The Shining (1980)

Article 5055 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 1-20-2016
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Featuring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd
Country: USA / UK
What it is: Horror, Kubrick style

A man agrees to be caretaker of an isolated hotel in the Rockies during the off season, and he moves there with his family. However, the man has issues that the isolation of the place worsens… and the hotel seems to have a few issues of its own…

When this movie first came out, I remember the critical reception to be less than glowing. Many people felt that Kubrick didn’t understand horror, and Stephen King fans objected to the many changes made to the original novel. In fact, I came away with the general feel that it was considered a misfire from Kubrick. Over the years, though, I noticed that the movie’s reputation shifted considerably, both as a horror movie and as a Kubrick movie. On IMDB, the movie is the third highest-rated horror movie of all time (only losing out to PSYCHO and ALIEN), and it’s Kubrick’s third highest as well (behind PATHS OF GLORY and DR. STRANGELOVE). My own guess for the reason for this shift is that the movie is so indelible; various scenes are realized so exquisitely that they remain with you long after you’ve seen the movie, and with each re-viewing they plant themselves even deeper. I like all the performances, though Nicholson’s is the one that really dominates here. Yes, it doesn’t do justice to King’s novel (which I have read), but it does take on a life of its own; I’m always amazed how this two-and-a-half hour movie can leave me hypnotized. I have several favorite scenes, such as the one where Nicholson looks over a model of the hedge maze, and we see what we think is initially his point of view until we see the characters moving inside of it. For me, though, the high point of the movie is when Duvall finally gets a chance to read the manuscript Nicholson has been writing.


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