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I have seen this film on several occasions and it has never sat well with me, it has always felt a little off. I know that it is lauded as a Stanley Kubrick classic and a great horror masterpiece but it just never lived up to that for me. However, it wasn't until I read the original Stephen King book recently that it fell into place.
King's novel is the story of a man's last shot at redemption in an isolated hotel with his wife and son. How he is driven slowly insane by the ghosts of the hotel that feed off the psychic abilities of his son and his guilt over the choices he has made in his life. This creates a tense story filled with fear and inner conflict building to a tragic end.
Kubrick's film however seems to be about a psychotic man forcing his family to move to an isolated hotel so that he can possibly do some writing but after some mild nudging from a ghostly barman decides to kill his family. This creates a tension of a very different kind as we wait for the inevitable finale that has become such a famous part of pop culture.
This is not to say that this is a bad film. The way it is shot is great and the third act of the film is very good. There are also some pretty good scares when you are watching this sat alone in the dark. It is a competent horror film but there are some major flaws that really take me out of film.
The biggest issue I have with this film is the primary cast.
I really like Jack Nicholson, and find him incredibly watchable in the right role with the right direction (see The Departed or 1989 Batman). That does not mean he is the right person to play the central character of this story, Jack Torrance a struggling writer looking to make good on his potential. From the moment he appears on screen we know where this is going simply because we get crazy Nicholson. When he has his first scene with the family unit he talks to them with flippant annoyance and almost disdain. Nicholson is playing, or being directed to play, a man who is only one step away from beating his family anyway. The choice to play the character this way and drop the inner conflict that he should go through before reaching the inevitable decent into madness makes the character a little shallow and the outright villain rather than the tragic figure he should be.
As for Shelly Duvall I have to admit that I don't find her that good in anything that she has done. It is well documented that she had major run ins with Kubrick over the direction of her character (Wendy Torrance) in this film and rightly so. She wanted to play the character closer to the book, an intelligent woman that has stood by her husband through some bad times. What we get is a whimpering Olive Oil before she played Olive Oil (Popeye 1980). The character becomes so grating and redundant by the third act that I would not be surprised if this direction was taken by Kubrick as a punishment for her arguments.
As a quick note, I will add that the young boy who play the son, Danny Torrance (Danny Lloyd) is actually quite good and adds an element of sympathy to the film. Although, much of Danny's story from the book has been dropped.
So what do we have at the centre of this film? A psychotic husband and his dependent wife. At no point in this film do I ever buy that these two people met, fell in love and had a life together before this film starts. There is no chemistry or sense of family and the interplay that should be demonstrated on screen.
In King's novel the Hotel is very much a character itself and the events and life that have happened there is vital to understanding the downfall of this poor family. There are images, some horrific some ordinary that pop up throughout the book but all are explained and tied to events in the history of the hotel. This does not translate well to the film, although some of the images are used. The most famous is the two little girls and the events that surrounded them and their father, the previous caretaker. This is fine and makes a lot of sense both in the book and the film. However, in the third act as Wendy is roaming round the hotel she sees a series of things (man covered in blood, a man dressed as a dog etc.) that are tied to very specific events that have been a part of Jack Torrance's torment. In the film they come across as being random for the sack of trying to random and spooky. It was this section of the film that never sat well with me before I read the book; now that I have it just makes me think that Kubrick liked the images but not the story.
After his 1975 film Barry Lyndon failed to find an audience, Stanley Kubrick decided to do something with more mass appeal and made his only foray into the horror genre with 1980's The Shining - an adaption of a 1977 Stephen King novel. Kubrick had perhaps noticed the huge success of films like The Exorcist and The Omen or maybe he just wanted to do something different. Like 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining met with a mixed reception but found its reputation increasing over time. It is now widely regarded to be one of the greatest horror films ever made. I wouldn't go this far myself. I think The Shining is a film of great moments rather than a great film. One person who didn't think much of the film was Stephen King. He was dissatisfied with the portrayal of his central character and later commented that Kubrick was brilliant but a man with no heart. Kubrick's films (in King's opinion) were technically brilliant but didn't move you. Is there anyone alive who doesn't know what The Shining is about by now? Former teacher and recovering alcoholic Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) takes his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and son Danny (Danny Lloyd) to the lonely and remote Overlook Hotel in the Colorado Rockies to take up a position as the winter caretaker. It seems like the perfect place for budding writer Jack to get some work done and earn a little money in the process. Isolated, quiet, solitude, devoid of people. On arrival the manager warns Jack that a previous caretaker named Charles Grady was driven insane by the cabin fever of the Overlook in the winter and murdered his wife and twin daughters with an axe. Jack is not terribly worried about this (he jokes about how his wife will lap this story up because she's a horror junky) and the family do their best to settle in and get their bearings.
But Jack's son Danny has a psychic gift that enables him to see the past and the future. The hotel chef Dick Hallorann (Scatman Crothers) - about to leave for his Winter holiday in Florida - recognises the ability in Danny because he has it too. "I can remember when I was a little boy. My grandmother and I could hold conversations entirely without ever opening our mouths. She called it "shining". And for a long time, I thought it was just the two of us that had the shine to us. Just like you probably thought you was the only one. But there are other folks, though mostly they don't know it, or don't believe it. Well, you know, when something happens, it can leave a trace of itself behind. Say like, if someone burns toast. Well, maybe things that happen leave other kinds of traces behind. Not things that anyone can notice, but things that people who "shine" can see. Just like they can see things that haven't happened yet. Well, sometimes they can see things that happened a long time ago. I think a lot of things happened right here in this particular hotel over the years... and not all of 'em was good." Danny begins to see disturbing flashes of the past relating to the murders and is warned to stay away from a particular room. More troubling though is the mental deterioration of Jack. Suffering from severe writer's block and losing his grip on sanity in the alienating environment, he begins to see hallucinations/ghosts. One in particular, a butler named Delbert Grady (Phillip Stone) - presumably (and slightly confusingly) a manifestation of Charles Grady - tells Jack that he must "correct" his wife and son. Needless to say, wife and little Danny are soon in very big trouble indeed.
