from Markus Tschiedert
November 26, 2020, 12:59 p.m.
In October 1980, Stephen King’s novel The Shining was made into a film. in German cinemas.
Because a lot remains unexplained, and that leaves room for the darkest speculations to this day. The best proof that Kubrick got it right: In 1997 there was a TV remake of “Shining” under the direction of Stephen King, which was drawn for over four hours with cheap scary effects and is no longer of interest today. Kubrick’s “Shining”, however, remains one of the scariest films of all time even after 40 years. When King’s sequel “Doctor Sleeps Awakening” was sent to the cinema in 2019, it paid homage to Kubrick’s work, and that in agreement with Stephen King, who has probably made his peace with the previously hated film adaptation. By the way, Kubrick had cut two versions at the time: One for the European cinema market and a version for the US market that was almost 25 minutes longer, which was withheld from us for a long time, but is now finally available.
Never enter room 237
From the very first shot, everyone falls under the spell of history. A small VW drives along a lonely country road in the Colorado mountains. The strange music bodes badly, but Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson), his wife Wendy (Shelley Winters) and their son Danny (Danny Lloyd) are confident that they have a good time ahead of them. Jack has taken a job at the Overlook Hotel that remains closed in the winter months but still needs to be looked after.
The staff is already leaving when Danny is approached by the chef Dick Hallorann (Scatman Crothers), who immediately realizes that the six-year-old is a very special child. Danny, like the cook, has the shining, the two of them can communicate mentally and have the gift of premonition. They also sense when something is wrong, and in the Overlook a lot is wrong. It is a place of horror, especially room 237, which is why Hallorann urgently warned Danny not to enter it. Soon the hotel is snowed in and Danny is afraid. He feels that evil is slowly taking hold of his father. Affected by delusions, at some point he picks up an ax, ready to kill his family.
A place of horror
Stephen King has always criticized the fact that in Kubrick’s “Shining” the actual main character, namely the hotel, is pushed into the background by Jack Nicholson. Now it is difficult to want to breathe life into a permanent building so that it could perhaps act like a character of its own. Nevertheless, Kubrick manages to make the hotel’s long corridors and huge halls seem enigmatic and eerie. You get an impression of the size of the building in which you quickly feel lost. It is even worse when you feel at your mercy, and that is exactly what happens with the first snowstorm and evil gains strength and drives unstable people crazy.
Jack Torrance is such a person, because he was addicted to alcohol, and that will again be his undoing in the seclusion. In the film, however, this is never mentioned, as a viewer you have to work out such details yourself in order to penetrate into Jack Torrance’s sick psyche. But that does not mean that “Shining” is an alcoholic drama between reality and appearance. The film is more, it sharpens our senses for the supernatural. You may be a serene person, but the events in the film keep confusing you again and again, no matter how often you have already seen the film. One looks for explanations, wants to recognize the connections in order to come to a logical conclusion. But that’s exactly what Kubrick doesn’t allow us to do. Which is why the hedge-built labyrinth has a strong symbolic power. You go inside, look for the way out and always come across new nooks and crannies.
The life of a film of its own
A reason to want to watch «Shining» again and again, only to find out in the end that the laws of space and time do not apply here. That is exactly what is so eerie about it. What the ?? new ?? Regarding scenes from the US version that we have withheld so far, it can be said that there is some interesting background information about the main characters, but that doesn’t change the eerie atmosphere. The film has long since found a life of its own.
Fans believe they are always discovering something new in him, hidden clues that Kubrick has built in to set allegories on other socio-political issues. In 2013, the documentary “Room 237” was even made about it. Conspiracy theories such as that the moon landing in 1969 never happened and that it was staged by Kubrick in the studio, which is why Danny wears a sweater with an embroidered rocket in one scene, are reduced to absurdity.
Conclusion: «Shining» is one of the most haunting horror shockers in film history, which can still give us goose bumps after 40 years and is now finally available in a version that is 25 minutes longer.
“Shining” can be obtained from all online services for a fee.