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The Shining - A critical analysis.

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C.T.I.F.S FILM REVIEW - 14th March THE SHINING A CRITICAL ANALYSIS By STEPHEN DE VILLIERS Brought to screen by the mastermind of Stanley Kubrick, is this adaptation of the Stephen King novel by the same name. The film has been called the most suspenseful of all time and one of the most carefully thought out movie ever. Many critics will agree that there is something special about this movie, something about the way it manages to enact an emotional response from the viewer. Kubrick uses many devices in the creation of these emotional responses and certainly one of the most important elements used to create suspense and the sense of surreality is his particular use of plot in The Shining. This essay will examine the movie's plot, looking at how it contributes to the creation of suspense in the shining. The story is essentially about an uninspired writer, Jack Torrence who takes a job at the Overlook, an old hotel, as the winter caretaker. He then progresses into madness and attempts to kill his wife and son. Like the crazy, unbelievable sequence of events that make up the plot, so to, the timeline that the story follows seems to exist within very little order, jumping in a meaningful, yet sporadic manner, from, "2 months later", to "a few hours later", compressing progressively the audiences involvement and scope from the wide open, as in the title sequence of the mountains, through to the final detailed shots of the end. ...read more.


This I feel serves as the turning point/climax of act one. The stage is now set and the characters must now deal with the unfolding body of act two. The transition into act two takes place as we see the family on the road to the hotel. The conversation turns to the story of some pioneers who, trapped in the same mountain range, resort to cannibalism to survive. Again, a commentary on the inhumanity of humanity, as well as hinting toward the upcoming danger and violence. At the overlook, they are shown around the mansion. Wendy and Danny meet with the head chef, Mr. Halloran. We learn from him that he and Danny share the gift of sight, the shining, also that the hotel is somewhat dangerous especially the ominous room 237, and that Danny should at all costs stay out of it. Then we are catapulted forward one month. The scene opens with a beautiful steadicam shot of Danny riding around the hotel. Kubrik creates a very spooky feel, firstly by showing only the back of the boy, in a view that is unnatural to the eye, secondly by the sound the tricycle makes as it goes quietly over the soft carpet, then suddenly, loudly over the hard floor. The slow, long smooth steadicam shot, coupled with the sporadic loud soft audio and the frenzied movements of the boy, combine to create a very absurd audio visual sentence, which cannot help but tell that all is not well, or as it should be. ...read more.


The simple fact that he is trying to get at his family with an axe is terrifying enough. In this way, Kubrik ties up with his major theme. In the end it is Mr Halloran who inadvertently saves the day. He arrives and distracts Jack only to become a corpse himself. Jack peruses his son into the maze and in a terrifying chase sequence, shot with the same unique very engaging steadicam technique in what comprises the pinnacle of the climax. Jack meets an icy grave and Wendy and Danny escape in the ice-mobile. This movie definitely needs a couple of watching's to fully be appreciated. I feel there were many subtleties in its plot, which make it the engaging, and terrifying story it is. Kubrik uses visions to add the element of suspense. He portrays the house as an ominous almost omnipotent entity on its own. I personally found Jacks slip into madness a bit unbelievable. Perhaps it was to rapid, or through insufficient dialogue we were not given enough to go on to accept his rapid degeneration. I found the plot distinctions in this story rather vague and difficult to spot. Certainly this movie deviates from many of the norms. From the length of the shots, to the nature of the shots. Nonetheless a film with a successful difference and the sporadic nature of the plot does indeed contribute to the success of the film. ...read more.

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