Last year, between the two of us, we watched an average of 317 movies.
This year our goal is to top that by watching at least one a day.
And as an extra special torture, we've decided to write about all of them.

15 November 2008

The Shining

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Writers: Stanley Kubruck, Diane Johnson
Released: 1980
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers, Danny Lloyd

STEVE says: The Shining is a movie I'm not overly fond of, but keep coming back to again and again just to see if I can find something - anything - I like about it.

No luck so far.

And I don't care how great you think Nicholson is, this movie Sucks Out Loud.

But let me tell you why.

King's book was about a haunted man. Jack Torrence is haunted by the student he attacked in Stovington, his careless abuse of his son, his own alcoholic father, his failure as a husband to properly provide for his family, etc. Kubrick decided that none of this was important and just went for the haunted hotel angle. Whereas the book was about the characters and their motivations, Kubrick's movie was about Nicholson going mad.

It's one thing to change a story when adaptation to a new medium demands it; it's another to completely dispense with character development and plot because you want to tell a different story. If you want to tell a different story, Tell A Different Story, don't fuck up a perfectly viable one because you don't understand it.

Kubrick jumped over the character and plot development with the "one month later" title card after Jack and his family arrive at the Overlook. This is important stuff! It's where Jack starts losing it - how can you skip over that?

I know Kubrick was a genius. There's a lot of his stuff I didn't like when I was younger, and I'm perfectly willing now to accept the fact that it was me; I didn't get it. But The Shining is just not good at all. Apart from the lack of character development, there's the Scatman Crothers thing:
As a plot device, he's there to give us info on Danny's abilities, which is fine. And at the end, his return to the Overlook acts as a device to pull Jack away from the bathroom door and let Wendy escape. Fine, again. Killing him, however, serves no purpose whatsoever! If you're just going to kill him, Wendy may as well have been able to squeeze through the window after Danny. The thing with the woman in room 237 is the definition of anti-climax. When Danny goes into the room, we never see what he sees. When Jack goes in, he finds a woman who turns into a rotting corpse (after he starts making out with her, which begs some explanation), then comes back and tells Wendy he didn't see a thing. It's so much more effective if we see what Danny sees, and then Jack goes up because we know what's waiting there - whether he actually sees it or not. As, by the way, it was done in the book.

Bottom line is, the guy didn't believe in the material and it shows - but that doesn't stop the idolatry. The poster at the top there isn't from the movie; it's from a Shining convention held in Timberline, Oregon this past Halloween. There's even been an art show dedicated to the movie.

Click the creepy girls to check it out. Even I have to admit, it's kind of cool - even if the movie leaves me cold.


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