Directed By Stanley Kubrick
Stanley Kuberick didn’t make that many films, but when he did, they often exclelled in the genre, Dr Strangeglove in the political comedy, 2001 in Sci-fi and of course The Shining in the horror genre. Although I wouldn’t call The Shining a horror film, it feels more of a supernatural thriller in my eyes, but an absolutely terrifying one.
Jack Nicholson plays an alcoholic writer, who applies for a job as a caretaker at the Overlook Hotel. Upon getting the job, him, his wife Wendy and his son, Danny (and his son’s imaginary friend, Tony) move in for the winter. However, upon arriving at the lodge, Tony begins to talk to Danny in a gruffer voice and the head chef at the restaurant informs him of the weird goings on at the hotel and that he has a special gift. Meanwhile, Jack struggles with writing and is constantly fed up with his family. After Danny goes into a strange room and comes back hurt, Wendy suspects Jack of being responsible. Jack is mortified by this news and sells his soul for a drink. He then begins to see ghosts, visiting a cocktail dinner in the bar, where he mets the ghost of the previous caretaker who tells him to “correct” his wife and son and that Jack has “Always been the caretaker”. Jack, now insane, grabs a fire axe and attempts, unsuccessfully to murder his family. After Jack freezes to death, we see a photo on the wall of the hotel, saying “Overlook Hotel 1921,” with Jack standing at the front…
The films unexplainable outcome and bizarre events just add to the genius of the production, we are left to draw up our own conclusions about what happened to Jack and the significance of room 237. Originally Kubrick had a different ending that was shot and was even in the original release (if only for a week) that went something like this.
The scene had Wendy in a bed talking with Mr. Ullman, the man who hired Jack at the beginning of the film. He explains that her husband’s body could not be found, raising several questions and implications. He then walks over to Danny and hands him a yellow tennis ball, presumably the same one that lured Danny into room 237, thus informing the audience that Ullman was well aware of the supernatural events happening at the hotel. This scene was subsequently physically cut out of prints by projectionists and sent back to the studio by order of Warner Bros., the film’s distributor.
However, what we do know is the incredibleness of the film. From following Danny whilst he rides his tricycle through the hallways, to that close up of Jack Nicholson’s face as he shouts the adlibbed iconic line “Here’s Johnny” The film is masterful at innovating and using some brilliantly placed shots. The whole film builds on the tension and the music is just phenomonal because of it. It really becomes a character of it’s own. Brooding, dark and haunting.
Of course, you can’t talk about the Shining without talking about Jack Nicholson’s performance. It’s an absolute tour de force and still the highlight of his career, you feel every second slowly passing to appreciate his drip-dropping into insanity. It’s truely horrible for the characters and the audience.
All in all, it makes The Shining haunting, a thrill to watch and excellent.