Skip to main content

Movie Critic Review: The Shining (1980) Part Two

Kubrick-King: A Creative Conflict
"Londrina, Brazil --(SBWIRE) 02/01/2012--
The Shining Code is releasing a one-hour documentary which deciphers and explains the meaning behind Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. Due to its mysterious nature, the movie left most viewers confused and unable to understand what the events that took place were all about. The Shining Code documentary unlocks more than 50 codes within the film, codes that finally shed some light on the mysteries that left so many scratching their head and wondering what possessed Kubrick to put forth such a film."  from

"I couldn't even make it through the whole movie, I didn't like it at all. It felt kitchy and didn't scare me at all as always." Writer one. 
"The movie stinks. BAD. It barely even relegates to the novel for the most part! The book is on" Writer Two

"I am a huge Kubrick fan. I love all his films, and while Full Metal Jacket is my #1 Kubrick, Shining is close behind. I'm a big Stephen King fan too, and while I haven't yet read the novel, I plan doing so soon. However, I think what's important here is that like all his other adaptations, Kubrick used the story as a jumping off point to tell a much larger story. The Shining could be Kubrick's most dense film in terms of themes; there's just so much going on, so many ways it can be interpreted. Is it a story about the emasculation and rage of the American male? Is it about the slaughter of the Native Americans, or indigenous people in general by "civilized" alien forces? Is it about a father who goes nuts due to cabin fever? It works as all those things. I think Kubrick was attracted to the project first because it... allowed a huge investigation as to what would drive a man to kill his wife and son. That's a really tough subject, and as always, Kubrick didn't have the answers, he just wanted to explore it. So, I get why King disliked it. He was too close to it, he loved his creation, as he should. It must've been tough to see someone (in a sense) devalue his intention with something else. But that doesn't diminish the power of the film. I'd say give it another chance. Divorce your expectations from an adaptation of a King novel. Think of it as a continuing exploration of humanity that started with Dr. Strangelove and ended with Eyes Wide Shut." Writer Three.

Stanley Kubrick
"..The Shining didn't originate from any particular desire to do a film about the (paranormal)" said Kubrick to his interviewer Michel Ciment.
He went on to elaborate on his conversion of Stephen King's novel "The Shining" into
a movie: "I thought it was one of the most ingenious and exciting stories of the genre
I had read. It seemed to strike an extraordinary balance between the psychological and
the supernatural in such a way as to lead you to think that the supernatural would eventually be explained by the psychological: Jack must be imagining these things because he's crazy. This allowed you to suspend your doubt of the supernatural until you were so thoroughly
into the story that you could accept it almost without noticing."  End of qoute from Ciment's


When Kubrick contacted him regarding the making of a movie based on his novel, Stephen King was flattered. As the story goes, Kubrick explained to King how ghost stories are optimistic, as they suggest humans actually survive death in a sense. He was referring to his own perspective of the novel "The Shining". King offered to write the screenplay himself but Kubrick did not approve of this. He had other thoughts. I would have too, if I were a movie-maker of Kubrick's intellectual caliber!
"I think, in some ways, the conventions of realistic fiction and drama may impose serious limitations on a story. For one thing, if you play by the rules and respect the preparation and pace required to establish realism, it takes a lot longer to make a point than it does, say, in fantasy. At the same time, it is possible that this very work that contributes to a story's realism may weaken its grip on the unconscious. Realism is probably the best way to dramatize argument and ideas. Fantasy may deal best with themes which lie primarily in the unconscious. I think the unconscious appeal of a ghost story, for instance, lies in its promise of immortality. If you can be frightened by a ghost story, then you must accept the possibility that supernatural beings exist. If they do, then there is more than just oblivion waiting beyond the grave." said Kubrick to interviewer Joseph Gelmis.


Kubrick went on to contact another less-known novelist Diane Johnson to co-write
the screenplay for King's novel. Kubrick got 'interested in Johnson because he learnt that she was giving a course at the University of California at Berkeley on the Gothic novel and could bring a scholarly knowledge of literary horror to the script'. He thought she was 'the ideal collaborator for The Shining.' On the other hand, health issues related to King would have slowed the work on the movie. Kubrick was known to be a very strict and  committed person who demands dedication and hard work from people working with him.
Despite all this research and effort done by Stanley Kubrick to lay his own vision of a literary work, Stephen King, the originator of the work, did not like Kubrick's adaptation of his novel.
Here is what he had to say as a comment on Kubrick's adaptation of The Shining:
"The real problem is that Kubrick set out to make a horror picture with no apparent understanding of the genre. Everything about it screams that from beginning to end, from plot decision to the final scene - which has been used before on the Twilight Zone."
King went on to complain that "Kubrick has changed Jack Torrance from a good man destroyed by alcoholism into someone who was bad from the start."
This very work of Kubrick was regarded by Newsweek as "The first epic horror movie!"


David Kirkpatrick writes that one characteristic of epics is the encyclopedic scope.
He then goes on to cite ways in which the movie The Shining can be seen as an "encyclopedia" of horror themes. 
He examines entities such as ghost, haunted house, Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, werewolf, Frankenstein, witchcraft, vampires, the Devil, Oedipus, the psychopath. He finds embodiment, evidences, links or references to all of these in Kubrick's adaptation.
One must admit, though, that the changes were significant!
In the novel Danny could actually see Toni, the person who resides in his mouth. In the movie Toni is only in his head.
It is the (imagined) Toni that does not like the idea of going to the hotel whereas in the novel Danny says yes to going to the hotel.
In the novel Wendy never reads what Jack is typing but in the movie she reads that single sentence Jack kept typing over and over again for days:
(All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy)!
In the novel, the chef, Dick Halloran lives to save Danny and his mother and the hotel Outlook is destroyed. And many more differences.

Writes one critic: "Kubrick diplomatically claimed that the technology didn’t exist to make

the hedge animals' work, but since this was the man who revolutionized visual effects in 2001: A Space Odyssey, the filmmaker most likely wrote the hedge animals off as lame

and unnecessary. Instead, an immense hedge maze was constructed (it was so big that even crew members would reportedly get themselves lost at times). Is it meant as a metaphor, reflecting Jack Torrance’s disintegrating mental state? The shot of a clearly

half-mad Jack staring into the hedge maze’s model as his family is outside wandering through seems to reinforce this idea."

Indeed this was one of the best scenes!
But Kubrick remains faithful to pivotal parts of the novel such as the "scene of Jack Torrance’s first real break with reality in the famous ballroom sequence. Pissed off at

his wife, Jack wanders in and sits at the deserted bar, wishing for a drink. He looks up

and begins a batshit-crazy monologue to an imaginary barkeep named Lloyd… and then, suddenly, Lloyd is there. Every word of this scene is nearly verbatim from the book,

including Jack’s later exchange with Grady, after Jack looks around

to discover a flapper-era masquerade party in full swing."

The final scene which leaves one scratching his head for answers is non-existent in
the novel and is one of Kubrick's puzzles as explained in part one of this review.
"Stephen King had the chance to "do everything different" with the I997 TV movie

adaptation of The Shining which he wrote and produced. However the TV Shining was poorly received and generally considered to be vastly inferior to the Kubrick's version"!
- - - - -
- - - - - - -

And for over three decades "The Shining" keeps shining!
Our third part will review some of the weirdest interpretations and decoding of the movie.
Go see it! Those who think it is not a horror movie: let me tell you that re-watching it will secure you a night of cold terror. But you will also get to figure out the codes or become a lunatic!

Browse the Amazon products below:


Popular posts from this blog

MovieGlobe: Japan's Version of Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet (2007) JapanOriginal Article by: Fateh Mirghani-Japan

I have just finished watching the masterpiece of Shakespeare” Romeo and Juliet “in its Japanese version.
The quality of the movie is great and the soundtrack, injected with a little Japanese folklore music, has given it a sensational dimension and Eastern fascination!
Basically, the theme of the movie remains the same as the original play, and that has been a particular Japanese notion in dealing with other nations’ cultural products. Part of the reason may lay in Japan's sensitivity to other nations’cultural products- given the long standing historical disputes with its neighbours, and part of it may lay in a fierce sense of homogeneity that has come to characterize Japan as an island nation-state since time immemorial. Thus the Japanese, unlike the Americans, don’t seem to have the temerity to ‘Japanize’ others’ cultural stuff. The movie “Renaissance man”  can be cited as an example of American boldness. The …

Thursday Evening

Short Story by Ali Elmak* Translated by MM
Getting off the tram, he slipped. Was it the right or the left foot that skidded? It did not matter!  All that mattered really, all that he cared for at that hour, at that moment, was that he fell and soiled his pants. those characteristically beautiful white pants which he had preserved for Thursday evenings; for the soiree gatherings which started by hanging around in the market; loitering for short or long periods; then to the cinema house; any film and peace be upon him. Then, was this bad luck or what? Did he really need to take the tram for such a short distance? “That was a fair reward for your laziness” he said to himself. As for those pants, they were turned into a dusty colored thing. The more he shook those tiny particles off, the closer they became attached to the pants. Oh what a gloomy evening for you!  "Is this what concerned you?" thought he.

The posters of Alan Ladd and Van Heflin still stood their, at the cinema entrance.…

Movie Critic Review: Zorba The Greek (1964)

" All right, we go outside where God can see us better." Alexis Zorba "God has a very big heart but there is one sin he will not forgive; [slaps table] if a woman calls a man to her bed and he will not go. I know because a very wise old Turk told me." Alexis Zorba

Zorba (Anthony Quinn) with a lascivious look lays the gentle order, 'Two beds Madam. Without bugs!' Mme Hortense defiantly tilts her head and answers proudly, 'Mme has not THE bugs!'

The bookish intellectual Basil  (Alan Bates) who has appeared unaffected by the collective vertigo experienced on the boat taking them to Crete, did not seem interested in this outward and stimulated first-time exchange between his newly-found companion, a robust natural philosopher named Alexis Zorbas and this old lady who rushed  to offer them her hospitality services in her own (Marriot) of a dilapidated house on this island of pathos and the poor. Mme Hortense then treats the c…