The Shining (1980)
Kubrick strays from King’s source material to deliver a film with unparalleled vehemence.
The first, and for me the most notable, thing about The Shining is the soundtrack. From the sonorous pipes of doom that accompany the opening titles to the hectic orchestral bullets that pepper the final chase sequence, Kubrick never lets up. Of course, it’s not just the score but the sound-effects too. Just think of the iconic scene where little Danny rides around the old hotel on his tricycle, the sound of the wheels sequentially muffled by soft carpets and then echoed by wooden floorboards.
The cinematography is majestic, sliding the viewer effortlessly from startling winter landscapes to the claustrophobic trappings of a deserted hotel.
With regard to casting, Nicholson was inevitably going to dominate the cast, which he does quite hypnotically. For sure, Nicholson’s performance is at times so close to parody that it almost pulls the rug from proceedings; but nevertheless, and perhaps unwittingly, Kubrick holds it together and forges a vehicle for his well-documented technical brilliance. Shelley Duvall does the best ‘olive-oil-in-distress’ turn for a while too….
It will come as a surprise to many but The Shining is not a film full of audacious in-your-face horror. The nods to the supernatural are relatively subtle, but still powerful, in a movie which is more about the emotional disintegration of the family rather than ghostly apparitions. Yet, to be frank, it would be churlish to read too much into the subtext of Kubrick’s film; sit back and enjoy the cracking visuals and off-kilter aura that the film offers because the reels itch with a nervousness worthy of a visit to your local dental surgeon.
One of the very best horror films.
Hotdog rating: 9/10