Been Itching To Rewatch This

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Steffen

Well-Known Member
Aug 9, 2015
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Right, so this is long overdue. Went straight from The Shining to Pet Sematary (will post on that in the relevant forum) to The Shining mini-series before I got back on track.

I watched the extended version of the Stanley Kubrick film. I saw the original cut many years ago (on my VHS player, suck on that thank you very much), and wanted a "refresher" before I started talking about it here. Let me just say going in that this film has been discussed and dissected so many times in the decades gone, that this post will hardly bring anything new to the table. Also, I am NOT one of those people who gets all fanatical and angry because a film isn't exactly like a book. When I watch a movie that's based on a book I've read, I look at it at least twice: once to see how it stands up as an adaptation, and another to see how it stands up as a film. A film will NEVER be as good as a book: the two operate on totally different levels, one cerebral, one visual. I accept that changes will be made because what works on a page may not necessarily translate well on film. The LOTR adaptation is a perfect example of that and one day I'll post on this as well. Anyhow, as SuperGrover says, on with our story.

I was surprised at how many things there are to like about this film. To start with, the cinematography is great. Even with the odd aspect ratio (well, odd by contemporary cinematic standards), I thought the scenes of the sidewinder road and the Overlook hotel were beautifully shot. Every room in the Overlook has a unique decor, and while this is of course not the norm for hotels in real life, it does add to the unsettling nature of the place. Being in those rooms is in equal parts fascinating and disturbing. I enjoyed the camera-work as well. The scene with Danny peddling his bike through the different rooms is still great even by modern standards. (To this day, I absolutely detest the whole "shaky-camera" nonsense that Law & Order popularised. When I watch a movie, I want it to look like a movie, not some home-made recording from a stupid cell phone. Watching films of the 70s and 80s is still a treat for me because of this.) The hedge-maze was another element I liked, including the overhead shot of the model that dissolved into Wendy and Danny walking in the maze. I know that the SFX technology of the day prevented the inclusion of the hedge animals, and I thought the maze was a great addition by Kubrick.

The cast is solid overall. I liked the time given to Stuart Ullman (Barry Nelson) as it affords him a leisurely introduction to the Overlook in his interaction with Jack. Scatman Crothers is always a pleasure to watch in any film. Shelley Duvall also handles her part very well, although I strongly dislike Kubrick's take on Wendy Torrance. She comes across as an abused housewife and a victim of domestic violence. This interpretation is a disservice to an actress like Duvall, whose performance in this film would have been lauded as much as Nicholson's if her character were handled differently. I was surprised at how much I liked Danny Lloyd in this film (I liked him way better than the annoying kid they cast in the mini-series). I enjoyed his permance as much as I did the kid in The Omen (the real one with Gregory Peck, not that crapfest remake). And now for the man himself...Jack Nicholson. Nicholson's performance here is a classic, yes. But I have the same issue here as I did with his performance as The Joker in 1989's Batman. Did the director want a great actor for the part, or did the director just want Jack Nicholson to play an exaggerated version of himself? There were wonderful things that Nicholson brought to this role, but right off the bat, the viewer can TELL something in this guy is unhinged. It undermines the rest of his performance, which is about a decent man who's made mistakes and trying to do the right thing but is slowly losing his grip on reality. From the opening scene, Nicholson plays it like his grip on reality is tenuous to begin with. The viewer doesn't really trust him from the start, so when he goes full on insane later in the film, the dramatic effect isn't as great because you didn't have much sympathy for this person to begin with.

