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THE SHINING (1980) 
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Post THE SHINING (1980)
Click here for the review of The Shining (1980)

Part of the "1980s" series.


Wed Feb 18, 2009 7:30 pm
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Post Re: THE SHINING (1980)
I think I'm kinder to this than you cause I haven't read the book and only seen a few minutes of the mini-series, where I quickly turned it off in disguist...Stephen Weber has a mallet! Where's the menace in that!

But anyways, The Shining scared the crap out of me...and I saw it on FX so I don't even want to watch Room 237 uncensored.


Wed Feb 18, 2009 7:37 pm
Post Re: THE SHINING (1980)
After hearing you call this an 'incoherent bore' in your review of 'Carrie' I was expecting something much lower than you have given. Did a particular horror film from 1980 loosen your cynicism ;) ?


I agree that the film is technically perfect. Certain shots are deeply terrifying in a way that I've never seen beforem or since. This is the only film in my life where I have been genuinely afraid every single frame and involved so deeply in the atmosphere. 'Halloween' might be a better film in some aspects, but it isn't nearly as psychologically haunting. I consider 'The Shining' to be the most purely terrifying film ever conceived.


Last edited by Evenflow8112 on Wed Feb 18, 2009 9:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Feb 18, 2009 7:40 pm
Post Re: THE SHINING (1980)
I've never read the book, but I've seen the 1997 miniseries as well as this movie. Both have their strengths and weaknesses, but I find Kubrick's version superior. I think we can all agree the movie is impeccably shot and staged. There's really no fault to the sets, camera work, music, etc. There is certainly an ominous and eerie tone that Kubrick establishes. One particularly scene that's still creepy to this day is the "Room 237" scene. Sure, Nicholson is over-the-top, but damn it if he's not entertaining. I personally liked the other actor's performances even though I can see where some might find fault. I think this movie is more cerebral than pure horror and that's what gives the movie an appeal.

I too was surprised Berardinelli gave the movie a good review because like another person said he called this movie an "incoherent bore". I have to wonder what changed his mind about the movie to still give it a good review.


Last edited by ck100 on Thu Feb 19, 2009 12:19 am, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Feb 18, 2009 9:30 pm
Post Re: THE SHINING (1980)
Berard, I think you underate Shining. You're absolutely right about the direction. Based on that alone, you would give it four stars right? Well, I don't think the drawbacks subtract a full star. A half star perhaps. Visually, it's so incredible that everything else is made up for. Watching it is like looking through a horror kaleidescope. At any rate, I would call it his last masterpiece, a worthy title in terms of its genre.


Wed Feb 18, 2009 11:12 pm
Post Re: THE SHINING (1980)
The Shining is a Top 100 film for me...and a ****+ one. When I first saw it about ten years ago, I also thought that Jack was too over-the-top, Danny was flat, and the screenplay fair at best. Over the years, however, I have gradually come to see Kubrick's vision come to fruition. Danny is an abused child...both physically abused by his father (off-camera, before film time), and psychologically abused by his psychic visions and inability to interpret them...he, therefore, often closes himself off emotionally...a fact that is really underscored by his behavior and mannerisms while talking to Hallorann near the beginning (note that in other parts of the film, he's perfectly capable of expressing more emotion).

Jack's performance will play differently depending on your interpretation of the film. If you believe that this is all in his head, and that he is psychologically influencing others around him to see visions, then Jack is over-the-top. If you believe he is possessed by the hotel, then his performance is also over-the-top...too reflect of "demons coming out." There's a third interpretation, however, that takes a middle-ground. The hotel is possessing him, yes, but he is open and willing to be possessed due to writer's block...something to do to pass the time and save himself from cabin fever. The story of Grady is intriguing, and he imagines himself committing the murder of his family, being psychotic, etc., and begins to act in the extreme. What he doesn't realize...until the Room 237 encounter...is that he ISN'T just acting...he is being pulled in. Being selfish and abusive by nature (far from the character of the novel, btw), he simply says "Aw, what the hell?" and becomes uber-psycho...and Nicholson the actor is appropriately over-the-top. :)

The Shining is one Kubrick film that, to me, I love more and more with each viewing. James B is right...from a technical viewpoint, it is a damn near perfect film (include the music with that). The rest of the film, however, will grow on you with time...as it becomes more and more fascinating and frightening.

