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The Shining Film Analysis

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Film Studies
Wordcount: 1109 words Published: 12th Jun 2017

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The suspense, blood and gore made the film so intriguing; the audience was kept wondering throughout as to what would really happen next. The eerie hotel combined with music and sound effects played a major role in the film, giving it a sense of paranoia. Nicholson’s portrayal of Jack Torrance was truly remarkable, showing us how easily a man can lose complete sanity. The film reveals our need for companionship; loneliness is something we as humans, find it impossible to endure.

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What disappointed me about the movie was the fact that the breakdown of the family was not as clear prior to it happening; Jack’s character lacked depth which would have been vital before his eventual breakdown. However, the film as a whole was exceptionally appealing. The director (Stanley Kubrick) carefully placed the horrific images combined with excruciating background music that would give you utmost panic; Stanley Kubrick had us believe exactly what he wanted and where he wanted, the fact that you were never too certain as to what was about to happen next showed his creative flair. The overflowing blood scenes were a visual masterpiece that seemed almost surreal, what drew me more to the film were hands out the characters and the circumstances they had to go through. Whether you like it or not after watching the film, it makes you somewhat wonder if a world where the past and present unite really exists; hence expanding our imagination to the extent that nothing is impossible.


Isolation and loneliness are one of the major themes in this film. Jack’s main reason to losing complete sanity was because he started to slowly isolate himself from everyone, including his family; nothing seemed to matter or make sense anymore. If you were in a world where its sole existence was you; then slowly if not immediately, life loses its meaning. At the beginning of the film we are shown that the car is moving towards and isolated hotel; the hotel itself represents a sense of isolation. The fact that it is located in a secluded place, where not a single soul can be found creates a border between Jack’s family and the rest of the world. One scene that showcases loneliness is when Wendy talks to the fire department; we can see a feeling of despair, because she has literally no one to talk to.

Duality plays another major role in the construct of the set and the film; there are two mazes, two little girls, two Grady’s, even two Jacks. The duality factor of the film may represent the two faced nature of humanity, the one that shines (Danny) and the other one that wallows in the dark, corrupted, and twisted desires. In Jack’s case what started as a mere irritation turned into downright aggression towards his family.

Detachment from reality is another major theme circling throughout the film. Jack spends most of his time working alone or isolating himself from his wife and child. How are we as humans able to define what’s a mere illusion to reality? Jack was not in a clear state of mind, from the way he talked and acted we could tell he was slowly slipping to world illustrated by him. The severity of his detachment is shown with his “writing”, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. As the film proceeds Jack sells his soul, or what’s left of his humanity to the “devil” in exchange for drinks; which finally detaches him completely from reality.

Clairvoyance is another theme that Kubrick plays on during the film; Danny is the major factor of this theme. Seen through messages sent by Tony, Danny starts to pick up the broken pieces and tries to prevent what the future beholds. This theme is covered with mystery and no clear edges, representing more of an unfinished circle with no beginning and no end. Tony sends Wendy messages in a mirror written “red rum” The reflection of which reads “murder”, murder is a reflection of both the past and the future, the word has a significant connection to the hotel; and history repeating itself. The hotel itself is filled with unexplainable paranormal activity that causes people to be in a disturbing state of mind. Clear, unexplainable images are brought to life to the characters; thus leaving them hanging by a thread of defining what’s real and what’s plain imagination.


The choice of actors and their portray play huge factors in creating a horrifiic masterpiece. “Darling, light of my life. I’m not going hurt ya. You didn’t let me finish my sentence. I said I’m not going to hurt ya, I’m just gonna bash your brains in I’m gonna bash em’ right the fuck in.” Jack, 1980: The Shining. Nicholson’s brings a character to life with his portrayal of Jack’s psychotic, twisted mind. With the audience observing his every move; it’s hard to ignore the fact that whilst watching the film you feel like you can see right through Jack’s psychotic, twisted mind. He had the audience observing his every move. Wendy’s personality on the other hand is illustrated as passive and hysterical making her seem eventually vulnerable as the film proceeds; the fact that she does not dare to conflict with her husband even in the most unfortunate situations makes her almost flawed character seem more human and damaged.

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Shot in secluded hotel high in the mountains which is inaccessible to anyone, the setting itself creates an atmosphere of seclusion. Kubrick’s choice of unnerving music and sound effects is one of the most crucial factors that add to the cramped atmosphere; keeping the audience tense, ready for a scared. The Shining wouldn’t have been the same if Kubrick didn’t add the yellow/ green colour to film, which created a complete different atmosphere; and setting the perfect cautious mood for the audience whilst watching the film. The emptiness of the hotel combined with the unusual setting complements each other greatly, allowing Kubrick to capture great shots; the film was very fast paced but at the same time had long, intense pauses creating a synchronized effect between each shot.

Stanley Kubrick tells us simple story of losing complete sanity through a unique perspective. As a whole the film successfully achieves its goal of keeping the audience right at the tip of their seats and anticipating what’s going to happen next. Jack Torrance was a one of a kind character, who was trapped by his own demons within the hotel; thus, creating a fascinating phenomenon.


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