapped alone with your family.
This is one of Jack Nicholson's finest roles, his increasingly unhinged character is amusing and terrifying in almost equal measures. Duvall plays the role of the terrorised wife quite well - she does look like she's genuinely filled with fear - but doesn't have much else to do. Lloyd is excellent as the boy, although he doesn't have too much emotion to express. However no doubt that this is Jack's show.
The story doesn't stick to King's novel and is better for it; this is Kubrick's Shining. The film has plenty of genuinely scary moments but manages to keep a creepy atmosphere all through - especially as the ghosts come out and Jack begins to move between his reality and the reality that is gradually claiming him.
Kubrick is excellent here, his cold direction adds to the overall creep factor of the film. It's one of the best examples of his masterful touch.
Overall this is an excellent horror movie - because the focus is on horror and fear rather than gore alone (as with modern horrors). Jack is excellent in one of his best roles ever and the whole package is delivered in a cold creepy manner by a sadly lost director.
In a nutshell (no pun intended), Jack Nicholson and Shelly Duvall co-star with Oregon's Timberline Lodge - enlisted to portray the exterior of the Overlook Hotel - in a story that appears on the surface to be about ghosts and insanity, but deals with issues of child abuse, immortality and duality.
What the film might lack initially in terms of coherence is more than made up for in technique. Garrett Brown (the male voice in those old Molson Golden commercials), inventor of the Steadicam, chases young Danny Lloyd through hotel corridors and an amazing snow maze, providing magic-carpet-ride fluidity to scenes that ten years earlier would have been impossible to accomplish. If the film starts off too slow, remember who the director is. This man likes to take his time, and the results are well worth it: incredible aerial shots of the Overlook Hotel; horrific Diane Arbus-inspired twins staring directly at us; portentous room 237 and its treasure trove of terrible secrets; elevators that gush rivers of blood in slow-motion; Jack Torrance's immortality found via the hotel (akin to David Bowman's journey through the Space Gate); and some of the best use of pre-existing music ever assembled for a motion picture.
It would take a book to examine and defend the film's strong points and drawbacks. If you've never seen it, you owe it to yourself to watch it alone with the lights off, with no interruptions, and make sure that it's raining. This is a cinematic experience that changed my life at the age of 14. Makes a great double feature with Robert Wise's 1963 thriller THE HAUNTING.
Jack Torrance, Jack's son Danny, and Jack's wife, Wendy arrive at the Overlook Hotel on closing day. The elderly African-American chef, Dick Hallorann, surprises Danny by speaking to him telepathically and offering him some ice cream. He explains to Danny that he and his grandmother shared the gift; they called the communication "shining." Danny asks if there is anything to be afraid of in the hotel, particularly Room 237. Dick tells Danny that the hotel has a certain "shine" to it and many memories, not all of them good, and advises him to stay out of room 237 under all circumstances. Danny's curiosity about Room 237 finally gets the better of him when he sees the room has been opened. Danny shows up injured and visibly traumatized after Jack tells Wendy that he loves his family. Seeing this, Wendy thinks Jack has been abusing Danny. Jack wanders into the hotel's Gold Room where he meets a ghostly bartender named Lloyd. Danny starts calling out the word "redrum" frantically, and scribbling it on walls. He goes into a trance, and withdraws; he now says that he is Tony, his own "imaginary friend." Jack sabotages the hotel radio, cutting off communication from the outside world, but Hallorann has received Danny's telepathic cry for help and is on his way. Wendy discovers that Jack has been typing endless pages of manuscript repeating "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" formatted in various ways. Horrified, Jack threatens her and she knocks him unconscious with a baseball bat, locking him in a storage locker in the kitchen. Jack converses with Grady through the door of the locker, which then unlocks releasing him. Danny has written "REDRUM" in lipstick on the door of Wendy's bedroom. When she looks in the mirror, she sees that it is "Murder" spelled backwards. Jack picks up an axe and begins to chop through the door leading to his family's living quarters. "Here's Johnny!", and Jack's legendary image is born.
