The Shining-attachment0

The Shining

Movie Information

Classic Cinema From Around the World will present The Shining at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 22, at Courtyard Gallery, 9 Walnut St., in downtown Asheville. Info: 273-3332.
Score:

Genre: Horror
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, Scatman Crothers, Barry Nelson, Philip Stone
Rated: R

When it first came out in 1980, not everyone was happy with Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. In New York magazine, David Denby called it the “first pompous horror film,” in part owing to its 146-minute running time. That also bothered Warner Bros., which tried to cut it down to 120 minutes in order to find the normal horror movie they just knew was in there somewhere. But audiences flocked to the longer version, and time has kept proving Kubrick right. I freely admit that I found the film disappointing and overlong when I saw it at the time. But, as is sometimes the case with Kubrick, the film kept calling me back, until I finally realized what a tremendous—and tremendously complex—work it is.

On its simplest level—which is the Stephen King level—The Shining is little more than a haunted hotel yarn with slightly better drawn characters than are usually found in genre works. And it can be read and appreciated on this level, even though to do so sells the film short—rather like Warners’ idea of a 120-minute version. Even if you want to take the film strictly as horror, there’s more to it than might be casually assumed.

Consider the film’s opening. Yes, it’s meant to set the scene and the ominous tone of the proceedings (Kubrick makes sure of that with the unadorned “Dies Irae” on the sound track). It’s also designed to induce a sense of vertigo in the viewer (extending to the way the titles move up the screen), but there’s something more. Look at the way the scene is put together. Why does the camera slowly glide across the lake and past the little island and climb up for a look at Jack Torrance’s car heading to the Overlook Hotel? Why does it examine him so carefully? Why does it swoop in close and then fly away out over the ravine? What is that almost triumphant chattering sound on the sound track? Why does the camera then come back and continue following Jack? If we accept the idea that the camera is virtually a character, and that the character represents an evil that has been awakened by Jack’s presence, it starts to make sense. If we further accept that the evil recognizes in Jack the perfect instrument for its purposes, it makes even more sense—and that extends to the tracking shots throughout the film that either follow or lead the characters.

The film can also—at least mostly—be read more as psychological horror than supernatural horror. Nearly everything about the film is grounded in communicating terror that grows with each of the three main characters over the course of the film. Danny (Danny Lloyd) sees—in incoherent flashes—the horror beneath the polished facade of the upscale hotel first. In fact, he senses this before he gets there. And his fears are given a degree of credence by the hotel chef, Dick Halloran (Scatman Crothers), who nonetheless tries to downplay them. These terrors then find a host in the deeply troubled Jack, who could simply be picking up on them as he disintegrates into madness. It’s notable that his wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall), who is the most mundane and matter-of-fact of the three only sees anything beneath the surface at the very end—and then she (and the viewer) is hit with it all full-force.

The problem with reading The Shining as purely psychological is that it raises the question—in terms of the action—of who (or what) lets Jack out of the pantry after Wendy imprisons him there. I’ve heard the argument that Wendy herself perhaps let him out, but that seems off-base to me, not in the least because at that point she has yet to experience anything inexplicable. When she finally does see the Overlook for what it presumably is, she sees—and hears (there’s an indecipherable chanting on the sound track that might well be some black-magic ritual)—more than Danny or Jack ever did. It’s as if the evil has to completely reveal itself in order to penetrate her less suggestible mind.

Regardless of how you read the film, there’s little denying that it’s a masterful work. Kubrick’s use of a methodical approach has rarely paid such dividends—perhaps because the approach is perfect for the story. The sound track—musically leaning heavily on Bartok’s “Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta”—is one of his most finely wrought. And though he uses them sparingly—which may be the clue—his images of horror are genuinely unsettling. Indeed, the recurring image of the “bleeding” elevators may be the most heart-stopping moment in any of his films. It is certainly an iconic image up there with any other in his career.

 

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

85 thoughts on “The Shining

  1. OMG…psychic wound movie.
    I must admit, the Shelly Duvall character brings out the psychopath in me as well. However after this movie, I’ve never watched another serious horror movie. On par with PSYCHO…because of that movie I never shower with a closed door.

    I did just see Warhol’s “Dracula” which is pretty hilarious.

  2. Dionysis

    The first time I saw this film upon its theatrical release, I was hugely disappointed. I didn’t find it horrifying in the least, and frankly was somewhat bored by it. I watched it again several years later, and didn’t like it any better. Had I been discerning enough to pick up on some of the nuances that Ken identified in this review, I MIGHT have enjoyed it a bit more, but even with this information, another re-watch is way down my list.

    For me, The Shining joins a few other highly anticipate ‘horror’ films that I found disappointing, including Francis Ford Coppola’s version of Dracula and Kenneth Branagh’s re-make of Frankenstein.

    I still really like most other Kubrick films, often re-watching them, but not The Shining.

  3. Ken Hanke

    On par with PSYCHO…because of that movie I never shower with a closed door.

    Doesn’t that make it easier for Tony Perkins to get in?

  4. Ken Hanke

    Where is this playing?

    Somehow this got left out —

    Classic Cinema From Around the World will present The Shining at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 22, at Courtyard Gallery, 9 Walnut St., in downtown Asheville. Info: 273-3332.

  5. “On par with PSYCHO…because of that movie I never shower with a closed door.

    Doesn’t that make it easier for Tony Perkins to get in?”

    LOL…you’re right. My phobias are rarely based on logic. jmho

  6. Ken Hanke

    For me, The Shining joins a few other highly anticipate ‘horror’ films that I found disappointing, including Francis Ford Coppola’s version of Dracula and Kenneth Branagh’s re-make of Frankenstein.

    Actually, it took me the second viewing of BS’ Dracula to dislike it. I was pretty keen on it on a single look. Now…well, I did pick up a copy for $5 out of the WalMart dump bin. I may watch it again some day. One viewing of MS’ Frankenstein was enough.

    For me, The Shining is always linked with Peter Medak’s The Changeling and Ken Russell’s Altered States, if only because it was an interesting case of three filmmakers I liked all tackling a horror story of one kind or another at about the same time. They were the three films I spent 1980 waiting for.

