|STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED|
Jack Torrance has writer's block, but his tactic of moving into an old hotel over winter with his wife and son brings out more than just the artistic demons in him...
Stanley Kubrick was looking for his next project after Barry Lyndon (1975). As his then secretary recalled, he was stationed in his office with a stack of recent books, opening them, starting to read, then tbwumpp! she would hear the sound of a paperback meeting the wall. The process went on for a while. Then, all of a sudden, there was silence. Kubrick had picked up a novel called The Shining by a young up-and-coming horror author by the name of Stephen King.
You can well imagine King's sense of validation at having such a director as this turn to his pulp morbidities for inspiration and Kubrick, the notorious obsessive, pestered the author with calls at unearthly hours to inquire whether he believed in God, or some other vital clue. The relationship, however, was soon to fragment. King hated the film. Kubrick (with co-screenwriter Diane Johnson) filleted the novel, ditching its more formulaic horror elements in favour of a study in madness and ambiguous evil — that, of course, of father, drunk, caretaker, and wannabe novelist Jack Torrance (a defining role for Jack Nicholson). Kubrick, akin to his trippy treatment of the sci-fi genre, was elevating horror to a different plane, removing its camp wiggeries and bogeymen to infuriate and bedazzle with sinewy suggestion and sumptuous, awe-inspiring technique. Technically, there is no better film in the genre. Its chills are less direct (that is until Torrance finally throws off the shackles of sanity), rather something that creeps under the skin to unsettle and disturb. King though was having none of it, describing Kubrick's film as a "big and beautiful car. Ultimately a piece of machinery with neither I heart nor soul." Foolishly the author recently elected to remake the book faithfully as a TV mini series to derisory reaction.
In accordance with the Kubrick legend, the process of making the movie took meticulousness to staggering levels — Shelley Duvall was reputedly forced to do no less than 127 takes of one scene; Nicholson was force fed endless cheese sandwiches (which he loathes) to generate a sense of inner revulsion, and the recent invention of the Steadicam (by Garret Brown) fuelled Kubrick's obsessive quest for perfection. The result is gloriously precision-made. The use of sound especially (listen to the remarkable rhythm qf silence then clatter set up by Danny pedalling his trike intermittently over carpet then wooden floor.) And that's not forgetting the procession of captivating images: a lift opening to spill gallons of blood in slow motion; a beautiful girl transformed into an old hag in Jack's arms; and, as a million posters now attest, Jack's leering face through the gaping axe wound in the door.
Alive with portent and symbolism, every frame of the film brims with Kubrick's genius for implying psychological purpose in setting: the hotel's tight, sinister labyrinth of corridors; its cold, sterile bathrooms; the lavish, illusionary ballroom. This was horror of the mind transposed to place (or, indeed, vice versa). The clarity of the photography and the weird perspectives constantly alluding to Torrance's twisted state of mind. The supernatural elements are more elusive than the depiction of his madness. The "shining" itself — the title comes from the line "We all shine on" in the John Lennon song Instant Karma — is the uncanny ability to see dark visions of the truth (young Danny manifests the power through an imaginary alter-ego Tony). A power separate from yet entwined with the evil that dwells in the building (the whole family will come to experience it).
The Overlook, sacrilegiously built on an ancient Indian burial ground (a minor point for Kubrick and stolen by Poltergeist), is haunted by evil spirits. When Jack enters the sprawling ballroom, he is entering into the building's dark heart (possibly even Hell itself): "Your credit's fine Mr Torrance." It's unclear whether it is Torrance's growing insanity that invites this or The Overlook itself taking possession of his soul. Grady, the previous caretaker, a man driven to slaughter his family (the source of Danny's disturbing second sight of the blue-dressed sisters) is another of Torrance's visitation states — "You have always been the caretaker," Grady suggests menacingly. The evil may have always been there in Jack, The
Overlook merely awakened it.
It's a question the whole film is posing: does the potential for evil reside in all men, just waiting to come to life? The final shot of Torrance trapped inside a photograph of the ballroom in 1921 hints at his destiny: he has become one with The Overlook — as he always was (death, you see, is never the end). The point, though, for the infuriatingly brilliant Kubrick was to always keep the answers out of reach. Indeed, he had a mantra he exhorted to all concerned (actors and journalists alike), it's a quote from H.P. Lovecraft: "In all things that are mysterious — never explain."
Ostensibly a haunted house story, it manages to traverse a complex world of incipient madness, spectral murder and supernatural visions... and also makes you jump.
