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Shining, The (1980)
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by Mel Valentin

"Truly seminal psychological horror. Worth revisiting at least once a year."
5 stars

Released in 1980 after a typically lengthy production shoot, Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining," Stephen King’s novel of supernatural horror and psychological disintegration, met with an unenthusiastic critical response. The box office reaction was more positive, with "The Shining" making back more than double its production costs in North America alone. King, however, was famously (vocally) unhappy with Kubrick's interpretation, as were many fans of King’s early pop masterpiece. In 1997, King adapted "The Shining" for a six-hour, television mini-series. Although a more “faithful” adaptation, the mini-series was undermined by a limited budget (especially where the special effects were concerned), unfocused, meandering writing, histrionic performances, and tepid, uninspired direction. Kubrick’s adaptation, however, remains the definitive version of King’s novel, if only by default. As a standalone film unshackled by questions of fidelity to the source material, "The Shining" remains a surprisingly effective psychological horror film of existential dread.

Story wise, Kubrick’s adaptation follows the source material closely in the opening scenes (Kubrick helpfully includes title cards, white type on black backgrounds to demarcate chapters or segments). Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson), a struggling writer and recovering alcoholic, interviews for a position at the Overlook Hotel in Colorado as the Overlook’s winter caretaker. The Overlook, nestled high in the Colorado Rockies, becomes all but inaccessible during the long winter months (roughly November through April). Jack hopes to spend the long winter working on a writing project. He’s not alone, however. His wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and his young son, Danny (Danny Lloyd), join him at the Overlook for the long winter season.

Arriving on the last day of the season, Jack receives a guided tour from the Overlook’s manager, Stuart Ullman (Barry Nelson). Wendy and Danny are given a tour of the kitchen facilities, meat and vegetable lockers by Dick Hallorann (Scatman Crothers), the Overlook’s cook. Hallorann takes an immediate liking to Danny, but Hallorann also detects Danny’s paranormal abilities. Danny, it seems, can read minds and receive premonitions from the future. Danny can also receive violent visions from the past. Somehow, the Overlook has become a repository for violence and the ghosts created by violence (it was also built on an ancient Indian burial mound). Danny’s unique nature makes him specially attuned to the Overlook’s malevolent nature.

As the first major snowstorm hits (one of the worst on record, of course), Jack, Wendy, and Danny become increasingly isolated, with only a two-way radio linking them to the outside world. Jack, for his part, becomes obsessed with his writing project. Wendy and Danny drift through formless, snowbound days, but as the winter deepens, Jack’s obsession turns to mania and eventually, insanity. Jack begins to see and interact with ghosts, including Lloyd ((Joe Turkel), the Overlook’s chief bartender and Delbert Grady (Philip Stone), an obsequious, manipulative waiter. Danny’s curiosity leads him into room 237 (217 in the novel), where an unseen horror awaits. The already fragile family unit disintegrates in response to the Overlook’s influence over Jack’s already fragile psyche. With another, more mundane specter, domestic violence, casting a pall over the film, it’s not surprising where Kubrick’s film ends (hint: to paraphrase Anton Chekhov, never introduce a hedge maze in the first act that won’t be used in the third act).

Kubrick, however, chose a markedly different ending from King’s traditional horror novel. King’s ending left no room for ambiguity, while, as mentioned, giving the flawed protagonist a chance at redemption for his murderous behavior. Kubrick doesn’t, instead choosing a full-on descent into irreversible (and irredeemable) madness. The final shot, different from King’s novel, suggests one of several, mutually exclusive interpretations, but ultimately settles on none of them. Not surprisingly, many critics and fans of King’s novel prefer King’s cleaner, closed (and, therefore, more conventional) ending. While potentially confusing, Kubrick’s ending suggests a circularity, finality, and inevitability first evident in the opening overhead helicopter shots that glide and swoop as they follow Jacks’ car as it torturously makes its way up narrow, twisting mountain roads.