  7. Dread P. Roberts

    Maybe it’s the fact that, because of my age, I didn’t see this movie until the early 90’s (when it was better received); or maybe it’s the weird coincidence that I managed to catch on to what Ken is talking about – with the dark, looming evil presence- upon first viewing (without even reading the book). But I loved everything about this movie immediately. I hope this doesn’t sound too odd, but for me, the length and pacing works in a way that is very similar to Apocalypse Now. Unlike other films that can feel dragged-out, the passing is absolutely essential. In both instances (though obviously portrayed in different, unique ways) we are watching, and following, a decent into madness. The pacing adds a beautiful intensity and desperation to the uncertainty of the increasingly more and more impending doom. On first viewing, it made me very tense and anxious to find out what was going to happen next. The extended anxiousness helps to make the dreadful creepiness linger; and that is the essence of what is so entertaining about The Shining to me.

    (Sorry if some of my thoughts came out a little repetitive.)

    For me, The Shining joins a few other highly anticipate ‘horror’ films that I found disappointing, including Francis Ford Coppola’s version of Dracula and Kenneth Branagh’s re-make of Frankenstein.

    I completely agree about the other two, despite the fact that I disagree about The Shining. I think it’s sad to relate that damned Dracula movie to this.

  8. Dionysis

    “Ken Russell’s Altered States”

    I saw that movie at the theatre upon its release as well. I honestly can’t remember too much about it (other than the sensory deprivation tank and the change it caused in William Hurt’s character). I intend to refresh my memory soon, however, as I picked up a copy of it for $3.00 at Big Lots a few days ago.

  9. Dionysis

    “I think it’s sad to relate that damned Dracula movie to this.”

    While I didn’t care for The Shining, it really is only lumped in with the other two films in the sense that they were all disappointing to me. In fact, I disliked the Dracula and Frankenstein remakes a lot more than I did The Shining.

  10. Ken Hanke

    I managed to catch on to what Ken is talking about – with the dark, looming evil presence- upon first viewing (without even reading the book).

    I don’t think reading the book would help with that opening. I admit it’s years since I read it, but I don’t recall anything like that in it.

  11. Ken Hanke

    I intend to refresh my memory soon, however, as I picked up a copy of it for $3.00 at Big Lots a few days ago.

    If nothing else, I suspect you’ll find it faster paced than The Shining.

  12. davidf

    Every time I’ve seen this film I’ve enjoyed every aspect except for the visions Wendy sees when she starts to break down running through the halls near the end. They always struck me as corny, and a little bit random. Having not seen it in a few years, though, I’d love to have another look to reconsider.

    The first time I saw this, a friend had rented the VHS and wasn’t sensible enough to get the widescreen copy (pet peeve of mine). Because there’s so much in the sides of the shots in this movie, it wasn’t just fullscreen, it was what I think they used to call “pan-and-scan”. I was grumpy about how obnoxious it looked for most of the film, until Jack got the ax out. Oh man, when he starts hacking down the door on the pan-and-scan edition, that ax moves FAST.

  13. steph

    Geez, where do I start? First off I’m surprised that you like this film so much (not sure why I’m surprised but…)

    I was so anxious to see this film that we camped out the night before to see the first showing. Like many people, we were VERY disappointed. But, as much as I was disappointed, I couldn’t wait to see it again!

    Woody Allen put it best when he said that Kubrick tends to be ahead of us and it takes numerous viewings to appreciate his films (that is, “to catch up”).

    I think Ken’s description of the opening is dead on. I also felt the same uneasiness with the opening.

    What makes a Krubick film so amazing is that he has what I would call a form of hyper-realism. The Overlook set was completely believable as a tourist hotel: the detail of the kitchen, the freezer/pantry, the humble apartment for the Torrance’s.

    Perhaps the greatest thing Kubrick accomplished was creating a large hotel set that by it’s ordinaryness was an evil entity in itself. Remember Lloyd’s line to Jack when he tries to pay for his drink, “You’re money’s no good here. Orders of the ‘House’.” Also, the matter-of-factness of the twins makes it even creepier; no scarey girls popping out of places to scare the audience but rather just 2 little girls standing in the hotel’s corridors that happen to be dead – very chilling.

    It’s also interesting to note that every time Jack is conversing with a “ghost,” he is facing either a mirror or a reflective surface. In fact, if you watch the scene with Grady in the red bathroom, you’ll notice Jack isn’t even looking at Grady but, instead, looking at his own reflection in the mirror.

    This poses the question of: Is it all in Jack’s head or is it the hotel. One must think there is a supernatural ingredient going on here because of the things that Danny sees. Also, the major question of the film is who opens the pantry door to let Jack out?

    Kubrick had stated that he was fascinated by the tranference of hallucinations between different people. Maybe Wendy was starting to see them near the end because of Jack or Danny or, I believe, the Hotel is getting strong enough for Wendy to see the images as well.

    Then, of course, the last shot in the film has always been a mystery. Has Jack been reincarnated (“We’ve all heard of deja vu but this is ridiculous?”) or was the fact that Jack was clearly unbalanced from the beginning making him an ideal candidate for the hotel to use for its purposes (to collect souls?)and once Jack was dead, he was added to the picture dated 1927.

    Strangely enough, PERFECTIONIST Kubrick made two mistakes that are apparent after multiple viewings: You can see the helicopter rotors in the opening when you first see the Overlook Hotel. Also notice in that shot that there is no hedge maze.

    I’ve seen this film 100s of times and I hope my comments are clear enough but like most Kubrick films, the more you study them, the more fascinating they are.

  14. Dread P. Roberts

    It’s also interesting to note that every time Jack is conversing with a “ghost,” he is facing either a mirror or a reflective surface. In fact, if you watch the scene with Grady in the red bathroom, you’ll notice Jack isn’t even looking at Grady but, instead, looking at his own reflection in the mirror.

    In an old review, Ebert notes that “whenever Jack sees spirits, a mirror is always present; thus, given the themes of madness and isolation, this suggests he may be speaking with himself.”

    It’s all of these subtle nuances that make a artistry of a Kubrick film so fun to talk about. I love stuff like this. It’s like being a detective, potentially uncovering the thought process of an artist’s mind.

  15. steph

    I’m with you Dread. It took me years and 100s of viewings to figure out 2001 (at least I think I figured it out!)

  16. Dread P. Roberts

    It took me years and 100s of viewings to figure out 2001 (at least I think I figured it out!)

    With all due respect, I’ll humbly admit that you are far more patient that I am. I can appreciate 2001 as an artistic sci-fi masterpiece, but anything close to 100 viewings would be a torturous exercise in boredom for me. (Alex DeLarge, forced to watch video imagery in A Clockwork Orange, comes to mind.)

