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The Shining starts with a slow pan up to a lake surrounded by mountains. A yellow Volkswagen drives along a heavily forested road. They seem to be far from civilization. The motion of the camera follows the twists and turns of the car from a God’s-eye view. Then the angle switches and the camera now follows the car from behind as if the camera itself was a car. As the Volkswagen approaches a sharp turn, the camera, instead of taking the turn, leaps off the side of the mountain and to be quite honest with you my heart skipped a beat.
Then as you continue to watch, the opening credits begin to play over beautiful footage of the mountain range, sprinkled with snow. An aerial approach to a snowy mountain leads you to a hotel below, The Overlook. After we get a good look at the hotel the screen fades to black. In the opening credits there are five producers mentioned: Stanley Kubrick, the head producer; The executive producer, Jan Harlan; and the associate producers Robert Fryer, Mary Lee Johnson, Martin Richards.
The director of photography was John Alcott.
This screenplay was written by Stanley Kubrick and The major actors that appeared in this film were Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvail, Danny Llyod, Scatman Crothers, Barry Nelson, and Philip Stone. The story takes place in the rocky mountains of Colorado near where, as mentioned in the film, The Donner Party became trapped in the hillside and resorted to cannibalism in order to survive the harsh winter.
This is then further explained that for five months out of the year there is so much snow covering the 25 mile road leading to the hotel that it is near impossible to have contact with the outside world. The main characters of the movie are Jonny, Wendy, and Danny. Jack, the father and caretaker of the hotel in the story, decides to move his family to this hotel for 5 months in order to write his “ground-breaking novel”. During the beginning of the movie, we generally see him in warm lighting which gives him a more fatherly and personable view. As we watch the story unfold we see his gaze start to turn from joy into madness and anger. By the end of the film the shots get increasingly more shaky the more intense Jack gets. Wendy, Jack’s wife and Danny’s mother, is a very quaint woman who appears to not have very much character development throughout the story. Her main function is to drive the plot points of “this place is creepy and I think our son isn’t safe here” the whole movie. I personally found her supporting character to be very flat. Danny, the son of Diane Johnson who based the story off of both Jack and Wendy, is a seemingly schizophrenic 10 year old who has immense psychological problems.
In the beginning of the story we see him in mostly dim lit, close up shots when he is alone. This is due to him talking to his imaginary friend that lives in his mouth. As we follow these characters thorough the long winter Jack began having visions of a party that had happened in 1921. It was like his aimless walking around the hotel led him to a ghastly time capsule. In this party room, he accidentally gets bumped into by the old care taker of the hotel who then planted the idea of murdering his wife and son in his head. Another stand out scene in the film was where we see the development of a scene from the beginning reiterated again towards the end such as the hedge maze. In the beginning we see the garden full of color and light when Wendy and Danny first discover it. They momentarily get lost but have a fun time finding their way out. Later when we arrive back in the maze, it is after Danny has been chased out of the hotel by his father, who is wielding an ax and is trying to murder his wife and son.
We then see the maze in dark ominous lighting which matches the mood of peril and chaos. At the climax of the movie, Danny uses his wit to escape his father and covers up him tracks by backtracking footstep by footstep through the maze and then hides on one of the side trails, covering his new steps with a sweep of his arm. This technique gives him time to run away from his father back to the hotel. His father inevitably becomes lost in the maze and freezes to death overnight. Overall I would say this film gave me satisfaction as a viewer. The beginning definitely grabbed my attention with the story of the previous care taker and how the last man who brought his family to live with him during this time killed his entire family. However, with as much as I have heard others talking about this film I would have expected it to have had more shock factors. The film was marketed as horror but I would definitely consider it more of a thriller than anything. The shots were beautiful and I also enjoyed the overall color scheme and how it related to each of the scenes. However there was only one actual moment of gore and I feel it was very short lived. I also was unable to hear the dialogue during points between impacts which made me have to rewind the movie a few times. I think that the camera shots were very well done and paired well with the moods overall.
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