Top 365 Films – #060 – The Shining (1980)

Top 365 FIlms - The ShiningDIRECTED BY: Stanley Kubrick

STARRING: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, Scatman Crothers, Barry Nelson, Philip Stone, Joe Turkel, Tony Burton, Lia Beldam, Billie Gibson, Barry Dennen, Lisa Burns, Louise Burns and Anne Jackson

BUDGET: $19m

EARNED (Worldwide): $44.3m




A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil and spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future.


The Shining takes us to the isolated mountains of Colorado where Jack Torrance becomes the new caretaker of the Overlook Hotel, planning to use the  secluded hotel during the winter season to write. Jack brings his family along to keep him company and his son Danny begins to see gruesome images, he learns that the hotel is haunted and is influencing his father, slowly driving him crazy.


Based (somewhat) on the Stephen King novel of the same name, The Shining is a film from the get go we’re given the first major red flag that would conventionally make any human being uncomfortable to learn about when taking on a job of being a caretaker in a secluded hotel for a long period….a previous caretaker managed to suffer ‘cabin fever’ and murdered his family before killing himself. Jack Torrance believes that his wife would be ‘fascinated’ by the story. It’s from there one question I never considered until rewatching the film was: did Jack ever really tell this revelation? What proceeds is a slow burn into madness as solitude can be mans worst enemy in repeating the same routine, in the same environment for so long that there’s a voice of madness in all of us….and it doesn’t help that there’s spirits encouraging that voice inside Jack, or are they really there? His son Danny however has issues of his own, as he learns that he has a rare psychic gift (known as the ‘Shining’), where he can read minds and see images of the past and future…and the future looks pretty grim. Finally there’s Jack’s wife Wendy, who plays with her son and attempts to cheer up her husband until she’s abruptly told to stop interrupting his work and begins to be consumed by her sons and husbands problems. Everything about The Shining works here, from Stanley Kubrick’s direction in the way he gets some shots (such as the handheld action following Danny riding around the hotel to the birdseye view of Wendy and Danny walking the hotel’s hedge maze), to the unsettling tone that proceeds once we witness Jack slowly become more unhinged and Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall give it everything with their performances. Regardless of how many times you have seen the film, it’s impact is never lost and it proves to be just as unsettling now with older eyes as it did when I first watched it over fifteen years ago.



FAVOURITE SCENE: Wendy discovers Jack’s manuscript and it repeats the same line, over and over and over again, which leads to Jack confronting and threatening her.

FAVOURITE QUOTE: ‘Wendy? Darling? Light, of my life. I’m not gonna hurt ya. You didn’t let me finish my sentence. I said, I’m not gonna hurt ya. I’m just going to bash your brains in. Gonna bash ’em right the fuck in!’ – Jack Torrance

DID YOU KNOW?: Both Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall have expressed open resentment against the reception of this film, feeling that critics and audiences credited Stanley Kubrick solely for the film’s success without considering the efforts of the actors, crew or the strength of Stephen King’s underlying material. Both Nicholson and Duvall have said that the film was one of the hardest of their careers; in fact, Nicholson considers Duvall’s performance the most difficult role he’s ever seen an actor take on. Duvall also considers her performance the hardest of her life. Shelley Duvall suffered from nervous exhaustion throughout filming, including physical illness and hair loss.

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