    But that is indeed a great example of a confusing Kubrick vision, that can be fun to try to decipher. Delving into 2001 is like going after a masters degree in Kubrick-ism.

  17. steph

    I have never found Kubrick to be less than fascinating so I’ve never understood why anyone would have problems sitting through his stuff over and over. Either that, or I just have no life. Ha Ha.

    On the other hand, 2001, The Shining and Eyes Wide Shut are the only Kubricks that I initially found confusing.

    Clockwork, Barry Lyndon and Full Metal Jacket are all fairly straight-forward films although I did pick up the moment in FMJ when Hartman complains about “Micky Mouse” shit right before Private Pyle blows his brains out and what are the soldiers singing in the last shot of the film?: THe Mickey Mouse Club theme.

  18. Actually, it took me the second viewing of BS’ Dracula to dislike it. I was pretty keen on it on a single look.
    When did you last watch it? I have to say it was a bit like THE DARK KNIGHT for me. First viewing, I loved it – made a huge impact on me, and I thought it was the best Dracula picture I’d seen (I was 12 at the time though). Second viewing, I got halfway through and thought – ‘this is a total mess’. Nowadays, I’m more inclined to view it as a modern camp classic, between Keanu Reeves’ atrocious English accent, Anthony Hopkins wonderfully hammy Van Helsing and the giant man-bat creature that pops in for a scene in the middle of the picture. Entertaining and very pretty to look at, but not exactly good.

  19. JWTJr

    One of the few situations where the movie was as good as the book.

  20. Ken Hanke

    Strangely enough, PERFECTIONIST Kubrick made two mistakes that are apparent after multiple viewings: You can see the helicopter rotors in the opening when you first see the Overlook Hotel. Also notice in that shot that there is no hedge maze

    In fairness, Kubrick didn’t himself shoot that footage. I suppose he might have insisted it be reshot, but…And of course, the maze was a late addition to replace King’s topiary animals.

  21. Ken Hanke

    I did pick up the moment in FMJ when Hartman complains about “Micky Mouse” shit right before Private Pyle blows his brains out and what are the soldiers singing in the last shot of the film?: THe Mickey Mouse Club theme.

    A friend of mine who was in Vietnam says that singing the song was not uncommon. Considering when most of these guys grew up, that’s not really surprising.

  22. Ken Hanke

    When did you last watch it? I have to say it was a bit like THE DARK KNIGHT for me. First viewing, I loved it – made a huge impact on me, and I thought it was the best Dracula picture I’d seen (I was 12 at the time though). Second viewing, I got halfway through and thought – ‘this is a total mess’

    I don’t think I’ve ever watched the whole film a second time. I was very impressed on a single viewing when it came out — in large part because I liked the fact that it used such old-fashioned effects. I didn’t even much mind Keanu (frankly, I think Cary Elwes is worse). Then I got the laserdisc. Even the things I liked quickly annoyed me because everything went on at least twice as long as it needed to. I was no longer admiring the artistry, I was feeling like I was watching Coppola jumping up and down, going, “Isn’t this clever? Do you see how clever I am?” I may try it again some day.

  23. Dread P. Roberts

    A friend of mine who was in Vietnam says that singing the song was not uncommon. Considering when most of these guys grew up, that’s not really surprising.

    Supposedly “Mickey Mouse” was GI slang for something – or someone – that was petty, stupid and senseless. I’ve also heard that the scene is supposed to remind the viewer that the Vietnam War was fought by many 18 year old draftees who consequently lost their childhood.

    There’s actually another Mickey Mouse reference during a scene in the press room. There’s a Mickey Mouse figure near the window behind Joker.

    Of course, I initially never picked up on any of this.

    frankly, I think Cary Elwes is worse

    Was Elwes in Dracula, or am I just misinterpreting what you’re saying? I don’t fully understand the comparison.

  24. Ken Hanke

    Was Elwes in Dracula, or am I just misinterpreting what you’re saying? I don’t fully understand the comparison.

    Yes, he plays Arthur Holmwood.

  25. steph

    You’re right, ken, that Kubrick didn’t film those scenes as he never left England but I think the decision to cut the hedge animals was made before he actually started shooting the film.

    In any case, I’m surprised he didn’t use some kind of cinematic jiggery pokery to erase those rotors as well as the shadow of the helicopter that can be seen for a brief moment.

    Of course, it would be a non-issue with any other filmmaker but for someone who would use up to 75 takes of Halloran walking into the hotel, it seems those little details would bother him.

    Thanks for the info about the use of “Mickey Mouse” in the military, I didn’t know that before.

  26. Dread P. Roberts

    Yes, he plays Arthur Holmwood.

    I don’t remember that at all. Clearly it wasn’t a memorable performance for me. It just goes to show that it’s really been too long since I’ve seen the movie to give a 100% accurate opinion.

  27. Yeah the shadows of the helicopter, camera and the steadycam in some scenes are somewhat distracting but there about a hundred continuity problems that I like to watch for in this film (probably due to the huge amount of re-takes Kubrick did). Danny’s hair going from un-combed to combed, cigerattes disappearing, Jack’s drink going from 1/3 glass to a full one,the baseball bat that turn to rubber, chairs appearing out of no where, Jack’s typewriter going from a small white one to large blue one, and of course the disappering word”redrum” from the door, etc, etc. But the shot I like best is of the family arriving at the hotel with a huge pile of bags and luggage, all of which was supposed to have fit in their vw Bug. Fun stuff. This is a great film–hope to see you at the courtyard gallery tonight!

  28. steph

    You’re right carlos! I never understood why Jack’s typewriter changed! Haven’t noticed the other things you pointed out though so I’ll have to watch it again! Thanks!

  29. brebro

    This movie scared me so much, that to this day, I cannot make out with decaying old hags in hotel bathrooms.

  30. Ken Hanke

    This movie scared me so much, that to this day, I cannot make out with decaying old hags in hotel bathrooms

    Where do you make out with them then?

  31. brebro

    The only funny response to that would entail me bringing in innocent relatives of yours and I don’t think that is appropriate just for a cheap laugh, no matter how many annoying emails they may forward.

  32. Ken Hanke

    You only presume they’re innocent. Then again, I’m only presuming they’re relatives. I mean I was told that they were relatives when I was at a young and credulous age. How do I know I’ve not been taradiddled? If I were to find out that I was being forwarded e-mails headed “so true” and Maxine cartoons and stories about the odious Sheriff Joe by a bogus relative, I would be even more annoyed.

