Monday, August 27, 2012

662. The Shining (1980)

Running Time: 142 minutes
Directed By: Stanley Kubrick
Written By: Stanley Kubrick, Diane Johnson, from novel by Stephen King
Main Cast: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, Scatman Crothers, Barry Nelson
Click here to view the trailer


Note: We run into an issue with the running time with "The Shining" as the book cites the film as clocking in at 119 minutes, yet the version I watched clocked in at 142 minutes. After a little research, I find that apparently I watched the U.S. Cut and the time THE BOOK lists is the international cut. Not sure what the difference is, but what's done is done. Now then...

"The Shining" marks, perhaps, the first and only time in the history of this blog where I've actually read the source material that the film is based on. I can remember a time when I made it my life's goal to read every Stephen King book, cover to cover. Unfortunately that goal was never realized and I only made it about four or five books into his catalog, starting from his very first novel. On the other hand, I was fortunate enough to read "The Shining" which was an excellent book and perhaps, my favorite of the few that I did read. Although I hate it when I hear people remind me of this fact, in the case of "The Shining", the book WAS better than the movie.

The film's main location is the Overlook Hotel, a hotel built on the site of an Indian burial ground, but a hotel that holds prominence in Colorado, housing various celebrity guests and important visitors at various times in it's long history. When the film opens, our main character, Jack Torrance (Nicholson), is interviewing for a job as the caretaker of the hotel while it closes down, between the months of October and May. The story is that the snow gets so bad during this time that it would cost the hotel too much money to keep the back roads that lead to the hotel clear. Jack gets the job and is excited to be able to use the time to get a good start on his novel, since a recent attack of writer's block has left his typewriter quiet. Jack arrives at the hotel on the last day of business for the season, along with his wife Wendy (Duvall) and son Danny (Lloyd). We find out quick that Danny isn't like other children, that he has the ability to know things before they happen - a sort of telepathic. When they arrive, Danny meets the Overlook's head cook, Dick Halloran (Crothers), who also has this ability and who calls it the shining. He and Danny have the ability to hold conversations with one another without even opening their mouths, communicating through their thoughts.  We also learn, from Stuart (Nelson), the hotel manager, that a previous caretaker of the hotel got a bad case of cabin fever and murdered his wife and two daughters with an axe, before shooting himself with a shotgun. After everyone departs the hotel, Jack, Wendy and Danny have eight months to keep themselves occupied, as they are all alone for the winter....or are they?


I can't recall every single detail of the novel, but I can definitely recall liking it a whole lot upon finishing my one and only reading of it. It's not that I didn't like the movie, in fact, it's quite the contrary, as I found the film to flow along quite nicely, provide a wonderfully scary atmosphere and characters that I was able to find interest in. My biggest gripe with Kubrick's script, however, is the fact that there are so many loose ends that he never bothers to tie up. I mean, lets just jump right to the end, right now and discuss the meaning of Jack's picture being on the wall, gathered with other guests of the hotel, circa 1921. What's that all about? It's never really made clear why or how Jack was at a party in 1921 and after doing some research into the matter, the answer that I was able to come up with just isn't suitable enough for me. The majority of people seem to think it has something to do with reincarnation, which is also how the explain the character of Grady being both a former caretaker and a waiter at the party. What about the ghosts; are they real? I mean, they must be right, because Grady is the one who lets Jack out of the storage closet and who knew supernatural beings could interact physically with the natural world? What about the guy in the bear/dog suit performing oral sex on an man in one of the rooms? What was with the woman in the bathtub? There are just TOO many things that don't add up and are left unexplained. The whole movie is just this crazy, messed up, head game where nothing ever really makes sense and we're left in puzzlement while we gaze at the beautiful, snowy images and listen to the haunting, creepy score. It's not a bad movie, by any means, it's just almost too whacky for my tastes and I can understand why King wasn't pleased with it.

Of course, Nicholson used the movie to really catapult his career. Despite having already won an Academy Award for "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", he would spend the 1980s becoming more of a household name, starring in such blockbusters as "Terms of Endearment" and "Batman". The rest of the cast kind of fell of the face of the Earth,  but not 'ol Jack. Kubrick would only go on to direct two more films, before his death in 1999 and only one more of them is included in the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" text and I'll be back with that review, probably tomorrow.

RATING: 7/10  I'll keep it short and sweet today since I've been beating you over the head with long reviews and since I pretty much made my point in a quick and succinct manner. Don't take my bashing of and confusion by the film to heart, as it's really a good movie and one that would work wonders during a horror movie night with your honey. Next up in "Kubrick Week": "Full Metal Jacket" - the conclusion!


August 27, 2012  4:46pm

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