The Shining

Movies, Horror
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The Shining

All of Stanley Kubrick’s films – be it ‘The Killing’ or ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ – demand to be seen on a big screen. They’re about people trapped in huge, indifferent machines gone wrong, from a heist plot to a spaceship, and only the huge indifference of the cinema does them justice. In ‘The Shining’, the machine is a haunted house: the Overlook Hotel, created by Stephen King and turned by Kubrick into an awry environment in which mental stability, supernatural malignance and the sense of space and time shimmer and warp to terrible effect.

The story sees Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) drag his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and psychic son Danny (Danny Lloyd) up a mountain to be the hotel’s winter caretaker. Things go badly. This is the original 1980 US version, 24 minutes longer than the one familiar to UK audiences. On the upside, it fleshes out the family’s city life and includes an intriguing TV-watching motif; on the downside, there are some daft scare shots and it didn’t ever exactly feel short at two hours. Still, a masterpiece.

By: Ben Walters


Release details

Cast and crew

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Screenwriter: Stanley Kubrick, Diane Johnson
Cast: Jack Nicholson
Shelley Duvall
Danny Lloyd
Scatman Crothers
Barry Nelson
Philip Stone
Joseph Turkel
Anne Jackson
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Zach L

Meticulously composed and thoughtfully plotted, Kubrick's adaptation of Stephen King's novel takes liberties that set the film far apart from its source material. While Jack Nicholson's maddening performance is worthy of praise, Shelly Duval deserves just as much credit—she seems genuinely terrified for the majority of the film's running time. It may not reach the iconic levels of 2001: A Space Odyssey, but the psychological thrills on display in The Shining are unmatched in Kubrick's filmography.