  33. brebro

    I think we may have the same relatives. I find that keeping the URL for Snopes.com handy helps cut down on the number of forward CC lists I am on. If not, then chasing them down with an axe does the job.

    ^^^^^ (SEE how I got this back on TOPIC???)

  34. Ken Hanke

    (SEE how I got this back on TOPIC???)

    Brilliant!

    “Give me the forward link, Wendy. Just give me the link!”

  35. Ken Hanke

    Come forward this. Forever, and ever….. and EVER!

    Words I’m convinced my mother lives by. I’m reasonably sure she forwards this stuff without reading most of it.

  36. This remains one of my favorite Kubrick films, but not because of its mechanical genius at instilling a shimmering sense of horror in the audience, but because of its brilliant subtext and what Kubrick appears to be pointing up beneath the wave of blood.

    Ostensibly the story is about a gruesome crime. Indeed, it starts with a retelling of a past gruesome crime, recounted by the hotel manager. Years ago a caretaker that lived through a winter at the Overlook Hotel went berserk and killed his wife and two daughters with an ax before blowing his brains out. The film on its surface appears to be just a contemporary replay of that past event, an eternal return of what went before. But a closer read will yield the nature of a far greater crime that has been “overlooked:” The holocaust of the American Indian & the building of an American empire.

    I know. You think I am crazy. But watch the film again. It really merits a second more subtle read.

    There are a number of references to Native Americans throughout the film that seem to point up a subtext that the white European invaders who conquered and destroyed the Native American race are damned to a kind of imperialists hell here at the Overlook hotel. Indeed, the native civilization that was thriving here before European conquest and all the blood-letting that ensued has been overlooked. (But the past is always present.)

    The first lines that begins to build this subtext occurs at the beginning of the film:

    Wendy asks, “Are all these Indian designs authentic? To which the hotel manager replies, ”Yeah I believe, the basics. Mainly on Navajo and, uh, Apache motifs.

    The conquered people’s art hangs on the wall, like so many scalps.

    This exchange continues with the manager stating:

    “The site is supposed to be located on an Indian burial ground, and I believe they actually had to repel a few Indian attacks as they were building it.”

    This profanation of sacred ground might suggest that the wronged blood is crying out for justice and thereby haunting the race of those that did the deeds.

    I read somewhere that the posters for The Shining that were used in Europe read across the top, “The wave of terror which swept across America is here.” On the surface, this seems to be a poster touting the film’s effect in America. But the film wasn’t playing in the US yet when the posters first appeared. The wave of terror that swept across America was a horde of berserker white men, probably not much different than “caretaker” Jack Torrance, taking care of business for the powers behind the throne. Who were these powers behind the throne?

    “All the best people.”

    The elite who used the Overlook included, as the manager explains to Wendy, “four presidents, movie stars…” Wendy then asks, “Royalty?” The manager replies, “All the best people.”

    One of my favorite lines in this film is the one Wendy utters as she races out to the maze with Danny:

    “The loser has to keep America clean.”

    This is reference to the then popular TV PR campaign aimed at reducing highway litter, in which a Native American in full Indian dress is seen crying on horseback looking down over a highway median brimming with litter. Presumably his tear is not shed for his destroyed race, but for the trash that abounds on his once homeland. (The conquered people are reduced to a custodial position in the dominating culture.) That line intself points up the way in which modern American society plopped down in front of the boob tube is still being asked to “overlook” what happened.

    The film ends with an extremely long tracking shot moving down a hallway in the Overlook, eventually zooming into and stopping on Jack’s face among a crowd of the black-tie revelers at a roaring 20s party at the overlook. The caption reads: “Overlook Hotel, July 4th Ball, 1921.” However, in this context, the real spirit that the Fourth of July celebrates is not one of independence but of domination. Just as the real spirit that roaring 20s celebrates is empire. Jack Torrance becomes a trace of the American men who massacred the Indians in earlier years; and enslaved Africans before that. It is this ghoulish jet set class of people that have guided America by hook and crook to our current imperial status. .

    The viewer is pushed to identify with both Jack, the washed up writer father figure, &/or Danny, the naive American boy child who wears Mickey Mouse shirts and bright red white and blue sweaters with rockets going to the moon that say “USA.” Danny represents the Norman Rockwell/Horatio Alger view of the American dream. However, Jack, the frustrated alcoholic father, is the end result of one who has lived his life believing in this bright myth and yet failing, like so many Willie Lowmans, a pathetic character from Arthur Miller’s “Death of a salesman.” But rather than go to his grave another American failure, with the quiet desperation of say a Willie Lowman, Jack decides to cross over and seize power, or rather, he is seized by that conquering power that requires the energy of a berserker. Mentally depraved, Jack becomes possessed, and having no external foe to destroy, he aims to destroy his own family.

    But with the young & gifted Danny we are brought to the crossroads of this dilemma of belief and shown that something is not quite right with this superficial American mythos. Beneath the parades, the champagne, the cartoons and all the cereal box tops, there is something sinister lurking. Through Danny, we meet another member of a conquered race, brilliantly played by Scatman Carothers. He is the black cook who speaks with Danny about the special power of intuition, which his people call “shining.” And so we begin to shine an inner light on what has long been overlooked: a wave of blood. No matter how much trivial cultural garbage gets kicked your way as a naive American consumer, no matter how many slick PR campaigns get played out in our mass media culture, the terrible past remains present. It leaves a trace, like the smell of burnt toast. Those who can read between the lines and get the bigger picture are the wiser for doing so. For as frightening as such a view to a massacre might be, it might just get you out of the maze at the end of the night.

  37. steph

    VERY interesting David! I remember a Film Quarterly article on the film that raised the Indian idea much like you did. It even pointed out that Danny was using an old Indian trick when he back walked through his own footsteps to throw off Jack.

    This is why Kubrick films are so great; like Shakespeare, they can adapt themselves to many different interpretations.

  38. I agree, Steph. A great film, like any great work of art, masterfully balances several themes and carries them through to brilliant conclusions without destroying the greater mystery invoked by the work as a whole.

    (I had not realized that was an old indian trick to trick Danny used to escape the wrath of dear old dad. That is a nice touch.)

  39. Dread P. Roberts

    I know. You think I am crazy. But watch the film again. It really merits a second more subtle read.

    No, not at all. I’ve heard this from several different sources before. I believe you are absolutely right. Thanks for the enjoyable read.