Incidentally, I'm also a fan of the novel...I re-read it at least once a year...but I completely separate the novel from the movie; they're on two different planets, so I can't compare them effectively. I will say, however, that the mini-series was a LAME adaptation of the novel.

Just my two cents, of course.

Erik :)


Wed Feb 18, 2009 11:26 pm
Post Re: THE SHINING (1980)
ADayintheLife1979 wrote:
Jack's performance will play differently depending on your interpretation of the film. If you believe that this is all in his head, and that he is psychologically influencing others around him to see visions, then Jack is over-the-top. If you believe he is possessed by the hotel, then his performance is also over-the-top...too reflect of "demons coming out." There's a third interpretation, however, that takes a middle-ground. The hotel is possessing him, yes, but he is open and willing to be possessed due to writer's block...something to do to pass the time and save himself from cabin fever.


Jack is possessed cause he's bored....Oh my god that is awesome, I wanna watch it again and see if I could pick up on that


Wed Feb 18, 2009 11:32 pm
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Post Re: THE SHINING (1980)
MGamesCook wrote:
Berard, I think you underate Shining. You're absolutely right about the direction. Based on that alone, you would give it four stars right? Well, I don't think the drawbacks subtract a full star. A half star perhaps. Visually, it's so incredible that everything else is made up for. Watching it is like looking through a horror kaleidescope. At any rate, I would call it his last masterpiece, a worthy title in terms of its genre.


You're missing the point of how star ratings are generated. For the most part, I don't add and subtact based on "flaws" and "pluses." Movies slot into categories based on an overall impression.

Great direction is not enough for me to give a hearty recommendation for a film. The first time I watched The Shining (on HBO, I think, about 15 years ago), I fell asleep midway through. Fortunately, I was taping it, so I rewound and was able to watch the whole thing. (Hence the "incoherent bore" comment.) Before this review, I re-watched it TWICE. The schism between the quality of the direction and the weaker elements expanded during the second viewing. Kubrick needed a better script and he should have kept Nicholson in check. That's the problem with Jack. He loves going over the top. Sometimes it works; sometimes it's painful. He teeters on the edge, here.

I don't find the movie frightening in the least bit. Interesting, yes, but not frightening.

It's a great movie for film students, though, because it shows how much a director can bring to the table. Kubrick takes material that's on the low side of mediocre and does some impressive stuff with it.

I would dearly love to see Michael Bay and Martin Scorsese film exactly the same script. (I was going to say "Uwe Boll," but one of our moderators now has a semi-personal relationship with him, so I'll refrain from using his name in vain.) The results would be fascinating.


Wed Feb 18, 2009 11:51 pm
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Post Re: THE SHINING (1980)
Jim,

I know this is off-topic, but since you're covering the 1980's and you've reviewed most of Kubrick's movies, are you going to tackle "Full Metal Jacket" when you reach 1987? I mean this is one popular Kubrick film you haven't reviewed yet. I'm sure some people would love to read your take on it.


Thu Feb 19, 2009 12:29 am
Post Re: THE SHINING (1980)
I dunno. The Shining is really the only movie to consistently scare me, regardless of how many times I see it. I've never read the book, though I have seen the TV movie (which is supposedly faithful) and read enough of King's books to understand the differences between the source material and the movie. King clearly viewed Jack Torrance (Nicholson's character) as an allegory to himself, a good man succumbing to demons and evil (alcoholism). That theme isn't really approached by Kubrick, who has a much bleaker and nihilistic approach. His Jack Torrance is clearly unhinged from the minute we see him, on the edge of completely snapping. If I'm not mistaken, King was adamantly against casting Nocholson because he looked too crazy and didn't project the good hearted man that King's Torrance started out as. I don't want to put words into James' mouth or anything but I feel like that seems to be the cause of the varying opinions on Nicholson's performance. Those, like King, looking for a man's descent into madness wont find it in Nicholson's performance. However, those accepting Kubrick view that Jack Torrance is just bat shit crazy from the start will probably love it.

