The Shining (1980)
January 8, 2016 5:21 PM - Subscribe

A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil and spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future.
posted by Cookiebastard (18 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Available on Netfllix. I'm 25 minutes into it, and we've already seen the creepy twins, the blood elevator, Shelly Duval holding a cigarette that burns 1/3 of the way down while she explains how Jack injured Danny, and been told the hotel is on an old Indian burial ground.
posted by Cookiebastard at 5:24 PM on January 8, 2016

39 minutes in: Jack is a crappy caretaker. He plays handball in the lobby, and lets his kid run around on a Big Wheel indoors.
posted by Cookiebastard at 5:39 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

75 minutes - ffffffuuuuuuuuuuuuu
posted by Cookiebastard at 6:14 PM on January 8, 2016 [8 favorites]

That King thinks this is the inferior adaptation of his book shows why he should stick to writing, not to film reviews.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:02 PM on January 8, 2016 [10 favorites]

Well, I think it *is* a poor adaptation of King's novel. It's a terrific movie, but it's really quite different from the book.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:57 PM on January 8, 2016 [19 favorites]

The movie is fantastic, although I think I'm the only person to put Dr Strangelove, A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon and FMJ ahead of both The Shining and 2001. I think so much of the movie has permeated into pop culture and parody, rewatching it for the first time in years a few months ago felt at times more like a dark comedy than a thriller. That Kubrick is a (or the) master of sneaking in dark humor doesn't help it, either.

Also, avoid the documentary at all costs. Room 237 is the Kubrick equivalent of a truther documentary.
posted by lmfsilva at 3:33 AM on January 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Also, avoid the documentary at all costs..

No, don't! It's great. It is kind of like a truther documentary, but about truthers, not by truthers. I found it fascinating and an interesting companion watch.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 4:34 AM on January 9, 2016 [9 favorites]

I always feel like Wendy Torrance never gets enough love, so I'm going to say what a great character I think she is here. I appreciate how far she is from the typical levelheaded "final girls" of horror, that her self-concept is shaky from the beginning. The movie (and the book, in different ways) is the most truthful depiction of what it feels like to live with an emotionally abusive alcoholic I've ever seen.
posted by thetortoise at 7:57 AM on January 9, 2016 [17 favorites]

thetortoise, I totally agree and have always maintained that it's really Wendy's movie, not Jack's or Danny's. She's the only one with a real character arc, Jack just goes from being an abusive asshole to being a murderous one while she goes from being an abused spouse in massive denial about the nature of her husband to someone who has found the agency within herself to protect her son and herself. The whole linchpin of the narrative that that moment when she reads the "All work and no play" manuscript and her whole house of cards of rationalization crashes down in an instant.
posted by octothorpe at 9:29 AM on January 9, 2016 [11 favorites]

Well, I think it *is* a poor adaptation of King's novel. It's a terrific movie, but it's really quite different from the book.

It is a poor adaptation of the novel, and it took me a long time to get to the point where I can appreciate both as independent pieces.
posted by nubs at 5:04 PM on January 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

By which I mean to say, it took me a long time to realize that Kubrick took the same bones as the novel has, but used them to tell a different story.
posted by nubs at 5:10 PM on January 9, 2016

I genuinely thought Room 237 was a better movie.
posted by latkes at 12:33 PM on January 10, 2016

This movie was pretty hard to escape growing up, in that seeing the blood-elevator trailer scared the everliving shit out of me as a kid, and then I finally watched the whole thing as a teen and was just not prepared for what happened to Scatman Crothers and after that it was all downhill. Shelly Duval was amazing and she should have been in so many more movies than she was. I don't actually like King as a writer, though I do like some of his ideas, but find his writing and characterization off-putting. So I have no problem with Kubrick doing his own take here.

But yeah, the movie is so woven into jokes and references and one great Simpsons episode that you can pretty much never see the film itself and still vaguely know it.
posted by emjaybee at 6:32 PM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Shining places highly on the list of movies that have permeated pop culture, but it is still every bit as great as its reputation implies. King's book is one of his best, but Kubrick really nailed it.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 12:59 PM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

One of the greatest films ever made, and probably one of the most written about so I'm not going to say much here except for a few things:

  • I love the tone of the film. It wanders between documentary-like detachment (watching Jack bouncing the ball in the great room) to utter immersion (the Steadicam following Danny, the whip pans when Jack is hacking through the door). As I think about it, it seems to shift from detachment in the beginning towards immersion, alluding to the hotel's interest in Jack, maybe? Time for a rewatch!
  • I think Kubrick definitely deliberately played with the hotel's layout to create a sense of unease. If he didn't, it's a marvelous accident. You never seem to know for certain where (or when) you are.
  • Which brings us to to the use of the cards illustrating the passage of time. To my recollection, he smashcuts to them, and to me they act punctuation or anchors. You get lost in the world of the Shining or the Overlook, and occasionally the cards give you a point to orient yourself. It also lends itself to the documentary feel.
  • The music. So eerie (Wendy Carlos & Rachel Elkind), unearthly (Ligeti), and out of time (Jack Hylton, Al Bowlly).