    This is why Kubrick films are so great; like Shakespeare, they can adapt themselves to many different interpretations.

    Not to argue your well-put point in any way, but that is what I would call a sign of any great work of art.

  40. irelephant

    Curious, Ken, if you could be moved to give your opinion on Kubrick’s last flick, Eyes Wide Shut? Had I made a list of the best movies of 1999 it and Magnolia would have had a fist fight for the top spot.

  41. Ken Hanke

    Curious, Ken, if you could be moved to give your opinion on Kubrick’s last flick, Eyes Wide Shut? Had I made a list of the best movies of 1999 it and Magnolia would have had a fist fight for the top spot.

    I’d really need to see it again to comment in any depth. I wasn’t entirely whelmed by it on one viewing, but then I thought — and think — that Magnolia could have stood some pruning. Best of 1999? I’d have to go back over 1999 to come up with a choice, but Magnolia would be in the running. So would Titus and The Ninth Gate. (And before someone asks, no, Fight Club wouldn’t be.)

  42. I shelve Titus with Fight Club for 1999. Two very over rated films.

    I really enjoyed Magnolia, but would rank Kubrick’s swan song the better work.

    I too greatly appreciated The Ninth Gate and was quite surprised to see it almost universally panned. What do you make of that situation, Ken?

  43. Dread P. Roberts

    Had I made a list of the best movies of 1999 it and Magnolia would have had a fist fight for the top spot.

    For me, it’s a toss up between Being John Malkovich and The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland. Truth is, I’d really like to see those two duke it out in fisticuffs.

    I’d really need to see it again to comment in any depth.

    A Kubrick movie that may require more than one viewing to dissect? Nonsense. Balderdash, I say!

    Best of 1999?

    What about…

    And before someone asks, no, Fight Club wouldn’t be.

    …Dammit!
    This just proves you’re the worst film critic in the history of…of…history. Ha!

  44. Dread P. Roberts

    Sorry guys, I’ve had WAY too much coffee today. I’ll try a little harder to restrain myself.

  45. Ken Hanke

    This just proves you’re the worst film critic in the history of…of…history.

    If I were prone to signatures, that would be in the running for mine.

  46. irelephant

    “but then I thought—and think—that Magnolia could have stood some pruning.”

    I hear what you’re saying, but one of the things that I love about it is that it’s rather big, perhaps messy, overflowing. I love the writing and direction. Still weighs in as my favorite Paul Thomas Anderson flick – not to discount Boogie Nights, Punch-Drunk Love, or There Will Be Blood in any way.

    “So would Titus and The Ninth Gate”

    Agree with you on both of those choices. Both I caught up with a few years after their releases. Just read your last screening room, the list of notable horror movies of the past decade. Would Titus qualify as a horror flick? To me it feels like a horror comedy tragedy unperiod piece revenge flick – or something like that. Whatever it is, it was a great Shakespeare adaptation to close the last century on. It sets the bar pretty high in terms of what it is possible to do with Shakespeare on film.

    For the next decade, looking ahead again, I would like to see what great directors like Scorsese, Tim Burton, Wes Anderson, Cuaron, and Del Toro would make if each of them adapted a play of Shakespeare’s for the screen.

    “And before someone asks, no, Fight Club wouldn’t be.”

    I enjoyed Fight Club when it was first released. I was a young lad of 19 at the time. Read the book for the second time recently, then watched the movie after a nine years break and noticed that neither have aged well. But I’m not the same directionless, angst-ridden, disillusioned 19 years old I was when I first encountered them – not all, now I’m merely 29, curmudgeonly , and disillusioned. So, perhaps I’ve out grown Fight Club.

  47. davidf

    EYES WIDE SHUT, TITUS, and THE NINTH GATE are all movies I remember liking, but I’ve only seen them once, and they’re all way over due for a second viewing. Thank you everyone for reminding me to do this.

    FIGHT CLUB = The most over-rated film of 1999. I loved it when it came out, and I still have a fondness for it, but it has not aged well. Now it just looks juvenile to me. I was also 19 when it came out.

    The most under-appreciated films of 1999, in my opinion, are THREE KINGS and THE STRAIGHT STORY. Time has only made me love them more.

  48. Ken Hanke

    I too greatly appreciated The Ninth Gate and was quite surprised to see it almost universally panned. What do you make of that situation, Ken?

    I think it’s simply too much a horror film and too much fun. I mean, how can that stack up against the pre-packaged angst of Fight Club?

  49. Ken Hanke

    I hear what you’re saying, but one of the things that I love about it is that it’s rather big, perhaps messy, overflowing.

    As an idea, I can go with that. In fact, I think that would be a pretty good description of Lindsay Anderson’s O Lucky Man!. But something about Magnolia — I think it’s excessive John C. Reilly footage — keeps me from feeling that way about it.

    Would Titus qualify as a horror flick?

    I think so, but it would have been in the top 100 had it come out a year later.

    For the next decade, looking ahead again, I would like to see what great directors like Scorsese, Tim Burton, Wes Anderson, Cuaron, and Del Toro would make if each of them adapted a play of Shakespeare’s for the screen.

    Well, we have Julie Taymor’s Tempest to look forward to this year. The others you have there are an interesting group. What would you have them do? That’s where this idea gets interesting. I’d really like to see someone who could pull off the amazing visual elegance of the William Dieterle 1935 Midsummer Night’s Dream (one of the most beautiful films ever — and the only instance where the Oscar for cinematography went to a write-in choice) and lose the weird reshuffling of the text and the dubious casting. My vote there goes to del Toro.

    I enjoyed Fight Club when it was first released. I was a young lad of 19 at the time.

    That may be the key. I’m not sure. The film does nothing for me, but I was in my 50s when I saw it and not much interested in that brand of angst. Then again, I’ve never cared for David Fincher’s work.

  50. irelephant

    “My vote there goes to del Toro”

    Genius. I like that idea, a lot.

    “What would you have them do?”

    That’s a good question…

    Del Toro: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

    Tim Burton: Hamlet or A Winter’s Tale

    Cuaron: Macbeth

    Scorcese: King Henry IV parts 1 and 2

    Wes Anderson: Love’s Labor’s Lost

    And…

    Rian Johnson: As You Like It

    “I’ve never cared for David Fincher’s work.”

    Yeah, his flicks need some viagra, his camera’s a bit limp. I don’t have much interest in anything he does, anymore. I’d watch all the Robert Downey Jr. scenes from Zodiac again, though.

