In the thirty-seven years since its premiere, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980) has been the subject of heated debate. Based on a bestselling novel by Stephen King, the adaptation was dismissed by the author as ‘maddening, perverse, and disappointing’. His judgement was not unique. Critics and audiences alike found the film bewildering and strange, not knowing whether to take it as an art film or a low-brow horror shocker. Yet, as Roger Luckhurst points out in his excellent book, The Shining (BFI Classics, 2013), despite its chilly opening reception the film is now regarded as ‘one of the most admired horror films in cinema history’.
Luckhurst’s take on The Shining manages to pierce the lid on thirty years of critical discussion, and to yield a fresh perspective on one of cinema’s most discussed and perplexing films. The book addresses Stanley Kubrick’s status as a distinctive auteur filmmaker, but dismisses the tendency of critics to see deliberate intention in every move and gesture. Instead, Luckhurst reads The Shining within the broader cultural and historical context of late 1970s-early 1980s American culture. Insightful connections are made to films like The Amityville Horror (1979), The Omen (1976), Poltergeist and The Evil Dead (both released in 1982). Through its representation of prescient children, telepathy, and horror, Luckhurst reveals how The Shining expresses widely-held anxieties about traditional gender roles, the nuclear family, and histories of repressed trauma and violence. (more…)
“Among Eraserhead’s many admirers was none other than Stanley Kubrick, who appropriated a great deal from Lynch’s film for his own horror masterpiece, 1980’s The Shining. The latter uses the same relentless background noise and lingering shots to build a sense of dread that eventually crescendos into a fever dream of madness. Even The Shining’s famous “Room 237” is a not-so-subtle allusion to Spencer’s sultry neighbor’s apartment room 27. In The Shining as in Eraserhead, sex masquerades as an escape but ultimately propels its central character further into his downward spiral.”
Source: The Atlantic.
“‘Stephen King’s original novel is all about love, death and power,’ says Pulitzer-winning composer Paul Moravec. ‘And those are the three foundational components for an opera.'”
More at NPR.
From A Stanley Kubrick Tumblr:
A test print for the iconic last image from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. Jack Nicholson’s face was superimposed on an original photo from the twenties. Emilio D’Alessandro remembers: “These are two of the numerous print samples that Stanley requested to evaluate the result. A slightly darker halation around Jack’s head gives the trick away. Better do it again, right, Stanley?” (more…)