The Shining is incredibly rich in atmosphere with a foreboding sense of dread and Kubrick does a fantastic job in designing and creating the hotel. The exteriors at the beginning of the film (pilfered for the ending to the original theatrical cut of Blade Runner) were shot in Colorado - the wonderful opening image of the Torrance car winding its way around the mountain roads from high above. Exteriors were shot at Elstree in Britain and great care is taken to make the hotel as strange and labyrinth as possible. A place where you really could lose your mind if you were not careful. The outdoor maze and the maze puzzle like hexagonal patterns on the carpets that stretch across the endless hallways of the Overlook. I suppose most people will remember Danny riding his little bike around these halls (inventive use of steadicam throughout The Shining) and meeting the murdered twins in a flashback. Some very creepy images in the film that stay with you. It is for the most part a psychological horror rather than Michael Myers stalking and slashing although it does seem to become more conventional in the final act. Lot of red again in this hotel by the way, red a big Kubrick motif. One problem I do have with the film is that Jake Torrance goes bonkers so quickly its hard to even remember what he was like at the start of the film or if he was any different. Stephen King actually complained that Nicholson seemed mad from the off! The picture seems more obsessed with writer's block than the alcoholism of the character. It seems to be this that has driven him nuts as much as anything. "I'm gonna make a new rule: whenever I'm in here, and you hear me typing, whether you don't hear me typing, whatever the f*** you hear me doing in here, when I'm in here, that means that I am working. That means don't come in. Now, do you think you can handle that?"
Are there really ghosts in the hotel or is it all in his frazzled imagination? There seems to be a definite moment in the film where a supernatural explanation is the only conclusion but it would just about work the other way too. Probably not enough of Phillip Stone in this film and also good value is Joe Turkel as Lloyd the bartender, another ghost/hallucination who Jake meets and converses in a swanky period bar from the past. What about Jack Nicholson? This is arguably his most well known role but does it mark the slide from serious actor to someone who just turns up and does a nutty mad eyed Jack Nicholson turn? It maybe does. Nicholson is completely over the top here and for the first time becomes a caricature of himself. There is some sense of nuance in earlier portions of the film but Nicholson goes mad so quickly that one's memory of The Shining is the film where where he does his mad scenery chewing Jack Nicholson turn rather than give a measured performance. I think he was better in One Flew Over the Cuckoos' Nest and some of his earlier films. You can't imagine anyone else playing Randle McMurphy but you could take a leap of imagination and sort of imagine someone else playing Jake Torrance if Nicholson hadn't done it. James Woods or someone. Nicholson does though give the film its iconic status. That blank scary look and the relish with which he delivers the films most notable (and blackly comic) one liners when his character goes doolally.
The Overlook is rife with Native American imagery and this seems to form a subtext about genocide and racism. I like the fact that Kubrick films leave you with more questions than answers. There is much that is open to interpretation here right down to the final image. Mention must go to Scatman Crothers too (what a great voice!). He's not in the film much but I love the scene where he shows Danny the food stores. "We've got canned fruits and vegetables, canned fish and meats, hot and cold syrups, Post Toasties, Corn Flakes, Sugar Puffs, Rice Krispies, Oatmeal and Cream of Wheat. You got a dozen jugs of black molasses, we got sixty boxes of dried milk, thirty twelve-pound bags of sugar, now we got dried peaches, dried apricots, dried raisins and dried prunes..." That's a big kitchen. Overall, I think The Shining is compelling and has some amazing images and flourishes but I don't think it is quite as great as many believe it to be. You can buy this for under a fiver with a trailer and the documentary shot by Kubrick's daughter - who offers a commentary too. This is fascinating I think. You see what a difficult production it was with Shelly Duvall in particular almost on the verge of a nervous breakdown having to work with Kubrick and his meticulous take after take precise instructional methods. The Shining is a good solid horror film but quite the masterpiece that its reputation would suggest.
This film has Kubrick's stamp all over it, the director's way with furniture, camera angles and shapes all having strong effect here, as well as the focus on one main character and how his actions affect those around him. Adapting Stephen King's tales seems to be a favourite pastime of many well known directors.
The Shining itself is a psychic ability that new hotel janitor Jack Torrance's son Danny possesses, although we only pick things up just as Jack gets the job in the remote hotel for the winter. His wife and son move in with him, and initially everything seems great, with Jack having time to write his novel, Danny having the run of the hotel to play in and wife Wendy having a homely life where she doesn't have to worry about bills or anything.
However, things soon take a turn for the worse when strange goings on and an evil supernatural presence along with some unpleasant back history makes not only for an excellent horror story but paves the way for what is perhaps Jack Nicholson's most famous line: 'Here's Johnny!' which he utters once he himself has lost it and starts a bit of a rampage.
What I liked most about the film was how the remoteness of the hotel and the eerie music made it seem as if they were completely trapped in what initially had been a bit of a mini paradise for them. Kubrick's camera angles hold a lot of power here, especially the ones where we are watching Danny ride around on kart through the deserted hotel corridors, and when he comes across the ghosts of the hotel who he can see but seemingly no one else can.
Another interesting term of angles was the size difference between the Torrances' living quarters and the rest of the hotel. The tiniest flat, stuck out of sight, is the venue for a number of creepy scenes which merely add to the fact that the faint of heart shouldn't really watch this film. The acting also goes well with the premise, Shelley Duvall an impressive if slightly overacting Wendy and Danny Lloyd sufficiently distant as Danny Torrance. There's a brief visit from Scatman Crothers as the hotel's resident psychic, off on vacation but with a psychic link to Danny.
But stealing the show is Jack Nicholson, initially a well to do and trustworthy man going for a job interview, who then descends into a nasty and potentially violent man as the supernaturally evil elements of the hotel start taking their toll on the family. I know know what the whole 'Here's Johnny!' thing is all about - a creepy line to give you goosebumps if there ever was one.
I can't say I enjoyed watching this, but it certainly had an impact on me in terms of a creepy horror film. I was impressed by the level of effects the film's elements had, as although the visuals such as clothes and haristyles and slightly grainy screen show the film's age, some of the concepts and how well they were thought out and delivered with effect belied the 30 or so years it has been since this was made. I would highly recommend watching this, but just be prepared for a chiller of style.
RELEASED: 1980, Cert.18
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 142mins
DIRECTOR: Stanley Kubrick
PRODUCERS: Stanley Kubrick, Martin Richards & Jan Harlan
SCREENPLAY: Stanley Kubrick & Diane Johnson
MUSIC: Wendy Carlos & Rachel Elkind
Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson)
Wendy Torrance (played by Shelley Duvall)
Danny Torrance (played by Danny Lloyd)
Dick Hallorann (played by Scatman Crothers)
NB: FILM ONLY REVIEW
Adapted from Stephen King's novel, The Shining is a horror film which has gone down as an all-time classic. I first read the book in the mid or perhaps late 1970s, and saw the movie when it did the rounds at the cinema in the last half of 1980.
When writer Jack Torrance takes a job as residential caretaker of a large hotel which is closed to guests during the bitter Colorado winter, his wife Wendy and little son Danny accompany him. Jack is viewing the time the family would spend at the hotel as one where he could get some peace, and be able to forge ahead with his next novel.
The Torrance family aren't without their problems. Firstly, Jack is a recovering alcoholic and little Danny is a somewhat hesitant, troubled child, who has what appears to be an imaginary friend that he refers to as Tony. Tony communicates with Danny through he - Danny - moving his forefinger up and down, and we hear Tony speaking as Danny, but with him adopting a deeper, gruffer voice. Danny appears to be a tad frightened of Tony sometimes, but clings onto this imaginary friend due to being rather a lonely little boy. Tony as Danny's imaginary friend particularly comes to the fore when Danny is feeling nervous or stressed.
At Jack's interview, he was told that some years previously there was an incident whereby the manager of the hotel had gone stir-crazy, butchering his wife and family, then shooting himself. Jack expressed to his interviewer that the hotel's rather nasty history wouldn't be a problem for him or his family....he later learns that the hotel is built on an old red Indian burial ground.
On arriving at the hotel for the winter, the family meet chef Dick Halloran who shows Wendy and Danny - whilst Jack has a look around on his own - the food storage areas and large walk-in freezer. Dick and Danny instantly know what one another are thinking, and a little later when the pair are briefly alone together, Dick mentions their mutual telepathy to Danny, getting a slightly nervous response....he also warns the boy to stay away from room no.237 which although the warning scares him (Danny), it also stimulates his curiosity. Once Dick is satisfied that the family are safely and contentedly installed inside the hotel for the winter and know where everything is, he leaves them alone and travels home by plane.
The winter takes its grip and the only contact the Torrance family has with the outside world is via a telephone switchboard, which Wendy uses once or twice just to talk to somebody more than anything else. Jack buries himself in his writing, becoming very irritated with Wendy should she ever disturb him and Danny spends a lot of time playing, driving around the hotel corridors in his little toy pedal car.
During his travels all over the hotel in his pedal car, Danny keeps spotting the figures of two little girls who urge him, in ghostly voices, to come and play with them. When he looks again, the girls vanish and are replaced by an image of torrents of blood gushing through the walls and onto the carpet. Each time this happens, a terrified Danny pedals like fury back to his mother for comfort, but he doesn't tell her what he's seen.
Meanwhile, tensions mount between Jack and Wendy....Jack's behaviour becomes increasingly aggressive and bizarre which unnerves both Wendy and Danny.
Danny continues to experience strange feelings and strange sightings in the corridors of the hotel as the snow piles up to record levels outside, cutting the family off completely from the rest of the world, then as Jack's state of mind rapidly deteriorates, he is victim of a few bizarre happenings himself.
To find out where all of the above leads to, you'll have to watch the film yourself.
The Shining is one of these films which has been enshrined as an all-time classic, but I personally can't drum up the same levels of enthusiasm for it as most other people easily manage. I don't dislike it, but I find certain aspects of the movie taint my enjoyment levels to a point whereby it comes across as rather farcical.
I get very irritated with the character of Wendy Torrance, as she comes across to me as an annoyingly dippy and rather pathetic individual. I just want to shake her, call her a silly woman, tell her to get her act together and get real....especially during the second half of the film.