    “William Dieterle 1935 Midsummer Night’s Dream (one of the most beautiful films ever—and the only instance where the Oscar for cinematography went to a write-in choice)”

    Have never seen it. But would like to with that recommendation.

    I’m generally wary of Shakespeare on screen, with all those blasted Kenneth Brannagh adaptations on the loose and all. Though i will give him props for audacious casting: who else in the world would unleash Keanu Reeves on Much Ado About Nothing and then a few years later unleash Mathew Lillard and Alicia Silverstone on Love’s Labor’s Lost. I personally wouldn’t cast Mathew Lillard and Alicia Silverstone in an Alpo commercial…but, hey, whatever.

    “In fact, I think that would be a pretty good description of Lindsay Anderson’s O Lucky Man!. But something about Magnolia—I think it’s excessive John C. Reilly footage—keeps me from feeling that way about it.”

    Agree with you on O Lucky Man. Caught it on your recommendation this past summer. Love it. If…. and O Lucky Man have made it into my collection.

    But I will agree to disagree with you on Magnolia. The John C. Reilly footage didn’t bother me at all. Even Tom Cruise was raised in my estimation.

    I also love that Anderson went from this multi-character Drama into making an intimate romantic comedy drama that focuses on a single character.

    What’s your opinion of Boogie Nights?

  51. Ken Hanke

    Wes Anderson: Love’s Labor’s Lost

    You know, it occurred to me that Hamlet might be interesting territory for him. Consider his penchant for dealing with the dysfunctional family.

    Yeah, his flicks need some viagra, his camera’s a bit limp. I don’t have much interest in anything he does, anymore. I’d watch all the Robert Downey Jr. scenes from Zodiac again, though

    I’d probably agree with that. There’s a smugness about his work that I find very off-putting, but I think it’s probably inherent in him. I watched him at the Oscars last year and kept wanting to smack the self-satisfied look off his face.

    Have never seen it. But would like to with that recommendation

    Bear in mind that the look of the film and the content are hardly on equal footing. In an outburst of culture vulturism Warner Bros. tapped Max Reinhardt to make the film. Dieterle was brought in because he knew movies and Reinhardt didn’t — not to mention he knew English and German and Reinhardt was not English fluent. This did not keep Reinhardt from tearing into the text with peculiar enthusiasm. I’ve yet to grasp the point of taking “Captain of our fairy band, Helena is here at hand, and the youth mistook by me, pleading for a lover’s fee” and hacking “Lord, what fools these mortals be” off it. Granted, the last line is stuck in elsewhere, but why? I have no idea. Also, the score is awash in Mendelssohn, which is mostly to the good, including turning part of the “Scottish” Symphony into a song. But why he jettisoned the two perfectly fine Mendelssohn songs, “Ye Spotted Snakes” and “Through This House,” and replaced them with other music, I don’t know. OK, one sentence will put it all into perspective for you: Mickey Rooney plays Puck.

    The John C. Reilly footage didn’t bother me at all.

    It apparently doesn’t bother a lot of people, but stretches of it cause my mind to wander.

    I also love that Anderson went from this multi-character Drama into making an intimate romantic comedy drama that focuses on a single character.

    It ought, I think, be noted that it’s a very unusual romantic comedy.

    What’s your opinion of Boogie Nights?

    Someone I knew once called it “a surprisingly deep film about amazingly shallow people.” That’s a fair assessment of it, I think. It gets extra points for having “Brand New Key” and “Living Thing” on the soundtrack. It is not, however, a film I’d care to watch too often.

  52. steph

    I’m completely with you, Ken, regarding Downey. Have never been able to stand him. He has an annoying smugness to everything he does (even as far back as WEIRD SCIENCE). I can’t see anything that he stars in but can maybe take him in very small doses like “Zodiac” but that smugness is there as well.

    IMO, John C. Reilly gets way more work than he deserves too and his scenes always makes it hard for me to get through Magnolia. I don’t think he is as good as he thinks he is, although I really didn’t mind him in Boogie Nights.

  53. Dread P. Roberts

    I’m completely with you, Ken, regarding Downey. Have never been able to stand him. He has an annoying smugness to everything he does (even as far back as WEIRD SCIENCE).

    One of us has completely misinterpreted what Ken was saying. When I was reading what Ken said, I thought that he was talking about David Fincher (in which case I agree). However, I’ve noticed that I tend to like Downey a lot more than most people do; so that might be why it didn’t occur to me that Ken might be talking about him. It’s interesting how easily things can get misinterpreted online.

  54. Ken Hanke

    I was talking about Fincher, not Downey. I tend to like Downey.

  55. I am not a big Fincher fan either. (Thought 7 was terrible.) I must confess, though, I did really enjoy The Game. I am not usually into films that just designed to take you for a ride, but that was a really fun ride.

  56. Ken Hanke

    I must confess, though, I did really enjoy The Game.

    And that’s perhaps the only Fincher film I haven’t seen.

  57. Dread P. Roberts

    And that’s perhaps the only Fincher film I haven’t seen.

    I would recommend it, too. I agree with David about it being a like a fun ride. I enjoyed it so much, that I actually bought it, and It’s the only Fincher movie that I recall ever even considering purchasing. The thing is that it still feels like a signature Fincher movie (if that makes any sense). Perhaps one could say that The Game sort of does for Fincher, what The Prestige does for Nolan.

  58. davidf

    “Perhaps one could say that The Game sort of does for Fincher, what The Prestige does for Nolan.”

    I think I could go along with that. It’s been a long while since I’ve seen THE GAME, but I’d say it’s Fincher’s best. If nothing else, it’s the most successful of his many attempts to be clever.

  59. irelephant

    “You know, it occurred to me that Hamlet might be interesting territory for him. Consider his penchant for dealing with the dysfunctional family.”

    I’d definitely like to see what he would do with it. Not opposed to that at all.

    Though, I would really enjoy seeing what Burton would make of it. Hamlet feels like Burton material to me: a sort of loner outsider with father issues, his actions bound up in his thoughts. It would be a nice amalgamation of Edward Scissorhands, Ichabod Crane, Willy Wonka, Sweeney Todd, and, I would suspect, the Mad Hatter. And what a perfect role for Johnny Depp. I’d love to see where they would go with it.

    There hasn’t been a screen version of Hamlet that I’ve enjoyed. Surprisingly, I did enjoy Mel Gibson’s performence, despite his dodgey english accent, though the movie wasn’t to my liking.