Reviewed by Ian Nathan
Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.
|Average user rating for The Shining|
| THE SHINING review with Bleeding Critic|
I include an external link to my own review for THE SHINING for you to watch http://bleedingcritic.com/the-shining/ @BleedingCritic ... More
Posted by Bleeding Critic at 13:17, 14 July 2015 | Report This Post
In which the master Kubrick brings his cold, clinical style to the horror genre. It seems like a combination that shouldn’t work but, oddly it does. The setting probably helps – an austere grand hotel in the Colorado Rockies that’s cut off for winter with Nicholson and his small family caretaking it and daddy slowly going out of his mind and reaching for the axe. Kubrick uses sound and light to unsettle, with some unforgettable shots (who can forget the cascades of blood coming... More
Posted by RJNeb2 at 22:48, 31 January 2015 | Report This Post
| "Some places are like people... some shine and some don't"|
Deeply chilling even today, The Shining strikes a perfect balance between the surreal and the mundane, informing us that the familiar can often be deceptive, and that nothing is ever quite as it seems. Captured through expert staging, symbolic use of color, bold performances and lengthy, dreamlike tracking shots, this is one of Kubrick's masterworks. ... More
Posted by movienut707 at 13:48, 05 October 2013 | Report This Post
|Part 4 of bleedingcritic's review of THE SHINING|
....If your a big fan of The Shining the 2012 documentary Room 237 explores the films theories. Just imagine an amusement park that includes a set built exactly like the Overlook Hotel with real snow around and the replica of the hedge maze. When you visit this experience....a Jack Nicholson lookalike chases after you, axe in hand. Some people would pay a lot of money for that thrill...I'll leave you with a surprise - For some interesting information about the alternative ending to The Shining v... More
Posted by bleedingcritic at 17:10, 18 July 2013 | Report This Post
| Part 3 of bleedingcritic's review:THE SHINING|
....No other film has inspired such an incredible mix of creative poster art, I’ve researched the best and loaded them all together on a slideshow here. Awesome stuff. I saw the soundtrack available on vinyl once in central London, I didn’t buy it and boy do I regret it now because it’s unavailable. Many film makers have been influenced by this film and deservedly so. Kubrick’s obsession with attention to detail is crazy or genius, and everyone has their own take on this, I think it’s a mix of ... More
Posted by bleedingcritic at 17:07, 18 July 2013 | Report This Post
|Part 2 of bleedingcritic's review: THE SHINING|
...The Shining is a cherished experience. The classic Nicholson stare is one of my favorite moments in the film, watch it here. When I was in Maine, I asked around about the location of the actual ‘Overlook Hotel’ - at the time I didn’t know the inside scenes were film sets, I was way off target to travel to the actual Timberline lodge (The lodge is featured in the film as the external view of the Overlook Hotel). Eventually, I went into a video shop in Maine (I miss those old ... More
Posted by bleedingcritic at 17:05, 18 July 2013 | Report This Post
|PART 1 of bleedingcritic's review of THE SHINING|
I read the Stephen King novel twice before I finally got to see The Shining (1980) at a late night showing. Stephen King had a problem with Stanley Kubrick's interpretation, other websites go into this in more detail, but to be fair if you want the actual version of the book, Stephen King made it in 1997 as a TV mini series, and it's pretty bloody good. It features a couple of moments in Stephen King’s version of The Shining which I wish was in Kubrick’s film. I researched a few behi... More
Posted by bleedingcritic at 17:01, 18 July 2013 | Report This Post
tp://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081505/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1]The Shininghis time I watched the longer US version, for the first time. There are some cool scenes in it that make the film even scarier than it already was.
It still remains one of the most creepy films that I know, Kubrick`s direction is fantastic. I noticed that every time I watch it I discover new details, keeping it a joy to watch.
In my opinion this is one of Kubrick`s best films.
/b] ... More
Posted by TheGodfather at 22:19, 24 June 2013 | Report This Post
|The most hypnotically chilling movie I've ever seen|
Kubrick made quite a few masterpieces, but this is my personal favourite. Truly stunning cinema. ... More
Posted by Mr Gittes at 18:06, 06 February 2013 | Report This Post
| RE: EMPIRE ESSAY: The Shining|
This is one of those films whose extended cuts are worse. I could not stop remembering the extended cut of Watchmen. It sucked big time and just plain wasted time. ... More
Posted by carleslempner at 02:46, 03 December 2012 | Report This Post
| RE: EMPIRE ESSAY: The Shining|
You've always been watching the Shining. ... More
Posted by jobloffski at 08:25, 28 November 2012 | Report This Post
| RE: EMPIRE ESSAY: The Shining|
I wish I could watch The Shining for ever, and ever, and ever................ ... More
Posted by holdemax at 00:06, 28 November 2012 | Report This Post
| RE: The Shining|
Superior to King's book itself, this Kubrick horror film frightens, disturbs and provokes thought in the viewer.
o it isn't, that doesn't make any sense. They're two very different beasts. I'm a huge fan of King but it's not my favourite of his books. And even though it isn't really the book Kubrick's film does fascinate and disturb me, but on a seperate and less cerebral level than the novel.
So the extended cut added nothing but took away loads... More
Posted by DancingClown at 13:31, 27 November 2012 | Report This Post
| RE: US CUT|
So the extended cut added nothing but took away loads.
