Sunday, October 15, 2006

Classic Movie Review: "The Shining"

As Friday the 13th came and went last week, I had an interesting opportunity: to watch the classic horror movie "The Shining" on a day associated with horror. I could not pass up this once in a lifetime event.

Like the other movies I have reviewed, The Shining has become part of pop culture lexicon. Scream out "Heeeeeeeeeeeeeere's Johnny" in a dark voice and people will sure to know what you are talking about. Freak out your friends by exclaiming REDRUM over and over again, and someone will get the reference. So how does The Shining hold up today, against the "seen that, parodied that" challenges that doomed my viewings of Taxi Driver and Westworld?

The Shining holds up very well, actually. I have actually read the Stephen King book it is based upon way before seeing the movie, so it wasn't like I had only seen certain scenes through parodies. The movie is still psychologically horrifying, as we see Jack Nicholson's character descend into madness. Shelly Duvall's character, the wife of Jack and mother of Danny, straddles the line between damsel in distress and damsel kicking ass. And the boy Danny is a perfect character to have the audience enter through.

Stanley Kubrick directed the movie and it is apparent that he is behind the camera. Many shots are just of a hallway, where a character enters the scene, the camera moves backwards as the character walks forward, then the character leaves as the scene lingers on the hallway a bit. I have read that this movie lead to the invention of the Steadicam, which allowed for scenes like the one mentioned before. There are no grandiose shots meant to visually stun the audience. Isolation is a theme of the movie, and the intense visual focus on the character in a shot reinforces that theme.

Out of all the classic movies I have reviewed so far, The Shining is the best one. It has a timeless quality to it. In one hundred years, people will still go up to each other and say "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" and then sinisterly laugh.

4 1/2 out of 5 Hedge Mazes.


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