The Shining (1980)

I tried, I really did.  I’ve read “The Shining” by Stephen King several times, and it’s a testament to how good I think the book is that I do read it over and over again.  It’s a measured, slow descent into insanity and terror.  Now I’d seen bits and pieces of Stanley Kubrick’s version over the years, but never sat and watched the whole thing start to finish.  Until now, and believe me, I nearly backed out when I looked at the runtime of it, 144 minutes what is that bullshit.  There’s measured pacing and then there’s glacially slow.

Anyways, if you think Kubrick’s version of The Shining is a masterpiece then just stop reading now.  You’re not going to like what I say about it.  As has been widely reported (citation needed), Stephen King himself hated it and sitting down and watching it myself, I couldn’t agree more.  First of all, the aforementioned pacing is ridiculously slow and yes, it builds antsy-ness, but more out of a desperation for something to happen.

Then there’s the goddamn title cards announcing what day of the week it is, but neglecting to mention what fucking month it is.  According to this version, Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) apparently went batshit insane in a week and a half.  Or, on a Wednesday.  The acting of Danny Lloyd – as the psychic child Danny Torrance – is spectacularly bad, making me wonder if every child actor with the last name Lloyd is wooden as hell (take that Jake Lloyd!) or if they just suffer from having terrible directors direct them.

I don’t even care about the slight differences in adapting the novel to screen, as sometimes things just don’t transcend mediums.  This whole movie seems like Kubrick misunderstood King’s book, psychologically tortured Nicholson to the point where Jack just didn’t give a flying fuck anymore, and gave a balls-to-the-wall insane performance.  There are some wickedly terrifying visuals and sequences, the score is occasionally excellent, but overall, I wish I’d have spent the time doing something more constructive.  Like jumping off a cliff.

1.5 / 5

And now I’m thinking even more about this, and I realised that the film version of The Shining barely even mentions the psychic power referred to as “the shining” by Dick Halloran (Scatman Crothers), whereas in the book, it was one of the principle facets.  I don’t want to go on and on about this, but really, read the book or watch the Stephen King-supervised TV movie starring Steven Weber instead.

Or you know, just watch that for almost two and a half hours.


About SkoochXC
Long-time blogger, Canadian, cine-snark-aphile, Tweeter and generally lonely hearted guy.

4 Responses to The Shining (1980)

  1. Matthew says:

    That’s the thing with Kubrick films – you gotta be prepared for not all that much to happen. I honestly can’t remember if I liked The Shining or not, because it’s been so long since I’ve seen it. But I do know that I hated Full Metal Jacket but loved Eyes Wide Shut, sooo…. yeah, that doesn’t make sense, does it? Both films are equally slow-moving. I guess I just liked the sense of mystery and all the potential hidden allegories in EWS.

    I’d be interested to know if Kubrick’s earlier films like Spartacus are anything like his films post-1968, but I haven’t been brave enough to follow through on watching them.

    • SkoochXC says:

      Well I have found myself in possession of a copy of 2001 and I’m going to give that a shot, but TWO AND A HALF HOURS C’MON.

      • Matthew says:

        I can handle a nice, long flick sometimes, but like I said, I gotta be prepared for it. Whatever hours you’re most chillaxed seems to work best. For me, that’s anytime after midnight.

        Apparently there’s an experimental film that came out this year called ‘Modern Times Forever’ that runs 240 hours. TWO HUNDRED AND FORTY FUCKIN’ HOURS! TEN DAYS! Just the thought of that makes me never want to complain about a movie being too long ever again.

      • SkoochXC says:

        Good lord. I was annoyed enough by the link someone Tweeted to The Flaming Lips’ 24-hour song. Just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean that there’s any reason to do it. And that movie is grotesquely long. Hell, even a season of 24 wasn’t a full 24 hours.

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