Movie Review – The Shining

Posted: June 16, 2013 in Movie Reviews

The shining is the scariest shit I’ve ever seen. It was so scary that for the last 30 minutes or so I was getting so restless and wanted to switch on the light, close the curtains, open the door and stop looking outside to the rustling of leaves to reduce the effect. On the other I wanted to enjoy getting scared. It has never happened to me but my conscience was enjoying it. Finally when I now open the door, switch on the lights and write this review I feel relieved. But boy what a movie it was. More than calling this my favorite movie of Kubrick I’ll call this as Kubrick’s best. Not degrading any of his movies but emphasizing on the effect this movie had on me.


There is Kubrick’s stamp all over the movie. Has anyone given the horror genre a better treatment? I can confidently say a big NO. Kubrick instead of making his movies a masterpiece specializes in each and every genre thus making him a true genius. There might be directors who specialize movies genre wise but this guys eats them all up. Thus his movies come under only one genre, Kubrician. Nothing else nothing less. The Shining is one such example of how to make a horror movie.


If its Kubrick the first thing that comes to your mind is cinematography, one more thing that he has specialized here is sound, both background score and re recording. The background music throughout the movie is so haunting that even if you hear it without watching it’d give you creeps. The music is like those of silent movies where the orchestra plays throughout. It’s like two wholesome effort put together to give that extraordinary feel. That’s how dedicated the sound track is in this movie. Take a bow  Wendy Carlos and Rachael Elkind.

Following the tradition, let’s begin with the poster. Jack Nicholson popping out of somewhere with his maniac laugh itself is enough to bring shrill in the spines of viewers but the problem with having big actors that too actors like Jack Nicholson whose screen presence is huge is that at the end of the day we appreciate them instead of the real motive, getting scared. In this movie there were equal chances of both. There were times when I laughed overcoming my anxiousness because of Nicholson’s acting, especially his confrontations with his wife. And then there were the moments where I kept mum and allowed myself to be scared without thinking too much. That’s why you called Nicholson a genius. And what a combo this is Kubrick and Nicholson. Sheer class!

If you think Nicholson is the best that could happen to the movie you’re in for a surprise. Yes Nicholson does take the majority of the role but see how well the case has been selected. The first impression that you get seeing Nicholson’s wife is unexplainable. She makes you laugh, thanks to the camera angle. She looks like a witch straight out of Adam’s family. The easiest thing that Kubrick could have done is to make her evil or else have a pretty heroine or someone with melancholic face we could easily sympathize. She doesn’t come in any of the character. My first instinct after knowing that this was a horror movie was that she might be ghost or weirdo or whatever and I waited for it to happen till the credit rolled. Instead she was the only one who was least bit maniac out of the three.

Then there is this kid, a cute one who talks to himself about the ghost. He invents a character for himself whom he befriends. May be because he’s a loner. That character actually makes him strong. Instead of thinking that his imaginary friend is the one which brings misery to him I’d like to think on the contrary. Tony makes him stronger. Danny becomes Tony for sometime after his neck is bruised. It’s an attempt by Danny to not let fear rule over him. Tony actually saves him.

The character which we expect least of all to become psychic is Jack. It’s a brilliant twist when Jack’s wife sees Jacks stories which has nothing but “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” in every form, as prose, as poetry and like everything, just like a novel. One more brilliant thing was the red rum. I knew it was written in reverse direction but I don’t know why I didn’t read it as murder. Some clever disguise. I loved the way I was cheated. And coming to Nicholson. It’s not that all of a sudden he becomes psychic. The transformation is brilliant. I didn’t really mind of not having a flashback.

Usually in horror movies, the situation is typecast. Some people change into something all of a sudden or else some incident will happen and people whom we least think become villains but here it’s not the case the flow is so smooth that you don’t know where exactly the transformation happens. This is what I call as a brilliant treatment to the movie. Horror is considered cheap stuff. Gone are the days where Dracula movies were made with such passion where they were stunning piece of art. All that we could see in horror nowadays is blood and gore. I’m not complaining about the both but there must be some emphasis on the story telling too to not make it look cheap. That’s why satirical humor works much better than the traditional one because there is less creativity required to make such movies.

Then coming to talk about what Kubrick does the best, cinematography, the whole film looks like it’s made of longitudinal shots and all the long shots give you an eerie effect as if we’re getting pushed into a maze. The boy driving the tricycle around is a brilliant example of that. He has made use of the narrow hotel pathways to great effect. It does give an eerie effect walking through the hotel paths and Kubrick strikes gold in making full use of it. That’s how much eye for details the master could give.


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