The Shining is cinematic perfection!

Well, that was an easy review, I’m off now to finish my hedge maze.

Fine! I’ll go into a little more detail.

The Shining is one of those movies that every cinephile has seen, at the very least, heard of. Directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Jack Nicholson and Shelly Duvall. The movie is based on the Stephen King novel and famously King hated the movie.

The story is simple, Jack Torrance is going to be the caretaker of the Overlook Hotel over the winter months. He and his family will be cut off, but the hotel is huge, Jack can write, his wife Wendy can busy herself with things and their son Danny can play.

It’s all so sweet and lovely. You know how the rest of the story plays out.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

In our 31 Days of Horror, Shawn Bird put it best in his Haunted House Movies article:

The movie isn’t just creepy, it’s downright spooky. Every scene feels haunted. Kubrick goes through painstaking detail with the camera work, so everything feels like a surprise and may or may not be a jump scare. There’s also Jack Torrance, the main protagonist, played by Jack Nicholson, and his gradual descent into madness. It grows increasingly throughout the movie and leaves us to wonder if the place is haunted or if it’s him losing his grip on reality. Maybe a bit of both.

The movie is made with such exacting detail that no matter how many times you see it, you see something new. Since it is Kubrick directing, the movie has so much hidden depth in the film. I am a firm believer that every frame of this movie means something. There are chairs that are moved in a scene, stickers missing from Danny’s bedroom door, background posters that mean something.

Kubrick worked both Nicholson and Duvall to the point of exhaustion, he was well known for getting the shots he wants and will do take after take after take to get it. Angelica Huston lived with Nicholson at the time and she said that Jack would return home, after another long day, collapse on the bed and just fall straight to sleep.  Duvall suffered from nervous exhaustion, physical illness and hair loss.

This all sounds awful, but what you are left with is a movie where both the actors give outstanding performances. You watch Jack go slowly insane, you sympathise with Wendy as she is helpless to do anything.

Both actors were disappointed by the reception of the movie since Kubrick got all the praise. They both felt the work they put in wasn’t really appreciated, but without them, the movie wouldn’t be the movie it is.

I am not ignoring young Danny, played by Danny Lloyd. He is probably the most pivotal character of the movie and his performance is fantastic. His ‘Redrum’ is something that sits with you for a long time. Even though it seems Kubrick had sent Duvall, and other cast members, to tears, his relationship with Danny was really good.

As I have said, the ‘meaning’ of every shot has had some fun theories about the movie. There is a great documentary called Room 237 and the conspiracy theories are great. My favourite is that the entire movie an apology from Kubrick about having filmed the fake moon landings in 1969. I KNOW it’s just a theory, but I like to think it’s true.

Overall, you cannot fault The Shining. Like Shawn, I have seen it hundreds of times and I will carry on watching it, especially over Halloween, with the lights out, headphones on and stay at the Overlook with the Torrance Family and let the entire story scare the shit out of me, again.

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