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Oliveros, Joshua

BS Biology

December 15, 2014

A light on The Shining

Strangled within the clutches of deep perplexity, bound by a mysterious building

that succumbed to the winter snow and with no time for rest or entertainment, undeniably,
made Jack a very dull boy.
Stanley Kubricks The Shining features the reality of ones deep connection to
solitude paired with spine-tingling shrieks and horrific musical scores of supernatural
presence and unprecedented hysteria. Adapted from Stephen Kings novel, The Shining
showcases a type of sequential and spatial technique of peculiarity, wherein an
atmosphere of eccentricity is paired with geo-spatial horror and suspense. Kings
expertise in macabre literature and Kubricks proficiency in filming beauty from the
creepy generated an effective unsettling development of suspense and tension as the film
Lunacy starts when Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) becomes the caretaker of the
Overlook, a large, archaic hotel located deep within the ranges of the Rocky Mountains,
Oregon. Jack, alongside his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and son Danny (Danny
Lloyds), plan to live for the winter in solitude and isolation in the said hotel. His
employer then warns him that a tragic incident had happened before in the hotel, the
former caretaker murdered his wife and two daughters in the said inn. Jack shrugs it off
and reassures the employer that nothing is going to happen to him or to his family.
Although, the Overlook isnt quite the homeliest place to spend the long winter season
with, for it possesses a violent history influenced by an ambiguous evil. This eerie
atmosphere further influences Jack as he starts to lose his mind after witnessing different
horrifying premonitions. Eventually, Jack loses his grip on reality and starts terrorizing
his wife and son in order for him satisfy the pleas of the haunted hotel (Metz, 1997, p.38).
Reconstructed from the original novel, abandoning its more clichd horror
elements in favor of an analysis of insanity and equivocal evil, The Shining is a film
imbued with limitless analysis and interpretations. Even though both authors did not
work together, Kubricks style of cinematography and Kings skill in creating ominous
fiction resulted to the creation of this complex piece of gore and psychosis. The
combination of these techniques generated a film that can be interpreted in different
perspectives, may it be technical or abstract.

The visual aesthetic and technical character of the movie is brilliantly showcased
by the use of an effective technique in camera movement. The Shining vividly shows the
power of accurate and visually exhilarating camera motion during the climax of the
movie. This section of the film depicts Danny being chased through a vast, snow-covered
maze by his axe-wielding psychotic father. Danny niftily weaves through the narrow
hedges as the camera pursues him persistently from behind. The daunting walls of the
labyrinth accelerate past the boundaries of the frame, elucidating the speed and anxiety
with which Danny runs. Bright beams of light at the ends of the tunnels seem to beckon
to him through the falling snow as he desperately flees his father. This scene is permeated
by a lot of movement, but instantly noticeable is the ease with which the camera moves to
follow Danny through the tight spaces of the maze. At one point Danny trips, the camera
slows down, and then speeds up to pursue him as he rises and begins sprinting again. A
moment later, Danny doubles back in the direction from which he has come, but the
camera accommodates this change with ease and effortlessness it stops, pulls back, and
turns to follow him in one fluid movement (Sunderland, 2013 p. 59).
This scene effectively shows the ethereal aspect of the cinematography used in the
film. It displays how the camera seem to be floating through space, not questioning the
dense materiality of the earth but drifting gaily above it. Free from the restrictions of
gravity and materiality, the camera embodies a kind of autonomy seldom displayed in
narrative cinema. This technique of portraying the camera as an ethereal body enhanced
the mood and tone of the film by presenting a dynamic layer of perspectives in the film.
Kubrick presented the camera as a presence that continuously resides as a specter that
observes and follows each member of the Torrance family. This spectral nature of the
camera emphasized the suspenseful atmosphere in the movie. Furthermore, this eccentric
but multifaceted process accentuated the abstract realities of the film (Kolker, 2011,
Kubricks obsession of conjectural spatial organization in his films enhanced the
visual complexity of his movies; one example of an instance from the film is the hidden
and elusive movement of furniture between scenes and takes. This process is a classic
truism for paranormal horror films to show objects being controlled by invisible and
ghoulish identities. However, in The Shining, Kubrick has made use of this technique at

an extraordinarily subtle level, so restrained that at first glance it may be perceived as a

severe case of sequence continuity error (Fisher, 1997, p. 2.)
Kubrick has also manifested this technique in organizing the films visual theme
structure. The inescapable infinite corridors of the Overlook are one of the main symbols
of this concept. The hotel, as it constantly persuaded and seduced Jack to do its biddings,
in the latter broke his mind into madness. Kubricks genius for implying psychological
purpose in each frame and setting on the film, particularly: the hotels manic influence,
sinister maze of corridors, cold and sterile bathroom, and the lavish but illusionary
ballroom, suggests how there was a sense of cerebral intent portraying the hotel as almost
human with each section of its overall space having distinct characteristics. All of these
qualities prove how the film exhibited abstract qualities that furthermore emphasized the
horrific atmosphere that it was trying to portray (Fisher, 1997, p.2).
However, The Shining also has its share of several cinematic imperfections that
has been widely argued by the movie industry. An example of this faulty cinematic would
be the untimely and idiosyncratic death of the hotel chef, Charles Grady. He could smell
trouble from Miami to Colorado, but he doesnt detect a killer standing 10 feet away from
him, armed with an axe and wearing a horrible smirk on his face. There are also other
minor faults, like the varying arrangements of furniture and objects in similar scenes and
discontinuities between takes. Although, the oddest thing about The Shining is that its
such a vibrant, provocative work that these gaffes dont do it much harm (Metz, 1997,
The Shinings ominous and effective presentation, slow-burning dread, and
thematic subliminal messages create a film that is structurally accentuated on horror yet
based on familiar aspects. William Friedkin in The Exorcist, gave a little girl a demonic
voice that scared audiences by virtue of its foreignness while The Shining features a
child with an odd voice, but this may or may not be the sound of an imaginary playmate,
and it's something that's made even more disturbing for the boy's mother takes it for
granted (Dirks, n.d.). Stanley Kubricks talent in creating films with cinematic precision
and intricacy proved to be very potent in objectifying Stephen Kings macabre literature.
Kubrick isnt out for screams and whimpers, but he manages to create a movie
thoroughly unnerving by keeping the terror so close to home.

Kubricks style in utilizing characters, as symbols for thematic allegories,

empowered the whole movie and its plot. The Shining, one of the more complex horror
films to scrutinize, is actually a type of piece that is open to cinematic ambiguity. Kubrick
brings a special dimension to "The Shining," a breadth and extravagance that contrasts
the generic themes of todays contemporary films. He created a fastidiously beautiful film
that utilized loose ends and cinematic discontinuities to portray a peculiar type of
harmony. His brilliance alongside Kings imagination formulated a piece of art that
somehow shines in its own way.


Dirks, T. (n.d.). The Exorcist (1973). Retrieved December 14, 2014, from
Fisher, M. (1997). You have always been the caretaker: The spectral spaces of the
Overlook Hotel. 1, 2-3.
Kolker, R. (2011). Tectonics of the Mechanical Man. In A Cinema of Loneliness (4th ed.,
p. 106). New York CIty: Oxford University Press.
Metz, W. (1997). Intertextuality and The Shining. Towards a Post-structural Influence in
Film Genre Study, 22.1(1), 38-61.
Sunderland, P. (2013). The Autonomous Camera in Stanley Kubricks The Shining.
Sydney Studies, 59-59.