Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Secret Lairs: The Shining - Review

The Shining is a movie produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick in 1980 and represents the psychological horror genre. The plot is based on Stephen Kings's novel of the same title.
Because of the many differences between the original story and Kubrick's movie first reviews and reception were negative, thought The Shining has grown into an iconic movie and became well appreciated many years after its first screening.

If one's expecting The Shining to be a typical horror movie they might as well postpone and reconsider watching it. The unique thing about that production is that througout the whole screening the viewer is expecting terrifying things to happen but they not always come. It is more about the mental madness that drives the people, and in this story Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) is a living evidence how loneliness and unfulfilled ambitions can change a person into a psychopath. Ebert states it precisely in his review: "The movie is not about ghosts but about madness and the energies it sets loose in an isolated situation primed to magnify them" (Ebert, 2006)

Althought the madness might appear as a horrifying topic itself, The Shining presents the audience with something more. It's not only the brain that  mocks and leads the people to the the insanity they experience, it is also the building they are taking care of. The Overlook Hotel looks like a safe place, a shelter hidden in the rocky valley but the truth hidden behind its walls reveals itself little by little, mixing present times with the history.

"This hotel this movie takes place in looks and feels so immense, and it is a major character in this movie" (Kenber, 2007)

Everything inside the hotel looks dangerously perfect. Every part of furniture has its own place in the spacious interior, every small detail is there because of a reason and it is not a surprise that the viewer has a constant feeling of 'mysterious beings' hiding behind every corner and every door. The size of the surrounding is oppressive; it makes the people look puny and defenseless. The scene of Danny playing on the floor is a good example of how the hotel surrounds the people not only visually but also psychically. Nonetheless, there's more to the tension of The Shining than just the location and the three main characters becoming less and less sane.

The movie creates a heavy tension with the perfect use of music. At first the soundtrack might seem a little disturbing but as the plot goes on the viewer might find themselves fully soaked into the sound effects, which literally lead the eyes and mind into the corner of expectation of something terrifying. With the constant presence of the music, unfulfilled esperance becomes an itchy thought which makes the audience suspect and wait for the scary bits even more. As Bobafett states:  "Its slow build up ensures that the movie has a constant feeling of tension and danger looming over it" (Bobafett), and after the whole screening one's mind might feel exhausted.

Kubrick's The Shining has earned the fame throughout many years. With every screening one might expeerience different feelings, though fear and anticipation are always present.

*Ebert, Roger (2006), online source: http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060618/REVIEWS08/606180302/1023
*Kenber, Ben (2007), online source: http://voices.yahoo.com/stanley-kubricks-shining-642290.html?cat=40
*Bobafett, online source: http://bobafett1138.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/shining-1980-directed-by-stanley.html

2. Stills:
*Poster: http://pineapples101.blogspot.co.uk/2010/10/shining-high-resolution-pictures.html
*Still1: http://semajblogeater.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/the-shining-shone-whisper.html
*Still2: http://entertainment.ie/cinema/news/A-Prequel-to-The-Shining-is-now-in-the-works/132826.htm


  1. With the constant presence of the music, unfulfilled esperance becomes an itchy *thought* which makes the audience suspect and wait for the scary bits even more...?

    'Unfulfilled esperance' - what a striking turn-of-phrase, but I'm guessing you mean 'thought'?

    1. Oh, yes, thank you!
      I'm editing it right away :)