9pm Showing: The Shining

September 2, 2011 § 1 Comment

Me and my brother share the same birthday, he is however 4 years older than me. When we were younger we used to alternate who would have a birthday party, one year I’d have my friends over and the next he would have his. My brother was celebrating probably his 11th or 12th birthday and as it got late for some reason him and his friends decided to watch The Shining, I don’t know if my dad had played  a joke on them or they just did it willingly, nevertheless what happened, happened. Nobody slept that night or a few nights after for that matter. I was curious. What was this film all about and what was the big fuss about The Shining…..I found out and like my brother before me, I was unable to sleep.

Stanley Kubrick is the master of atmosphere and tension. He would build and build and build, sometimes to the edge of tedium and then the film would erupt. His masterful use of the steadicam can be seen in his long, drawn out, wide-angle tracking shots down the long corridors of The Overlook Hotel.  The noise of Danny’s toy bike against the wooden floor and then being silenced as he drives over the carpet is all the soundtrack Kubrick needs to build the perfect atmosphere, which gives the motion picture this eerie and haunting calm throughout. Throughout all the unexplained super-natural goings on in this movie, Stanley Kubrick’s direction remains brilliantly calm, no abrupt or aggressive camera work, just these beautifully perfect tracking shots, using the space of each room to his full potential. At first feeling wide and open and slowly drawing itself in, until you feel claustrophobic. A real master at work.

Jack Nicholson’s performance is flawless, you are genuinely terrified of him, his fluctuating eyebrows and trademark stare and all this is aimed directly at us. Kubrick’s choice to have Jack look directly down to camera when he’s delivering these disturbing lines of dialogue as he rapidly loses his mind, is absolutely frightening and you genuinely fear for your life. However, there is a certain level of hinderance because of the casting of Jack Nicholson. The fact you have cast Nicholson, you as an audience already expect him to be slightly unhinged especially since we still remember his role in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, but to be honest, even though we see it coming, he’s a real treat to watch and The Shining is Jack Nicholson’s movie as much as it is Kubrick’s.

The Shining is the greatest horror movie ever and nothing will come close to that level of tension that Kubrick composes. The Shining is a truly terrifying, psychological motion picture and I will never forget the first time I saw it, that sense of pure horror, fear and knowing that something awful is about to happen. You feel every axe swing, every heart beat.

The first time I visited London, I stayed in a hotel very much like The Overlook Hotel from The Shining. Similar carpets, similar wide corridors and two lifts side by side in the lobby. One night I accidentally found myself alone in one of those corridors. I didn’t stay there for long. Fucking terrifying.

Image Courtesy of thefilmstage.com

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