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Friday, 11 December 2015

Space Oddities : The Shining (1980)

Despite The Shining (1980) being a well-known on the internet, the quote `Here’s Johnny` has made the film a phenomenon. The Shining; directed by Stanley Kubrick has become a classic film which is a staple within the horror genre in modern culture. The reasons behind this include the convincing acting by Jack Nicholson, where he plays the part of a psychopathic madman of a husband who gets driven insane by the terror house. The soundtrack screeching within the audiences ears, so much so the suspense is unbearable. Kubrick does this well in both The Shining and 2001 : A Space Odyssey (1968), he knows how to drag out a scene to unbearable lengths which makes some scenes terrifying just by playing the soundtrack and drawing out the chase as long as possible. 

The set design in this film , despite not being as obvious as Suspiria (1977) in terms of colour palette ,The Shining brings subtlety within it`s set where hints of red creep into Danny’s visions and as the hotel becomes more obviously corrupt. Along with the red, the hexagonal geometry in the carpet design give the impression of an invisible cage in which Danny sits in the middle of. The idea of this hotel being a cage is a consistent theme in this film , where the rooms seem to be an endless labyrinth of nightmares locked away and whenever you go down one corridor the next is exactly the same. Making the audience think there is no escape, just corridors with no end. One may also think this could be a metaphor for the madness the hotel inflicts, where the corridors are a cycle and the more times the cycle continues then the madder the family is driven.

“The movie is not about ghosts but about madness and the energies it sets loose in an isolated situation primed to magnify them. Jack is an alcoholic and child abuser who has reportedly not had a drink for five months but is anything but a "recovering alcoholic." When he imagines he drinks with the imaginary bartender, he is as drunk as if he were really drinking, and the imaginary booze triggers all his alcoholic demons, including an erotic vision that turns into a nightmare.” – (Ebert 2006)

The paranormal in this film is left ambiguous, where the hotel is powered by an unknown force and it leaves the audience perplexed as to if this is really the family going crazy
through isolation? Or if there is something more sinister at work. The paranormal would explain the bizarre events that happen in the film, however, especially at the end where Jack is shown in the photograph 50 years prior, this gets harder to explain. 

“ Here is the deletion, reported by the critic Tim Dirks: "A two-minute explanatory epilogue was cut shortly after the film's premiere. It was a hospital scene with Wendy talking to the hotel manager; she is told that searchers were unable to locate her husband's body."

If Jack did indeed freeze to death in the labyrinth, of course his body was found -- and sooner rather than later, since Dick Hallorann alerted the forest rangers to serious trouble at the hotel. If Jack's body was not found, what happened to it? Was it never there? Was it absorbed into the past, and does that explain Jack's presence in that final photograph of a group of hotel partygoers in 1921? Did Jack's violent pursuit of his wife and child exist entirely in Wendy's imagination?” – (Ebert 2006)

"You have always been the caretaker," Grady suggests menacingly. The evil may have always been there in Jack, The Overlook merely awakened it.” (Nathan, 2012). If this is true then this theory poses the question: If every person who takes the job as caretaker has always been the caretaker , are those accepted evil in some way to begin with? Or does the hotel implant the evil inside them? Or maybe those who hire the caretakers in on what the hotel actually is? Do they know who is evil and who is good and know who are capable or killing those they love?

Overall, despite the influence on popular culture to the point this film is classed as a classic horror, The Shining lives up to its expectation of being a horror that inflects terror within the audience, with convincing yet slightly theatrical acting from Jack Nicholson. Along with including a mystery filled plot, this film still lives on now with people still trying to figure out the mysteries behind the secrets in one of the greatest horror films of all time.

Bibliography : 

Fig 1 (1980) [Poster] Accessed 11/12/15

Fig 2 (1980) [Screengrab] Accessed 11/12/15

(Nathan , I 2012) The Shining Review :

(Ebert , R 2006) Great Movie : The Shining :

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