Saturday, August 4, 2012

36. The Shining (1980)

Title:        The Shining
Year:        1980
Genre:      Supernatural Thriller

Type:        A-Movie
Run Time: 142 

         Scatman Crothers 
Director: Stanley Kubrick
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From writer Stephen King and director Stanley Kubrick comes a classic tale of madness and terror. Struggling writer Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson), his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall), and their psychic son Danny (Danny Lloyd) spend the winter overseeing a deserted resort hotel where the ghosts of the site's shocking and bloody past drive Jack slowly insane. With Scatman Crothers, Barry Nelson.

Detailed Synopsis
Personal Thoughts

My guess is that by now (32 years after its release), every and any avid horror fan out there, has gotten around to seeing this movie (especially the ones that were alive during the bicentennial), so I definitely won't concern myself much with trying to avoid spoilers.

The Shining is a 1980 supernatural thriller directed by Stanley Kubrick, based on (some will argue loosely based on) Stephen King's 1977 Novel of the same name. 

Stanley Kubrick's interpretation of The Shining (true to Stephen King's version or not), in my opinion, is a well crafted, beautifully shot, masterpiece, worthy of the horror movie hall of fame. It follows the pattern of a lot of 70's horror films, making use of things such as tone, atmosphere, storytelling and suspense to frighten audiences and make viewers uncomfortable. 

Interesting enough, the first couple times I saw The Shining (back in the early 90's), I didn't quite get it ... it wasn't exactly my cup of tea. You see in those days, I was well into my action movie watching prime (explosions, guns, Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Bruce Willis), so I didn't have the love and deep appreciation for it then as I do now. It wasn't until the late 90's -- early 2000's (The Sixth Sense, What Lies Beneath, Stir of Echoes, The Ring) that I really began to develop an understanding and appreciation for slower paced, ghost style, supernatural thrillers. After discovering the supernatural thriller genre (gaining an understanding and appreciation for it), I had to go back and rediscover The Shining, one of the classic movies that started it all!

The Plot: Aspiring novelist Jack Torrance accepts a position as the off-season custodian at an elegant but eerie hotel so he can write undisturbed. But shortly after Jack, his wife and his young son settle in, the ominous hotel wields its sinister power -- Synopsis taken from Netlix.

I pride myself in being a fan of atmosphere, ambience, mystery, story and suspense, and The Shining delivers on all counts. The acting was great -- Nicholson and Duvall gave strong performances in this one, though Stephen King himself describes Nicholson's performance as being over-the-top -- and the music and cinematography also stuck out to me. 

It's no secret that Stephen King had some issues with Stanley Kubrick's version of The Shining, and though I've seen the 1997 TV Mini-series which I'm sure comes much closer to the book, I am still yet to read the actual novel. So I obviously can't objectively compare King's original story to the one presented in Kubrick's film. I've heard several people say that they would not have enjoyed Kubrick's movie version nearly as much had they read the book first. 

The movie (from my point of view) is basically about an unstable mans descent into utter madness -- his mind influenced and taken over by an ominous presence -- his family, isolated and claustrophobic, restricted to the confines of the overlook hotel, seeing shadows of its portentous past. But underneath all of this for me, still remains a few unanswered questions. In the 1980 film, Dick Hollerann tells a story about how he and his grandmother could hold conversations with each other without ever saying a word. They called this ability Shining. Little Danny Torrance also apparently had the gift of Shining. Some of the questions people may have (especially if they haven't read the actual book) are:

The Shining Questions

- Did the overlook hotel shine? (Did the hotel have an ominous affect on people because it was shining)

- Was Jack Torrance shining? (Jack was obviously affected by the overlooked hotel. Was this due to the fact that he himself also shined)

- Delbert Grady tells Jack Torrance that he (he as in Jack) is the caretaker and has always been the caretaker of the overlooked hotel ... what does this mean?

- What does the old black and white picture from the 1920's seen at the end of the movie with Jack Torrance in it, mean? (Has he always been the caretaker as Delbert Grady suggested)  

Is The Shining Scary?

How scary a movie is, or wether a movie should even be considered scary at all, is obviously something that is dependent on who you ask. Not every movie perceived to be scary, will scare everyone. In the case of The Shining, I will say that it does have a reputation of being eerie and disturbing (perhaps The Ring of its era). If you're watching it as an adult, then it may not scare you ... if you saw it as a kid, then it probably terrified you! Ironically, the Stanley Hotel (the hotel said to be the inspiration for Stephen King's novel The Shining) is rumored to actually be haunted, carrying a "real life" ominous presence.

In closing, The Shining is a classic that every horror fan should see at least once, even if it's not your cup of tea. Having to go back and rediscovery it myself, I'd say now that I definitely have no regrets. This movie accomplished for me what I was hoping it would ... eerie, creepy and suspenseful (exactly the way I like it). From beginning to end, it captivated me and kept me interested, which is why I'm making it my next movie recommendation, recommended to those who have never seen it, haven't seen it in awhile, or are looking for a nice movie to watch on a gloomy cozy autumn/winters day.

Movie Recommendation Number 32 - Overall Recommendation Number 36

Review (Alternative Review)
What I liked:

- The Acting (I loved Jack Nicholson's performance despite Stephen King describing it as being over-the-top)
- The Atmosphere, mood and Ambience
- The Cinematography (great camera angles)
- The Colorado scenery
- The Music
- The Creepiness (Ghost-like apparitions)
- Scatman Crothers
- The Overlooked Hotel
- Pretty Naked Lady (Joke)

What I didn't like:

- The movie (which is 142 minutes) does feel as though it can drag at times
- Referring to Scatman Crothers (Dick Hollerann) by the "N" word
- A person might walk away from this movie still having a ton of unanswered question
- Ugly Naked Lady (Joke)  
My Ratings

How good was it:             

How scary was it:        

How much did I enjoy it: 
More Screenshots:

The Infamous Redrum writing (Murder Spelled Backwards)

Grady Twins in Hall (Danny Torrance on Big Wheel)

Grady Twins Dead in Hall

The Infamous "Here Comes Johnny" Scene

Room 237 - Bathroom Scene (Pretty Naked Woman)

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1 comment:

Artois Cinquante Deux said...

Great review! The Shining is one of the few movie adaptions of Stephen King books that can be classed as a classic King movie. Even though there are lot of differences between the book and movie, The Shining stands on its own two feet as a horror movie that is well worth watching.

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