I have been watching this movie for years. It's one of my favorites. Earlier last year I finally got around to reading the source material. This movie sure takes it's liberties, but why not? It's a fine improvement on the original piece of literature. Although, the book is still fine on it's own. I tend to regard this movie as a separate thing altogether. The subtext that Stanley Kubrick adds is phenomenal. It brings an entirely different element of horror to the movie. An element that just isn't there in the writings. It's creepy and terrifying. Quite a masterpiece.
A broken family becomes the winter caretakers at a secluded hotel in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. This hotel, built on top of an ancient Indian burial ground, is an evil place that is out to haunt and kill it's caretakers. Jack Nicholson, Shelly Duvall, and Danny Lloyd play the family living in the house this winter. Jack succumbs fully to the houses power while his wife and son struggle to survive.
I had recently watched Room 237 as well and found it to be really interesting. It has me looking really deeply into the movie. I am watching for the underlying Native American influences. Kubrick is a master and this movie shows it. Trying to map this place out is ridiculous. It reminds me of that M.C. Escher picture House of Stairs. Nicholson is astounding as Jack Torrence. His portrayal of a man that has finally come to his breaking point is from another world. Shelly Duvall is the portrait of a female in distress, at least she plays her character to the point of perfection.
The soundtrack is just as phenomenal and creepy as the visual element too. It conveys the scenes perfectly and alerts you to the presence of the "ghosts" The combination does a strange job of leaving you clambering for a means to the end. Not just that it leaves you with questions. It leaves you with questions that actually formulate a back story for you. The characters give you the feeling that they have always been around before and after this movie ceases. Amazing character development.
The terror is so smart. This isn't just a blood and guts, cut 'em up, slasher picture. This movie takes thirty-five minuets just to pick up steam. It builds so much and pays off in boat loads. It's that old fashioned horror that makes you work for it. It's a classic though and through. Do yourself a favor and see the Shining if you haven't yet. For some reason Stephen King really hates this version, don't be fooled into watching that TV version that he produced. This is the real deal. The cream of the crop.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
- Because Danny Lloyd was so young and since it was his first acting job, Stanley Kubrick was highly protective of the child. During the shooting of the movie, Lloyd was under the impression that the film he was making was a drama, not a horror movie. In fact, when Wendy carries Danny away while shouting at Jack in the Colorado Lounge, she is actually carrying a life-size dummy so Lloyd would not have to be in the scene. He only realized the truth several years later, when he was shown a heavily edited version of the film. He didn't see the uncut version of the film until he was 17 - eleven years after he'd made it.
- Stephen King was first approached by Stanley Kubrick about making a film version of 'The Shining' via an early morning phone call (England is five hours ahead of Maine in time zones). King, suffering from a hangover, shaving and at first thinking one of his kids was injured, was shocked when his wife told him Kubrick was really on the phone. King recalled that the first thing Kubrick did was to immediately start talking about how optimistic ghost stories are, because they suggest that humans survive death. "What about hell?" King asked. Kubrick paused for several moments before finally replying, "I don't believe in hell."
- Every time Jack talks to a "ghost", there's a mirror in the scene, except in the food locker scene. This is because in the food locker scene he only talks to Grady through the door. We never see Grady in this scene.