Too much explained too early, which spoilt some surprises (Room 237, the maze, the Jack-has-given-up-drinking, the added information in the interview, the hospital scene with Danny and the awful skeletons in the lobby (which I think is in the US edition anyway))
Still a superb film though, brilliant on the cinema, Nicholson has never been nuttier (causing a few of the, ahem, "young student types" in the cinema to actually /i] core ... More
Posted by jonson at 12:12, 27 November 2012 | Report This Post
Saw the US cut at my local cinema on Halloween and while it had some nice extra character beats I can see why Kubrick chopped the scenes as they really add nothing to the drama and at times do slow the movie down badly.
Fortunately both versions are available on blu ray (though you will need to import the US disc if you want the longer cut, it is region free) so fans can pick and choose which one to watch.
I own both but prefer the shorter european version as I find it perfectly paced. ... More
Posted by Mulholland Empire at 14:13, 03 November 2012 | Report This Post
| RE: EMPIRE ESSAY: The Shining|
Really looking forward to seeing this at the cinema in 3 weeks time, followed by Room 237 a week after.
Heard some good reviews of Room 237 so far, The Shining is my third favourite horror film (after TCM and The Thing) and I imagine it will really benefit from a big screen showing. Can't wait. ... More
Posted by jonson at 16:13, 02 November 2012 | Report This Post
| RE: EMPIRE ESSAY: The Shining|
Both the film and book are great. King is a great writer and I've enjoyed every book of his I've read. I can understand why he'd feel the way he does about the film. Kubrick rejected his script, instead choosing to write it himself along with a writing partner (Diane Thompson was it?). Not only that but Kubrick put a little joke in the film at King's expense in the form of the wrecked red car.
King's assertion that Kubrick's film has no soul is totally wrong. His opinion is borne out ... More
Posted by John The Grudge at 10:58, 02 November 2012 | Report This Post
Saw this last night (extended cut of 24 minutes).. have to say that with the additional scenes added it was as dull as fook. The original cut is so much better as this version just drags big time. ... More
Posted by chris wootton at 11:41, 01 November 2012 | Report This Post
Those carping about the lack of faithfulness to Stephen King's book are unfortunately going over old ground. Ultimately, it doesn't matter. You'll always have King's book. Kubrick's personal vision in the film adaptation doesn't detract from it in the slightest. What you do get with the film of "The Shining" is the vision of a singular film maker - a director who always took source material and twisted it to suit his own interests and world view. In the case of "The Shining&q... More
Posted by Duckers at 23:52, 30 October 2012 | Report This Post
|Nothing about the additional 20 minutes!|
As The longer US print is being released for the first time in UK cinemas I would have expected some review of this (is it better, worse, does it add anything or help explain?). Nothing, all we get is a review of The Shining as we all know it.
Film is good (although not quite a masterpiece), this review is pretty pointless and those extra 20 minutes are still a mystery. ... More
Posted by philropson at 13:27, 30 October 2012 | Report This Post
|Agree with Stephen King|
I didn't see the TV miniseries, and I don't doubt that it wasn't very good. But I completely agree with Stephen King that the movie takes the heart and soul out of King's book. King' stories are all about the characters, but Kubrick's characters are not very human or relatable. To me that's the most important element to a story like this. The Shining is still a good film, but to me not the masterpiece that everyone says it is. ... More
Posted by Madhava at 15:21, 29 October 2012 | Report This Post
|More than "just a horror film"|
A perfect blend of all the elements needed for a film to cross the boundary from "great" to "classic" - music, performances, sound effects, sets, the structure and content of each shot and those tracking shots! Clearly Kubrick did not set out to make any old horror film - what was in it for him in just doing that? - but thee horror film. I have seen The Shining 8 times now and each time it fills me with dread and fascination. Each time it reveals yet another hidden layer. Eac... More
Posted by Filmscoreman at 13:54, 29 October 2012 | Report This Post
|THE greatest horror film. Peroid.|
Some people argue about certain genres Kubrick has tackled. Some people disagree that he topped the sci-fi genre with 2001. Some disagree that he bettered Ben-Hur with Spartacus. Many disagree that he topped the comedy genre with Dr Strangelove. And a lot of people disagree that he made the best war film with Paths Of Glory.
All of these points of view I personally disagree with, but the point I'm making is that there hasn't really been a universal agreement on the belief that he has topped t... More
Posted by lewistarantino at 18:46, 04 April 2011 | Report This Post
I didn't really understand the ending of the film when I saw him for the first time,
but you don't have to take it serious....
The 2 girls and elevator scenes were wonderful. ... More
Posted by The Great Danton at 16:17, 01 November 2010 | Report This Post
|There's no doubting that this is the scariest film ever made|
Nicholson is absolutely perfect and nobody could have directed this better than Kubrick. My favourite scene is without a doubt the bathroom scene between Torrance and Grady, simply the most chilling scene in movie history as Grady hardly blinks once and his voice becomes icier and icier as he uses the "correction" metaphor to imply how he coldly butchered his family. I also think that the close-up of the photo is my favourite movie ending, always waking up the neck-hairs. ... More
Posted by !xHoTRoDx! at 21:52, 13 April 2010 | Report This Post
|More user comments||