Monday, January 30, 2012

#532. The Shining (1980)

Directed By: Stanley Kubrick

Starring: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd

Tag line: "He Came As The Caretaker, But This Hotel Had Its Own Guardians - Who'd Been There A Long Time"

Trivia: During filming, Stanley Kubrick made the cast watch Eraserhead, Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist to put them in the right frame of mind

Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is a horror masterpiece, a visually spectacular ghost story that is also a chilling account of one man’s journey into madness. 

Aspiring writer Jack Torrence (Jack Nicholson) accepts a job as the off-season caretaker for the Overlook hotel, a remote Colorado resort that closes its doors during the harsh winter months. With his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall), and son Danny (Danny Lloyd), in tow, Jack moves into the abandoned hotel, convinced the extended isolation will be just what he needs to complete his novel. 

But young Danny, who has a special “gift” that allows him to sense what others cannot, knows that evil lurks in these hallways, and over the course of several weeks he will experience an onslaught of terrible visions, providing a glimpse into the dark forces surrounding them all. 

Yet it’s Jack who ultimately falls under the hotel's spell, and his family watches in horror as his sanity slips away. 

Like every Kubrick film, The Shining features a number of striking images. Before the family even sets out for the Overlook, Danny, whose psychic powers are already tuned in to the hotel’s sinister past, can “see”, in his mind’s eye, a river of blood pouring from an elevator shaft, and the bodies of two young girls - horribly butchered - lying dead on the floor. 

Equally as engaging are the film's two main characters, Jack and Danny, both of whom are susceptible to the Overlook's intense energy, yet each in a very different way. Jack, who doesn't fully realize the powers at play, is manipulated so severely that his mind becomes a jumbled mess, unable to differentiate between reality and illusion. The energy enveloping Jack, is, at the same time, warning Danny. He sees the aftermath of the grisly murders that occurred there years earlier, and knows to avoid room 237, even if he's not sure why. Danny’s unique abilities, frightening though they may be, are, in the end, all that's keeping him alive. 

Perhaps most effective of all is the Overlook itself, certainly one of the most ominous settings in the long history of horror movies. On more than one occasion, Kubrick takes us on a grand tour of the place, exploring its spacious corridors and vacant rooms by way of long, continuous shots, allowing us to see for ourselves just how enormous, how cold and empty, it really is.  By containing the terror almost exclusively within the Overlook, Kubrick hangs a pall over the entire building, and while many might look at the hotel and call it beautiful, we never see it as such. 

Its luxurious appearance masks a disturbing nature, and even if Jack and Wendy did, at first, find it the ideal setting, Danny wasn’t fooled for a second.


AK Williams said...

This movie is the favourite of my partner & our daughter,they sit and watch & then analyse it.
Personally I really like it as well & it's one of those movies that when you watch it again & again you always find something new.
The cast are wonderful, truly I can't fault this movie.

DVD Infatuation said...

H E: I agree with you: this is a movie you can always find something new in (as was the case with many Kubrick films). The cast is great, and I can't imagine a time when this movie won't be creepy.

Thanks for the comment!