The Shining is one of those films that you seriously have to make time to see, this is an incredible film and still gives me nightmares. Jack Nicholson's performance is timeless and unforgettable. But one I also feel is extremely overlooked is Shelley Duvall, her scene of finding Jack's rant All Work is incredible, that's a look of horror and you can see that fear in her face after realizing her husband is mad. Also another incredible scene is when Jack sees a ghost woman in the bathtub, it's honestly one of the most terrifying scenes in horror cinema. The reason this film is so well known is because it's a film of perfection, it's been on The Simpsons, it's been shown in other films and it's a film that will forever stay with you when you see it, trust me.
I read that, a couple of decades ago, Stanley Kubrick was sorting through novels at his home trying to find one that might make a good movie, and from the other room, his wife would hear a pounding noise every half hour or so as he threw books against the wall in frustration. Finally, she didn't hear any noise for almost two hours, and when she went to check and see if he had died in his chair or something (I tell this with all due respect, of course), she found him concentrating on a book that he had in his hand, and the book was The Shining. And thank God, too, because he went on to convert that book into one of the best horror films ever.
Stephen King can be thanked for the complexity of the story, about a man who takes his wife and son up to a remote hotel to oversee it during the extremely isolated winter as he works on his writing. Jack Nicholson can be thanked for his dead-on performance as Jack Torrance (how many movies has Jack been in where he plays a character named Jack?), as well as his flawless delivery of several now-famous lines (`Heeeeeere's Johnny!!'). Shelley Duvall can be thanked for giving a performance that allows the audience to relate to Jack's desires to kill her. Stanley Kubrick can be thanked for giving this excellent story his very recognizable touch, and whoever the casting director was can be thanked for scrounging up the creepiest twins on the planet to play the part of the murdered girls.
One of the most significant aspects of this movie, necessary for the story as a whole to have its most significant effect, is the isolation, and it's presents flawlessly. The film starts off with a lengthy scene following Jack as he drives up to the old hotel for his interview for the job of the caretaker for the winter. This is soon followed by the same thing following Jack and his family as they drive up the windy mountain road to the hotel. This time the scene is intermixed with shots of Jack, Wendy, and Danny talking in the car, in which Kubrick managed to sneak in a quick suggestion about the evils of TV, as Wendy voices her concern about talking about cannibalism in front of Danny, who says that it's okay because he's already seen it on TV (`See? It's okay, he saw it on the television.').
The hotel itself is the perfect setting for a story like this to take place, and it's bloody past is made much more frightening by the huge, echoing rooms and the long hallways. These rooms with their echoes constantly emphasize the emptiness of the hotel, but it is the hallways that really created most of the scariness of this movie, and Kubrick's traditional tracking shots give the hallways a creepy three-dimensional feel. Early in the film, there is a famous tracking shot that follows Danny in a large circle as he rides around the halls on his Big Wheel (is that what those are called?), and his relative speed (as well as the clunking made by the wheels as he goes back and forth from the hardwood floors to the throw rugs) gives the feeling of not knowing what is around the corner. And being a Stephen King story, you EXPECT something to jump out at you. I think that the best scene in the halls (as well as one of the scariest in the film) is when Danny is playing on the floor, and a ball rolls slowly up to him. He looks up and sees the long empty hallway, and because the ball is something of a child's toy, you expect that it must have been those horrendously creepy twins that rolled it to him. Anyway, you get the point. The Shining is a damn scary movie.
Besides having the rare quality of being a horror film that doesn't suck, The Shining has a very in depth story that really keeps you guessing and leaves you with a feeling that there was something that you missed. HAD Jack always been there, like Mr. Grady told him in the men's room? Was he really at that ball in 1921, or is that just someone who looks exactly like him? If he has always been the caretaker, as Mr. Grady also said, does that mean that it was HIM that went crazy and killed his wife and twin daughters, and not Mr. Grady, after all? It's one thing for a film to leave loose ends that should have been tied, that's just mediocre filmmaking. For example, The Amityville Horror, which obviously copied much of The Shining as far as its subject matter, did this. But it is entirely different when a film is presented in a way that really makes you think (as mostly all of Kubrick's movies are). One more thing that we can all thank Stanley Kubrick for, and we SHOULD thank him for, is for not throwing this book against the wall. That one toss would have been cinematic tragedy.
Okay, the story has enough promise that even a hired gun would have to try to fail. Heck, even Stephen King himself didn't fare so bad. It's how Kubrick perceives King's universe however, how he fills the frame with it, that renders THE SHINING a feast for the senses.
