The Shining (1980)
The Shining (1980) - A man, his son and wife become the winter caretakers of an isolated
hotel where Danny, the son, sees disturbing visions of the hotel's past
using a telepathic gift known as "The Shining". The father, Jack
Torrance, is underway in a writing project when he slowly slips into
insanity as a result of cabin fever and former guests of the hotel's
ghosts. After being convinced by a waiter's ghost to "correct" the
family, Jack goes completely insane. The only thing that can save Danny
and his mother is "The Shining".
The Shining is a 1980 psychological horror film directed by Stanley Kubrick, co-written with novelist Diane Johnson, and starring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, and Danny Lloyd.
The film is based on the novel of the same name, by Stephen King, about a writer with a wife and young son who accepts the job of off-season caretaker at an isolated hotel.
The son, who possesses psychic abilities, is able to see things in the future or past, such as the ghosts in the hotel. Soon after moving in, and after a paralyzing winter storm that leaves the family snowbound, the father becomes influenced by the supernatural presence in the haunted hotel; he descends into madness and attempts to kill his wife and son.
Unlike most films by Stanley Kubrick, which saw a slow gradual release building on word-of-mouth, The Shining was released in a manner more like a mass-market film, opening at first in just two cities on Memorial Day, and then a month later seeing a nationwide release (including drive-ins) after extensive television advertising.
Although initial response to the film was mixed, later critical assessment has been more favorable and it is now viewed as a classic of the horror genre. Martin Scorsese, writing in The Daily Beast, ranked it as one of the best horror films.
Film critics, film students, and Kubrick's producer, Jan Harlan, have all remarked on the enormous influence the film has had on popular culture which ranges from other macabre thrillers to the cartoon series The Simpsons.
In some sequences, there is a question of whether or not there are ghosts present. In the scenes where Jack sees a ghost he is always facing a mirror, or in the case of his storeroom conversation with Grady a highly polished and reflective door.
Film reviewer James Berardinelli notes: It has been pointed out that there's a mirror in every scene in which Jack sees a ghost, causing us to wonder whether the spirits are reflections of a tortured psyche.
The Making of The Shining
Writing in Hollywood's Stephen King, Tony Magistrale writes: Kubrick's reliance on mirrors as visual aids for underscoring the thematic meaning of this film portrays visually the internal transformations and oppositions that are occurring to Jack Torrance psychologically.
Through...these devices, Kubrick dramatizes the hotel's methodical assault on Torrance's identity, its ability to stimulate the myriad of self-doubts and anxieties by creating opportunities to warp Torrance's perspective on himself and [his family].
Furthermore the fact that Jack looks into a mirror whenever he "speaks" to the hotel means, to some extent, that Kubrick implicates him directly into the hotel's "consciousness," because Jack is, in effect, talking to himself.
On the other hand, there are no mirrors in Danny's, nor Wendy's, visions, and ghosts are the obvious explanation of how Jack gets out of the locked storeroom.
Kubrick scholar Michel Ciment has written: It seemed to strike an extraordinary balance between the psychological and the supernatural in such a way as to lead you to think that the supernatural would eventually be explained by the psychological: 'Jack must be imagining these things because he's crazy.'
This allowed you to suspend your doubt of the supernatural until you were so thoroughly into the story that you could accept it almost without noticing...It's not until Grady, the ghost of the former caretaker who axed to death his family, slides open the bolt of the larder door, allowing Jack to escape, that you are left with no other explanation but the supernatural.