Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Shining (film)
The Shining (1980) is a film by Stanley Kubrick based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King. The film stars Jack Nicholson as frustrated writer Jack Torrance and Shelley Duvall as his wife Wendy. Although it can be seen as a horror film, The Shining defies many of the conventions of the genre.
The new job
We are introduced to Jack Torrance, driving up to the Overlook Hotel, in the mountains of Colorado, to be interviewed for the position of caretaker for the Overlook over winter, where the snows often completely block the path to the hotel and make it inaccessible. Jack sees this as an opportunity to start off a writing career. However, the manager informs Jack about the previous caretaker, Delbert Grady, who killed his wife and two daughters, cutting them into pieces. Jack however seems unfazed by this, saying his wife, Wendy, is "a confirmed ghost story and horror film addict."
However at home Wendy asks Danny, their son, whether he is excited to go to the Overlook over winter. We are introduced to Tony, "the little boy who lives in [Danny's] mouth," who speaks through Danny, accompanied with a change in voice and a wiggling of Danny's finger. "No he ain't, Mrs Torrance," Tony says. Wendy tries to cheer him up, saying that it'll be fun, but he isn't shifted.
Later, in the bathroom, Danny asks Tony what the problem with the Overlook is. Tony is reluctant to show Danny, but Danny pleads with him and we see some horrific images cutting between lift doors releasing torrents of blood and two twin girls in blue dresses and white stockings. We see Danny screaming (but we hear nothing), and he passes out.
The doctor arrives, to check Danny over. She asks him about what he remembers, and about Tony, to which Danny refuses to let much about him slip. The doctor and Wendy talk, and we discover that Jack is an alcoholic in recovery, and hurt Danny one evening while he was still drinking. Jack came home from teaching school, and Danny was playing with his father's papers, which were strewn around, which irritated Jack and yanked Danny up by the arm, however, dislocating his shoulder. However, this gave Jack the impetus to give up alcohol.
The next day, hotel closing day, we see Jack, Wendy, and Danny in the car driving through the forests up towards the Overlook. They discuss the Donner party, a group of explorers, who resorted to cannibalism after being snowbound. Wendy is a little distressed about the discussion of such a violent topic in front of Danny, but Danny says that he saw it on the TV. Jack tells Wendy, "See, it's okay. He saw it on the television."
Jack meets with the hotel staff, who invite him and his family to get an idea of the facilities in the hotel, but Jack tells them he has to collect his family first. They find Wendy, and they and we are introduced to the inside of the Overlook hotel, its elaborate furnishings and picturesque rooms. Wendy is considerably impressed. Danny is in the games room, throwing darts at a board. He gets up to remove them from the board, and when he turns around, two girls are at the door, in blue dresses and white stockings, staring at him. Danny is frozen to the spot, and watches the two girls turn, arm in arm, and walk out the door.
The family are introduced to the caretaker's quarters, the hotel's hedge maze, and the snow-cat vehicle. However, as they are shown around the hotel, the manager tells them the hotel is build atop an "Indian burial ground, and I believe they actually had to repel a few Indian attacks as they were building it."
We then see the kitchens of the hotel, and we meet Dick Halloran, the head chef of the hotel, and Wendy is shown the myriad food supplies in the hotel. Dick however, calls Danny, "Doc", a nickname only Wendy and Jack call him. Wendy asks him how he knows, but Dick says that he thought he heard her call Danny that some time before. Later, though, Dick speaks to Danny telepathically, whilst talking to Wendy.
Dick suggests to Wendy that he and Danny get some icecream. Dick and Danny speak, and Dick explains to Danny that his telepathy was called "shining" by his grandmother, who also had the same gift. Danny asks Dick whether there's something bad at the hotel, and he doesn't respond directly, but notes that some events leave a trace on the places they are at, "say like is someone burns toast". Danny asks what's in Room 237, and Dick says "There ain't nothing in Room 237, but you ain't got no business going in there anyway, so stay out! You understand, stay out!"
The next morning is their first in the hotel. Jack has slept in till 11.30 am, and Wendy asks him whether he'll do some writing today. Jack tells her he has no ideas yet, but says to Wendy that he seems to have a feeling of déjà vu about the place, as if he "knew what was going to be around every corner". Wendy and Danny go outside to navigate the hedge maze.