Horror that will reach us through the mind and body alike, an assault as it were, tending eventually its pitch to a crescendo, yet curiously not without a delicate lull.
Kubrick's cinema is, as usually, a sight to behold. We get the adventurous camera that prowls through the lavish corridors of the Overlook Hotel like it is some kind of mystic labyrinth rife for exploration, linear tracking shots exposing impeccably decorated interiors in symmetric grandeur. The geometrical approach in how Kubrick perceives space reminds me very much of Japanese directors of some 10 years before. In that what is depicted in the frame, the elements of narrative, is borderline inconsequential to how they all balance and harmonize together.
Certain images stand out in this. The first shot of Jack's typewriter, ominously accompanied by the off-screen thumps of a ball, drums of doom that seem to emanate from the very walls or the typewriter itself, an instrument of doom in itself as is later shown. A red river flowing through the hotel's elevators in a poetry of slow motions. Jack hitting the door with the axe, the camera moving along with him, tracking the action as it happens, as though it's the camera piercing through the door and not the axe. The ultra fast zoom in the kid's face violently thrusting us inside his head before we see the two dead girls from his POV. And of course, the epochal bathroom scene.
Much has been said of Jack Nicholson's obtrusive overacting. His mad is not entirely successful, because, well, he's Jack Nicholson. The guy looks half-mad anyway. Playing mad turns him into an exaggerated caricature of himself. Shelley Duvall on the other hand is one of the most inspired casting choices Kubrick ever made. Coming from a streak of fantastic performances for Robert Altman in the seventies (3 WOMEN, THIEVES LIKE US, NASHVILLE), she brings to her character the right amounts of swanlike fragility and emotional distress. A delicate, detached thing thrown in with the mad.
The movie follows a writer (Jack Nicholson) and his family who agree to watch over a hotel while it is closed for the winter. There were rumors of the place being haunted and the last resident went crazy and murdered his family. But Jack is convinced it will be OK and he can use the quiet to overcome his writer's block. After months of solitude and silence however, Jack becomes a grumpy and later violent. Is it cabin fever or is there something in the hotel that is driving him mad?
One of the creepiest parts about the movie is the feeling of isolation that Kubrick makes. The hotel is very silent, and the rooms are huge, yet always empty. It is also eerily calm when Jack's son is riding his bike through the barren hallways. Jack Nicholson's performance is also one of his very best, scaring the hell out of me and making me sure to get out once in awhile. My favorite scene is when he is talking to a ghost from inside a walk-in refrigerator.
The Shining is tops for horror movies in my opinion, beating the snot out of crap like the Ring and The Blair Witch Project. It may be a oldie, but is definitely a goodie. 8/10
But, I had heard a lot about The Shining. I decided I would look up the plot and watch some clips so I wouldn't be caught off-guard by anything, and I could just appreciate the characters, directing, cinematography, etc.
Despite knowing everything that would happen, the film was unbelievably engaging. I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. Jack Nicholson, of course, steals the show with one of the most iconic performances ever, and the other actors were decent, but the real star was Kubrick himself. Every shot, every set, the sound design, and everything has his fingerprints all over it, and it is such a delight to watch. When Jack advances up the stairs demanding the bat from Shelley Duval, I grinned from ear to ear because everything in that moment was just perfect in film.
The movie, like all others, has problems. In my opinion, the Grady girls and the bloody elevator do not hold up. I knew they were coming from the summaries I had read, so I knew what to expect, so the only reason I could see them as being scary or unsettling is if the viewer was caught off-guard. If you're pretty feminist, you're not going to like Shelley Duval's character, as she is a pretty weak character.
All in all, this film is fantastically-made, a cinematic and acting delight, and a gripping horror film that is considered a classic for a reason.
All in all this movie was by far the biggest disappointment I've seen for a long time. Save your time, better read the book.
I saw THE SHINING in its first release in a packed movie house in New York City. I had read and loved Stephen King's novel; I am widely read in the horror genre and do not scare easily, but that book gave me the creeps for weeks.
Well for all the people who have been raving what a masterpiece this film is, I can only tell you this. The crowd in the theatre started giggling the minute Jack Nicholson appeared on film, and by the time he chased Shelley Duvall up the stairs, the whole crowd was literally in stitches. And I was laughing right along with them. Maybe New York audiences are just jaded; I don't know.
