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Director's Dissection
The Shining adaption of the Stephen King novel, the shining example of a horror masterpiece and the shining star behind it all, Stanley Kubrick, will be presented to you in this glorious review of


"The Shine" is a sensitivity to the supernatural or the macabre. It is a way of communicating with someone or sensing something without the presence of words or any other conventional connection between the two parts…

There are many Stephen King novels, which contains characters, who has the psychic ability that embraces the above in different ways… And you could say, that with the film adaptation of “The Shining”, Stanley Kubrick brings this ability inside the very fundament of adaption and bases his starting point to horror within that very psychologic aspect. He wishes to incorporate the element of fear in a way that is unconventional, by communicating the supernatural and macabre through imagery and sounds instead of plainly writing it into the material. He wants to generate horror with the smallest amount of storytelling possible, but with the biggest amount of atmosphere available. He wants to speak to the deeper mind and bodily senses in a subtle way, which we might not notice, consciously, though we feel every little bit of it.

Stanley Kubrick brings bona fide cinema creepiness to new harrowing heights, as he without any hesitation throws the horror handbook straight into the garbage bin in the name of a revolutionary genre rebirth, making Stephen Kings novel a surreal novelty with a nightmarish and almost nauseating approach to horror cinema. Kubrick shows us a shining example of how to embrace atmosphere as a director and let it linger like a character in and on itself. The feel of the Overlook Hotel is so atmospherically impressive and not the least visually expressive, that the terror comes creeping around every corner as a sort of psychosomatic play on our minds, unfolding our deepest fears and being downright unwilling to the follow the rules of horror (or even the source material for that matter).

Just judging by the ominous opening to the film, which also contains Kubrick’s almost signature-like use of lavish colors in the credits, as well as his constant care for always wanting to create a cunning contrast within his work – this time by having heavenly scenery seem like a road to hell. A helicopter tracking shot of a car travelling along the soft, curvy roads of the Rocky Mountains, builds a beautiful backdrop to the otherwise dominating dun-dun-dun’s that pound away like the Devil’s own heartbeat. It is so uncomfortably eerie that you almost feel the sweat bursting out, making you want to turn up the AC and add on the DC to this highway-to-hell madness.

When we cut to Jack arriving at the hotel for the job interview, we enter the calm but far from collected state of the movie, that slowly eats up the atmosphere as we go. We get a sense of our main character, who indeed does seem “off” from the very beginning. But in relation to the intro, it is quite clear that Kubrick set out to sow the seeds of terror early on and having us wait for the inevitable moment of which the horror will eventually strike. There really is no doubt that this is an indisputable independent vision of a universally acclaimed novel, which is now being brought to life in ways almost unimaginable prior to watching the film. Kubrick breaks down the door of a one-room thinking space, piercing the mind of the viewer, allowing our thoughts and feelings to flow freely and seamlessly together with every element of this film. I doubt there is a need for details here, but some examples won’t hurt you, though it may bash your brains in.

As mentioned, there is a constant calmness to this film, yet you never feel completely calm watching it. It definitely feels destined to make us drift into the mindset of the characters, especially that of Jack, and the character of the hotel. The short inserts of unsettling images almost feel like the flashing callbacks similar to that of a person suffering from PTSD. It is like a picture-perfect portrayal of an actual nightmare and an excellent example of crafting and arranging horror to illustrative and influential effect. It is like a perverse poem, in the way that it strings together these images with very hard cuts, perfectly pushing forward the effect that this type of editing has when you compare it to the rest of the film, which often let the scenes dissolve slowly into one another. So visually and craft-wise, Kubrick really tries to concentrate this constant feeling of time just going in a “loop” or days and hours passing in and out of each other, having the audience feel the cabin fever close to heart. When the shock hits, it is often with hard cuts, thereby having the same effect on the audience as on the characters.

I could go on forever and ever and ever about how meticulous every camera move is in this movie – how it glides over the floor like a ghost and how it hides behind the hard walls of this hollow and empty hotel. The atmosphere really elevates the film to an expert level of extensiveness; painting every surface with the colors of the most bloody beautiful nightmare ever created. The four walls within this hotel is like the four horsemen surrounding you in the middle of the madness going on, having your heart galloping uncontrollably. Kubrick knows precisely how to generate this ghastly gallows-feeling of sorts, bringing home a menacing and gloomy guise of loneliness. The sheer sense of dead-silent emptiness is extremely unsettling, while the only sounds we hear are footsteps and the monotone sounds of motion, when Danny goes on his long tricycle trips of terror through the hallways of hell on earth.

Jack “Here’s Johnny” Nicholson comes in swinging and presents us with the most unhinged performance of his career, and it comes across like a bloody elevation of the already disturbing location. A true rock n’ roll performance of the century, proving that “Johnny B. Goode” is definitely not his full name. Because Jack the character is as bad as they come, and Jack the actor as bad-ass as they get. His boundary-free performance loudly bounces off the cold walls of this colossal emptiness of the Overlook Hotel, echoing its excellence and further enforcing the eeriness of everything going on. Not one character in this movie feels completely normal, which is of course a classic element to a Kubrick film, but definitely feels more dead-on than ever. It all just adds to the sense that something is always “off”, if you understand what I’m on about.

Whenever I revisit this film, I love to get drunk on Kubrick’s disturbing atmosphere and distanced approach to reality and normality. It truly is a film that finds the deeper roots of the genre end its power and subsequently pulls them straight up into the open, letting them grow far and wide as the film winds along, thereby creating three times the terror compared to a more superficial horror. Kubrick certainly brings back the craftmanship of a good scare that is well-earned and a long-lived legacy that is well-deserved. All hail the great Kubrick… shining on all of us…