The Shining Film Analysis Essay



The Shining Film Analysis Essay

The Shining is a very famous horror novel written by an American author Stephen King. The book got its name from the inspirational song by John Lennon, which contains the lines ‘We all shine…’ It was King's third published novel that made him become one of the best authors in the horror genre. At the same time, he is known as a writer of different fiction and fantasy stories. He has published more than fifty novels, and many of them have been adapted into films or various TV shows. Of course, The Shining is not an exception.

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It was published in 1977, and soon the book was adapted into a movie by director Stanley Kubrick. The Shining is an example of a psychological horror movie, which was released as a mass-market film. It was the first movie where a stabilizing mount for a motion picture camera was used. Thanks to this, The Shining was one of the best-shot films in the eighties. Despite being based on the King’s work, the film differs from the novel in several significant ways. The paper will compare and contrast both the movie and the book to find the differences and similarities between them.

The Shining Movie Analysis

Of course, the plots of the film and novel are very similar. The main characters of the story are Jack Torrance, his son Danny, and his wife Wendy. The events take place at the Overlook Hotel in Sidewinder, where Jack is going to work as a winter caretaker. Later the snowstorms block the Torrance family in the hotel, and strange things begin to happen to them. If not to go into details, the film and the book seem to be nearly identical. However, the adaptation was influenced by the director’s ideas, and Kubrick threw out a huge part of King’s material. He replaced the missed parts with a lot of things that just did not seem to make any sense.

From the first minutes of the film, the characters differ from their prototypes in the novel. Due to this, Stephen King stated, “I felt that it was very cold, very. We’re looking at these people, but they’re like ants in an anthill, aren’t they doing interesting things, these little insects.” Moreover, in the book, the author provides the reader with a large amount of information about the Torrance family's problems and conflicts. For example, he tells us about Jack's physical abuse of Danny. The film does not provide us with such details because Kubrick tones down the life story of the characters.

Jack is a character who was changed the most in the film. According to King’s novel, he is a man who could be you. However, Jack in the movie does not look like an everyman. One of the reasons for this is that Jack Nicholson, the actor who played the role of Jack Torrance, is not an ordinary man. He has great acting skills but he looks unordinary with his specific features. It is difficult to imagine him wanting to be anyone but himself. At the same time, the main character looks like a villain from the beginning of the film. On the contrary, in the book, Torrance is described as a good man, who just has some flaws and an alcohol addiction. Alcohol, in this case, is a key that unlocks a beast inside the man. It is also important to note that Stephen King describes the man’s disintegration as a tragedy, and Jack is not a villain in the novel.

Jack Torrance Metamorphosis

Also, King shows that Jack is victimized by some supernatural forces inhabiting the hotel. It is clear that, after the terrible metamorphosis, he is no longer a human but a monster. On the other hand, Kubrick makes us believe that evil is coming from within Jack himself. It seems like the character chooses to be mad. Apart from that, the director of the film rejected King’s detailed and well-constructed backstory. Therefore, there are two different image interpretations of Jack. While watching the movie, one cannot wait for Jack to die, and while reading the book, one is worried about him.

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There are also other details connected with the character that deviates from the original story. For example, one such inexact interpretations are the scene where Jack kills Hallorann with an ax. People who have read the story know that Hallorann was just injured with a mallet. Only in the book, the main character hears the voice of his father, in the relationship with whom he had a lot of troubles. At the same time, Stanley Kubrick added the scene with Jack typing the sentence "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" onto the reams of a paper. This episode does not appear in the novel. What is more, Jack dies from the explosion in the original version of the story, but he gets lost in the maze and freezes to death in the movie. Thereby, the building of the Overlook hotel is destroyed in the first case, and it remains unharmed in the second.

Wendy Torrance in the Novel and Film

Wendy Torrance also differs from the woman described in the novel. Firstly, it is worth noting that her appearance is changed in the film. The woman is blonde in the novel, but she has black hair in the movie. "Shelley Duvall as Wendy is one of the most misogynistic characters ever put on film, she's just there to scream and be stupid, and that's not the woman that I wrote about," said Stephen Kind in his interview after watching the adaptation of the book.

Wendy from the movie has a weak nature. She is passive, meek, and submissive, but, at the same time, she displays hysteria. King’s Wendy is a more confident and independent person, who always remains cool and self-reliant. Furthermore, Kubrick cut a lot of her lines from the book. It happened because the director was not satisfied with the acting skills of Shelley Duvall. Her play was the worst in the film, and it was a big mistake to choose her for the role of Wendy.

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Danny Torrance by King and Kubrick

Of course, one should pay attention to the image of Danny, who has supernatural abilities both in the film and book. His power is called “shining,” and it allows him to communicate with different kinds of spirits, see past, present, and future events, and read the mind. Danny also has an imaginary friend Tony, which is his “guide”. The first difference between the book and the movie is that, according to the novel, Danny is a five years old boy, but the film describes him as a seven years old child who prefers watching cartoons.

Another significant difference is that the character of King is more open about his feature than it is shown by Kubrick. Danny is a very smart and intelligent child, according to the King’s work. At the same time, the boy is much more ordinary in the film. The next difference is that Danny’s pediatrician is a man called Bill Edmonds and he seems to know something about the "shining". On the contrary, the film shows us a female doctor who knows nothing about the strange abilities of the boy.

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On the one hand, all the characters of The Shining have similarities. On the other hand, they were modified by Stanley Kubrick. It was his biggest mistake when he was creating the film. Furthermore, it is the main reason I and many other readers of King’s novel dislike the adaptation. The director did not just change some details, but he created a new story with his main characters.

Despite being dissatisfied with Kubrick’s movie, I can say without a doubt that viewing The Shining is enough to make people go to bed with the lights turned on. The film is frightening because of the feeling of isolation, which is enhanced by the eerie music. At the same time, I like that it is both a horror film and a comedy. And, as for me, one of the weirdest and most amusing scenes is the moment where Wendy glimpses the appearance of a man dressed as a dog.

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Although the film is not bad and people who do not read the novel might like it, but, to my mind, the book is much better than its adaptation. I have always been interested in paranormal and unusual frightening stories. Thus, I like The Shining by Stephen King. I enjoy reading the book because the author pays attention to every detail of the story such as the images of the main characters. I cannot even say that there is something I do not like in the novel.

The Shining Movie Summary

Generally speaking, the adaptation of the novel The Shining differs from the original story in many ways. At the same time, the main reason for the difference is that Kubrick changes the images of the main characters. There are also a lot of minor details that have little impact on the story but always annoy readers. Such modifications make the movie disgusting, so it is not strange that King hates it.

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