|Fig. 1 'The Shining' (1980)|
The film is an adaptation of Stephen King's novel, which is more about the supernatural than the film adaptation. It is a shame that the movie adaptation did not follow the novel more, perhaps it would have allowed the film to make more sense. In the film it is unclear if Jack (Jack Nicholson) is going insane and experiencing hallucinations or possibly being possessed by ghosts, namely Delbert Grady (Phillip Stone). Although Jack's son, Danny (Danny Lloyd), seems to be some sort of psychic or medium, the ghosts appear to have little impact on the actual plot,"Dead twins haunt Danny and then stop haunting him...the ghosts aren't quite subjective and they aren't quite real...the films most startling horrific images seem overbearing and perhaps even irrelevant," (Maslin, 1980). It appears as though Kubrick couldn't decide between if he wanted to make a ghost story or a psychological horror.
|Fig. 2 The Dead Twins|
This unsettling clash between ordinary characters and environments with supernatural events and the mental deterioration of Jack is magnified by the film's sounds and score. Kubrick is known for his use of music to enhance the atmosphere of his films, and 'The Shining' was no exception. The score used gave of this feeling of an imminent and constant threat, no matter what the rest of the environment is suggesting. For example, the first scene of the film shows a serene and beautiful landscape as a small distance car cruises smoothly on winding roads. However the music does not match this environment, in fact it tells the audience that something very bad is about to happen before we even know who the characters are or where the 'bad things' are going to take place. Despite the bright coloured, open spaces in the hotel, menacing sounds prevent us from feeling safety in these normally familiar spaces, "...Bartok's eerily precise Music for Strings, Percussion and Harp extends over the bleak countryside through which the family drive, Ligeti and Penderecki underline the huge hotel's depopulated spaces," (Malcolm, 2014).
|Fig. 3 Danny playing on the bright carpet.|
It is unclear if Kubrick kept the plot between the supernatural and insanity deliberately or if he just couldn't decide between the two. Like in 2001: A Space Odyssey, he presents scenes that leaves the viewer wondering why it was shown and if it actually had any significance. An example of this is the closing scene where Jack is seen in a photo from 1921. This is impossible because Jack became the caretaker some time after 1970, when Delbert Grady killed his wife and daughters. While this, and many other scenes (mostly ones involving ghosts) are questionable in terms of their usefulness, it remains possible that this was all done knowingly. Even though Stephen King himself dislikes Kubrick's adaptation of 'The Shining', it is a memorable and effective horror film even with its slight inconsistency and flaws.
Ebert, R. (2006) The Shining At: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-the-shining-1980 Accessed on: 24/11/2015
Malcolm, D. (2014) From the Archive, 2 October 1980: Stanley Kubrick's The Shining - Review At: http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/oct/02/the-shining-stanley-kubrick-jack-nicholson-review-1980 Accessed on: 24/11/2015
Maslin, J. (1980) Movie Review The Shining At: http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=EE05E7DF1738E270BC4B51DFB366838B699EDE Accessed on: 24/11/2015
Figure 1. The Shining [Poster] At: http://www.cinemasterpieces.com/82011/shinfeb12.jpg Accessed on: 24/11/2015
Figure 2. The Dead Twins [Film Still] At: http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1590198/images/o-THE-SHINING-facebook.jpg Accessed on: 24/11/2015
Figure 3. Danny playing on the bright carpet [Film Still] At: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/32A7bTalgAE/maxresdefault.jpg Accessed on: 24/11/2015