The main reason I love this movie is probably rooted in Lynch comparison. The bane of Kubrick's Torrance isn't that his drinking problem, it's that he hates his life and wants out. He is annoyed by his wife and kid and has strong resentment towards them. He's unhappy to his core. Now granted, he does so in the most gruesome and shocking way possible, but I still think it's appropriate to view the movie as an urge to break out of the "perfect suburban" life that Lynch is so afraid of. I guess that's why the movie really resonates with me is that it has a deeper quality than King's version has, IMO. It's one of my favorite Kubrick movies, along with A Clockwork Orange.


Thu Feb 19, 2009 12:57 am
Post Re: THE SHINING (1980)
James,

The moment you announced this was on the agenda, my breath was held. I had not heard of the bore comment. I am a huge fan of Stanley Kubrick. In my humble opinion he walks up there with any director.

That said, I think your review is spot on. I have seen "The Shining" many times and there seems to be a trend to move it amongst Kubrick's great works. I think this is wrong. For all the reasons you state, it is flawed. It's a great director working with merely good material.

Then there is Jack Nicholson. Part of the cult appeal of the film is his performance. However, it is over the top and out of control. It may be the origin of Jack ultimately becoming a caricature of his original self that finally found maturity with the Joker nearly a decade later.

I have met so many people who told me that the Shining is a scary horror movie. My first experience was at college and it never actually scared me at all. I've always been slightly detached from the film and never truly invested in the characters. It's one of those films that I admire but never quite give myself up to.

It's a brilliant technical achievement - Kubrick loved technology. In this film we had the introduction of Steadicam for the trike and ice scenes. In Barry Lyndon for example we get the Nasa sourced f0.9 lens for movies by candlelight. On 2001 there's a whole book of stuff.

The Shining does not rank next to Kubrick's great works - 2001, Strangelove, Paths of Glory and Clockwork Orange. It's B grade Kubrick and A grade almost everyone else.

Thanks for helping me revisit the movie. And yes, I read the 2001 and Strangelove reviews yet again.

Rob


Thu Feb 19, 2009 3:49 am
Post Re: THE SHINING (1980)
I find it hard to believe that a meticulous director such as Kubrick should have let Jack Nicholson run riot with his performance. I think he got exactly the kind of performance out of Jack Nicholson that he wanted. The Shining really isn't all that scary but infused with a mounting sense of dread, in large parts because Jack Nicholson's character appears to be on the edge all the time and repressing a lot of anger. To me, it appears inevitable that he turns into a raving, froth-at-the-mouth lunatic at the climax of the film.

Also, while I agree that the plot does not make much sense, I do not mind this in supernatural ghost stories very much. I accept that the supernatural world doesn't play to the rules of logic and that the audience is basically in the same place as the characters, who also can't make sense of what's going on.

That being said, I understand where James B. is coming from. Maybe it's just a matter of personal taste for me.


Thu Feb 19, 2009 4:40 am
Post Re: THE SHINING (1980)
While I do like The Shining, there is a lot I disagree with on the review. First of all, I think Jack Nicholson did a terrific job and showing the craziness in Jack Torrance slowly growing and growing. In my opinion, he's meant to go over-the-top near the end to show that this is not the sane husband-and-father from the beginning. There is no turning back for him now.

I also disagree about Danny Lloyd's performance, especially the comparison to Jake Lloyd in The Phantom Menace. Danny Torrance is meant to be to be a little out-there and spaced-out. His detachment from the real world is effective in bringing the character to life. Now, a lot of the credit for his performance should also go to Kubrick (who directed him in a way that Lloyd didn't even know he was making a horror film until after production completed), but Lloyd deserves credit, too.

I personally find The Shining to be a gripping film and like a lot of people who care less about it, you seem to be comparing it to the book, even though they're two completely different mediums. And aside from A Clockwork Orange, Kubrick was about as faithful to the original source material as Walt Disney was. I have listened to King's book on CD and I personally found it to be quite a bore. Kubrick's The Shining, however, kept me interested all throughout and it continues to improve for me on each subsequent viewing.

Nonetheless, I found this to be an excellent review and a huge part of why you're one of my favourite critics, that even when I disagree with what you say, you argue your points very well.