Next up is the story itself. What exactly did Kubrick set out to make here? Is it a horror film? Is it a ghost story? Are the events really supernatural in nature or just happening in the mind of a recovering alcoholic succumbing to cabin-fever? I think of the film as a great ghost story, but wonder if the ambiguity is intentional or simply a happy accident which Kubrick was glad to take credit for. There are hints in this movie about the sheer evilness of the Overlook that was a driving force in the novel, but Kubrick fails to fully explore them in the film. All the madness seems to be emanating from Jack Torrance and his crumbling psyche. To me, it's as if Kubrick really wanted to make a horror film, but his inability to suspend his disbelief in the supernatural overwhelmed him during production. As an example, one of the classic scares of the novel (the room 217/237 scene) is used here, but the effect is not as great. Jack is confronted by a beautiful nude woman stepping out of the bathtub before the rest of the scene plays out. It is more a male fulfilment fantasy, and serves only to weaken the horror element. Another example I would cite are the rooms themselves. The unique nature of each room really ups the atmosphere in this film and gave us some classic imagery that critics and fans still talk about to this day. But the deliberately distinct nature of the rooms would seem to suggest that there is a unique story to be told for each of them, stories which ultimately contribute to the ominous nature of the Overlook itself. Maybe I missed something, but just a few tidbits exploring this would have strengthened the overall storyline greatly. Instead, Kubrick is far too busy wanting the audience to spend more time watching Torrance go insane.

Overall, I did enjoy this movie. As an adaptation of the book, it failed in several areas, yes. But as a movie, it is very good and has a high "re-watch" factor as I call it, even with the story problems. I was a kid when this movie came out but boy do I wish I could've seen it on the big screen. I know lots of SK fans hate it, and King himself is not thrilled by it. However, Kubrick & Nicholson gave us a truly classic piece of cinema here and like it or not, this movie will continue to be appreciated or at least talked about for generations to come.
 
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Lee9900

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Jun 29, 2016
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I too find the mini series a much more closer and faithful remake than the Movie.

Here's a question though. Did Mr. King just make up the term "The Shining" itself? Or did he actually hear it from local lore or research into psychic phenomena?
 
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Steffen

Well-Known Member
Aug 9, 2015
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Doc's post is correct. "Shine" was a derogatory term associated with the black men who worked as shoeshiners in the early 20th century. Back in the 70s when SK wrote the novel, it would have been still remembered by the older folks at the time (e.g., his editors).
 
Last edited:
Mar 2, 2017
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Right, so this is long overdue. Went straight from The Shining to Pet Sematary (will post on that in the relevant forum) to The Shining mini-series before I got back on track.

I watched the extended version of the Stanley Kubrick film. I saw the original cut many years ago (on my VHS player, suck on that thank you very much), and wanted a "refresher" before I started talking about it here. Let me just say going in that this film has been discussed and dissected so many times in the decades gone, that this post will hardly bring anything new to the table. Also, I am NOT one of those people who gets all fanatical and angry because a film isn't exactly like a book. When I watch a movie that's based on a book I've read, I look at it at least twice: once to see how it stands up as an adaptation, and another to see how it stands up as a film. A film will NEVER be as good as a book: the two operate on totally different levels, one cerebral, one visual. I accept that changes will be made because what works on a page may not necessarily translate well on film. The LOTR adaptation is a perfect example of that and one day I'll post on this as well. Anyhow, as SuperGrover says, on with our story.

I was surprised at how many things there are to like about this film. To start with, the cinematography is great. Even with the odd aspect ratio (well, odd by contemporary cinematic standards), I thought the scenes of the sidewinder road and the Overlook hotel were beautifully shot. Every room in the Overlook has a unique decor, and while this is of course not the norm for hotels in real life, it does add to the unsettling nature of the place. Being in those rooms is in equal parts fascinating and disturbing. I enjoyed the camera-work as well. The scene with Danny peddling his bike through the different rooms is still great even by modern standards. (To this day, I absolutely detest the whole "shaky-camera" nonsense that Law & Order popularised. When I watch a movie, I want it to look like a movie, not some home-made recording from a stupid cell phone. Watching films of the 70s and 80s is still a treat for me because of this.) The hedge-maze was another element I liked, including the overhead shot of the model that dissolved into Wendy and Danny walking in the maze. I know that the SFX technology of the day prevented the inclusion of the hedge animals, and I thought the maze was a great addition by Kubrick.

