Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Film: The Shining

Well, most certainly Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, based on one of Stephen King's best-known books, is not an overlooked movie. It is to me, though, since I have never seen it on big screen, and it's been years since I saw it on TV. The screening of the Finnish Film Archive last night remedied this, and I can say the film blew my mind. I've had some problems with Kubrick's films - maybe even all of them -, but they are very cinematic to the edge of maniacal perfection.

Almost everything in The Shining is honed to perfection: the camera drives (remember that Francois Truffaut said Kubrick started out copying Aldrich's camera drives!), weird shooting angles, Jack Nicholson's acting (I wouldn't blame him on overacting on this, as many have done, he's masterly at timing his bursts), the use of music... There are some problems in the film, though: the use of Scatman Crothers's character is mechanic and doesn't bring much to the thematics of the film, and the ending is a bit abrupt.

However, the biggest problem is this: who cares what happens to these people? As the French critic Jacques Rivette once said, Kubrick makes films about machines to other machines. Shelley Duvall's wife is irritating, always almost bursting out in tears, Danny Lloyd's little boy is fascinating, but I think Kubrick could understand his kind of autistic kids. And you never really know what makes Nicholson's Jack Torrance tick. It's of course the basic idea in the film: you never really know... but one would hope for some clues. The film and its story and people exist in a fictional maze that's closed from the other society. It fascinates only as a game, even though it's a really suspenseful game.

This is my first foray into this theme in months. Here's a link to Todd Mason's blog where all the things happen, and here's a link to the previous gathering.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Yes, the book makes all of them more likable, I think. Casting as he did, the characters never seem real at all. But it works in many other ways.

jurinummelin said...

It's been over 20 years since I read the book, so can't really compare.

Anders E said...

I haven't seen this on a big screen since its original theatrical run. I guess this is one of those movies where a big screen really does make a difference.
The use of British pop music from the early thirties (Jack Hylton, Ray Noble, Henry Hall) is brilliant.

jurinummelin said...

Anders, you're absolutely right about this. There's so much to see - and hear!