As far as Jack Torrance's character is concerned, it's not so much him I have the problem with.....it's in this particular instance, Jack Nicholson who's the problem (as far as movies go which he stars in). In The Shining, I find Nicholson's performance to be way, way over the top to the point of being utterly ridiculous. I feel he was very badly cast into this role and someone else I'm sure would have made a much better job of convincingly playing the part. Most of the expressions Nicholson pulled on his face during some of his more maniacal moments during the movie have to be seen to be believed, and his whole performance as Jack Torrance from the very first time I ever saw The Shining, rendered it so that I could never again take him seriously as an actor. His worst offering (amongst many close contenders) in this film for me, was at one point he was required to play the part of loving dad, attempting to endear his son Danny to him. Quite honestly, if any child saw their dad beckoning them for a cuddle with an expression on his face (as is Nicholson's in this piece of the film) which would make Charles Manson look like Mother Theresa in comparison, they'd run screaming for the hills. I can't quite work out if director Stanley Kubrick intended this scene (plus a few others) to be tongue-in-cheek or if he truly believed that Nicholson's acting was convincing.
Scatman Crothers was good as Dick Hallorann, despite his part in the movie being small compared to that of Jack Nicholson's, Shelley Duvall's and Danny Lloyd's....his lesser role is essential to the whole story though.
For me, as far as the characters/actors are concerned, it was Danny Lloyd as little Danny who held the whole thing together and made it happen. This delightful little boy (who must at least be in his mid-30s now) played his part perfectly as the slightly depressed, traumatised child who has psychic abilities. Danny's facial expression throughout the film was spot-on....sad, never smiling or laughing, his voice slightly down in tone, and those huge, wide, scared eyes made me just want to pick him up, cuddle him and look after him forevermore. For me to say that, he must have made a huge impression on me as I'm not the sort of person who goes all gooey-eyed over children.
On the positive side though, despite what I've said above, there is a certain slickness about The Shining as a movie. Almost from the outset when the Torrance family take up residence in the hotel, there is a disturbing, chilling mood present. This is largely created by the utilisation of some very interesting and clever camera angles, especially those which showed us Danny pedalling around the hotel corridors in his little car. Also, there are a couple of points within the film that will make you jump out of your skin...these moments are created using some special effects which are a little over the top, but good all the same.
All in all, I much prefer Stephen King's original novel to the movie version of The Shining. The book goes into far greater detail about the lives of the Torrance family before they take up residence in the hotel, thus giving a good grounding as to why certain things are as they are, especially with regard to each family member's relationship with one other.
Despite everything negative which I've expressed above, there's no doubt about it that The Shining - even with Jack Nicholson's almost preposterous performance - is very entertaining and can stand several viewings. I don't find it anywhere near as scary as I used to, but I feel that could be due to knowing what's coming next during the film - the first viewing is always the scariest....I just wish a different actor had been chosen to play the part of Jack Torrance; possibly Wendy Torrance too.
The Shining isn't for you if you're very easily spooked, as despite parts of it being pretty exaggerated and over the top, there are a lot of chilling scenes contained within which are well shot/filmed.....so, give it a try at your own risk - you might not sleep too well the first night after having seen it, but you after a couple of subsequent viewings will I'm sure become inured to the horror elements of the movie.
I'd also recommend reading the book first, as that will give you a good grounding as to why certain things are happening in the way that they are. Don't expect the film to be as detailed as the book....to copy the book verbatim into movie format would probably result in film of unwatchable length, as The Shining is a thick, long novel.
At the time of writing, The Shining can be purchased on Amazon as follows:-
New: From £2.95 to £16.99
Used: From £2.22 to £9.99
Collectible (only one copy currently available): £6.00
A delivery charge of £1.26 should be added to the above figures.
At present, it appears that nobody has uploaded The Shining in its entirety on YouTube, but there are several sampler clips available.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) becomes winter caretaker of the Overlook Hotel and brings his family along to help look after the place. Before taking the job Jack is told the other caretaker got cabin fever and killed his family - Jack shrugs this off and takes the job.
The hotel it turns out is not as it seems. It's built - shock horror - on an Indian burial ground. Despite this chasm of cliche, the wonderful nature of strangeness that surrounds the hotel and the immense technique in the filming by Kubrick, overshadows the premiss's weak underlays.
Weird things begin to happen as the winter further envelops the hotel destroying contact to the outside world - the only thing surviving the cold is a little ham-radio. Jack begins hallucinating a bar tender in one of the entertainment halls and begins to have extended discussions with this imaginary figure. Meanwhile Jack's son gets more and more drawn to room 237 - I wont spoil the main shocks but the woman in the bath made my heart pump ice through me.
All scenes and shots are superb - some takes taken again and again to get the perfect collection of angles and moments. The scene in the maze leaves your mind ticking over, trying to work out how Kubrick achieved it.
Stephen King notably hated this film, believing it destroyed his work. King did make another version in the 90s which flopped big time, showing the disparate nature between Prose and Cinema - compromises must be made between both arts in adaptations, and who greater to adapt one of your works but Stanley Kubrick. King really should have seen it for what it is.
The Shining is a horror film that was released in 1980 and directed, produced and written (although the novel was written by Stephen King) by Stanley Kubrick. The theatrical release has a run time of 146 minutes and the European edit is only 115 minutes long. Why we have to miss out on half an hour though I don't know. Probably to do with our classification standards. The Shining is rated 18 due to disturbing and violent images, some minor nudity and strong language. My version is rated 18 but I know the rating has been brought down to a 15 now and was done in 2007.
When Jack goes for an interview at a hotel, he is told that the job isn't easy. The job will be to take care of the hotel through the winter months and it will be completely deserted but this doesn't bother Jack, he is more than happy to be left alone to write. The manager informs Jack that the previous caretaker got cabin fever and killed his whole family. Not to be deterred, Jack takes the job.
When Jack, Wendy (his wife) and Danny (his son) arrive at the hotel on closing day, everything appears to be normal. Danny however has a special power and the chef who shows them around speaks to him telepathically, informing him that not everything in the hotel is good.
