[Pic – gonemovies.com]
Every time I want to write on film released long back, I fall short. To think about it, I realize that it’s the hesitation that one goes through in re-hashing stuff that has been already said and analysed. So when I wanted to write on Anjali, Unnal Mudhiyum Thambi or even Sridhar’s Kathalikka Neramillai, I was unable to. Either I compulsorily procrastinate or I consciously forget to write about it. The same isn’t true with The Shining. This is the 25th year of The Shining’s release. Watching it even now on a 27″ inch screen, which is nothing close to a movie screen, I was awestruck. I was stunned and floored. A stream of thoughts and emotions ran across as I watched the film and it is still disturbing me after two days. Not many films have disturbed me as Kubrick’s movies. First it was Mahanadhi, second it was Hey Ram and ofcourse Schindler’s List.
Based on Stephen King‘s third published novel, The Shining is regarded as an epic of modern horror films. While in school, I had stayed awake to read the scariest of Stephen King’s stories. My favorite of them being IT. The Shining isn’t even close to ‘IT’ in terms of the storyline. Its just the way how Stanley Kubrick has fancied it, has made it into a prodigious flick.
The premise of shining comprises of three primary characters and a grand hotel. Jack Nicholson, a man suffering from mid-age crisis takes up a job as the winter caretaker in far-flung hotel near Denver. When he, his wife and his kid Danny re-locate to the hotel for pursuing his job, the hotel gets closed for the winter season. The family gets stuck in an improbable situation that makes them undergo sheer terror, hardship and loss. With just these characters Kubrick terrifies the audience thoroughly.
I watched The Clockwork Orange and was amazed by Kubrick’s flamboyant manner of film-making. He is probably the first director to understand the grammar of the big screen. His sense of imagery and colors are thought provoking beyond doubt. Having watched few other older films, I had my expectations set for haunting images and mesmerizing music in this one. My assumptions were blown-away, for good. The images and the background music are nothing close to description. You have to watch it to believe it. Even as the logo of Warner Bros fades away in the first shot, the movie opens into a huge land of wilderness. The water and a strip of mountains around stay still as the camera, from the helicopter, locates a volkswagen travelling on the mountain road. The camera[from the helicopter] starts to zoom in on the car and also starts to descend, it cuts through the road and flies back in air over the water. With a movie like Shining, one would expect a dark start but this one is just out-of-the-world experience. I could easily vote that this is one of the best opening shot of any film ever made.
Through out the movie, there are all types of horror. We see the ‘ghosts’ briefly, we await the unknown, we listen to some outrageous background noises that scares your spirits, we go on a horror-and-seek in a maze of snow. This is probably one of the success formula for the movie. Kubrick has used all types of horror to make this a pilot for horror films. As Shelley Duvall, the wife of Jack Nicholson, in the movie, scans the bundles of paper types by Jack throughout the day time. She sees nothing but All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. The BGM and the slow camera pan during this scene affrights even the unscared. The hotel with it’s grandeur and technicolor restrooms plays it’s own part in increasing heartbeat. The use of mirror in the movie enormous. Kubrick surprises with the mirror shots and also scares you at the same time.
Jack Nicholson with his eyebrows lifted gives peculiar stare and shouts, Here’s Johnny. It’s been written and written again that Jack is one of the finest actors of previous generation. Proves it with ease even from the first scene. Danny Lloyd as the kid is brilliant. It’s been said that Kubrick scanned through 5000 kids for the casting of Danny’s character. The effort didn’t go for a toss. Danny delivers and even as the camera is stuck very closely in his face, his expressions show the mature actor in him. As we watch The Making of Shining we know how Kubrick, with his loud shouts during filming made acting a cake walk for Danny. A performance to remember for ever and ever and ever(watch the movie to see the significance of this line). Shelley Duvall starts out unassumingly and as her character grows, tries to vanquish Jack himself.
Though the motifs and the ending of The Shining has in debate over the years by Kubrick’s fans but for a normal unassuming viewer its nothing more than a top-class horror flick. No one is complaining. For each of the audience gets what he is upto. The Shining isn’t one of those b-grade Hollywood horror flicks made in shoestring budget. Kubrick stresses on the fact that a movie needs the grandeur it demands. His lavish spending on the sets and the art hasn’t gone waste. Even when you are making a horror movie, make it as the best of the genre. It’s Kubrick’s philosophy on film-making, as he quotes, “One man writes a novel. One man writes a Symphony. It’s essential for one man to make a movie”. For he is undoubtedly, THE ONE.