Later, Danny is on his tricycle, riding around some of the corridors of the hotel. He comes across Room 237, and very slowly tries to open the door. It is locked.
That night, Jack is typing, one end of the large lounge. Wendy comes in, happily, and mentions that the weather forecast said that it may snow that night. Jack however, looks unimpressed, and says "What do you want me to do about it?" Wendy thinks that Jack is being "grouchy", but Jack mentions he wants to get on with his work. Wendy says that she might come back later with sandwiches, but Jack tells her
- "Wendy, let me explain something to you. Whenever you come in here and interrupt me, you're breaking my concentration. You're distracting me, and it will then take me time to get back to where I was, understand?...Now we're going to make a new rule. Whenever I am in here and you hear me typing,or whether you don't hear me typing, whatever the fuck you hear me doing in here, when I am in here that means that I am working - that means don't come in. Now do you think you can handle that?"
Wendy says yes, but her jovial mood is gone.
The next day, Wendy tries the phones, but they are down because of a snowstorm that has arrived. She calls in by radio to the ranger, to confirm this. The ranger tells her to leave her radio on all the time, for safety. Elsewhere, Danny is pedaling again with his tricycle around the hotel corridors. Around one corner, he sees the twins again at the end of the corridor, and we hear indirectly them saying, "Come play with us... Come play with us Danny", and we see them and cutting between to bloody walls, and an axe in one of the girls, covered in blood stains. "Come play with us, forever, and ever", they repeat. It is all too much for Danny, who covers his eyes. When he removes his hands, the girls are gone. Tony tells him "Remember what Mr Halloran said, it's just like pictures in a book..."
The day after, Danny asks his mother if he can get his fire-engine from his room, but Wendy tells him that his father is sleeping in there, and he shouldn't go. Danny pleads with her, saying he won't make a sound, and Wendy capitulates. However, when Danny goes up, Jack is sitting on the bed, looking off into the distance. He beckons Danny to sit with him, and Danny asks him whether he likes it here. Jack says that he loves it at the hotel, and wants Danny to have a good time. Danny asks whether he feels bad, to which he says no, and asks whether he'll hurt him or his mother. Jack is a little shaken, asking "Did your mother ever say that to you - that I would hurt you?" Danny says no, and Jack tells him that he loves him, and he'd never do anything to hurt him.
Later, Danny is playing with his toys, and then notices that the door to Room 237 is open. Danny slowly walks up to the door and goes inside. Wendy is downstairs, in the basement, tending to the equipment. Suddenly she hears a terrible screaming. Wendy drops her clipboard and runs towards the main lounge, where she finds Jack, asleep, screaming, in a nightmare. She rouses him, and he tells her that he dreamt that he killed her and Danny, chopping them up into little pieces. She comforts him momentarily, and Danny walks in, trembling, sucking his thumb. Wendy tells him to go to his room, but Danny doesn't do so. She goes to him, and finds his sweater is ripped and his neck is hurt. She wonders how this happened, and then says to Jack, "You did this to him, didn't you? You son of a bitch!". Jack looks bemused. Wendy takes Danny to his room.
"You've always been the caretaker"
Jack wanders around the hotel, miserably, and comes across the Gold Room, the function room of the hotel. The staff have removed all the alcohol before they left, however, but Jack sits down at the bar, musing to himself that he'd give anything, even his "goddamn soul" for a drink. He looks up and sees a barman, Lloyd, and Jack doesn't appear surprised, but asks for a bourbon. Jack asks Lloyd, "A little slow tonight?", when there is no other people staying in the hotel, let alone the Gold Room. He tells the barman about the accident he had with Danny before, saying that it was merely, "a momentary loss of muscular coordination. I mean... a little extra foot pounds of energy, per second... per second." Then, Wendy rushes up to him, crying, telling him that Danny saw a crazy woman in the hotel, who tried to kill Danny. He asks which room is it.
Dick, however, in Florida, hears about the snow drifts in the Rocky Mountains. However, his eyes widen as he lies on the bed. He clearly sees something that we cannot. His head shakes uncontrollably.
