The Shining

The Shining As in many of his films, director Kubrick exploresthe dimensions of the genre to create the ultimate horror film – hedeliberately reduces the pace of the narrative and expands the rather simpleplot of a domestic tragedy to over two hours in length, creates lush imageswithin the ornate interior of the main set, adds a disturbing synthesizedsoundtrack (selecting musical works from Bela Bartok, Gyorgy Ligeti, and Polishcomposer Krzysztof Penderecki), filmed most of the gothic horror in broaddaylight or brightly-lit scenes, and built an unforgettable sensation ofterror, ghosts, and the paranormal. The principal, ghostly character in thefilm is the classic haunted house – a huge, isolated Colorado mountain resorthotel, the Overlook. The Shining was the first movie to extensively useSteadicam. This was a camera mounting system that enables a single person tofilm with a 35mm camera on their shoulder. Until then 35mm cameras were dollymounted, and if they were to be moved during filming dolly tracks usually hadto be laid down. Eeriepsychological horror as the spirits of The Overlook Hotel rise and cause alittle trouble for the winter caretaker and his family. Isolated in the RockyMountains, the resort closes for five long months in the winter (when show cutsit off from civilization). To keep everything in order during this hibernationan off-season caretaker is required, and Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) seemslike an ideal candidate.

The enforced peace is perfect for an extended writingproject, which he’s eager to commence while his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) andyoung son Danny (Danny Lloyd), are more than happy with the idea. However,Danny has an imaginary friend (Tony) who’s less than keen. As Jack is beinginterviewed and told the tale of a caretaker who, many years ago, flipped andmurdered his family, Danny’s vision is filled with torrents of blood and gore.Already a psychic link has been established with the hotel’s past, althoughDanny tells no one; thus the family is soon on their way to Colorado. At the Overlook Hotel the staff are scurryingaround as they pack everything up for the season, although the manager has timeto show the Torrance family around. This is a huge and beautiful building, fullof echoing passageways and enormous, wood-paneled halls. Outside lie themountains and a convoluted topiary maze.

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As Jack and Wendy are shown theboilers and other essential equipment, Danny is taken aside by the head cook,Halloran (Scatman Crothers), and fed chocolate ice cream. The reason for thisdiversion becomes apparent when Halloran starts talking about people who’shine’, a type of paranormal power, which allows you to see thingsthat no one else can. Danny has this ability, channeled through Tony, whichexplains his brief but mortifying visions of murder and dismemberment. Halloranrecognizes this and kindly warns Danny away from Room 237; this hotel has anevil past and it’s best to let it lie. A month later the family have settled into arhythm, although Jack is still suffering from acute writers block. Day afterday Jack sits at his typewriter, in the center of the hotel’s main hall, whileWendy busies herself with looking after the complex and Danny whizzes around onhis little tricycle.

Tony shows the little kid strange premonitionsoccasionally, from the past and future, which encourages the suspicion thatJack might hurt his wife and child. True, Jack is a little touchy when Wendydisturbs his typing (when he finally starts) but apart from this everythingseems normal. Soon the first snow falls and really cuts off the hotel, alongwith which Jack plummets helplessly into mania. Something bad is going tohappen and Halloran, through Danny, knows it. Stanley Kubrick once again demonstrates his masteryof the technical aspects of cinema, utilizing cameras, locations and sound togreat effect in The Shining.

An atmosphere of deep foreboding emanates from theOverlook Hotel, hinting at past misery and echoing the chaos to come.Unfortunately his handling of the characters is flimsy, content instead to usethem as symbols of eternal evil rather than as people in their own right.Jack’s descent into insanity happens so quickly its both difficult to believe(since we’ve missed the precursor clues) and breathtaking. However, Nicholsondoes madness so well that it’s pure entertainment to simply watch him rampageand curse. Duvall is equally good, but in a different way. Her heavy-liddedgaze takes an age to wake to the problem in hand; afterwards she resists theflow of terror and rarely makes a stupid move. Ultimately Kubrick leaves usshort-changed, wrapping events up too rapidly and leaving deeper motivationsunexplored, while the concluding ambiguous note is intriguing. A good to moralto this movie would be evil is timeless and spans eternity. As Jack hasreminded us, the potential for violence and murder is present in everyone. Movies and Cinema Essays.