    I would put Anderson with Love’s Labor’s Lost because it is a strange sort of comedy/romance, where there is very little romance and the comedy comes from the male characters’ delusions and weaknesses. But yet those weaknesses are understandable. I could imagine Owen Wilson playing the King as sort of a spirtitual cousin of his character in Darjeeling Limited. I feel it would work perfectly in Anderson’s style.

    “Mickey Rooney plays Puck.”

    You know, I like non-shakespearean trained actors having a go at Shakespeare. It can be exciting. But Mickey Rooney as Puck is a bit of a stretch for me. I’d rather see Sean Willaim Scott as Puck, Honestly. Hell, I’d rather see Gary Coleman as Puck, if for no other reason but morbid curiosity.

    Nonetheless, I’ll check out the flick.

    I haven’t seen Peter Brook’s version with Ian Holme as Puck. Has a great cast. Saw that you rated it highly. Harold Bloom, who I’m not totally keen on, gave it a sterling recommendation as the only film version that works. I can’t find a copy to rent though. Know any place that might have it? Pretty sure I can get the Mckey Rooney as Puck version down at Orbit.

    “It ought, I think, be noted that it’s a very unusual romantic comedy”

    Most definitely. It’s downright strangely beautiful. Moving. Unique. Odd. Works better than most romantic comedies for me. Shows that the genre hasn’t been beaten to death. Just beaten senseless in most quarters.

    “a surprisingly deep film about amazingly shallow people.”

    That should be on the DVD case. The characters have more dimensions than they have depth – if that computes. And what an amazing accomplishment for a writer/director as young as he was at the time. It is impressive to me. Something that is echoed in There Will Be Blood, in my estimation. Plainview is a vertible sociopath and yet, whether through Anderson’s writing or Day-Lewis’s performence or both, he was portrayed as three dimensional, if not himself deep. Watching the movie again for me is like peeling back a layer or two and then pasting them back as quick as possible.

  60. Ken Hanke

    I may catch up with The Game some day. (But then again, I’m still trying to get around to Lucky Star (1929), which I’m told is the unsung gem in the Murnau-Borzage box set. And that’s in this very room.) I do, by the way, think the opening credits on Panic Room are pretty spiffy.

  61. Dread P. Roberts

    I may catch up with The Game some day. (But then again, I’m still trying to get around to Lucky Star (1929), which I’m told is the unsung gem in the Murnau-Borzage box set.

    I’m sure Lucky Star (among others) is a much more worthy cinema viewing priority. Hell, I’d say The Fall should be a bigger priority than The Game (yeah, I went there).

    I do, by the way, think the opening credits on Panic Room are pretty spiffy.

    I forgot about Panic Room. I actually enjoyed roughly the first half of that movie. Then, somewhere along the lines, it kind of fell apart for me. It seemed like a promising start, that turned into cliché mediocrity.

  62. irelephant

    Posted a post yesterday and it has disappeared…has anyone seen a lost post?

  63. Ken Hanke

    I forgot about Panic Room. I actually enjoyed roughly the first half of that movie.

    I seem to remember that my response at the time was mostly that the change in casting didn’t work. Nicole Kidman was supposed to have starred, but was replaced by Jodie Foster. I might have bought Kidman as a victim who gains strength through the course of the story. I don’t really buy Foster as a victim.

  64. Ken Hanke

    I haven’t seen Peter Brook’s version with Ian Holme as Puck. Has a great cast. Saw that you rated it highly.

    You’ve — dare I say it? — mixed your Peters. It’s Peter Hall, not Brook. It’s a very interesting take on the material and very much of its time. (If Richard Lester had ever made a Shakespeare film, it would have probably been a lot like this.) I’m pretty sure Chip gave me a copy from VHS to review, though there was a DVD release, which I understand actually had inferior color to the VHS. I should still have that copy, which might be helpful, though sometimes saying that I have something can be about as useful as saying that it’s somewhere in North America.

    It’s downright strangely beautiful. Moving. Unique. Odd. Works better than most romantic comedies for me. Shows that the genre hasn’t been beaten to death. Just beaten senseless in most quarters

    Well, even in those quarters the damned things seem largely plagued these days by bad ideas badly written. I know a case can be made (I’ve made it in fact) that Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is more than a romantic comedy, but it stays more or less within the format. However, it’s done with style, flair, panache and wit. Contrast that with the recent Leap Year. (That’s a kind of abstract suggestion, since I don’t actually recommend you waste your time on Leap Year.)

    Posted a post yesterday and it has disappeared…has anyone seen a lost post?

    My guess is that it hadn’t been cleared, but that it’s the one I just responded to.

  65. irelephant

    “My guess is that it hadn’t been cleared, but that it’s the one I just responded to.”

    Indeed. Thank the goodly lord, my little lost post found its way home.

    “I don’t actually recommend you waste your time on Leap Year.”

    Call me what you will – a bit lonely, a touch desperate, a witless romantic – but I would waste my time on Night at the Museum 2 just to watch Amy Adams. So, I may in fact waste my time on Leap Year for darling Miss Adams. Have to be willing to make sacrifices for your juvenile movie star crushes.

    “Well, even in those quarters the damned things seem largely plagued these days by bad ideas badly written”

    Those flicks must be making a lot of money, because it seems like the same romantic comedy gets released over and over again throughout a movie going year. Sandra Bullock must be tired of playing the same role her entire career. They should cast her in a rewrite of the myth of Sisyphus as a romantic comedy. Now, who could possibly play the boulder, that’s a good question. I’d say that chap from the Hangover that’s getting to be somewhat popular – whatever his name is. He’d be perfect!

    “I should still have that copy, which might be helpful, though sometimes saying that I have something can be about as useful as saying that it’s somewhere in North America.”

    I thank you very much for that, despite the fact that the video may have gone on the lam or is hiding in plain sight or is in some such place where you may not think of looking for it. But I don’t have a VCR, anymore. In fact, I don’t even have a television right now. I watch DVD’s on my laptop, which works well enough.

    “You’ve—dare I say it?—mixed your Peters”

    Well, first time I’ve ever done that in a public forum…

    Caught up with Michael Radford’s Merchant of Venice. Was well impressed. It had all the right aspects. I enjoyed your review of it. I read your review in conjunction with a Harold Bloom review (the chap’s studied and taught Shakespeare for years upon years), and I was delighted to see that, in my opinion and to my taste, you had a greater understanding of the material. True, I’m not too keen on Mr. Bloom, but when he talks about the great Shakes I listen.

