December 11, 2015

Space Oddities: The Shining Film Review

The Shining Film Review

Figure 1: Movie Poster
The Shining, (1980) is a very popular horror film, based on the famous novel by Stephen King, and directed by Stanley Kubrick. It is a film about a writer, Jack Torrence, played brilliantly by Jack Nicholson, who takes a job in an isolated hotel with his family during the winter. The film is very obvious from the start that is is a horror film, as we are introduced early on the supernatural things, such as the young boys friend ‘Tony’ who is able to tell strange things about things that haven't happened yet, and also the hotel manager who speaks inside of Danny's head. We then see flashes of images throughout the beginning of the two murdered girls, whose story we are told about Early on, and also floods of blood throughout the corridors of the hotel. It is unnerving as we only see brief glimpses of these hinge, and it is so sudden it makes you jump, then you return back to the storyline.
The music in the film is what makes the film obviously a horror film. The director. Kubrick, does not get new music made especially for his film, but he used existing scores. The music in the beginning is screeching and mismatching, which is horrible to hear and it makes you feel horrified before the first word of the film is spoken. Music is used as a big part of the film, and it would not be half as successful without the music. The music is not music that you would listen to for enjoyment, it is the sort of music you hear as tracks for villains and tense moments in film. The music is always tense, so it leaves the audience holding their breath waiting for the big jump, then the music suddenly stops in some scenes and dialogue begins.
"Ostensibly a haunted house story, it manages to traverse a complex world of incipient madness, spectral murder and supernatural visions... and also makes you jump"(Ian Nathan, 2007)
This quote explains that ultimately, this film is a horror story. It is conventional in the way it delivers madness, the supernatural and murder, but utterly unique in the way Kubrick does it.
The colours of the film are the pristine whites of hotel rooms and corridors, with red accents which pop out of the scene. The set is very mundane and normal, which is odd as it is so uncomfortable and intimidating. It is impressive that Kubrick could portray such horror and fear through such a normal set.
The portrayal of women in his film is very stereotypical, the only woman being a weak, helpless character who is always frightened and scared of everything. She does not stand up for herself and is always being talked down to by her husband. She is very submissive and allows herself to be a stereotypical weak woman. We always hear her asking if her husband is okay and how he's feeling, and we also hear her scream and shout a lot, and she acts completely helpless to her husband and the hotel. She is a victim, but in the end she succeeds in getting away, but only after her child leads Jack away. Danny is the hero of the film, he outsmarts his mad father who is trying to kill him, and gets away, saving himself and his mother.

Figure 2: Film Still

"Jack Nicholson's performance alone defines this frightening motion picture. Stanley Kubrick's The Shining may stray away from the Stephen King novel, but the film's disturbing tone and psychological barrage is memorable and, to this day, is held up as one of the most outstanding horror films ever made" (Eugene Bernabe, unknown)
In this quote, Bernabe praises Nicholson on his performance, believing it to be what defines the film. He mentions the obvious disturbing and psychological effects Kubricks' direction has on the viewer, and says that even through the film strayed away from Stephen Kings story, it remains a masterpiece in the horror genre of film.
"'The Shining'. The camera movement, the score, the sound design, the production design and Jack Nicholson all contribute to a deep unease. You feel the uncertainty throughout the metaphorical and literal mazes the characters traverse." (C0up, unknown)
This quote describes the film as everything contributing to the feel of the film, to the horror. From the camera movement, which we can see being used in imaginative ways, such as the low-panning camera which follows Danny around so that we can see from his point of view, to the performance of Nicholson, which is deeply disturbing. He also describes the film to metaphorical to a maze. A metaphorical maze that the viewer experiences in a tangle of fear and horror as the movie progresses, which we see literally at the end of the film, the maze being a real maze which is filled with terror and uncertainty.
Figure 3: Film Still
Figure 2:, (2015). [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015].
Figure 1:, (2015). [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015].
Nathan, I. (2012). The Shining. [online] Empire. Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015]., (2015). The Shining. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015].
Figure 3:, (2015). [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015]., (2015). [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Dec. 2015].

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