The Shining ★★★★★

Wendy? Darling? Light, of my life. I'm not gonna hurt ya. You didn't let me finish my sentence. I said, I'm not gonna hurt ya. I'm just going to bash your brains in.
-Jack Torrance

Possibly the most over-analyzed film ever made and it still holds up as a masterpiece DESPITE that. I think the innumerable theories of the various layers within the film are sometimes fun to read or listen too, but I also think that they become tiring and are mostly bullshit. Maybe there's merit to some of it, but personally I think to much attention is given to it and it takes away from the genius of the film and most importantly takes away from the genius of the director who made it.

The Shining is at it's most effective when you simply let yourself get immersed into the film. You don't need to analyze each frame to recognize the talent of Stanley Kubrick, it's right there in front of you in all it's glory. While the world was scared out of their wits 7 years earlier by the disturbing imagery in The Exorcist, Kubrick managed to disturb audiences on an almost subconscious level with scenes that include no more then a child riding a big wheel down a hall or someone sitting at a typewriter.

Of course there's more to those scenes then just that, but what's off-kilter is hardly obvious and that's what makes it so damn off putting. There are so many scenes that if taken as a snapshot everything looks perfectly normal, but as it plays out in the film, even if you did not notice what's wrong you still know something is off. The perversion of reality is present without pointing it out. In hindsight a lot of this is accomplished by utilizing impossible architecture within the hotel in ways that don't draw attention to themselves, but your mind still picks up on the fact that what you're seeing is wrong even if you don't know why.

It goes beyond that of course, from everything to set decor, certain pieces of dialogue to wardrobe. Those damn symmetrical shots as well, even though this isn't the only film he uses this technique in, the reaction he gets from his audience (whether or not they realize it) is completely different. It's Kubrick toying with his audience. He is able to put us in such a state of unease then when something that actually registers as visually disturbing finally does come up the effects are ten fold because all our pent up stress finally has something to identify itself too.

I seem to have gone on a tangent there about only one aspect of the film so before ending this abruptly I'd have to mention, like anyone with any intelligence has done before, that Jack Nicholson is pure gold here. A perfect performance that all other that claim to be perfect should be measured up to. From his fake sincerity during his job interview, right up to his eventual complete mental meltdown, every single moment Nicholson is on screen he's at the best he's ever been. He's so good that I feel bad for Shelley Duvall because most of the time I think she isn't actually acting but simply honestly reacting. Redrum.

Part of:
Horroctober III: DuLac Goes to Hell