Wendy and Danny are having a pretty good time in the hotel, making fun from where they can but it isn't the same for Jack. Left alone with his writing, he starts to get withdrawn from his family and his personality begins to change. Along with Jack's temper problems, Wendy has to deal with a son that can see ghosts and other terrible things that are happening around them. Will the family be able to survive the job or will the end up like the previous caretakers' family?
Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance
Shelley Duvall as Wendy Torrance
Danny Lloyd as Danny Torrance
Scatman Crothers as Dick Hallorann
Barry Nelson as Stuart Ullman
Philip Stone as Delbert Grady
Joe Turkel as Lloyd the bartender
- Behind the scenes
- Interactive menus
- Scene access
Even though this is one of my all time favourite films, I have never actually found it really scary. A little creepy at times yes but that's all.
Jack Nicholson is truly amazing in his role as Jack and was by far, the perfect choice for the role. He manages to act like an utterly crazy and disturbed man extremely well and it makes me want to applaud his talents as an actor. For me, this is the best role that he has ever played and he will always be thought of as being in this film.
Shelley Duval also played her role as Jack's quite timid wife well. Her character wasn't supposed to be a strong woman who can easily stand up for herself so when it comes to the scenes where she flits about and takes a while to decide what to do, I thought this fit in very well with Wendy's personality and was acted exactly how it should have been. I know a lot of people hated her in this film and thought she did a terrible job but you have to really watch the film and be able to understand why she acts the way that she does.
Children in horror films really creep me out and this was one of the things about this film that did it for me. Danny Lloyd was only 6 at the time that this was filmed and wasn't even told the whole story of what was going on. I think for anyone to do a performance as well as his, let alone a 6 year old, is an amazing actor. He really gives me chills every time the Redrum scene is on.
What I really liked about this film was that there was so much to think about and nothing was truly given away early on. Although Danny's gift is revealed early on, you don't know what significance it will have enough the story unfolds unless you have already read the book. Also, the reason why the ghosts are telling Jack to do certain things isn't made clear for quite a while and it leaves you thinking 'what the hell is really going on'. Then there is room 237 and its significance.
The visuals are also extremely well done. The sets in every scene look completely perfect with every single little item in place and it is plain to see just how much time and effort has gone into making everything look as good as it possibly could. There are a lot of different areas of the hotel shown in the film as well as the maze outside so there were a lot of little details to think about here.
The music is one of the things that adds to the excitement and suspense of the whole story. The music used is really creepy at certain times and although you have a feeling that something bad is going to happen soon, the music doesn't make it extremely obvious all of the time. I loved the tension that was added throughout the film and again, you can tell how much time was taken to make sure that everything was perfect.
Everything about this film for me is fantastic. I haven't read the book though so I can't compare it for any differences. The script is great, the acting is great, the story is great and so is everything else. A near perfect film in my opinion that will always be highly rated in my top films.
Between this film and The Exorcist, it's hard to choose which one is better. For upfront horror and shock, the Exorcist just clinches it. But for acting, and more importantly for the paced, very tense build up to the action, this is the film to watch.
This is Stanley Kubrick's master adaption of Stephen King's novel of the same title. And it truly is a masterpiece. Kubrick had a reputation as man who worked actors to the point of madness to achieve his results. But, the result does speak for itself.
Jack Nicholson stars in his single best role as Jack Torrence, an aspiring writer who is a bit of a loser. To get the quiet he thinks he needs to write he takes a job as a caretaker at the hotel, bringing his wife Wendy (Sheelly Durval) and son Danny (Danny Lloyd). When at the hotel, he leans that years before a caretaker had succumbed to 'isolation' and had killed his daughters and wife. He keeps that to himself.
However, his son Danny has a power, known only as the 'Shining', and he senses that something is wrong with the hotel immediately, and is scared to go. When he arrives, he meets a man called Dick Halloran (Scatman Crothers) who also has the same power as Danny and can speak to him telepathically. He tells Danny to contact him if anything is wrong at all. He also says that he must stay out of room 237.
At first, everything appears to be fine. Jack continues to write on his book while the family as a whole enjoy their time at the hotel and keep fixing it up here and there as needed.
However, after a while, things start to happen to Danny and he has some truly frightening visions of things to come. At the same time, Jack decides his book is going nowhere and he becomes more and more frustrated with himself. Danny enters room 237 and something happens to him. Wendy accuses Jack of abusing him. At that moment, something snaps and Jack stars to really succumb to the isolation, blaming his wife and child for his failure, and slowly losing his mind. At the same time, the horror of the hotel builds up and things continue to happen to Danny and Jack, until one night Jack completely snaps, leading to perhaps the greatest horror climax of all.
The Exorcist was more of a shock horror, bulding up tension, then releasing it, then building it up again. The Shining is different in its style. Stanley Kubrick takes his time building it up, and just as you think something is going to happen, it doesn't. When this film does explode to life, it's pretty terrifying, and there is no doubt that Jack Nicholson just steals everything about this film and should have had an Oscar for it. He is genuonly terrifying as Jack Torrence, and is perhaps second only to Hannibal Lector as the best villain in any film. You really do feel the isoloaton that he does, and you'll find yourself really rooting for Danny and Wendy to be all right. Just superb.
The Shining was one of those films I always thought I should watch but was secretly a bit scared of! Its received a lot of hype over the years I guess partly because it was directed by the infamous Stanley Kubrick and partly for the plaudits that Jack Nicholson received for his acting in it. Either way, its well known as one of THE classic horror films of our time.
