What can one say about the Stanley Kubrick film The Shining that has not been said before? The film has seen parodies in film, cartoons and even television commercials. The film has influences on many screen writers, directors and even actors due to the performances seen in the film by the cast. The Shining is a film that has seen it’s name appear on favorite horror films time after time, and continues to this day to be enjoyed by horror fans.
The question is what has made this film such a pivotal film in the Horror genre? Is it the fact that The Shining was based off of a great book by Horror writer Stephen King? Is it the great screen play written by Kubrick and novelist Diane Johnson? Did Kubrick create such a mood in his direction that fans are drawn into the film and thus thoroughly drawing the viewer in? Or was it simply the performances by the cast?
Personally it was a combination of all these things that make The Shining a horror film that will continue to scare viewers for some time to come. Jack Nicholson stars as Jack Torrance who is an ex-teacher working on a writing career when we are introduced to his character. Torrance is interviewing for a position at the Overlook Hotel which will give him the opportunity for months of peace to pursue his writing. There is however one piece of information that had been left out of his initial interview for the job. Torrance finds out what had happened to a previous caretaker’s twin girls, the wife and the caretaker himself. This tragic tail can be considered to be a bit of foreshadowing of events to come.
Wendy Torrance, played by Shelley Duvall, is at home caring for her son who is not looking forward to the temporary move to the Outlook. Young Danny, played by Danny Lloyd, may have some insight to what is to come through his “invisible” friend. We get a hint on how psychic Danny’s friend is when he predicts the phone call from his father saying he has gotten the job. Is this another piece of information that needs to be filed aware for later?
The film is full of other scenes and acts of foreshadowing that helps the viewer follow along and gain more and more interest into the story. The spirits of the Overlook seem to be after one thing as the movie progresses. Their plan appears to be to get Jack to do something terrible to his family. In one scene we find the ghost of the previous caretaker telling Jack what he must do to his family. The spirit doesn’t tell him directly what to do but if the viewer remembers the story from the interview chills may come to you.
There is one thing in this film that viewers should try and pick up on. It is that although the film appears to show us that they are interested in Jack there are scenes that drop hints that maybe Jack isn’t who they really want. Just listen to the subtle phrases and words spoken when the spirits talk about young Danny. They are quite intrigued by his gifts and at times you may wonder is there a reason they want Jack to kill his family? Do they have something in mind for Danny or that special gift we find out about?
The Shining is simply a masterful film. The plot, the acting, and the direction are equally important to any viewer of this film. Jack Nicholson’s acting as his character dives head first into madness is masterful. The is no doubt as we watch this quiet man fall to each of his own personal demons. Be it giving into his aggressive behavior or sudden wish to begin drinking again. The spirits are able to push each of Jack’s magical buttons to further his decent. Be it an agreeable ear from a bartender or the advice of a long dead caretaker. Either way Jack becomes a puppet to the wishes of the spirits and will by the end of the film is willing to do ANYTHING to show he is worth all their trouble.
The Shining is a film that Horror fans should enjoy and treasure. The DVD version of the film shows us a sneak peak into the making of the film as Kubrick’s teenage daughter shot a documentary of the making of the film. Fortunately for fans this documentary is on the DVD and should be equally enjoyed as the film.
The most interesting piece about this film is that it’s original release was slow. It was only the word of mouth that drove this film to become the success it has become. So, follow the example that was previously shared and spread the word on this film. If you, or friends, have not seen this Horror Classic then take some time and sit back and watch The Shining. Hopefully you will find it to be a film that all you want to do is spread the word and help introduce the film to a generation that has yet to see it.
This is one of my favourite all-time horror movies post 1970 if not period. I’ll admit, even as I reached adulthood I was scared to death of this film and had to watch it in segments here and there. But finally I bought the movie on VHS (or was it DVD? Can’t remember, I have it shelved away though) and am able to watch it through anytime. I more recently read the book, and while the book has a lot of neat and bone chilling parts that got left out of the movie, the very direction and camera work of the movie (among other elements) make up for it. I love Stanley Kubrick’s work (and that goes for all his movies)!
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