Wednesday, 9 December 2015

What If Metropolis: Film Review, The Shining (1980)

The Shining (1980)

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The Shining (1980) is another masterpiece by famed Stanley Kubrick, this film can technically be classed as an 80s horror movie, but when you use that term you normally relate it to lame special effects and a cheese story. But this film cannot fall into that genre type, tis film is another visual work of art from Kubrick, a film made iconic for its set design, constant looming presence, and slow tense plot that really never goes anywhere until the last act of the film.

The film revolves around a man named Jack (played by Jack Nicholson funnily enough) and his family, who are staying in a hotel in a isolated mountain range while Jack is working there as a sort of caretaker during the winter months. Jacks family consists off his son Danny and his wife Wendy. The owner of the hotel warns Jack of his concerns for his mental health during his job application interview, this is due to the isolation that comes with it, and a previous incident with the last caretaker, who ended up murdering his whole family then killing himself, Jack re-assures him its fine.

When they move into the hotel we are given a brief explanation of a super natural element that seems to be a happening in their universe, when we find out that Danny is actually someone who is susceptible from this mysterious "Shining". We find this out from a worker at the hotel who also is a user of the Shining. Danny has a strange habit of talking to himself in another voice while doing a sort of finger puppet gesture to a being named Tony, at first we think he is merely an imaginary friend but from this point we find out he is an actual entity (and if you've read the books you'd know that "Tony" is actually Danny from 10 years into the future). But there also seems to be a conflicting evil presence in the hotel, that slowly starts to effect Jack. "Danny begins to see visions of the past and future.....Meanwhile Jack begins to lose his mind as evil spirits corrupt him and he begins a violence-filled rampage throughout the hallways of the hotel." (Patrick, S.D).


The cinematography and set design is a main highlight though as this story slowly becomes a psychological supernatural horror, we are constantly presented with long following shots on a steady cam down winding hallways, as if we are actually pressuring the character. And there are some very little details in the design of the hotel that say a lot, like the strange patterned carpeted floors that while Danny is playing on, almost look like a prison or a maze (foreshadowing ?) "Like an unseen predator, Kubrick's camera prowls behind Danny, sometimes uncomfortably, claustrophobically close, as Danny's Big Wheel crosses hardwood and carpeted floors." (Valentin, 2005).


As Jack's sanity is rapidly crumbling when the supernatural events are at an all time high, the final confrontation of the film takes place where Jack finally looses it and the ghostly hotel spirits convince him he needs to murder his family, or else there would be some kind of un said consequence. After failing to murder Wendy and Danny and freezing to death outside, we see a picture dated from decades ago, where Jack can be seen in the front row of people, almost as if the hotel has claimed his soul. But we are left to decide the outcome of these events for our own "..Three people descend into versions of madness or psychic terror, and we cannot depend on any of them for an objective view of what happens. It is this elusive open-endedness that makes Kubrick's film so strangely disturbing." (Ebert, 2006).

Ebert, R At:

Patrick, T At:

Valentin, M At:

List of Illustrations:
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1 comment:

  1. Hi Brad,

    Don't forget that you need to italicize both the film name and the quotes...