Monday, 1 December 2014

The Shining (1980) Film Review

 Fig. 1. The Shining poster.

Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980) is a very entertaining horror film that will leave you wondering what had actually happened throughout. The film itself takes you on a journey through the deconstruction of Jack’s sanity as the Overlook hotel does become truly haunting.

The production design for The Shining makes it still stand out today; from the lighting to the props every aspect of it makes the film haunting. As Bradshaw points out in his review ‘Instead of the cramped darkness and panicky quick editing of the standard-issue scary movie, Kubrick gives us the eerie, colossal, brilliantly lit spaces of the Overlook Hotel (created in Elstree Studios, Hertfordshire), shot with amplitude and calm.’ (Bradshaw, 2012). Bradshaw makes the point that the typical horror film would us fast dark shots to case panic, whereas Kubrick uses over lit spaces that make the viewer feel uncomfortable. This combined with the musical score creates a tense and eerie vibe throughout the film.

 Fig. 2. Wendy and Danny still.

It is possible that the characters in the film reflect Freud’s theories on the psyche; this is a structural model of the mind that consists of the id, ego and super ego. McLeod states ‘The ego develops from the id during infancy. The egos goal is to satisfy the demands of the id in a safe a socially acceptable way.’ (McLeod, 2013). This suggests that the ego is the part of our mind that wants to aid our desires in a way that is acceptable to society, it the part of the mind that will find a solution to want we want. If we apply this theory to the film you can see that the mother, Wendy represents the ego. During the film she tries to protect her son Danny and take him away from the potential abuse of Jack and the Overlook, however she is stopped by Jack, the super ego.

 Fig. 3. Jack still.

McLeod also explains ‘The superego develops during early childhood (when the child identifies with the same sex parent) and is responsible for ensuring moral standards are followed.’ (McLeod, 2013). This suggests that the super ego is the almighty power that tells our mind not to do things; it’s a state that is created through parental discipline. In the film Jack represents the super ego; he conflicts with Wendy and refuses to let her take Danny away due to his commitments to work. This reflects with how the super ego acts with the ego and id in Freud’s theories, the super ego is the voice that says you can’t do that.

Throughout the film you can see Jack’s mental state slowly deteriorate (not that it was healthy to start with), many scenes show Jack’s rage getting the better of him and a back story of him being an abusive farther is uncovered. As Nathan points out in his review ‘Grady, the previous caretaker, a man driven to slaughter his family (the source of Danny's disturbing second sight of the blue-dressed sisters) is another of Torrance's visitation states — "You have always been the caretaker," Grady suggests menacingly. The evil may have always been there in Jack, The Overlook merely awakened it.’ (Nathan, 2007). Nathan suggest that the scene in which the previous caretaker communicates with Jack symbolises the haunting effect the Overlook has had on him. It is possible that the Overlook’s eeriness is the reason Jack’s true nature was unlocked, revealing that he is a violent and evil man.

The Shining is a stunning horror that is riddled with symbolism that will leave you puzzled and intrigued by the end, with an incredible set design and a fantastic musical score, it is definitely a much watch for any movie lover.

Illustration List
Kubrick, S. (1980). Figure 1. The Shining poster. (Accessed on 01/12/2014)
Kubrick, S. (1980). Figure 2. Wendy and Danny still. (Accessed on 01/12/2014)
Kubrick, s. (1980). Figure 3. Jack still. (Accessed on 01/12/2014)

Bradshaw, P. (2013). (Accessed 01/12/2014)
McLeod, S. (2013). (Accessed 01/12/2014)
Nathan, I. (2007). (Accessed on 01/12/2014)

1 comment:

  1. Hi Charlie!

    Interesting discussion around Freud's theory here...personally I would see Jack as the id, with his primal desires and urges - it's a subject open for debate! :)