Sunday, 20 December 2015

Space Oddities | Film Review | The Shining

Fig 1. "The Shining" Film Poster

Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" (1980) is certainly one of the most iconic horror films that has been created. Kubrick creates atmosphere and a mood of terror and suspense through the use of clever camera play (see fig 2.) and a phenomenal music score; much like Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey where the music plays a huge part of the film. Whereas in "The Shining" the music and supernatural themes used transform characters and settings that would seem rather lackluster into something that has a secret and more depth behind it. Not only is it these things that make for an excellent performance in "The Shining" but also "Kubrick delivers this uncertainty in a film where the actors themselves vibrate with unease" (Roger Ebert 2006) throughout the filming process add to the effect, as one example proves and says: "Nicholson was force fed endless cheese sandwiches (which he loathes) to generate a sense of inner revulsion" (Ian Nathan 2012). 

Fig 2. Danny playing with his cars on the carpet

"Instead of the cramped darkness and panicky quick editing of the standard-issue scary movie, Kubrick gives us the eerie, colossal, brilliantly lit spaces of the Overlook Hotel" (Peter Bradshaw 2012), (See Fig 3.) which is the place that Jack (Jack Nicholson) and his family move to so that Jack can be the caretaker for the winter and try to elevate his novelist career whilst he has a chance to be isolated and quiet. Right near the start of the film it is told to Jack by the hotel manager that the hotel has bared witness to a killing from the previous caretaker where he brutally murdered his wife and two daughters. Despite not being moved or affected by this Jack still decides to go on with taking the job. Maybe there's something underlying that suggests it's impossible for him to resist it? 

Fig 3. The Overlook Hotel

It's clear that right from the get go that the Overlook Hotel is shown as a towering monster that is so large that the character's will go insane from the isolation if not anything else. It also doesn't help when it is subtly announced that the Overlook Hotel is in fact built upon ancient Indian burial grounds and if anyone has seen "Poltergeist" we know this is a sign of bad things are going to happen inside. 
It's Kubrick's imagery and camera use that truly makes the Overlook Hotel seem like it is a beast that consumes victims, the first that sticks out is the large carpet that Danny plays with his toys on, the pattern and angle of the camera shot suggest that he is imprisoned by the carpet and his cars. Another example could be the repeated imagery of the the blood flowing out of the elevator (See Fig 4); this could represent a magnitude of things, but the one that fits the most is that the blood flowing from the elevator is the blood of all the previously slaughtered victims who have stayed at the Overlook Hotel. 

Fig 4. The iconic elevator pouring blood

Originally " The Shining" was existent on it's own as a novel written by Stephen King until Kubrick adapted his writings into a film that unfortunately didn't focus it's themes around the ones that Stephen King had created. This is why Stephen King has openly admitted that he does not like Kubrick's version of "The Shining". Although if Kubrick had adhered to the writings of King more then it is possible that the film could have made a bit more sense to the audience. This is because there is a large sense that Kubrick was unable to decide whether or not "The Shining's" story should be more of a psychological horror or a film that focused mostly on the ghost-side of things. There are many theories behind the characters and their personalities. For instance it is unforeseen as to whether or not Jack (Jack Nicholson) is possessed by whatever lurks inside the overlook hotel, be it a ghost or even a demon, he is mentally insane, he is dead and he is a poltergeist who is looking upon his past or maybe is he just simply hallucinating. Much like Danny (Danny Lloyd) who has hallucinations but instead is supposedly a psychic who is has the gift of "The Shining" meaning he can read people's minds and see the past and future. Some of Danny's "Visions" also seem to have no real relevance to the film, for example the scene where Danny sees the ghosts of two twin girls, alive and dead. 

Overall, it can be said that 'The Shining' is a marvel in the horror film world, but simply has a lot of plot holes. Whether this was intended to be by Kubrick we will never know. 


Nathan, I. (2012) The Shining Review At: Accessed 12/12/2015

Bradshaw, P. (2012) The Shining - Review At: Accessed 12/12/2015

Ebert, R. (2006) Great Movies - The Shining At: Accessed 12/12/2015


Figure 1. The Shining film poster (1980) [Poster] At: Accessed 12/12/2015

Figure 2. Danny playing with cars on the carpet (1980) [Film Screenshot] At: Accessed 12/12/2015

Figure 3. The Overlook Hotel (1980) [Film Screenshot] At Accessed 12/12/2015

Figure 4. The Elevator pouring blood (1980) [Film Screenshot] At: Accessed 12/12/2015

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