The Shining (1980)

Stanley Kubrick
Ondskapens hotell
146 minutes
Stanley Kubrick
Screenwriter (based on a novel by Stephen King):
Stanley Kubrick
Diane Johnson

Cast includes:

Jack Torrance Jack Nicholson
Wendy Torrance Shelley Duvall
Danny Torrance Danny Lloyd ½
Hallorann Scatman Crothers ½
Ullmann Barry Nelson ½
Grady Philip Stone ½



The thing about Kubrick, judging from most accounts, is that it is almost as unbearable to be on the set of his filming as watching the horror he creates. This was probably never more correct than with The Shining - a film which has created its own standard in horror, and still is the source of numerous interpretations nearly thirty years after its release. Being the one and only Stephen King/Stanley Kubrick collaboration, the story seems to have brought out something very distinct in both, without the end product necessarily being as complete or fulfilled as it could have been. Kubrick and King reportedly disagreed on quite a few things regarding the adaptation. Not surprisingly, it was Kubrick who got his way and created the film as he wanted it.

One of the things Kubrick insisted on was to cast Jack Nicholson in the lead. The effect was predictable but absolutely harrowing, as Nicholson delves into his character with frightening conviction. It's as if Jack Torrance is the real Jack Nicholson, and the actor had just been waiting for the chance to exhibit his demons. This does of course take away some of the surprise effect in the character that King had been wanting, because Nicholson seems to be ready to pop from the get go, but on the other hand it generates even more questions to that famous final shot. Was something in him yearning to go back?

What makes The Shining a horror classic, are the bold and enormous sets and scenes. They are unworldly and totally unconrollable for the characters and the viewer alike. This is all Kubrick - he overwhelmes us and makes us completely defenseless to the vastness and endlessness of The Overlook Hotel and the power it holds. And the delicate and stylish way he portrays it makes the film a poetic work of art - through such as Danny's tricycling or the segments in the incredible maze.

Every good horror film has something inconclusive in the nature of the story - that is what makes it scary. Because what we can feel, but cannot quite pin down, is what is scariest. This is different than making something unexplainable or random, as many recent horror films have succumbed to. The Shining has a delicate balance between the story's psychological aspects and the more supernatural elements. And it is disturbingly real and unreal at the same time. One of the scariest of all time.

Re-reviewed: Copyright © 23.2.2008 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang
Original review: Copyright © 1
.9.1996 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang