“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” – the seemingly harmless saying takes a sinister overture as we witness Jack Torrance’s (Jack Nicholson) gradual descent into madness when he becomes the winter caretaker of the snow blocked Overlook Hotel and moves in with his family into the isolated building built ominously on an Indian burial ground. The “dull boy” becomes a homicidal axe-wielding man on a murderous rampage, out to kill his wife and son. Danny (Danny Lloyd), has ESP and has a terrifying premonition about the hotel but his fears are ignored by his obstinate father who happens to be a struggling author, apparently in need of solitude. The name of the movie draws from the special telepathic bond that Danny shares with the African-American chef Dick Hallorann (Scatman Crothers).
Through a complex web of incipient lunacy, spectral murders and
supernatural visions, in the heart of The Shining lies the breakdown of a fragmented, estranged, nuclear family- scarred by an incompatible couple (the husband being an alcoholic) and an abused child who suffers severe mental trauma and resorts to imaginary friends.
It is about isolation and a failure to realize one’s dreams, about a lack of communication and most of all, a terrifying, spine-chilling thirst for violence that stems out of an absolute apathy for those who you latently blame for your failure- in this case, Jack Torrance’s family. With remarkable visual panache, Stanley Kubrick brings to life the brilliant novel by Stephen King.
The most remarkable moment of the film is when the waves and waves of red wash all over the corridor with the mutilated bodies of the twin girls as a terrified Danny frantically rides away on his tricycle, desperately scribbling “REDRUM” on the mirror on his mother’s room.
Note: I have a fascination for buildings. Especially in association to human psychology. The stiffling, cramped, deeply depressing apartments (like in Polanski’s The Tenant) to gloomy, obviously fiendish hotels (as in Psycho) to the sprawling Overlook Hotel presented in this particular film. Cut off from the rest of civilized society, we find cabin fever setting in and the company of near and dear ones becoming insufferable.
Also, note the tremendously scarring split-second scene depicting a man in a bear costume in a compromising position with another man 🙂Here’s the trailer to the film: