Monday, 19 December 2016

The Shining - Film Review

The Shining

The American, Horror film "The Shining" was released in 1980, produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick was  inspired by Stephen Kings novel called "The Shining."

Fig 1. The Shining, (poster art)

Jack Torrence, his son Danny and his wife Wendy, head out on a journey to the Overlook Hotel, situated on a Mountain in complete isolation. The Hotel is closed between October and May, so the family are invited to stay at the Hotel because there is no one else there.  Jack takes this opportunity of 'solitude' to write for his new job. However the family soon learn the past horror's of the Overlook Hotel, that surround and effect the people who live in it.

Through out the film Kubrick frequently uses Steadicam shots.
"Steadicam was invented by cinematographer Garrett Brown
who wanted a way for movie viewers to follow action intimately without the jerkiness of a handheld camera and without crews needed to assemble big cameras on dollies."
For example, there is one scene when Danny is speedily go-karting down one of the Hotel corridors. The viewer is placed above Danny, following from behind his every movement. Not only does this scene create an intimidating camera angle by dwarfing Danny's character, it also shows the audience the vast emptiness and space of the Hotel.

Fig. 2 The Shining (film still)

Kubrick is also well known for his use of one point perspective, he uses this technique throughout most of the film, especially within the corridors and hallway where he focuses on what is at the centre of the image. Using Danny as another example there is a scene where  Danny is playing with his toys on the orange and brown patterned carpets.  The camera trains the eye on the centre of the image, creating a one point perspective.  (see image .....)
"Kubrick’s most famous trademark is his use of symmetry in many of the most important shots of his films. He places the camera so that there is a “horizon” that spans the middle of the screen. He uses the very center of the picture as a point of perspective, with everything else in the shot leading to that singular point."

The Hotel's interior is not a typical horror movie set.  no cobwebs and no castle.   Kubrick instead contrasts the theme of horror by sing  clean, simple and modern architecture. Roy Walker (Set designer) gathered images of real hotel rooms from all around America. Once Kubrick chose his favourite interior's, the production team then replicated these interior designs for the movie.
“We wanted the hotel to look authentic rather than like a traditionally spooky movie hotel,” Kubrick said. “The hotel's labyrinthine layout and huge rooms, I believed, would alone provide an eerie enough atmosphere. This realistic approach was also followed in the lighting, and in every aspect of the d├ęcor it seemed to me that the perfect guide for this approach could be found in Kafka's writing style. His stories are fantastic and allegorical, but his writing is simple and straightforward, almost journalistic.”

Like my previous film review for Black Narcisuss, you could argue that there is colour symbolism in this film too. When Jack gradually becomes more angered and psychotic, Kubrick cleverly places the character within a red toilet. Red is a colour you might associate with evil or anger. A great example of how the set can sub-consciously  help the audience understand a characters mood.
"The room is utterly unlike any other in the hotel – it’s as though it’s a direct projection of Jack’s violent mind, which it almost certainly is. It’s but one example of how Kubrick uses colour and design to reflect the mood of his characters."The music itself plays a vital part in creating the horror and thrill for the film. The use of non-diegectic sound is very random and disturbing. Sometimes the film would simply flash a week day on the screen.  The eerie music beforehand causes the viewer to anticipate something sinister.  Yet the viewer is relieved to discover  that its just Tuesday.

Illustration List:
Figure 1. The Shining (poster art) (Accessed on 30 November 2016)
Figure 2 The Shining (film still) (Accessed on 30 November 2016)

Gothamist, Film Society Of Lincoln Center To Celebrate Groundbreaking Steadicamcam Movies, Including 'The Shining' and 'Boogie Nights'  (Accessed on 30 November 2016)

Den of Geek, Iconic set design: The Shining's Overlook, In: Den of Geek At: URL: (Accessed on 30 November 2016)