Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Movies! The Shining

Okay, I'm going to be dead on honest here. I'm not a big fan of The Shining, as a movie. I love the book. I think most of Stephen King's early books will be taught as classic literature years from now. My favorite is actually The Stand, with The Shining coming in as a close second.
So, if I don't like The Shining, why am I bloggitying about it? Because it keeps snowing, and I'm starting to get a little weird here in the snow. The story of The Shining goes like this: Jack Nicholson, a writer and recovering alcoholic, gets a job as a winter caretaker in The Overlook Hotel in Colorado. The Overlook is closed during winter months because of the brutal weather. Jack, his wife Wendy (Shelly Duvall), and his son Danny (Danny Lloyd) will essentially be snowbound in the hotel for the entire winter. There's a small problem: The Overlook is haunted with dangerous evil spirits, and the child Danny has The Shining, a psychic ability which causes him to be able to see and interact with the spirits that haunt the hotel. Jack slowly descends into madness, Danny is utterly terrorized, and Wendy cries a lot and makes soup.
It's a beautifully shot, wonderfully stark movie, but I think the director, Stanley Kubrick, missed the real soul of the novel. King's novelized character of Jack starts out as a good man in a bad situation who slowly and painfully turns into the hotel's monster. In Kubrick's movie, Jack Nicholson is pretty much whacked from the get-go. Nicholson is amazing, but it's not a character you can sympathize with. Also, Shelly Duvall's Wendy shows little of the toughness and survivor type spirit that King's Wendy has.
There are some lovely moments and exchanges of dialogue. The elevator opening to the ocean of blood is unforgettable, as are the twin girls who beckon Danny to come and play with them forever. . . and ever. . . and ever. The creepiest addition from Kubrick is Danny riding his Big Wheel tricycle up and down the hotel's hallways with no soundtrack, just the noise of the little bike moving from hardwood floors to rugs and back. The isolation and menace of the building is the most developed character in the film, while the human characters seem flimsy and unlikeable.
I read an interview with King once concerning the movie. He wasn't too pleased with Kubrick's adaptation, and he said he knew the movie was in trouble when Kubrick called him late one night with this question: "So, the ghosts in the hotel. They could be a good thing, right?" In the book, the ghosts are never a good thing.
However, after days and days of snow, it's the movie that comes to mind, not the book. I'm getting my Big Wheel out right now to ride it up the hall to the bedroom and back. Over and over and over.
My favorite line from the movie? "You've had your whole f-ing life to think things over. What good's a few more minutes going to do you now?"

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