The Shining 1980 Movie Scene Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance looking at the maze in the lobby of the Overlook Hotel

The Shining [1980]

As always, it’s very difficult to start writing about movies that everybody knows about. Memorable and visually impactful scenes have not only influenced filmmakers for over 40 years but have now made it into our common knowledge. Even if you haven’t seen the movie, you must’ve seen the twins, the elevator full of blood, Johnny breaking the door with an axe, or that creepy little kid riding his bike. However, this movie still hides a lot of surprises, even if you’ve already seen it. For example, The Shining is actually an eighties movie. The production started in 1978 but the actual movie was released in May of 1980.

As a huge fan of the eighties movies, I feel somewhat vindicated by this fact. As you already probably know, The Shining is a psychological horror movie based on a novel by Stephen King. King wrote the novel while he was struggling with alcoholism and it fucking shows. The honesty you feel oozing from every page is palpable. This is why he didn’t like the movie as the main themes of the dangers of alcoholism and the subsequent disintegration of the family were overlooked. Stanley Kubrick, after the failure of Barry Lyndon decided on a more commercial approach.

Instead, he focused on a man slowly going crazy in the isolation of this big hotel. You should also know there’s a sequel, Doctor Sleep, released in 2019, that’s okay. So, The Shining is a movie about Jack Torrance who accepts the job of a caretaker in a big hotel during the off-season. Sounds like a great job for a recovering alcoholic and an aspiring writer. Oh yeah, he also brings his son and his wife with him, to keep him company. Things go from bad to worse from there. The Shining is such an atmospheric and visually revolutionary movie that it works perfectly well even if you know what’s going to happen.

Moreover, since you’re not thinking about the main plot so much, you can focus on the little details. And there are a lot of them. I’m not going to go through all of them, as this is something you should discover for yourself. However, if you’re a movie fan you’ll recognize a lot of the scenes and setups used even today. Especially if you like horror movies. One of the biggest things The Shining brought to the world of cinema is the revolutionary tracking shot. Using the new technology of the Steadycam, Kubrick manages to immerse us into this location with ease. You will feel like you’re fucking there. Additionally, there’s this voyeuristic angle to the whole thing.

We get unlimited access to this place that we usually see only as a visitor who’s staying there. In this sense, you can see the similarities between The Shining and a new wave of late seventies post-apocalyptic movies. The Omega Man and Damnation Alley are perhaps the best examples. Although we should not forget the fact that Dawn of The Dead came out just a couple of years earlier. Moving on, since the running time of The Shining is two hours and twenty minutes, this is a movie that’s going to take up your whole evening. So, just be ready for that and know that all this is going to pay off. From the first fucking second, this movie is going to grip you like a motherfucker.

It’s truly revolutionary and since it’s been remastered, restored, and pumped up the wazoo, it looks like it came out last year. The visual quality is impeccable and Kubrick and King took care of the rest. Jack Nicholson gave one hell of a performance although I agree with King that a different actor might have been a better choice. Mostly because Nicholson already went crazy a couple of years ago in Milos Forman’s classic One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Martin Sheen would’ve been perfect, something he showed in not just Apocalypse Now but also The Believers. Shelley Duvall was also great along with young Danny Lloyd. 

Apart from them, I want you to pay close attention to the bartender, played by Joe Turkel. In two years’ time, Turkel would go on to play Tyrell in Blade Runner. All of them were tortured by perfectionist Kubrick who did numerous retakes and constantly changed the script. For example, the scene where Shelley Duvall is trying to fend off Nicholson with a baseball bat was reshot whopping 127 times. This is something both Duvall and Nicholson pointed out after the release of the movie as everyone was praising Kubrick and not so much the two of them. Finally, none of that really matters once you hit play. And I strongly urge that you do and disappear in this cursed Overlook Hotel.

And just one more thing, you can still visit the real Overlook hotel, now, in the year 2023. The Ahwahnee Hotel (the Overlook Hotel’s main interior) and the Timberline Lodge (the Overlook Hotel’s main exterior) are still operational. Along with the Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado, a place that inspired King to write the novel in the first place. If you’re not sure which one to choose from those three, I highly recommend the Stanley Hotel, as it’s currently one of the most haunted hotels in America.

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Writers: Stephen King, Stanley Kubrick, Diane Johnson

Cast: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, Scatman Crothers, Joe Turkel, Philip Stone

Fun Facts: The scene where the blood starts pouring out of the elevator took a year to make.


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