Not that this movie does not have some scary moments. Shelley Duvall is rather good when she is away from Nicholson and it starts to dawn on her that something evil is taking over her family and her life. Unfortunately, Miss Duvall plays Wendy Torrance, a strong, intelligent, and resourceful woman in the novel, as a pathetic, whiny ninny most of the time, and by the time Nicholson had her trapped in the bathroom, I am sure plenty of us were screaming for her head. It must be said that this is not the fault of Miss Duvall, a talented and intelligent actress who according to reports fought bitterly with Kubrick over his interpretation of Wendy.
The kid talking to his finger is another idiotic and unintentionally hilarious bit of business that was not in the original novel. Why Kubrick thought this was a good idea is beyond me.
But let's get down to the real problem: Jack Nicholson. In the right role, he can be very good, though he has never been among my top ten. Jack Torrance is totally the wrong role for him; for one thing, he does not look ordinary enough. But the worst thing is that Stephen King's story was about a man being SLOWLY AND INEXORABLY driven out of his mind. Nicholson goes nuts so early in the film that there is literally nowhere for him to take the character. And Kubrick was either in awe of Nicholson, who was still riding the post-Oscar high from CUCKOO'S NEST, or he just didn't care, or he thought it was scary when it was actually funny. I don't know.
As if all this were not bad enough, the whole mess drags on for two hours and twenty-two minutes; this movie practically cries out for a pair of scissors.
Some people will feel that I have spat on an icon, I suppose, and they have that right. But Stephen King himself was not happy with this film, and when he finally got the opportunity to re-do it as a television miniseries in 1997, the results were much better. For the one thing that is missing in Kubrick's version is a heart.
Anne Rivers Siddons, in discussing her excellent horror novel THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR, writes that the thing about horror is that it smashes people and relationships. Thus the best horror stories are at bottom also very sad (Brian De Palma's CARRIE gets this; Kubrick's film does not). And whatever your feelings about the miniseries format may be, the Torrance family created in 1997 were people you could care about. Director Mick Garris understands King better than Kubrick did, and Rebecca De Mornay, in particular, redeems the Wendy character in a spectacular tour-de-force towards the end. In 1980 the Torrances were figures of fun. Rather like the barbaric Victorian custom of laughing at the lunatics in Bedlam.
Awful, awful, awful.
Now the plot is a little tricky. This film could be a ghost story, or it could all just be a writer's imagination. The characters words are so concentrated upon, and the camera concentrates on it's situations so much that the audiences feels like a bit of a peeping Tom. As if we don't belong there with them, and we are only the observant.
So much more could be said about this movie, that you'd feel like frozen Jack at the end of the movie once it's complete. But the story is generally good, and it plays out very well.
8 stars. One of my personal favorites
First off, Shelley DuVall added nothing of value to the film. She was blah from beginning to end. No endearing qualities whatsoever. The whole film was a failed experiment thinking that random creepy, irrelevant images coupled with an incoherent story progression devoid of any character arcs would be successful. Kubrick had no sense of scene transitions. He shows no ability to allow one scene to flow into another, to give it fluidity or convey that he has an overall, consistent vision. The inconsistency over what aspect ratio he intended for it is further proof that he had no concrete vision, in my honest opinion. A solid, competent, talented director knows what they want, and are very confident in their visions. They have a very clear idea of how they want things viewed by every audience, everywhere. That's why directors and DPs hate it when their films are put into the pan-and-scan format. Kubrick also fails to have his DP shoot or light 98% of the scenes intriguingly. Watching this, it was like watching an old TV-movie - dull, uninspired, and lifeless. Yeah, the steadi-cams and dolly shots are all impressive, but sometimes, scenes seem to exist just to show off the cool camera moves they can do. Scenes which contribute absolutely nothing to the overall film, in any aspect. Being a filmmaker myself, I am of the belief that every scene should have a purpose to either the plot or characters of the film. Anything else is a waste. And beyond those steadi-cam and dolly shots, it's essentially bland for nearly the entire film. Almost zero interesting angles, and amateurish editing skills. Yawn inducing cinema.
