The Shining (R) - 1980 - Runtime: 142 minutes
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Shelly Duvall
Director: Stanley Kubrick
It's amazing how little I've seen of such iconic movies as this one. I guess this is one of the main reasons I struck up this project. I've had people shake their heads in bafflement when I tell them I haven't seen this particular movie. But now I have! And while not the greatest horror movie ever made, I did enjoy, even though it has its share of flaws and god damn it is a long movie!
Jack Nicholson stars as Jack Torrence, a writer who recently got hired to look after a hotel/resort in Colorado. The hotel shuts down during the winter months because of its remote location and inaccessibility. Of course, there's more sinister machinations at work that subsequently drives him bonkers enough to go after his family. I have to admit that the slow build up was quite maddening itself. I appreciate the setting up of tensions and slow scares, but I just wanted to get to the insane parts because that's where the fun really is. And it doesn't disappoint! Nicholson is perfect as a maniac, but he's so iconic in this role that it's hard to disattach the movie star from the character. I really don't see Jack Torrence, but just Nicholson himself. It's still very much a powerful performance, but his celebrity status overshadows this role after so many years.
I'm also beginning to appreciate Kubrick as a filmmaker. I truly loved how this movie was shot. From the start of the movie with those beautiful tracking shots alongside the mountains where a minuscule car is seen winding around on the road to the vast openness of the hotel at the beginning and to the last scenes in the claustrophobic hedge maze. One can write a lengthy essay on the visuals in this movie - they're quite powerful and probably the best thing about it. I really loved how Kubrick thought of the space in the movie and the simple geometry of the set. There's a lot of ninety degree angles and corners in the movie. I don't exactly know what it might all mean, but it's a movie worth seeing over again to think about. The tracking shots behind the kid on his tricycle are simple awesome and I loved those parts. There's a lot of tracking shots, in fact, as you follow him around the maze, too.
Aside from Nicholson, Duvall holds her own, although she doesn't quite have the material to really perform. She's simply the straight foil to Jack. But she delivers her own sense of dread quite well, especially as she's climbing backwards up the stairs away from Jack. It's a funny and scary scene all at the same time. I loved it.
My main complaint about the movie, (and with most Stephen King movies and books, really) is that there's never a really solid explanation of how and why things happen. I can get behind supernatural elements at play, but it seemed like in this story particularly that it's too ambiguous at the end to really understand what went wrong. Is it the hotel itself? Or the evil that seems to linger on from the past? Is Jack a reincarnation of a lost soul? These questions never really get answered and I don't mind that, but it's just that there's so many questions, especially because the movie tries to explain a little bit at the end, but it ended up adding more questions than answering them. It was a bit frustrating to have all these ideas in my head floating around, but I wouldn't say I hated the movie for it.
I really would love to see this movie again, but the running time is so long, so it's hard to put yourself in the mood to watch this one. I did really like this one and I think it's something that's worth watching a few times!
Rating: Rent It!