The film is based on the Stephen King book and revolves around Nicholson, his wife and young son moving to the "Overlook" Hotel for the winter after he takes a seasonal job as a caretaker. It is here that he believes he will be able to finish writing a book without any distractions. However, the hotel has a few secrets of its own and the a former caretaker went crazy and killed himself and his family over a previous winter period.
The film sees Nicholson's character slowly slip in to madness as strange and eery events take place around the hotel. Although Nicholson received many of the plaudits for his acting, Shelley Duvall who plays his wife, also deserves credit for her portrayal of a woman trying to protect her son in the huge hotel with nobody to help her.
The film doesn't rely on out and out gore as so many modern day films do although I'm sure there will be some poor modern remake soon. Kubrick piles on the suspense within the last half hour as the crazed Nicholson stalks his wife and son around the hotel and they seek to escape with their lives. If you haven't seen it yet, please do, its a classic!
The Shining is one of the most famous horror films ever made. Its a classic that we often here quoted, there have been parodies and varies other things based on The Shining. Of course this film is based on the brilliant book by Stephen King. The film came out back in 1980. The film stars a very young Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall and Danny Lloyd. The film was directed by the brilliant Stanley Kubrick. Surprisingly the film only picked up one award and five nominations. However since its release the film has become something of a cult classic.
The film tells the story of a family who move up to a remote hotel known as the Overlook. The family are to look after the hotel through the winter while it is closed. In doing this they will be cut off from the outside world for the winter as the snows come thick and hard. So now Jack Torrance and his wife and son must pull together to through the winter. However the hotel is hiding some dark secrets, before long the loneliness starts to get to Jack and strange things start to happen in the hotel. Before long he is loosing his mind and then chaos breaks out in the hotel.
This is a great film. Its not a scary as it was when it first came out, modern films I suppose have had an effect on people and they are now harder to scare. But even though this film is thirty years old it does not feel that way. Its visually brilliant and the way the director can create this wonderful tense atmosphere is great.
Jack Nicholson is great in the role he plays. He has a way of pulling off the crazy man very well. The music in the film really sets the mood well and creates some very good scenes. While the film is quite spooky it has a way of keeping you always on the edge of your seat and wondering what is around the next corner.
The film runs for 142 minutes which really flies by. There is so much going on in the story and it never drags. As you feel the ending approaching it really moves at a frantic pace and keeps you interested!
The film was originally rated as an 18 but has since been brought down to a 15. Which shows how people are more tolerant of violence and bad language which I'm not sure is such a good thing. Anyway there is quite a bit of violence, bad language and some nudity in this film, so its really not one to watch if you are easily offended.
Now I should mention I have never had chance to check out the DVD for this film. So this is a film only review and I can't comment on any features the DVD may or may not have.
Overall this is a really good film. However I don't think its as good as some people make out. This makes it into many 'greatest films of all time' lists but to be honest I don't think it deserves that. Yes its good but its not that good! But if you have never seen The Shining its one of those films that everyone should watch at least once! So give it a try and remember...... Here's Jonny!!
Jack Nicholson stars in 'The Shining', about a guy who goes for a job as caretaker in a hotel for the winter and brings his family with him to stay there. The hotel has a dreadful past, murders took place there, and slowly Jack (that's his character's name) eventually becomes insane and tries to repeat the past on his own family.
Stanley Kubrick directed this masterpiece of horror film-making and, for me, this is one of the scariest films I have seen!
This is not a slasher movie, although there are scenes of victims being slashed, and of course, the ending has Jack turn on his family, but the preceeding hour and a half is pure horror!
The film contains a wonderful, eerie atmosphere that relentlessly keeps spooking us throughout the film. You keep imagining what will pop around that door or appear in the corridor.
This is really a horror film that deals with evil spirits and, for me, those are the most terrifying.
Jack Nicholson puts on a great performance but he does tend to over-act in his role to the point where you may actually laugh at him, especially in the climax.
Shelley Duvall and Danny Lloyd are wonderful as his wife and son who, eventually, run in fear of him.
The score is very haunting, also. Other horror films have memorable scores, and I liked them, but never did find them particularly scary ie Halloween, The Exorcist.
But the score in this film worked for me and really added to the terrifying experience.
Stanley Kubrick may not have made many films but when he did, he certainly knew what he was doing!
The location of the hotel was the perfect choice. It's large and spooky and makes you think that Jack and his family were crazy enough to stay there alone for one night let alone for the whole winter(!)
The film may actually run a little bit too long but that's really a nitpick more than a full negative about the movie.
If you haven't seen this one then rent or buy it.
It's an understated classic!
The Shining genuinely frightened me which is something I can't say of every horror movie I've ever watched. It is a really terrifying tale starring Jack Nicholson and directed by Stanley Kubrick.
Jack Torrance played by Jack Nicholson is a recovering alcoholic and he takes his wife Wendy played by Shelley Duval and his young son Danny played by Danny Lloyd to live in the Overlook Hotel that is now empty. It is a resort in the Colorado Rockies where he has been hired as an off-season caretaker. Everything seems normal at first but as the weeks pass by each member of the family experiences frightening hallucinations one by one. Danny is the first to catch glimpses of the gruesome, bloody murders that happened in the hotel many years earlier. Next, Jack begins to descend into a slow plunge into madness. With each hallucination his behaviour becomes more erractic, violent and abusive. Wendy is the last to succumb as she is preoccupied with Danny's experiences and Jack's increasingly worrying actions.
So begins her fight for survival from Jack as she knows she is in terrible danger and must escape his clutches before it's too late.
I found the movie to be very dark and disturbing, not to mention claustrophobic. I felt myself being dragged down despite my best efforts to not be, into Jack's world of insanity that gets worse as the film progresses. You can't help being submerged in it all even if you fight it. The direction in this film means that you become very scared by the goings on and the building atmosphere of danger and dread. I was drawn into the fear of it all.
