U.K.-U.S.A. • 1980 • COLOUR • 35MM • 119 MIN

Somehow both Brechtian and operatic, The Shining is a masterpiece of American horror. The classic ingredients are all there: a child with special powers; a haunted hotel whose evil past will rise to the surface; a dysfunctional all-American family where masculine insecurity will mutate into murderous misogyny. But Kubrick has given the Stephen King novel a Kafkaesque twist, with an enigmatic ending, and a labyrinth that is both the setting for the final deadly pursuit in the snow of the prescient son by the paranoid father and a metaphor for the hero’s twisted psychological state.

Kubrick’s deranged hero, who believes (rightly?) he has written the definitive experimental novel about writer’s block, might even be a blackly comic self-portrait of an artist whose egocentric privacy is leading to a frozen sensibility. ‘Art should serve as the axe for the frozen ice within us,’ said Kafka. If King supplies the axe and the ice, Kubrick, splendidly supported by his inspired cast and crew, delivers the art.

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