Jack, in the hotel, walks in to the room. It is Room 237. He walks slowly, up the stairs in the sunken living room, towards the bathroom. A young woman, naked, with her hair wet and slicked back, draws back the curtain of the bath, and walks towards him. Jack moves towards her and they embrace, in a kiss. Jack however opens his eyes and in the mirror, he sees the woman is covered in large unsightly scars. He pulls back, and sees the woman is suddenly elderly, and Jack is disgusted, staggering backwards. The woman cackles as Jack gurgles in disgust, slamming the door on his way out.
He suggests to Wendy that because there was nothing there, that Danny may have done this to himself. Wendy suggests that maybe Danny be taken to a doctor, and they leave the hotel. Jack however is angry, saying it is "so fucking typical" of Wendy, that he has "let [her] fuck up [his] life this far," and he's not going to let Wendy "fuck this up" for him.
Dick tries to phone the hotel, but discovers that the lines are down. He contacts the ranger, and asks them to radio the family, and that he'll ring back later. In the meantime, Jack goes back to the Gold Room, and suddenly the room is crowded with people dressed in a 1920s ballroom manner, and asks Lloyd for a drink. However, he runs into a butler with advocaat, spilling it on his jacket. The butler suggests they go to the bathroom to try and remove the stain.
Jack asks the butler his name. It is Delbert Grady. He asks him whether he murdered his wife and kids, but Grady denies this. Jack says he remembers seeing him in the newspaper, but Grady says he has no recollection of it ever happening. Jack says "Mr. Grady, you were the caretaker here", but Grady rebukes him, "I'm sorry to differ with you, sir, but you are the caretaker. You have always been the caretaker, I should know, sir. I've always been here."
Grady tells him that his son is attempting to bring an "outside party" into the situation. Jack looks surprised, and asks him who. Grady says "A nigger... A nigger cook". Jack wonders how, and Grady tells him that his son has an "extraordinary talent". Jack blames it on his mother, and then Grady tells him about his daughters and wife:
- "One of them actually stole a packet of matches and tried to burn it down. But I corrected them, sir. And when my wife tried to prevent me from doing my duty I corrected her."
Ideas of escape
In the meantime, Wendy is upset. She wonders about the snow-cat, and how they can get away in the storm in that. However, Danny starts saying "Redrum, redrum" in Tony's voice, in his room. Wendy hears him and attempts to wake him, thinking he's had a bad dream. She calls his name, but it is Tony that is there: "Danny's not here, Mrs Torrance."
The ranger tries to contact the hotel, but no one responds. Jack walks by the radio, rips open the radio and yanks out a part of the radio, and pockets them. The radio dies. Dick rings back, and the ranger tells him that there was no response. Dick makes the decision to make the journey back up to the Overlook, and starts the journey back up to the Overlook in the severe storm.
At the Overlook, Wendy grabs a baseball bat and goes down to the lounge, trying to find Jack. She walks to the typewriter, and sees the sheet in place. Written on it is endless repetitions of the single sentence: "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." She looks through the stack of papers neatly placed to the side, all with the same repetitions and permutations of layout of that same sentence.
Jack approaches behind her, and asks her "How do you like it?" She is frightened and turns around. Jack asks her what she is doing here. She says she wanted to talk, that maybe they should leave and take Danny to a doctor. Jack mocks her frightened, stammering voice, and asks whether she has ever thought about Jack, and his responsibilities to his employers. As he talks, Wendy walks backwards, getting more frightened, swinging the bat. Jack asks her to put the bat down: "Darling, light of my life, I'm not going to hurt you. You didn't let me finish my sentence. I said 'I'm not going to hurt you... I'm just going to bash your brains in!' I'm going to bash them right the fuck in." She gets more frightened, and she manages to hit him on the head. Jack falls backwards down the stairs.
Wendy drags the body to the food lockers, and shuts him in. Jack pleads with her to open the door, but Wendy tells him that she'll go and take Danny to a doctor, and bring someone back to see to Jack. Jack however is greatly amused, and tells her to "go check out the Snowcat and the radio and see what I mean...Go check it out!" Jack has also sabotaged the Snowcat. Wendy is stranded there.
Whilst she is gone, we hear Grady's voice on the other side of the door. He sounds displeased with Jack, telling him "I see you can hardly have take care of the...business we discussed... that you haven't the belly for it...that you will have to deal with this matter in the harshest possible way". Jack is defiant, however, and says "There's nothing I look forward to with greater pleasure". Grady opens the door.
