Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Film Review - The Shining (1980)

Fig.1 The Shining (1980) Movie Poster

Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (1980) is a classic horror film that will leave you more questions, like Kubrick's other classic "2001: A Space Odyssey". It's incredibly large, but tight setting of a hotel is extraordinarily designed by production designer, Roy Walker, somehow makes Jack's journey into insanity somewhat understandable.

Fig. 2 Danny stops at Room 237

Kubrick's excellent camera work and attention detail in each shot makes the whole experience a tense one. Kubrick frustrated actors as a result as he repeated each scene before he knew it was perfect. Ian Nathan touches on this in his review for Empire online by mentioning "Shelley Duvall was reputedly forced to do no less than 127 takes of one scene" - (Nathan, 2009). It leaves you waiting, and by each scene being partnered with a horrifically great soundtrack it makes you expect that something is about to happen. More often than not the music would increase, get louder, more instruments would play and then...it would stop in an instant. These scenes get fear rushing through your veins and so when things start to occur, it is almost unexpected due to being fooled before. There are some breathtaking camera shots that Kubrick uses, especially when the camera is following Danny ride his bike.The camera follows him for over a minute, at his height so that we can almost see through the eyes of Danny as he rides around this enigma of a hotel. The camera stays in place throughout and so we do not know what to expect when he goes round a tight corner in the corridor. The sound is used brilliantly here also. We here the difference of the bike riding over a rug compared to riding over a wooden floor. The sounds are very loud and so it makes this sequence even more tense.

Fig.3 Jack at the bar

The hotel's magnificent exterior is nothing compared to it's interior. The series of puzzles scattered all over the wall and the now infamous carpet (see Fig.2) has gone down in cinema history. There is a scene in the film where Danny is playing with toy cars on the carpet and the shapes seem to be imprisoning him. The bright colours in these patterns are welcomed difference to the now cliche horror film setting of a dark, deteriorating building. Filmsite refers to the film brilliantly different setting by calling it "a beautiful, stylish work that distanced itself from the blood-letting and gore of most modern films in the horror genre." - (Filmsite, 2013). These, almost illusion, patterns would make you very uncomfortable after a long length of time. Peter Bradshaw mention in their review how brilliant the setting is: "The rerelease of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining is another chance to savour, first of all, those magnificent interior sets." - (Bradshaw, 2012). Jack and his family have to endure the hotel for 6 months, and due to it's large structure and intricate design sends Jack into madness, and the results are catastrophic. It seemed that Jack was consumed by the hotel and made him fall into madness, and once that Jack begins to terrorise and haunt his wife and son. Some of these moments of terror have gone down in cinema history, especially the "Here's Johnny!" scene, but that scene demonstrates just how far Jack has fallen.

Fig.4 Jack laughing at the bar

Near to the end of the film, we are left bewildered by what we are seeing. Blood pouring out of a closed elevator and an old naked corpse laughing are what stay in your mind. They are unexplained. What is causing them? We are supposed to believe that it is Jack that has become insane, but why can his wife see things in the hotel? The hotel is a mystery that is left unresolved and we cannot begin to understand how or why.

Illustration List:
Fig.1 The Shining (1980) Movie Poster http://www.impawards.com/1980/shining_ver1_xlg.html - (Accessed 09/12/2014)

Fig. 2 Danny stops at Room 237 - http://www.blogcdn.com/www.joystiq.com/media/2011/07/shining.jpg - (Accessed 09/12/2014)

Fig.3 Jack at the barhttp://www.horrorphile.net/images/the-shining-jack-nicholson-and-joe-turkel1.jpg - (Accessed 09/12/2014)

Fig.4 Jack laughing at the bar http://d12vb6dvkz909q.cloudfront.net/uploads/galleries/29663/the-shining-1.jpg - (Accessed 09/12/2014)

Bradshaw, Peter (2012) - The Shining - Review - http://www.theguardian.com/film/2012/nov/01/the-shining-review - (Accessed 09/12/2014)

Filmsite (2013) - The Shining (1980) - http://www.filmsite.org/shin.html - (Accessed 09/12/2014)

Nathan, Ian (2009) - The Shining - http://www.empireonline.com/reviews/reviewcomplete.asp?FID=132700 - (Accessed 09/12/2014)

1 comment:

  1. Nice review Dan :)
    Don't forget to italicise the film names as well as the quotes...