Good story progression would show Jack Torrance starting out as a well adjusted, happy family man that gradually descends into complete psychosis and homicidal mania. Instead, Kubrick shows him as already a man dissatisfied with his life, marriage, son, and career. Then, Kubrick just flashes a title card on the screen saying 'One Month Later,' and Jack is already deteriorated towards the verge of madness. That's shoddy storytelling, and a hack's idea of executing a character arc. No cause is given to why he becomes a homicidal maniac. There's also no correlation between all the surreal, nightmarish imagery. It's completely random, and doesn't evolve into revealing a story behind its origins. All this surrealism is just an excuse for it to be labeled 'horror' as it doesn't serve an underlying purpose as to why anything is happening amongst the characters. They don't confront, deal, or resolve the reasons or purpose behind it all. It's just there to make the film bizarre.
Now, I don't mind methodically paced films as long as there's a purpose to it all. Any talented editor could make this a much more effective film by chopping a good 35 minutes or more out of it. Horror films require momentum to equal good pacing, and good pacing is necessary for solid tension. Still, even if there was tension and good pacing, fact is, really, there are no endearing characters in this film for me to build any sympathy for. I don't care what happens to them because they're one dimensional, emotionless, weak-willed people. How this family could even co-exist for five minutes is beyond me, let alone how they survived a more than three hour drive up to the hotel in the first place.
This film is almost complete trash because it shows the filmmakers have no intelligence or coherence for the movie they were attempting to make. There are enormously better conceived and executed films from this time that proved far more effective. If you want isolation and paranoia, check out "John Carpenter's The Thing." If you want surrealism, go rent Don Coscarelli's original "Phantasm."
1.JACK NICHOLSON= Hugely miscast.The descent into madness is supposed to be gradual. This Jack looked like he was already going to murder his family.
2.SCRIPT=Although the names and basic plot are in place(guy goes loopey in hotel) a lot of the scenes in the film I could not remember reading(eg two girls,blood in lift). Why did Kubrick drift from the book? Mostly, he didn't drift in A Clockwork Orange, so why here?Plus, the characters were one dimensional cardboard cut-outs, so how could I pity them?
3.SHELLY DUVALL=Deserved to die, she was that annoying. The Wendy in the book is strong willed and not a pathetic loser. The reason they went to the Overlook was to save their marriage.
4.ENDING=Jack did not freeze to death in the snow. In the book, it showed that Jack was still human enough to recognise his love for his son. The ''frozen'' scene here left me with a feeling of disgust that the pinnicale of the book had been replaced for a cheap shock.
WATCH THE TV SERIES INSTEAD BUT READ THE BOOK FIRST.
As well as being superb-looking, THE SHINING is both a creepy and exceptionally entertaining movie. It's far more effective than the Stephen King novel on which it was based, purely because it takes a more realistic approach to the material: you can argue perfectly correctly that this is a psychological tale of terror in which all of the events take place in the minds of the protagonists. Gone are the living hedges of the King novels, elements which Kubrick rightly realised wouldn't translate to the screen very well (check out the '90s THE SHINING TV miniseries to see how they did).
Kubrick's main beef with the film is that the Jack Nicholson character seems psychotic from the outset, a contrast to his rational character in the book. But Nicholson is what makes this film a real delight to watch; he's a fantastic psycho and probably the most entertaining cinematic psychopath, better even than Anthony Perkins's Norman Bates. Duvall and Lloyd are fine, of course, but it's Nicholson who makes this such a compelling production. Finally, Kubrick throws in plenty of creepy stylistic techniques, like the subliminal images and some truly grotesque imagery, which makes this a chilly, frightening classic and one of the best 'haunted house' flicks in existence.
Admittedly, a lot of it was well done. The little girls were the best part. They were great. The steadicam shots through the hallways were pretty cool. There was a good sense of "What horrors could be lurking around the corner?" as the camera follows the kid through the halls.
But aside from those things, much of the movie didn't work so well. Jack Nicholson was more hilarious than menacing. Was that intentional? His witty dialogue provided many laughs, but watching him slowly stumbling around holding an axe was hardly what I'd call horror.
The story was completely nonsensical. What was any of that? There's no explanation for almost everything that happens in the movie! Here's where I'll probably get derided by the movie's fans for not "getting it," but I'm convinced this is really a case where the movie-makers themselves had no clue what it all meant. They just threw all this random imagery at us just to confuse us and convince us that it's actually brilliant (because if we can't comprehend any of it, it must be brilliant, right?) but really it just makes zero sense.
I don't get why this is so highly rated.