As many critics and film fans have noted, Kubrick chose a mobile filmmaking style for The Shining, using close-in, sinuous dolly or Steadicam shots to follow his increasingly entrapped characters. Kubrick sometimes tracks in from a distance across the Overlook’s vast interiors and, at other times, following characters at ground level. In one of the most discussed scenes, Danny rides his Big Wheel (or a reasonable facsimile) around the interior of an empty Overlook multiple times. Like an unseen predator, Kubrick's camera prowls behind Danny, sometimes uncomfortably, claustrophobically close, as Danny’s Big Wheel crosses hardwood and carpeted floors. The soundtrack reflects the change rhythmically, helping to create an almost hypnotic effect that subtly complements the slow-building, “slow-burn” screenplay (one which, arguably, some horror fans find unengaging). Later, Kubrick's mobile, stalking camera helps to create a sense of disorientation as one characters flees into a snow-covered hedge maze.

The soundtrack, complete with ominous, atonal music (thanks to Béla Bartók, Krzysztof Penderecki, György Ligeti, and contributions from Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind), is typical of Kubrick's successful career as a filmmaker. Kubrick saw himself as an auteur filmmaker, responsible for all facets of production, from production design, to performances, to the score. That obsessive attention to detail (including his apparent mania for multiple takes of the same shot or scene) has led to an understandable criticism of Kubrick as a cold, intellectual director, a director uninterested in the human characters at the center of his fatalistic dramas. While that argument may be, at least in part, true, Kubrick's worldview tended toward the misanthropic and the pessimistic. Kubrick had little faith in the ability of human beings to overcome their flaws and there's probably no better example than the substantial changes he made to the central character.

Where King’s novel offered the possibility of redemption for Jack Torrance, Kubrick categorically offered none. Where King allowed a sympathetic secondary character to survive through to the end of the novel, Kubrick ruthlessly dispatched the same character via a tightly wound suspense scene punctuated by a shock cut (as unsettling today as it was twenty-five years ago). Kubrick also made some other, less objectionable changes, changing the memorably menacing topiary from the novel into a hedge maze. Kubrick made the change for practical reasons (i.e., the inability of then contemporary effects technology to translate King’s ideas from page to screen). Kubrick’s decision to replace the topiary with the hedge maze was, at minimum, a fortuitous one, as the hedge maze functions as one of the most memorable settings for a climax on film, while also subtly externalizing the irresistible undertow of the supernatural and psychological forces that bear down on Jack, Wendy, and Danny.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=1383&reviewer=402
originally posted: 12/11/05 21:50:49
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User Comments

