The Shining (1980)

by | Sep 12, 2023 | 1980s, Drama, Featured Films, Film Reviews, Horror | 0 comments

A Masterpiece of Horror Unleashed


Release date: 23 May 1980 (USA)
Genre: Horror/Drama
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Director of Photography: John Alcott, Martin Kenzie
Budget: $15 million USD – $19 million USD
Box office: $47.3 million USD


5 MIN Read Time


“Here’s Johnny!” – Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson)


When it comes to classic horror films, “The Shining” (1980) stands as an undying beacon of terror and unease that has left an indelible mark on the genre. Directed by the legendary Stanley Kubrick and based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name, this film is a chilling descent into madness, haunted by a supernatural presence that lingers long after the credits roll.


The Shining (1980)


The Storyline: A Slow-Burning Nightmare

“The Shining” takes place in the sprawling and isolated Overlook Hotel, nestled deep in the Colorado Rockies. Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson), a struggling writer with a history of violence, takes a job as the winter caretaker of the hotel, hoping to find solace and time to work on his novel. He is joined by his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and their young son Danny (Danny Lloyd), who possesses psychic abilities known as “the shining.”

As the winter sets in, the family finds themselves trapped in the hotel, cut off from the outside world by heavy snowfall. Isolation and cabin fever soon take hold, intensifying the tensions between the family members. Danny’s psychic gift reveals disturbing visions of the hotel’s dark history, and Jack’s mental stability deteriorates rapidly under the influence of supernatural forces within the hotel. The Overlook itself becomes a malevolent character, a place where the past is very much alive, and the horrors that have occurred within its walls refuse to remain buried.

The slow unravelling of the Torrance family’s sanity is portrayed with a meticulous and unnerving precision, thanks to Kubrick’s directorial genius. The film’s pacing is deliberate, and the tension builds in agonising increments, making every scene a palpable descent into madness. It’s a testament to the film’s power that even though it was released over four decades ago, it still manages to grip viewers with a vice-like intensity.


The Shining (1980)


Facts About the Filming and Cast: An Unforgettable Ensemble

One cannot discuss “The Shining” without acknowledging the iconic performances that make it a timeless classic. Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of Jack Torrance is nothing short of legendary. His descent into madness is a masterclass in acting, capturing the character’s initial frustration, slow unravelling, and eventual mania with a chilling authenticity. Nicholson’s signature grin and menacing delivery of lines like “Here’s Johnny!” have become an integral part of pop culture.

Shelley Duvall’s performance as Wendy Torrance should also be celebrated. Her portrayal of a terrified and vulnerable mother trying to protect her son from her increasingly unhinged husband is heart-wrenching. Duvall’s emotional range, from fear to determination, adds depth to the film’s exploration of familial breakdown under supernatural pressure.

Young Danny Lloyd, in his debut role, impresses as well. His ability to convey the innocence and fear of a child who is privy to terrifying visions is remarkable. His chemistry with his on-screen parents adds to the emotional impact of the film.

Kubrick’s meticulous attention to detail is evident throughout the production. The Overlook Hotel itself is a character, its winding hallways and eerie decor adding to the sense of disorientation and dread. The use of Steadicam technology by Garrett Brown brought a groundbreaking fluidity to the film’s tracking shots, most notably in the iconic scene where Danny rides his tricycle through the hotel’s corridors.


The Shining (1980)


Reception at the Box Office: A Polarising Masterpiece

“The Shining” was a film that polarised critics upon its initial release. Some found it a masterpiece of horror and a striking departure from traditional genre conventions. Others, including Stephen King himself, criticised Kubrick’s adaptation for deviating from the source material in significant ways.

Box office-wise, “The Shining” had a solid but not spectacular opening. However, its staying power in theatres and its enduring popularity in the years that followed solidified its status as a horror classic. It’s worth noting that critical and audience appreciation for the film has grown significantly over time, and it is now widely regarded as one of the greatest horror films ever made.

In retrospect, it’s clear that “The Shining” was ahead of its time. Kubrick’s unorthodox approach to the horror genre, his emphasis on atmosphere and psychological terror over jump scares and gore, has influenced countless filmmakers who followed in his footsteps. The film’s themes of isolation, domestic violence, and the corrupting influence of power have also made it a subject of academic analysis and debate.


The Shining (1980)


Conclusion: A Haunting Masterpiece

In summary, “The Shining” (1980) is a cinematic triumph that continues to terrify and mesmerise audiences to this day. Its deliberate pacing, unforgettable performances, and Kubrick’s visionary direction combine to create an atmosphere of unrelenting dread. This is not just a horror film; it’s a psychological journey into the abyss of the human mind, where the line between reality and the supernatural blurs into a nightmarish tapestry of horror.

Without a doubt, Jack Nicholson’s performance as Jack Torrance is a cornerstone of the film’s success. His portrayal of a man descending into madness is a tour de force that has left an indelible mark on cinematic history. The rest of the cast also delivers exceptional performances, grounding the film’s supernatural elements in a deeply human and relatable context.

While initial reception may have been mixed, “The Shining” has rightfully earned its place as a classic of the horror genre, and its impact on filmmaking and pop culture cannot be overstated. It’s a film that demands repeated viewings, as each watch peels back new layers of terror and intrigue. In the annals of cinematic history, “The Shining” is not just a film; it’s a haunting masterpiece that continues to shine with a malevolent, timeless brilliance.


My Rating: 10/10


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