Shining, The

The Shining is based on a Stephen King blockbuster about a would-be writer, Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson), who decides that what his struggling creativity needs is a spell of isolation, an interim job as caretaker of the Overlook hotel in the Colorado mountains, where he drags his complacent wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and his young son Danny (Danny Lloyd), who Jack has already abused in a fit of drunken frustration. But the Overlook has its own troubled past, and the ghosts who people its shuttered rooms are brought out of hiding because Danny has the ‘shining’, the ability to see and actualise these spooks.
The joke on Jack is that his own son has the greater gift for the imaginary, and father eventually becomes just one of the hotel’s cast, stalking wife and son down these mean corridors. But Kubrick has transformed the joke into something else, or given it hideous, and hideously funny, metaphysical force. Himself a notoriously shuttered creator, he presumably understood the powers and delusions that state confers. And Jack is a ‘small’ creator driven mad by the ambition to be big in a world that is simultaneously too claustrophobic and too vast to penetrate. All creation (as in 2001) is here, and it’s magnificently explored by a prowling steadicam. Acting throughout like one of the man-apes of 2001 evolving in reverse, Jack eventually plumps for fame not as a star child but as a bright face in an old photo on the wall.
U.K., 1980.
120 mins.

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