3/22/20 dupadoit redrum 4 stars
8/09/18 Christopher Howley The best horror film I have seen. This film is as deep as the ocean. 5 stars
10/29/16 morris campbell no its not faithfull 2 the book but its still great 5 stars
3/30/15 stanley welles a spellbinding horror epic 5 stars
12/10/12 Jilly Wildly overrated. Nothing happens, just camera operators walking around. 1 stars
6/05/11 the truth kubrick does horror. a hallmark of the genre 5 stars
2/19/11 Ark Saw it at age 19 and scary as hell! 5 stars
11/16/10 ant and rich (In film studies) Classic film! Not quite what Stephen King envisioned, But a masterpiece never the less! 5 stars
11/15/10 Chad Dillon Cooper Great film from a great film maker 5 stars
11/09/10 Steve Benkin i have never understood the high acclaim this gets. Left me cold. 2 stars
1/12/10 Jeff Wilder Ridiculous and changes A LOT from the book. But still good. 4 stars
1/07/10 BOB THE BEST! 5 stars
10/03/09 art OVERRATED!,NICHOLSON IS SO HAMMY! 1 stars
10/01/09 brian The perfect horror film. Bone-chilling. 5 stars
9/20/09 Aaron Direction and acting are great, but pacing and script are uneven. 3 stars
7/29/09 Knightfox21 CLASSIC!!!! A true representation of what a horror film should be! 5 stars
7/23/09 Steven M The best horror ever made! good eerie creepy music!! jack nicholson at his best!! great! 5 stars
7/14/09 faiche13 Creepy kids, axe wielding psycho, anorexic Shelley Duvall - what more could you ask for? 5 stars
7/13/09 FrankNFurter A clausterphobic, pervasively creepy masterpiece.Goosebumps galore! 5 stars
7/08/09 art A SICKO MOVIE! 1 stars
9/22/08 don Great 5 stars
5/13/08 John Jack Nicholson is the shit and this movie is the balls 5 stars
11/03/07 jake My favorite horror movie, one of the scarriest films ever made, great cinematography 5 stars
6/12/07 al smith very scary nicholson gives the greatest performance ever 5 stars
5/18/07 fools♫gold Thegreatesthorrorflick, indeed (that'snottosay manydon't matchuptoit). Bttr thn the "Dr." 5 stars
4/13/07 zenshark It's horror for the brain... and it works. 5 stars
4/04/07 LoveShining Absolutely the best horror ever made. Goes directly to your psyhce and not to your stomach. 5 stars
2/23/07 George Enjoyed the sense something was going to go awfully wrong and the build up towards it. 5 stars
2/05/07 David Pollastrini brilliant, frightening 5 stars
12/22/06 Quigley didn't scare me, but it was pretty creepy. music ruined it sometimes. Nicholson was amazing 4 stars
11/19/06 chris. duvall SUCKS. lloyd is okay (his only movie, he's just a kid). nicholson is phenomenal. 5 stars
11/10/06 Bill Hi all 2 stars
10/29/06 Homer J. Fong about as scary as a fluffy orange kitten 2 stars
8/17/06 Nix the music makes the movie scary as hell 5 stars
7/13/06 David Cohen Actually improved on the book in my opinion 5 stars
6/25/06 George Scared the hell out of me 5 stars
6/21/06 TB Nicholson was the best 4 stars
6/18/06 marysue great!!!!! 5 stars
6/15/06 Josh Racine The best horror movie ever! 5 stars
6/11/06 Billy So good it scares the hell out of me 5 stars
4/30/06 John So scary I shit my self.......LITERALLY!!!!! 5 stars
4/21/06 Jack This is an Awesome horror film 5 stars
3/12/06 Joshua W. Great thriller, a classic 5 stars
12/22/05 MrsVoorheesBabyBoy Still one of the Greatest horror movies ever 5 stars
12/21/05 Ethan M. "Here's Jonny!" A classical horro film. 4 stars
12/20/05 Carolyn Rathburn Classic Nicholson, eerie, good movie 5 stars
12/10/05 chris brilliant movie nicholson actually made me beleive he was mad thats how good he played it!! 5 stars
11/20/05 John Dog "Here's Johnny!!!" 5 stars
11/11/05 zeitgeist Kubrick owns King 5 stars
11/05/05 Ben Best horror movie ever! 5 stars
11/05/05 farnqwo aler 5 stars
11/03/05 Meryl read the book... it's much scarier. Even the remake is much scarier. 1 stars
10/15/05 Moctezuma A true horror classic 5 stars
9/28/05 Ape It is a masterpiece, this movie is a must see if you haven't already, 5 stars
9/25/05 The Overlooker Scary as hell! 5 stars
9/12/05 Total Crap Oh My GOD. The Little Girls, the Crazy Lady in Room 217, Scary Shit. Nightmarish! 5 stars
9/01/05 Tom Burns Very creepy, and very good. 5 stars
8/25/05 Michael no no no 1 stars
8/22/05 Isaac Baranoff Of course, it's not faithful to the book, but it's a great Stanley Kubrick film! 5 stars
8/22/05 Martin a true masterpiece of eeire, inexplicable terror! brilliant! 5 stars
8/19/05 ES The saving grace of this movie is jack's dementia, his ghostly conversations are hilarious 4 stars
8/05/05 Pierre Masterpiece! 5 stars
6/21/05 rachel schauer its totaly creepy 5 stars
6/11/05 Manu Ginobli woot 5 stars
6/10/05 Anthony G Masterpiece, its jack nicholson for fucks sake! 5 stars
5/25/05 Jake A Horror movie masterpiece 5 stars
2/22/05 robin de loxley great film 4 stars
2/15/05 Wilt Chamberlin Heeeeeeere's Stephen King! 5 stars
12/15/04 kelly! adair! wohoooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
12/08/04 Kristina Williams Jack fucking Nicholson 5 stars
10/29/04 HL So Bizarre and Nicholsen Too. Not for Everyone. 4 stars
10/25/04 some guy My favorite horror movie, just the atmosphere makes you want to crap your pants 5 stars
10/23/04 UMER jack is at his sinister best and the movie really SCARES 5 stars
9/05/04 henro wonderful 5 stars
9/02/04 T.B. This Movie make me laugh 4 stars
7/02/04 nortika great horror flik. 5 stars
6/27/04 john bale Manic Jack with unnerving soundtrack and disturbing visuals. One of few great Horror movies 5 stars
6/27/04 FIN A Classic. Good Horror, Brilliant Screenplay, Jack Nicholson's performance is amazing! 5 stars
6/18/04 J HERES JOHNNY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
6/12/04 Monster W. Kung Unbeatable for atmosphere, good not great as a story. Way better than King's crapola, tho. 4 stars
4/26/04 Ryan The best horror flick ever made 5 stars
4/10/04 valerie hart fantastic film one of the best and creepiest fils ever made!!!! 5 stars
4/07/04 Sig "Here's Johnny!" - Jack Nicholson, 1980 "The Shining" 5 stars
4/01/04 re a great film 5 stars
3/30/04 American Slasher Goddess Excellent horror classic. 5 stars
3/23/04 Lord Haw Haw Brilliant psychological horror. Excellent all around. 5 stars
3/22/04 Trannon Goble One of My Favorite 10 Films 5 stars
3/20/04 movieguy a great film 5 stars
2/24/04 Dr.Lecter So chilling it's nearly hypothermic 4 stars
1/30/04 gretchen gamey Have watched it many times,Really creepy 5 stars
1/27/04 Helios Those morons who love "The Ring" so much need to stop by and feel the true power. 5 stars
1/26/04 Eric Olive oil almost ruined this movie.I would have rather seen Pam Grier.Thank God For Jack. 4 stars
12/02/03 ROY L. CAIN,JR. Jack Nicholson at his best. Makes you wanna bash the f*** in somebodys head! 5 stars
12/01/03 Pin Steadycam + The Arbus Twins 5 stars
11/27/03 John a bit long winded perhaps but the good parts are some of the best you'll ever see 5 stars
11/06/03 Samuel One of the greatest films of all time... 5 stars
11/05/03 American Slasher Goddess One scary rollercoaster ride. 5 stars
10/19/03 Josh Standlee When you are in the mood for a good horror fest, look no further, my friend. 5 stars
9/21/03 Darryl Best adaption of a King story. A classic. 5 stars
8/24/03 Allison H. This is an awesome movie, SCARY!! 5 stars
7/11/03 Indrid Cold I love Stan the Man, but it's thoroughly unscary. (He's IN THE PICTURE, gasp!) 3 stars
7/03/03 Dave Hopman Good movie, although Stephen King's mini-series (1997) was far superior! 4 stars
6/18/03 Francisco Lombo much more than a horror movie, a master piece on the problem of evil, thoroughly excellent 5 stars
6/13/03 Alice One of the greatest 5 stars
4/19/03 defranco71 Not only one of the best horror movies, but one of the best movies ever. 5 stars
4/18/03 Jon "Thumb the Toad" Lyrik Here's Johnny! 5 stars