The cast is solid overall. I liked the time given to Stuart Ullman (Barry Nelson) as it affords him a leisurely introduction to the Overlook in his interaction with Jack. Scatman Crothers is always a pleasure to watch in any film. Shelley Duvall also handles her part very well, although I strongly dislike Kubrick's take on Wendy Torrance. She comes across as an abused housewife and a victim of domestic violence. This interpretation is a disservice to an actress like Duvall, whose performance in this film would have been lauded as much as Nicholson's if her character were handled differently. I was surprised at how much I liked Danny Lloyd in this film (I liked him way better than the annoying kid they cast in the mini-series). I enjoyed his permance as much as I did the kid in The Omen (the real one with Gregory Peck, not that crapfest remake). And now for the man himself...Jack Nicholson. Nicholson's performance here is a classic, yes. But I have the same issue here as I did with his performance as The Joker in 1989's Batman. Did the director want a great actor for the part, or did the director just want Jack Nicholson to play an exaggerated version of himself? There were wonderful things that Nicholson brought to this role, but right off the bat, the viewer can TELL something in this guy is unhinged. It undermines the rest of his performance, which is about a decent man who's made mistakes and trying to do the right thing but is slowly losing his grip on reality. From the opening scene, Nicholson plays it like his grip on reality is tenuous to begin with. The viewer doesn't really trust him from the start, so when he goes full on insane later in the film, the dramatic effect isn't as great because you didn't have much sympathy for this person to begin with.

Next up is the story itself. What exactly did Kubrick set out to make here? Is it a horror film? Is it a ghost story? Are the events really supernatural in nature or just happening in the mind of a recovering alcoholic succumbing to cabin-fever? I think of the film as a great ghost story, but wonder if the ambiguity is intentional or simply a happy accident which Kubrick was glad to take credit for. There are hints in this movie about the sheer evilness of the Overlook that was a driving force in the novel, but Kubrick fails to fully explore them in the film. All the madness seems to be emanating from Jack Torrance and his crumbling psyche. To me, it's as if Kubrick really wanted to make a horror film, but his inability to suspend his disbelief in the supernatural overwhelmed him during production. As an example, one of the classic scares of the novel (the room 217/237 scene) is used here, but the effect is not as great. Jack is confronted by a beautiful nude woman stepping out of the bathtub before the rest of the scene plays out. It is more a male fulfilment fantasy, and serves only to weaken the horror element. Another example I would cite are the rooms themselves. The unique nature of each room really ups the atmosphere in this film and gave us some classic imagery that critics and fans still talk about to this day. But the deliberately distinct nature of the rooms would seem to suggest that there is a unique story to be told for each of them, stories which ultimately contribute to the ominous nature of the Overlook itself. Maybe I missed something, but just a few tidbits exploring this would have strengthened the overall storyline greatly. Instead, Kubrick is far too busy wanting the audience to spend more time watching Torrance go insane.

Overall, I did enjoy this movie. As an adaptation of the book, it failed in several areas, yes. But as a movie, it is very good and has a high "re-watch" factor as I call it, even with the story problems. I was a kid when this movie came out but boy do I wish I could've seen it on the big screen. I know lots of SK fans hate it, and King himself is not thrilled by it. However, Kubrick & Nicholson gave us a truly classic piece of cinema here and like it or not, this movie will continue to be appreciated or at least talked about for generations to come.
I agree! I still really like the film and find the visuals and performances to be incredible! If you can separate the book from the movie, than they are both fantastic pieces of art and horror! However, if you are looking for a scene by scene rebelling of the book, you will likely end up dissatisfied.
 

Scoup

Member
Jun 10, 2020
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20
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Australia
Recently watched on bluray and loved the scenery and music at the start. The last time I watched was in a picture theater where Wendy had just put Danny though a window while Jake was taking to the door with an axe . When she was trying to get out the window, I said smash the %$&@)(@* window and it felt like everybody in the theater went sshhhhhhh . Maybe that`s why I watched again, at home.
 

FlakeNoir

Original Kiwi© SKMB®
Moderator
Apr 11, 2006
44,063
175,617
New Zealand
Recently watched on bluray and loved the scenery and music at the start. The last time I watched was in a picture theater where Wendy had just put Danny though a window while Jake was taking to the door with an axe . When she was trying to get out the window, I said smash the %$&@)(@* window and it felt like everybody in the theater went sshhhhhhh . Maybe that`s why I watched again, at home.
:laugh: