Thursday, 28 November 2013

The Shining (1980) Film Review Stanley Kubrick

The Shining (1980) Film Review Stanley Kubrick

Figure 1    

The Shining is a psychological horror film directed by Stanley Kubrick in 1980. The story follows a fathers decline into total insanity after being left to look after a huge hotel that had been closed for the winter. 
When watching the film, all sorts of ideas occur to how Jack, our main character, loses his sanity. One of these would be due the massive isolation that the whole family experiences. As soon as the film starts we are shown vast landscapes with not a single piece of human existence in sight, we hear that when Jack comes for an interview with the hotel owner that he made the trip in 3 and a half hours. These elements show the audience how far away from civilization the family are. The sense of isolation is then worsened when the hotel is struck by a snow storm, leaving the family stranded in the wilderness. It is said that "Kubrick gives us the eerie, colossal, brilliantly lit spaces of the Overlook Hotel" (Bradshaw, 2012). This quote can be backed up with an example, such as a strange shot that overlooks the hotels maze (Fig. 2). As the camera zooms out from the center of the maze, the paths seem to go on and on without us ever seeing the exit to the maze. This could perhaps represent the entrapment Jack's body feels; there is no way out. 

Figure 2  

The strangeness and twisted feel of the film is also achieved through the incredibly set shots. We are constantly shown images of symmetry and patterns. By these scenes of symmetry being shown so often it starts to create a twisted atmosphere; everything in the hotel seems too perfect and straight however the mind of Jack is the complete opposite. Examples of this would be the maze, the patterned carpet seen throughout the hotel (Fig. 3) and the famous line "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." repeated thousands of times on page after page of Jacks 'work'. Kubrick also uses his trademark way of shooting scenes using one point perspective. All these straight shots down corridors and enormous rooms once again create a strange and peculiar atmosphere to the hotel. "The clarity of the photography and the weird perspectives constantly alluding to Torrance's twisted state of mind." (Nathan, s.d.).

Figure 3  

The Shining has been a massive influence on the world of film and is widely renowned as one of the great classic horror films. Kubrick's "superlative horror puzzle-box still spooks and spellbinds after all these years." (Clark, 2012). The film has influenced many other creations seen all over the world today, ranging from music videos such as 30 Seconds to Mars' 'The Kill', to homages seen in television series such as Hannibal and The Simpsons, seen in Figure 4 and 5 below. 

Figure 4 & 5    


Bradshaw, P (2012) The Shining (1980) The Shining Review, In: The Guardian [online], At: (Accessed on 28/11/2013)

Nathan, I (s.d.) The Shining Film Review,
(Accessed on 28/11/2013)

Clark, A (2012) The Shining Review,  (Accessed on 28/11/2013)


Figure 1, The Shining (1980) Stanley Kubrick [Film Poster] UK/USA, Warner Bros, (Accessed on 28/11/2013)

Figure 2, The Shining (1980) Stanley Kubrick [Film Still] UK/USA, Warner Bros, (Accessed on 28/11/2013)

Figure 3, The Shining (1980) Stanley Kubrick [Film Still] UK/USA, Warner Bros, (Accessed on 28/11/2013)

Figure 4, The Simpsons - Treehouse of Horror V (1994) Matt Groening [Television Still] USA, 20th Century Fox Television, (Accessed on 28/11/2013)

Figure 5, Hannibal (2013) Bryan Fuller [Television Still] USA, Dino De Laurentiis Company, (Accessed on 28/11/2013)


1 comment:

  1. A thorough review Will, well done!
    I think you could afford to make your images a bit bigger - figs 4 & 5 are really difficult to see, and after all, you are talking about visual similarities, so it would be good to be able to examine the pictures in a bit more detail.

    Not much else to say really! :)