Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Scorp's favorites - 3 - The Shining

Here is a film which is hailed as one of the scariest horror movies in English. This is a widely acclaimed film throughout the world, and is still being liked by many true fans. Directed by Stanley Kubrick, who is deemed as a perfectionist, ‘The Shining’ was released in 1980. The movie has been adapted from a Stephen King novel.

Imagine you are left inside a very large house with only your wife and your son. You have to stay there at least for another five months. Nobody is around - not even a single house nearby. Mostly the house will be surrounded by snow, all through the months. How will your reactions be, in such an environment? Will you come out successful at the end of the five month stint, or will you perish?

The answer to this question forms the bottom-line of ‘The Shining’.

Before reading the review, see this Youtube video of a famous shot from this movie which was used in the trailer – at this link.

The movie begins with a series of fantastic helicopter shots of a car moving on a hill-road. We see Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) coming to a Hotel named ‘Overlook’ for an interview. The job is to look after the hotel for five months in the winter, when the hotel is closed. Jack seems delighted that he has got an offer, and despite the manager’s warning that the previous caretaker chopped his family and two daughters in to pieces, stacked them and ultimately shot himself, Jack accepts the offer. He says the loneliness is very well needed as he is right now on a writing assignment.

At the same time, in Jack’s home, his little son Danny seems to be agitated. He has the power of precognition, and is aided by ‘Tony’, some kind of supernatural power which warns him of the future happenings. He says Jack has got the offer. Exactly at the same moment, Jack rings home to tell his wife Wendy about his new offer.

The family goes to the hotel, and the manager Stuart shows them all the rooms. The chef Hallorann takes Wendy and Danny inside the store room and the kitchen, and while conversing with Danny, Hallorann reveals to Danny that he is aware of Danny’s supernatural power, as he himself uses the power at certain times, and that he learnt it from his granny. Danny enquires him about the room no 237, and what has happened over there. Hallorann answers Danny that there are certain incidents which are not pleasant, and it will be good if Danny stays away from the room.

The next day, jack and his family are the only inhabitants of the Hotel. A month goes by. Jack gets busy in typing his material while Wendy takes care of the daily activities. Danny moves around the long corridors of the Hotel in his small cycle. Once, Danny sees the ghosts of the two girls of the previous caretaker. The phone lines are cut due to the snowfall outside, and one day Danny goes in to the room 237 which is open, at the exact moment when jack dreams about chopping his wife and child. After a while, Danny returns, with a dazed look. There are strains on his neck, and Wendy thinks it was Jack who tried to beat the child. Jack doesn’t reply, and he goes in to the ‘Gold Room’ in the hotel, and talks to a creepy man named Lloyd who appears to be the bartender. We hear Wendy shouting Jack’s name, and she comes to Jack, apologizing to him for having accused him for the son’s bruises. She tells him that Danny told her he was attacked by a lady bathing in the room 237.

Jack goes in to the room, and he sees a nude lady in the bathtub. She comes near him, hugs him and kisses. Suddenly she turns in to an old lady, with decayed skin. Jack runs away from the room.

He goes to his wife, telling her that there is nothing suspicious about the room. They both argue about shifting Danny outside the hotel. Jack now returns again to the ‘Gold Room’ which is filled with guests now. He meets a person named Delbert Grady in the room. Jack recognizes him as the previous caretaker who murdered his family, but Grady denies it, tells Jack that Jack has ‘always’ been at the overlook Hotel and JACK is the caretaker! He further tells Jack to set right his wife and the child, as his child is trying to bring in a nigger from outside in to the hotel.

We see Danny sitting in the bed, doing some kind of a queer action, and we see Hallorann at Florida, miles apart, doing the same action as that of Danny. They both communicate mentally and Danny sends the message to Hallorann that something is queer in the hotel. Hallorann calls the telephone department and requests them to call the wireless of the Hotel frequently as the phone lines have been destroyed, just to make sure everything is alright and he starts to the hotel.

Back in the hotel, Wendy learns about what Jack is actually writing in his book, and with a baseball bat in hand, she comes to jack. She asks him to go away, and while jack tries to stop her, she injures him. She locks him up in the store room, and Jack tells Wendy that he has destroyed the wireless and their car so that no one can get out.

After a while, Jack hears a sound near the door, and it’s Grady. We hear Grady’s voice from outside that Jack has failed to do his duty. Jack tells him to give him one more opportunity, and after getting Jack’s word that he will do his duty, the door suddenly opens.

Danny is awake in the bed, and he repeatedly utters the word ‘Redrum’ – the reverse of murder and writes it on the door. Wendy wakes up, and at the exact moment, Jack starts hitting the door with his axe. Wendy and Danny run away inside the Hotel, and after a chase, they hide. Meanwhile, Hallorann too arrives at the hotel.

What happened at the Hotel? Was Jack the ‘perennial’ caretaker? What happens to Wendy and Danny? What’s the mystery about Grady telling Jack that Jack has ‘always’ been the caretaker at the hotel? What happened to Hallorann? Rent the DVD and see it yourselves.

Now, Stanley Kubrick – the world knows how methodical he was. He has directed award winning movies like ‘Spartacus’, ‘Lolita’, ‘2001: a space odyssey’, ‘A Clockwork Orange’ (the review will soon follow), ‘Full metal jacket’ etc.. He was an innovative director par excellence, and he used a creative tool which was discovered during his days with great efficiency in this movie – the Steadycam It is said that ‘The Shining’ was only the second movie to make use of the various nuances of the Steadycam. ‘The Shining’ has a lot of things to vividly talk about, and which have been discussed a lot by the movie fans. The camerawork is exceptional in the film, with smooth, clear and perfect shots giving the audience the satisfaction of watching a great film.

Jack Nicholson as ‘Jack’ has done a great role. It is to be noted that Kubrick considered Robert De Nero and Robin Williams for the role of Jack, but finally picked Jack Nicholson, as De Nero was considered not psychotic enough for the role and Robin Williams was considered too psychotic for the role. Jack Nicholson’s role demands an eerie sort of acting, and he has mastered the role. We get psyched out when we see him with an axe at the end.

The best thing about the movie is the way Kubrick has placed his shots. Both the magnanimity and the creepiness of the hotel are well portrayed, with the long shots and the low angle Steadycam shots. When Danny goes around with his cycle and when the Steadycam follows him, the music and the camera give a creepy feeling to the audience that anything might happen anytime.

This is the kind of the movie which doesn’t show ghosts but frightens the audience. The mastery of Kubrick is evident all over the film.

Overall, me and my friend, while watching the film yesterday night, were pretty sure that someone is gonna open the door anytime with an axe in hand. Njoy the film, friends, and post your feedback.

PS:- This movie might attract a few while some viewers might also get confused. Some might dislike it totally. Don’t come to any sort of a decision by reading this post, but rent it and try seeing it yourselves without any judgment.


Rafiq Raja said...

Seems, I have to add this movie into my watch list too.... To the every growing list :)

ரஃபிக் ராஜா

The S c o r p said...

Yes. This is worth to be added in your list. . . A classic indeed!

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