4/17/03 Andrew Carden Nicholson Is Over-The-Top, The Film Is Overlong...but Still Pretty Scary. Duvall Is Good. 3 stars
4/05/03 Zach Jack Sommersby: You're an idiot. 5 stars
2/14/03 Hi there Here's Johnny!!! 5 stars
2/04/03 TheChronic fucking fantastic 5 stars
1/23/03 Almira Gandhi Really good. Jack Nicholson adds a lot of comic relief. 5 stars
12/30/02 Jack Sommersby Never boring, but nonsensical and clunky as hell. Nicholson is a disgrace. 2 stars
12/14/02 R.W. Welch One of the few really spooky movies out there. Top drawer direction. 4 stars
12/13/02 the Grinch Overrated, but still a great watch. Not Kubrick's best, though... 4 stars
12/03/02 Aaron I love the freezer scene. Nicholson is nuts!!! 5 stars
11/24/02 Kyle Nicholson rules! Seriously, this is one of the best horror films ever! 5 stars
11/11/02 ricky charlesworth an excellent film 5 stars
11/09/02 Michael Bolton Nicholson kicks ass. 5 stars
11/04/02 Del Why does the bitchslap have so many fucking pop-ups. Now that sucks all ass. 5 stars
11/01/02 T Boring 2 stars
10/31/02 H.A.G I did not write that previous comment. It was just one of my "friends" being an asshole. 5 stars
9/19/02 Joe Angelucci What the fuck is in room 237??? 4 stars
7/10/02 .Choadushouse. One of the true classic horror films. And an example of a GOOD horror film, unlike Scream. 5 stars
7/09/02 Henry Ginsberg HAG I get boners from watching this film. OH YEAH. HARDER PLEASE. OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO 5 stars
6/06/02 I'm in (L) with a Jedi all work and no play makes jack a dull boy.... 4 stars
5/18/02 john waite check out the close up on jacks face in front of the fire...proper horror film 5 stars
5/15/02 Dark Baron Nicholson is the horror flick himself 5 stars
5/15/02 Brandon :D No TV and no beer make Homer something something... 5 stars
4/27/02 maximal01 Aaaaah...nothing like sex with a corpse...What? (read: this movie rocks). 5 stars
4/25/02 Charles Tatum Bloated and dull- like Kubrick himself 2 stars
4/06/02 Film Dude Whoa. See this, all of you. 5 stars
4/05/02 Imaginer Worth seeing only for its art direction. Don't believe the hype. It didn't scare me a bit. 3 stars
4/02/02 Ellisa Rhodes On The Edge of my seat 5 stars
3/16/02 K y L e One of the best horror movies ever made. 5 stars
2/24/02 Cat Creepy Fun! 4 stars
2/20/02 Xaver Nicholson was great. Duvall's shrieking was tiring. The book is better. 3 stars
2/15/02 murat Kubrick's only good film.Jack gives the role of his life. 5 stars
1/14/02 maja a film that you've got to see......the music is undescribable 4 stars
12/22/01 karlisha monday chillingly frightening to the soul no matter how many times you see it 5 stars
10/31/01 Tam A classic. The "Here's Johnny" scene really sticks in the mind. 5 stars
10/22/01 glenn rinker Best horror movie of all time. Kubrick was a genius. This movie plays with your mind. 5 stars
9/27/01 Henry Ginsberg Great music.Jack Nickolsen is the definitive psycho. 5 stars
9/23/01 Larry Smith NICHOLSON....Scared Shelly Duvall's wits out of her! 5 stars
9/22/01 Matthew Bartley took me 4 attempts to watch this all the way through.I've seen it scare grown men still 5 stars
8/30/01 I love movies if you see only one horror movie in your life... 5 stars
8/29/01 Gary Nicholson gets too hammy, but it doesn't spoil this tense, artistic and very creepy horror. 4 stars
8/06/01 E-Funk Kubrick and Nicholson are both fucking briliant...don't miss this. 5 stars
8/03/01 Matt The only movie that can still scare the shit out of me after multiple viewings! 5 stars
7/05/01 Connoisseur actually is is quite funny (and also very scary... best horror film i've ever seen) 5 stars
6/22/01 JON so well done... simply a classic 5 stars
6/13/01 Bada Bing Crosby Opening scenes ALONE better than most full-length movies 5 stars
5/09/01 the scarecrow J.MORTELL it isnt supposed to be funny retard 5 stars
4/29/01 Dom Corleone a masterpiece 5 stars
