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Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The Shining

This is my review of the 1980 Stanley Kubrick version of the Stephen King novel "The Shining." I think Kubrick is a genius when it comes to filmmaking. In this venture I feel he captured a lot of what the story is about. There have been complaints about his vision not staying true to King’s novel but it was a remarkable endeavor that has become a classic for many horror fans.

As you may know, this is a story of spirits that haunt The Overlook Hotel. Isolated in the Rocky Mountains, the resort closes for five months during the winter (when snow is too heavy and cuts off all conventional routes of travel.) To keep everything in order during this hibernation an off-season caretaker is required.

Enter Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson) who seems like an ideal candidate, a married man who looks forward to the long stay to accomplish an extended writing project. Jack’s wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and their young son Danny accompany him to spend the winter as one happy family. Danny has an imaginary chum (Tony) who just happens to manifest itself in Danny’s finger. As Jack is being interviewed, he is told the tale of a previous caretaker who suffered a complete mental breakdown. Told how he ran amuck, killed his family with an axe, and then blew his brains out with a shotgun. Danny has a vision filled with torrents of blood and gore. Already a psychic link has been established with the hotel's past, although Danny tells no one.

An explanation of the “shining” is given courteous of the head cook, Richard ‘Dick’ Halloran (Scatman Crothers), who tells Danny that some people "shine" which is a sort of paranormal power which allows you to see things that no one else can. Danny has this ability, channeled through Tony, which explains his brief vision of horrific images. Halloran recognizes this talent in Danny and kindly warns him away from Room 237; this hotel has an evil past and it's best to let it lie.

I think that Kubrick created lush images within the ornate interior of the main set, added a disturbing synthesized soundtrack, used a Steadicam in groundbreaking fashion, filmed most of the gothic horror in broad daylight or brightly-lit scenes, and built an unforgettable, mounting sensation of terror, ghosts, and the paranormal. Nicholson does a spectacular job of portraying Jack’s suffering. We see him struggle with acute writers block and also have hints of his fight with alcoholism. Danny’s experiences in the hotel with more visions comes across as frightening. As the snow begins to falls heavier so does Jack continue to spiral downward into an unhealthy state of mind. The suspense builds as the relationship between Jack and his wife deteriorates and Jack slips further into mania. Through Danny’s ability to shine, Halloran knows something is horribly wrong and sets out to help. Will he make it in time? Will Jack suffer the ultimate fate of the previous caretaker? And what the hell happened in room 237? These are questions that may all be answered as you watch the spine tingling film “The Shining

I do want to note that Stephen King was reported to not particularly like this version and in 1997 released his own version in a television mini series. I like King’s version as well, it does a lot to elaborate on the alcoholism problem as Jack (This time played by Steven Weber) has more instances of his struggle. Also in this version Rebecca De Mornay plays the part of Wendy. King corrects the infamous room number back to one in his book where the old woman committed suicide as room 217. I also like that King included a great scene from the book about the moving topiary animals, Oooo spooky.
“Some Guests Never Leave!”

  • Today's Cure song is Treasure from the Wild Mood Swings CD-(1996) A slow song heavy with rhythmic violin chords about a woman who has passed on from this life and wishes to be remembered without shedding tears.

"Remember I was always true
Remember that I always tried
Remember I loved only you
Remember me and smile...
For it’s better to forget
Than to remember me
And cry"



Blogger nicole said...

I never knew that about the original and the newer version of the Shining. I only saw the original and it was great. Super creapy.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004 5:37:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

God. The hallway scene with the slaughtered twins STILL creeps me out. TRULY a disturbing movie on any level.

Good review!

Thursday, October 14, 2004 6:04:00 AM  
Blogger Didou said...

I haven't seen the new version. I think I stumbled on it while it was playing on television but for some reason I didn't really feel interested. Maybe I should give it a 2nd chance.

Friday, October 15, 2004 5:48:00 PM  
Blogger Sherril said...

I haven't seen The Shining and probably never will because I can't bear being that scared. I did see the real hotel in which I believe they filmed the movie. It is The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado where I was in the summer of 2004 on a hiking trip in the Rockies. I have a picture taken from the porch of the hotel and the ambiance is exactly right for "The Shining". If you'd like to see it, visit my blog where I am going to try to post it. I still have trouble getting pics posted consistently, but I am going to try.

Sunday, June 12, 2005 6:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard that something like that actually happened.

Thursday, April 27, 2006 9:08:00 AM  

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