It is a classic piece of horror movie writing as it doesn't just shock you with murders and blood but gets into your mind and shows the descent into madness for this man as events and hallucinations take over his life and no-one is safe from him. If you like horror movies this is a must.
Let me begin by stating that I am not an avid fan of horror movies, most are simple and violent, which doesnt really relate to horror for me. Films that DO genuinely frighten me are the ones that have a supernatural inhuman quality. The Shining directed by Stanley Kubrick is one of these films.
Let me begin by stating that this is BASED off of Stephen Kings novel of the same name The Shining. If you want a direct novel to film adaption please do not view this movie, you'll only be disappointed. Go and watch Stephen Kings serial that aired on the television or go check out YouTube. Personally 9/10 movies that are based off of classic genre novels fail because the adaption is so literal and therefore destined to be average at best. But I can see that I'm getting away from the main point of the article.
The plot centres around the Torrence family; Jack, Wendy and Danny. Jack is interviewed and hired for the role of winter caretaker for the remote mountain hotel The Overlook. While the hotel is shut down for the winter they will be the lone inhabitants. Danny (who has the Shining a psychic ability to see past, present and future events as well as telepathy) gets a sense of foreboding about the place as he begins to see visions of horror that has happened over the years at the hotel.
With all of Kubricks films there are always themes that tease out over the course of the film as well as hidden messages that only become apparent after viewing it a number of times. Isolation is a key feature of the film and at times we are presented with the issue of whether Jack Torrence's madness is caused by this or the powers of the house playing games with him. What's more is that as all the family are slowly absorbed into the hotel the questions looms that, do all the Torrence family have the Shining or are growing mad like Jack?
I particuarly enjoyed the idea of duality. Twins, symetrical mazes and mirrors constantly give the viewer an automatic feeling of uneasiness. At times it almost grows confusing as we realise that we've just been watching the reflection of a scene as the camera pans out of the mirror. Maybe there are always two sides to a persons personality that are mirror opposite.
Cycles are also featured and make the film slightly confusing to the first time viewer. I know I was left with a large question mark over my head near to the end credits. However this is one of the films that does link with the book as we find history repesting itself constantly and in the film almost literally.
The catsing was excellent and I really cant see anybody pulling off stark raving mad better than Jack Nicholson. His delivery of lines raises a smile often but the sinister undertones of violence are always there. Shelley Duval plays the frazzled wife who throughout look worn and beaten from the, no doubt, torturous filming schedules. Her face like Jack's is always expressive and notably worn. Lastly Danny Loyd plays Danny, for a child star in a horror film who has special powers, I'm glad to say they didn't make him weird. They just made him into an average kid who had developed coping strategies to deal with things. H doesn't like to talk about his special powers and thank god we dont have to hear about them.
I have nothing but praise for the movie and deeply wish that all horror films could build the tension slowly to a crescendo like this one did. It was funny, scary, bizarre and memorable. Well done Kubrick!
I first read Stephen King's novel The Shining when I was about 14 and it scared the living hell out of me. I have since seen the film a couple of times and as a fan of Stanley Kubrick's work I really should like the film, which I do but I just aren't as impressed by it as I should be.
The film is often described as a horror, for me it is much more like a psychological thriller. Particularly when it comes to Isolation, which is the cause of Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) slowly going crazy. I mean think about how scary Isolation really is. In The Shining Torrance, a writer, takes the job as caretaker at The Overlook Hotel for the winter, when the hotel is entirely isolated by the snow storms that effect the area. His idea is to get 5 months of peace to work on his latest project. He takes his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and son Danny (Danny Lloyd) with him. As the months go on Jack begins to feel isolated and begins to go insane.
The film isn't as true to the book as many would have liked and came under heavy criticism because of it, and this is one of the main problems for me. In the book there are just more issues that are completely ignored by Kubrick. The main one relates to alcoholism as Jack has given up drinking since he abused Danny after a binge and it is one of the focal points of the book.
This is isn't the only problem however, the film is quite hard to interpret and to gain a full understanding you really have to watch closely. Throughout the film we see Jack talking to the ghosts of people who have previously been at the hotel, this confused me a little as I don't know if he was actually talking to these ghosts or not. Saying that though whenever we see him with one of these ghosts you'll notice a mirror nearby which also suggests he was talking to himself. The film is like this in many areas I have even seen arguments that say he didn't actually go mad but it was his Son and Wife that imagined it.
Throughout the film it is obvious that it is the fact he is isolated in the middle of nowhere that is slowly turning him crazy, but in the book there is also more emphasis on his son who has the gift of 'Shining' hence the title, where he can see and here things other people wouldn't which is surely a much more difficult thing to deal with particularly with this hotels past, we do see some of this in the film but for me it is much more central to the plot in the book.
At just under two hours in length I also feel the film could have been slightly shorter, it is slow, which does add to the tension and gives the viewer a good look at Torrance going mad, but I just feel that the film could quite easily have been cut to around 1hour 30minutes, which would still have been plenty of time to do it justice.
Although there are some negatives to the film, you can't deny that artistically it is superb, the images are terrifying and the way the suspense is built from the very beginning of the film is brilliant, you never feel comfortable. The use of music in the film is also key to the way the suspense is built and is easily one of the most unsettling soundtracks I have heard.
Jack Nicholson's performance as Torrance is mesmerising and has to go down as one of the greatest roles ever played, his slow descent into madness is brilliant, of course there is the classic scene, shown on the front cover of the DVD, where Nicholson uses an axe to smash through a door and menacingly shouts 'Here's Johnny'. The total opposite could be said for Shelly Duvall as his wife Wendy, she just serves to irritate and frustrate you and doesn't really add much, you don't believe she is actually scared of her axe-slinging husband and it does take some of the scariness away from the film.
