Friday, 2 December 2016

“The Shining” review

The Shining is a horror film by a famous director Stanley Kubrick, which was based on a novel "The Shining" by the same famous author Steven King. But it is not a horror in the ordinary sense of the word. The Shining is more a psychological drama than a horror; it doesn’t have cliche horror methods inherent to all films of that type. Rather than that, this movie frighten the audience with its oppressive atmosphere, feeling of paranoia and depression and tensions in a relationship of Torrance family.
    "Novel seemed to strike an extraordinary balance between the psychological and the supernatural ."(Kubrick, 1980)  And the film is not inferior to the book in this case. Half of the movie viewer is struggling to understand if all occurring paranormal activities are just a crazy imagination of the main protagonist and a madman Jack Torrance or indeed the real thing. But all doubts fade away when the ghost of Charles Grady, a previous caretaker of the Overlook Hotel, unlocks the door where Jack was trapped. 
    Speaking about our main protagonist in The Shining, from the very beginning he seems very suspicious type with his inner demons living inside him. It looks like this film doesn't want us to empathise him from the start. From Svyatoslav Sergeev's research(2016) of The Shining, "Stephen King tried to persuade Kubrick from inviting Jack Nicholson to the leading role of Jack Torrance...He wanted to convince Kubrick that the audience is much more interested in watching the gradual madness of the actor with initially normal facial expression rather than Nicholson, who from the very beginning of the film has a very crazy look." That is true that Jack Nicholson's facial expressions are sensationally astounding, but it's is the main reason what makes his character look so real. Just by looking at Torrance you can understand that this man is mad, he was initially crazy. The Overlook Hotel didn't break him down mentally; he was already broken, the hotel just provided this man with the environment where he was able to unfold fully. Many believe that Torrance is "selling his soul to the devil" when he starts drinking with a "phantom" bartender. Whenever the film is hinting us to a maze, it means/perfectly describes the mental state of our leading protagonist: the grass maze and its model, the rug, even the entire hotel itself was a big maze where you could easily get lost.(Figure 1) The whole life of Jack Torrance is a maze, and mentally he got lost in it a long time ago, and by the end of the film, he got lost in it already physically.(Figure 2) Even his family left him in the end.

Figure 1. Grass maze outside hotel(left) and Danny playing on a maze rug(right)(1980)

Figure 2. Jack Torrance "got lost" in the maze forever(1980)

 Throughout the whole film it seems like Torrance family is very close to each other, but in reality, they are very far away from each other. Roger Ebert(2006) thinks that the whole family "...loses reality together", consider the fact that the father was a madman, son had psychic powers and mother lost her mind due to conflict with her husband.
    No doubt The Shining is full of top-notch directing, editing and camera work. Visually, the film has a lot to boast. It is interesting to see the use of Kubrick's personal one-point perspective, which very suits film's atmosphere. "The Shining is a masterpiece of one-point perspective."(Mariani,M., 2014) The most memorable moments of using one-point perspective, in author's opinion are when Danny is riding his tricycle through the long hallways of the Overlook Hotel.(Figure 3) In these shots, all our attention is given to the centre of the screen, where Danny is, and the red colour of his sweater attracts even more of our attention. But these scenes are very frightening because of a tense and ominous music a fear of the unknown( in that case, fear of what is going to be around the corner of the hallway). In one-point perspective, the audience can see perfect symmetry in everything, from walls to people.

Figure 3. The use of one-point perspective(1980)

    In addition to this author wants to point out an interesting use of music and sound in The Shining. Scary and frightening music is playing in scenes where you least expect to hear it."If the audible sound does not match with what it is associated with, does not "fit" with the event, it immediately begins to worry and make everyone uneasy."(Deleuze, 1983:135) Mostly thanks to music, The Shinning managed to keep the audience in suspense throughout the whole film.

1. Kubrick, S. (1980) [Interview face to face, 1980]
2. Святослав Сергеев(2016) Он уже был похож на человека [In Russian] He no longer looked like a man. At: (Accessed on 30 November 2016) Translated by Anastasija Strelcova
3. Ebert, R. (2006) The Shining,, accessed on 30 November 2016.
4. Mariani,M. (2014) Why We Still Can't Get 'The Shining' Out of Our Heads, accessed on 30 November 2016.
5. Deleuze,G. (1983) CINÉMA. France:Editions de Minuit.



1 comment:

  1. 'The Overlook Hotel didn't break him down mentally; he was already broken, the hotel just provided this man with the environment where he was able to unfold fully.'

    Excellent review Anastasija :)

    Just check that you have all the information that you need in your illustrations listing.