4/23/01 BGuha It's a Sunday Afternoon Movie 3 stars
4/03/01 j.mortell i didnt think this movie was that funny at all 1 stars
3/30/01 Erik North An epic horror film from Stanley Kubrick, a master. 5 stars
3/29/01 Scoogy My favorite motherfucking movie of all time 5 stars
3/22/01 TNT-6 Not Kubrick's best, but still very good. 4 stars
3/20/01 bterry Gotta love Nicholson! 5 stars
3/18/01 Beetlejuice Well...It's very.....homey. 5 stars
2/25/01 skye not my favorite kubrick, but loads of fun. 4 stars
2/18/01 Soggy Bottom Boy No, I'm not gonna hurtcha... I'm just gonna bash your fuckin brains in! 5 stars
2/16/01 Michael Nicholls Kubrick reworks King's haunted hotel novel as a very dark sitcom 5 stars
2/09/01 Golbez Simply the greatest horror movies of all time. 5 stars
2/05/01 Classicdog A Kubrick classic. Nicholson is awesome. 5 stars
1/21/01 scorekeeper words can not express how good this is. Trust me, you'll have a pillow over your eyes. 5 stars
1/15/01 Skip excellent 5 stars
1/12/01 A. Riopel Not scary at all, even if it's well done 4 stars
12/15/00 Winky YOIUSUCWK~ 1 stars
11/23/00 The EVIL Penguin My favorite horror film; Kubrick RULES! The mini series sucked. 5 stars
11/17/00 salvo Well done Stan, well done 5 stars
7/31/00 KLS One of the best pictures in history!! 5 stars
7/11/00 Matthew Bartley If you're not scared...you're dead 5 stars
5/09/00 charlie harrison a cult horror classic, Kubrick and Nicholson at their best!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
4/11/00 kohawk scariest film to date 5 stars
4/05/00 PSUshorti This movie is the epitome of what a horror film should be. Kubrick keeps our hearts racing. 5 stars
1/02/00 Nice Guy Eddie One of the best horror movies of all time, incredible acting, directing and camera work. 5 stars
12/18/99 Zeitgeist I first saw this movie when I was 5. Bad Idea. The twins still scare the shit out of me. 5 stars
12/17/99 Dick Laurent In my opinion this film is the scariest horror film currently in existense!! 5 stars
12/16/99 Fenris The dead, naked, fat lady frightens me. 5 stars
12/11/99 Tyson Stewart Just a fine, well-acted (Jack), and entertaining film, with a few unforgettable scenes! 5 stars
10/26/99 Karahde Khan Scariest movie ever. King disowns it, but I disown anything with a script written by King. 5 stars
10/23/99 Matthew White Awesome. Excellent film. 5 stars
9/16/99 strike Not one of kubrick's best, but still...IT'S KUBRICK!! 4 stars
9/13/99 K Pillsbury the twins!!nothing more needs to be said 5 stars
9/07/99 Glitter Berry A disgrace to anything and everything that made the book a classic. T-O-P-I-A-R-Y 1 stars
7/16/99 soccer_mum Classic Kubrik. Scared the bejesus outta me...Scarey in a good way...leave a nightlight on! 5 stars
7/11/99 Daria This movie scared me shitless. And I'm not scared easily at all... 5 stars
7/04/99 J-Dogg Some people don't like this but I think it's a masterpiece in horror. Eerie and disturbing. 5 stars
6/27/99 Chris Gianaras Greatest horror movie ever made. Nicholson's over the top performance is dead on. 5 stars
6/22/99 Elizaveta eerieness... 5 stars
6/07/99 Elizaveta Kubrick strikes again!!! 4 stars
4/18/99 jimmy jam REDRUM---Rent me 5 stars
4/14/99 Jon Jackson Pretty classic, a little tedious, snoozer ending. 4 stars
4/06/99 tom scary, disturbing, fun for the whole family 5 stars
3/10/99 Go Swans Heeeeeerrrrrrreeeeeeee's Johnny! The late Kubrick's greatest. 5 stars
2/01/99 Matthew Bartley Pisses all over the Exorcist 5 stars
12/08/98 little jerry Feels like we're trapped in those rooms at the end of 2001.These two are Kubrick's greatest 5 stars
11/27/98 Mr.Pink Kubrick's worst movie AND it's still GOOD!! 4 stars
11/27/98 Lord Of The Dunce A seriously fucked up movie. Nicholson was awesome. 5 stars
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  23-May-1980 (R)
  DVD: 12-Jun-2001


  13-Nov-1980 (MA)

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