As I have already mentioned the film is brilliantly artistic and the images Kubrick created really are terrifying. The direction is good but certainly doesn't match other Kubrick efforts such as Full Metal Jacket and A Clockwork Orange. It is well made but I do feel a little disappointed coming away.
Still, I would recommend it to anyone it is a classic of the genre, horror or psychological thriller, it has been parodied countless times and has had a long standing effect on popular culture today. The film it's self is quite ambiguous as I mentioned earlier, so don't expect to come out of it with a full understanding of what has happened.
The Shining is a 1980 superb psychological horror film based on the Stephen King novel of the same name an directed by Stanley Kubrick (of Dr. Strangelove and Clockwork Orange fame).
It follows the story of Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) a writer who accepts a job as a caretaker at an isolated hotel. He is tasked with watching over the hotel during the winter season where it becomes snowed in, alone except for his wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and child, Danny (Danny LLoyd).
Unfortunately, I didn't go into it being completely ignorant - in which case my experience would have been enhanced. Due to watching it so late, I had already seen the priceless Simpsons Tree House of Horror parody which revealed a fair few of the plot details although they did not subtract from the impact of the shocks. That said, when I saw one scene I couldn't help but chuckle to myself as "usually the blood gets off at the second floor".
Nicholson plays his part of deteriorating family man spectacularly. In one scene, where he cuddles his child - had you written it down it would not have seen sinister at all but seeing the look in his eyes as he did it changes everything. Duvall does an equally praise-worthy job of playing his ditsy wife and they were both very enjoyable to watch.
I'm not a very jumpy person but the film managed to make me jump twice and I genuinely felt shivers all over my body during another separate part. All this despite having barely any violence. More proof in my eyes that toying with the mind is far more scary than mindless violence.
It sounds perhaps strange to say this but the time slides made the whole thing feel so much more real and it helped track the course of their gradual decline.
The soundtrack really adds to the suspense from creepy high-pitched whisperings to classical crescendos.
It is very hard for me to pick faults with this film. Personally, I found it hard to find Danny doing that voice scary, or even unnerving. On the other hand, people with a fear of children (especially those with bowl cuts) will pee themselves. Maybe Kubrick didn't even intended those parts to be scary so who am I to judge.
Now I love the weird and surreal as well as (I guess rather cruelly) watching people's mental decline, so this was a godsend. Then combine this with Kubricks excellent direction, flawless acting and a tailored score and it's near perfect.
Based on a novel by Steven King, The Shining stars Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrence, a teacher who takes on the job of acting as caretaker at the Overlook Hotel, an isolated place in the Colorado mountains that always gets snowed in during the winter. The place has a colourful history, having been used to host many a wild party by aristocrats in the 20s and 30s, and more recently when an erlier caretaker lost his mind and brutally murdered his wife and children with an axe.
There seems to be some unseen force at work at the hotel however, and when Jack sets up there with his family in the hope of completing his novel he begings to go insane, apparently seeing ghosts of long-dead residents and turning on his family in a psychopathic rage. The film is party a psychological thriller and partly a typical creepy Steven King ghost story, with some superb and terrifying scenes, such as one in which the two murdered daughters of the earlier caretaker appear in the hallway to Torrence's son Danny for a split second before disappearing , and another in which an elevator filled with blood opens, sending a river of crimson crashing down the hall.
The film has absolutely buckets of atmosphere, and is a claustrophobic and unsettling experience, and Stanley Kubrick's tense direction works brilliantly in conjuction with Jack Nicholson's manic and unhinged performance, brilliantly protraying a descent into madness and subsequent bloodthirsty insanity. Shelly Duvall is excellent as Jack's nervous and submissive wife, and the general exceptional quailty of the performances can be put down to Kubrick as much as the actors themselves- Kubrick would make them do hundreds of takes of the same scene, nicholson working himself up into genuine rage and hysteria and Ducall becoming genuinely tearful and traumatised by Kubricks relentless insistence for yeat another, better take.
The Shining is a superb horror film that makes its mark by relying on the power of suggestion and on atmosphere rather than scary special effects and shock tactics (although these are employed as well at here and there), and has a tendencey to burrow into the subconscious and stay there long after the end credits have rolled.
Stanley Kubrick's The Shining is less an adaptation of Stephen King's best-selling horror novel than a complete re-imagining of it from the inside out. In King's book, the Overlook Hotel is a haunted place that takes possession of its off-season caretaker and provokes him to murderous rage against his wife and young son. Kubrick's film is an existential Road Runner cartoon (his steadicam scurrying through the hotel's labyrinthine hallways), in which the cavernously empty spaces inside the Overlook Hotel mirror the emptiness in the soul of the blocked writer settled in for a long winter's hibernation. As many have pointed out, King's protagonist goes mad, but Kubrick's Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) is Looney Tunes from the moment we meet him--all arching eyebrows and mischievous grin. (Both Nicholson and Shelley Duvall reach new levels of hysteria in their performances, driven to extremes by the director's fanatical demand s for take after take after take.) The Shining is terrifying--but not in the way fans of the novel might expect. When it was redone as a TV mini-series (reportedly because of King's dissatisfaction with the Kubrick film), the famous topiary-animal attack (which was deemed impossible to film in 1980) was there--but the deeper horror was lost. Kubrick's The Shining gets under your skin and chills your bones; it stays with you, inhabits you, haunts you. And there's no place to hide... --Jim Emerson, Amazon.com