Thu Feb 19, 2009 9:55 am
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Post Re: THE SHINING (1980)
In going back and revisiting a lot of the '80s movies (I have been immersed in them for about the past 3 weeks now), I have found that most of them don't live up to my remembrances. The Shining is a counterexample - something that's better than I remember. Not great, but I think the first time I watched it, Kubrick's directorial flourishes didn't reach me on a conscious level.

There are a few '80s movies I had been planning to review that have been stricken from the list because, after the painful experience of re-watching them, I lost the desire to write about them. (The titles will be revealed in due time, likely in the ReelThoughts annual commentaries.) It was nice that The Shining at least provided a little more than I was expecting.


Thu Feb 19, 2009 10:41 am
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Post Re: THE SHINING (1980)
Shining is not quite frightening. Unsettling is probably a better word for me at least. But to be honest Berard, I like your idea about doing a hitchcock or bogart marathon much better than the 80s chronicle. I can't speak for everyone, but I would much rather see reviews of univerally accepted classics than reviews of famously bad movies like Friday the 13th. I think if there's anyway to tackle all of film history at once, it's by grouping the films according to director.


Thu Feb 19, 2009 11:41 am
Post Re: THE SHINING (1980)
James Berardinelli wrote:
In going back and revisiting a lot of the '80s movies (I have been immersed in them for about the past 3 weeks now), I have found that most of them don't live up to my remembrances. The Shining is a counterexample - something that's better than I remember. Not great, but I think the first time I watched it, Kubrick's directorial flourishes didn't reach me on a conscious level.

There are a few '80s movies I had been planning to review that have been stricken from the list because, after the painful experience of re-watching them, I lost the desire to write about them. (The titles will be revealed in due time, likely in the ReelThoughts annual commentaries.) It was nice that The Shining at least provided a little more than I was expecting.


The Terminator and Robocop better be there or my fist will be waved at you....with a vengeance!


Thu Feb 19, 2009 11:53 am
Post Re: THE SHINING (1980)
I liked the semi-subtle reference to Jake Lloyd. Just saying.

That being said, I haven't seen The Shining in a long time (four plus years) so I can't judge on a whole lot. I do remember it being a directorial powerhouse, but I also remember it dripping with really creepy atmosphere. I don't think I'd agree with your rating upon rewatching, but at the same time I don't think it'd come close to my top 100. It's stuck between a rock and a hard place. (Maybe that's the wrong expression in this case lol.) I just admire Kubrick too much.


Thu Feb 19, 2009 1:01 pm
Post Re: THE SHINING (1980)
Patrick wrote:
James Berardinelli wrote:
In going back and revisiting a lot of the '80s movies (I have been immersed in them for about the past 3 weeks now), I have found that most of them don't live up to my remembrances. The Shining is a counterexample - something that's better than I remember. Not great, but I think the first time I watched it, Kubrick's directorial flourishes didn't reach me on a conscious level.

There are a few '80s movies I had been planning to review that have been stricken from the list because, after the painful experience of re-watching them, I lost the desire to write about them. (The titles will be revealed in due time, likely in the ReelThoughts annual commentaries.) It was nice that The Shining at least provided a little more than I was expecting.


The Terminator and Robocop better be there and my fist will be waved at you....with a vengeance!



Damn, that sounds like a pretty lose-lose scenario right there, Pat. Give the man some options :)


Thu Feb 19, 2009 2:12 pm
Post Re: THE SHINING (1980)
Good call Evenflow, post has been edited. But my threat still remains valid.


Thu Feb 19, 2009 2:17 pm
Post Re: THE SHINING (1980)
A comment on the ambiguity of The Shining.

There's a conversation between Hallorann and Danny early in the film that is revealing and is confirmed by Wendy's point of view later in the movie. Hallorann mentions that places, like people, can shine. So it's not all in Jack's head, which I think explains, among other things, how he got out of the storeroom.

In fact, note that Jack, who himself is a ghost of the Overlook (final shot), can escape the storeroom inside the hotel, but can't navigate the maze outside it. The Overlook Hotel is indeed haunted.

Let me pose a question: Do you consider The Shining an art film, by whatever definition and for whatever that's worth?


Thu Feb 19, 2009 2:58 pm
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