  • posted by entropicamericana at 2:51 PM on January 11, 2016 [6 favorites]

    I watched this again, since it's back on Netflix. Definitely one of my favorites, and very likely a contender for number 1.

    Room 236 is a great companion piece, because I think it mirrors what the film itself is about: being trapped in something.

    In the Shining's case it's being trapped by history. The end shot makes it literal - the hotel has grasped Jack, and now he is part of its history (by way of the old timey photograph). Grady, the former caretaker, says that he has been here all along, and the anachronistic photo sort of backs up that same idea. We get a full glimpse of the photos in the last shot, but we see photos constantly. Notably the shots of the Torrances being shown around the hotel, ending with a shot in front of (I think) an elevator, with a sepia toned print of Sitting Bull being in the center.

    Out of all of the theories about The Shining, the native genocide stuff holds the most water. So much so that I think it's hard to even really call it a theory, I think it's just the text of the movie. There are a number of cute visual clues: the calumet cans on eyeline in the various shots in the pantry, the way that Wendy is costumed, the Indian prints on the walls, and not so subtly the Indian burial ground history that Ulman adds. Behind american history there's a tidal wave of blood and death. Our country, like the Overlook, is literally built on the grave of an ancient civilization, that they didn't just die by accident. The American west (where the film takes place) was 'settled' by men like Jack. They were offered a glimpse into history, and imagined a place within it. A history of bespoke british barmen who give them drinks for free, as they walk around in their blue jeans and flannel in a ritzy upper crust party with advocat. The truth is that they really don't have much use beyond killing and then being killed, but if you can get them to buy into the fantasy then they're of great use.

    I think the big difference between the novel and the book (more than anything, but there are a lot of differences) is how Jack is handled. Book Jack is a man on the edge corrupted by a supernatural influence. Movie Jack is clearly unhinged from the start. I think he's just a few minutes away from snapping, even absent whatever actually happens supernaturally at the Overlook.

    Danny is able to write the truth of the matter in a mirror: Murder. Wendy, who may be on the fence about leaving, is provided with a bland, obvious truth, which is that Jack intends to murder them, and that he's beyond saving. Kubrick loves mirror, and he loves film (something that's captured in mirrors and lenses, and serves as a mirror to the society that produces it). As danny is being chased around a literal maze (I also noticed this time that Holloran's ascent to the overlook has the same visual imagery - snow on the ground, surrounded by evergreens). It's been mentioned in other analyses, but Danny escapes by cleverly retracing his steps. I think that Kubrick is saying that's a similar way that we escape the patterns of history: if we can honestly look at our past, then we have the potential to break out of it. In the end Jack is trapped. He's frozen, both in the hedge maze, and also trapped in the (history) photo of the hotel.

    Anyway, beyond all of that, it's just a great horror movie. Genuinely unsettling, pacing where stuff just cranks up steadily until the end, and amazing shots from start to finish. I guess it creates a believable, horrifying world, and then takes us through it. I love it. I could watch it every week, more likely than not.
    posted by codacorolla at 8:46 PM on January 14, 2016 [9 favorites]

    I saw this on the big screen at age 14 when it first came out and although it's super disturbing, I wouldn't do any different now: it helped kick off a lifelong love of great movies and directors. That SOUNDTRACK.

    I revisited it a couple years ago on a very small screen: probably shouldn't have bothered. I think my favorite scene is Nick Halloran talking with Danny in the kitchen. There is such a palpable connection there. .. then Halloran pulls back into his shell because there are some things about the gift he can't face, let alone talk about them with a child. The scene is shot so simply and the mood is all the more tense for it.
    posted by Sheydem-tants at 7:05 PM on January 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

    Rewatched this today with my kiddo and, having long since absorbed the scares and dread through repeated viewings, this time I was impressed with the sheer achievement of it: the quality and majesty of the second unit shots of exteriors in the US, the extensive indoor sets that somehow still feel of a piece, the innovative Steadicam work, the four story tall fake Overlook exterior wall next to the hedge maze that is probably even indoors. It's amazing.

    And oh man, the soundtrack. That is what dread sounds like.

    And as much as anything, the shattering, still underappreciated genius of Shelley Duvall and her performance here.
    posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:16 AM on January 9, 2022

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