In their quarters, we see Danny, in Tony's voice, saying "Redrum, redrum, ...", and takes Wendy's lipstick and writes "REDRUM" on the bathroom door. His voice gets louder, waking Wendy, who takes Danny in her arms. She catches her eye on the mirror, which reveals the writing on the door reversed - it says "MURDER."
Jack is outside, swinging an axe, trying to break in to the locked door. He breaks open a panel and opens the door. "Honey, I'm home!" he says. In the meantime, Wendy and Danny are trying to escape out the tiny bathroom window, obstructed by the snowfall, which has managed to build up as far as the window. Danny manages to escape out the window, but Wendy can't get out. She falls back inside, and locks the door. Jack starts to hack through the bathroom door, smashes through the final piece of wood remaining, sticks his head through the door and says "Here's Johnny!", one of the most remembered lines from the film. As Jack tries to open the door, Wendy slashes at him with a knife. Jack howls back in pain. He hears a vehicle outside, and turns around and out.
Dick however has made it in another snow-cat up to the hotel. He gets inside and asks around the empty hotel. Jack however rushes up to him and immediately swings the axe into his chest. Wendy, upstairs, runs out, calling for Danny, but not loud enough so Jack will hear. Danny has run back inside and hides inside a steel cabinet. Wendy walks upstairs, and sees a couple in one of the rooms. Two people, a man in a bear costume and a man in evening dress are on a bed. The man in the bear costume moves down and looks at her, followed by the other. Danny tries to escape downstairs, and Jack follows him, leading outside into the maze.
Wendy however is still inside, and makes her way to the lobby. She is frightened by a scarred man, who toasts his glass to her, saying "Great party, isn't it?" In other rooms, she sees skeletons and cobwebs, arranged in various party scenes. She comes towards the lifts, which release the torrents of blood as foreseen by Danny before.
Danny however is in the maze, covered in snow. Jack is behind him, following his footprints, calling out to him. Danny gets far ahead, and steps backwards in the snow, an old Native American trick, and hides away to a side branch of the maze. Jack falls for it and keeps running past him, and Danny manages to escape, with Jack still stumbling around in the maze.
Wendy makes her way out of the hotel and joins up with Danny, who get in the abandoned snowcat and make their escape. Jack hears the snowcat drive off, and fails to get out of the maze in time. He is frozen in the snow.
As a coda, we see a photograph on the hotel wall, with various partygoers, at a ball. We see in particular one young man, who looks the same as Jack. A sign says "Overlook Hotel, July 4th Ball, 1921."
- Here's Johnny!
The Shining seems to comment on the absurdity of the ideal American-style nuclear family. The film underlines the isolation and total comfort of the Torrance family via the huge open spaces and endless food reserves of the Overlook. Jack Torrence's monologues and the "work" he produced ("All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.") caricature the Protestant Work Ethic. Critics have also noted the American Indian motifs as well as the Grady character representing as imperialist archetype, suggesting a skewed commentary upon American history. Broadly, then, the film seems to suggest that escape from a tainted and dangerously brutal past of violence (Jack Torrance) is left to a younger generation, embodied in Danny, who "shines" and can detect the evil within the superficially benign Overlook. Thematically this seems to tie The Shining to 2001: A Space Odyssey as one of Kubrick's more optimistic works, via its conclusion, reminiscent of the "new man" or starbaby.
Details of the film
Some interesting notes on the film include
- The set for the Overlook Hotel was then the largest ever built, and by viewers popularly and easily mistaken for a real location. The exterior shots were done at Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood in Oregon. The Timberline Lodge requested Kubrick change the sinister Room 217 of King's novel to 237, so customers would stay in their own room 217 fearlessly. The massive set Kubrick built would be the site of his first use of the Steadicam, and possibly that device's finest hour.
- The Grady twins footage is unmistakably reminiscent of a photo by Diane Arbus, and much of the abstracted horror appears influenced by Arbus's strange photos of masked revellers and desexualized nudes.
- After Jack admonishes Wendy for interrupting him, if one listens to the typewriter carefully, one can deduce that Jack is in fact typing the phrase "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy".
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