Watching all the movies on the Warner Bros. 50-movie box set that I bought for cheap. This week the random number generator asked where all the topiaries are as it landed on The Shining.
Here’s what happens: Jack Torrance is hired as the winter caretaker for the Overlook Hotel in Colorado. Joining him are his nervous wife Wendy and troubled psychic son Danny. During their wintry solitude in the giant hotel, Jack succumbs to madness, Danny withdraws into himself, Wendy struggles to survive, and there’s something strange about this hotel.
Why it’s famous: Master filmmaker Stanley Kubrick takes Stephen King’s bestselling novel and makes it his own. Audiences loved it, King hated it, and conspiracy theorists flock to it.
Get your film degree: The visuals of The Shining have already been thoroughly analyzed (some might say over-analyzed), so I’ll just quickly hit the high points — Steadicam, smash cuts, knowing when and where to move the camera, and so on. I’ll say this: I appreciated how, during long dialogue scenes, Kubrick merely holds the camera in front of the actors and lets them act. I wish more of today’s filmmakers did that.
Movie geekishness: Screenwriting 101 would have us believe that the movie doesn’t need both Grady and the bartender, seeing how both characters serve the same purpose. The creepy bartender, though, adds a lot of atmosphere, helping the Overlook feel like a place of genuine mystery. There are a lot of little touches like that in the movie — the party guests, the guy in the bear suit, the ambiguous final shot — that add to the mystery. These throwaway additions mean we’re only seeing parts of all the craziness going on inside the Overlook, leaving the rest to our imaginations.
Thoughts upon this viewing: The Shining is still great. It’s smart, scary, and weird — just what we expect from Kubrick.
Next week: Hello, room service?
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