    “If Richard Lester had ever made a Shakespeare film, it would have probably been a lot like this”

    Would you say it fits with the British Invasion style of filmmaking, then? Is it the only Shakespeare adaptation in that style, at or around that time?

  66. Ken Hanke

    I would waste my time on Night at the Museum 2 just to watch Amy Adams. So, I may in fact waste my time on Leap Year for darling Miss Adams.

    Comparatively speaking, Leap Year might be pretty good.

    Those flicks must be making a lot of money, because it seems like the same romantic comedy gets released over and over again throughout a movie going year.

    Actually, they’re pretty hit and miss. The only big hit I can think of last year was The Proposal. All About Steve and Did You Hear About the Morgans? were disasters. Leap Year can nicely be called tepid. I haven’t seen any figures on When in Rome, but I don’t think it’s likely to do too well. But they keep coming. I’m not sure why, except that comparatively speaking, they’re cheap to make.

    I thank you very much for that, despite the fact that the video may have gone on the lam or is hiding in plain sight or is in some such place where you may not think of looking for it. But I don’t have a VCR, anymore. In fact, I don’t even have a television right now. I watch DVD’s on my laptop, which works well enough

    If it surfaces, it’s a DVD-R, so you could conceivably watch it.

    Would you say it fits with the British Invasion style of filmmaking, then? Is it the only Shakespeare adaptation in that style, at or around that time?

    It’s a little cheesier than most Invasion films, which is to say it smacks a bit of budget limitations and TV effects, but in essence, it’s of a piece with those films. I can’t really think of anything else like it from the era, though there may well be Brit TV offerings that are not dissimilar.

  67. davidf

    “Sandra Bullock must be tired of playing the same role her entire career. They should cast her in a rewrite of the myth of Sisyphus as a romantic comedy. Now, who could possibly play the boulder, that’s a good question.”

    I’d cast Ryan Reynolds as the boulder.

  68. irelephant

    “If it surfaces, it’s a DVD-R, so you could conceivably watch it”

    That would be great. I would appreciate that immensely. Let me know if the little devil wanders into the light.

    “But they keep coming. I’m not sure why, except that comparatively speaking, they’re cheap to make”

    You know, after reading that statement, I got to thinking. Even within the confines of a formula, there must still be a lot to be done with the genre, while keeping them cheaply made crowd pleasers. Seems like that would be a special sort of challenge for a writer: shake the dust off a genre that’s lost its witty sense of fun.

  69. Ken Hanke

    Peter Brook’s Lear with Paul Scofield in the title role is the pinnacle of adapting Shakespeare to the silver screen for me … thus far.

    I haven’t seen it so I can’t weigh in on where it would fall for me. I’ve never tried ranking Shakespeare on film. Might be interesting.

  70. Ken Hanke

    I’d cast Ryan Reynolds as the boulder

    Then people would connect it with The Proposal and it would make money.

  71. Ken Hanke

    You know, after reading that statement, I got to thinking. Even within the confines of a formula, there must still be a lot to be done with the genre, while keeping them cheaply made crowd pleasers. Seems like that would be a special sort of challenge for a writer: shake the dust off a genre that’s lost its witty sense of fun.

    That sounds so reasonable, but it gets all screwed up and over by “the pitch” and “the formula.” The people who give the go-ahead to these projects like pitches that can be reduced to a sentence that evokes some previous film that made money (“It’s like The Passion of the Christ, but with comedic mistaken identity and a love interest”). Then there’s the formula, which is almost the same thing. If you stray too far from a certain procedure — meet cute, hate at first sight, growing love, problem creating penultimate reel of moping about, happy ending reconciliation — they get antsy.

  72. irelephant

    “It’s like The Passion of the Christ, but with comedic mistaken identity and a love interest”

    Now, that’s a freakin’ movie I want to watch.

    The Passion of the Christ would have been a bit better if it had had some bits and bobs included. At least The Last Temptation of Christ was wise enough not to dispense with the sexy business.

    I want to see the first draft of that script on my desk monday morning, Mr. Hanke.

  73. Ken Hanke

    I want to see the first draft of that script on my desk monday morning, Mr. Hanke

    What really worries me is that I’m tempted to give it try. Fortunately, it’s sufficiently daunting that I won’t.

  74. irelephant

    Well, that you’ve cosidered it doesn’t worry me in the least. Actually, I’m heartened by the fact.

    Hey, ’tis high time The Passion of the Christ was reimagined as a sex farce. All we need now is a few musical number – if we can sidestep the Jesus Christ Superstar vibe – and we’ve got ourselves a very marketable product.

    I’m sure there’s at least one fine – if perhaps in one view tarnished – soul out there who’s not daunted by the task of writing it.

    The question is, who in the name of our lord are we going to get as a director?

  75. Ken Hanke

    The question is, who in the name of our lord are we going to get as a director?

    Don’t look at me. I’m busy this afternoon.

  76. All we need now is a few musical number
    ‘Rock Me Sexy Jesus’?

    The question is, who in the name of our lord are we going to get as a director?
    Sounds like a job for Bob Zemeckis!

  77. patrick mendes

    Wouldn’t mind letting John Waters have a crack at the project, and if we could get him to do the motion capture thing that Zemeckis is so addicted to, it might be a creepily interesting flick.

  78. Jessica Marsh

    Ken, It might be well worth noting that most of Stephen King’s “Haunted Buildings” were actually LIVING. They were meant to be alive, and capable of acting on their own behalf. That explains who let Jack Torrance out of the pantry. The movie shows who let him out- the hotel itself. It was living- a breathing character, so to speak.

  79. Jessica Marsh

    By the way, most of Stephen King’s hotels ARE. It’s just part of his style.

  80. Ken Hanke

    Ken, It might be well worth noting that most of Stephen King’s “Haunted Buildings” were actually LIVING. They were meant to be alive, and capable of acting on their own behalf. That explains who let Jack Torrance out of the pantry. The movie shows who let him out- the hotel itself.

    That’s fine, but the question only arises if you try to take the film (as distinct from the novel) as purely psychological horror, as a story of contagious insanity with no supernatural aspect. The minute you accept the idea that the building is alive, it’s no longer psychological, but supernatural. I haven’t read the book in at least 20 years, but my memory is that there’s never any question in it about the supernatural not being involved.

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