Before you say it, yes, it has been a fair while since I’ve added to my film masterclass, over a year in fact; the last update being when ‘American Psycho’ was inducted. Part of me had been deliberating about what the next entry would be, but a certain film had come to mind time & again and had basically dominated the past month or so. Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 classic ‘The Shining’ has been haunting my mind and to be honest, it always has. My earliest memory of seeing the film was when I was young (under the influence of my older brother no doubt) and knowing full well I was not mentally prepared for this film, especially at the age of 10. At the ripe ol’ age of 10 I became infatuated by it; but not without feeling scared to the bone after watching the events unfold in room 237. It would be many years until I revisited the film again. Finally, it was at the age of 14 that I felt brave enough to watch this mysterious film in all its glory and to face the scaly, creepy old lady haunt me again with her eerie cackle. This time I had a much deeper appreciation for the film and, for the first time, be able to watch the film in its entirety without having to cover my eyes. This was a time where I was exploring film on a deeper level and appreciating the camera work, cinematography and acting.
This could possibly be one of the only films to be entered into my masterclass where it received terrible reviews on its general release and even acquired nominations at the Razzies for Worst Actress (Shelley Duvall) and Worst Director (Stanley Kubrick). Looking back on this, it’s mad to think how a beautifully shot film like ‘The Shining’ could receive a nomination for worst director! In my opinion, it’s one of the best films to shot in the last three decades; this is mainly down to its ageless look. The film was shot by Kubrick 40 years ago in 1979 and has not aged one little bit. The brilliant use of practical effects throughout and the ability to know how to use the camera as Stanley Kubrick did (this is due to being a successful and very good photographer before his directing days) so well in all his movies, Kubrick always had that natural instinct for a good shot. Along with it being ageless, it’s probably one of the most iconic horror movies of all time. Even if you haven’t seen ‘The Shining’ I am still 100% sure you can name a reference or scene from the film. Whether it is Jack Nicholson’s menacing grin smooched between the door, axe in hand muttering the words “Hereeeeee’s Johnny!” or the creepiest twins in existent asking you to come and play with them, forever and ever and ever, or even be the iconic blood falling out of the elevator doors or Jack’s dull boy screenplay; the point is that the film is full of unforgettable moments and is an unforgettable movie.
The reason why this film has come back into my mind is because I’ve always had the craving to read the Stephen King novel, which the film loosely based itself on. I wanted to find out how different the film was to the book and why King hates the film so much. If you didn’t know that already, you read that correctly. Stephen King. hated. The. Film! This was mainly due to a falling out with director, Stanley Kubrick, and the source material not matching the novel. I took it upon myself to read this work of fiction and I did thoroughly enjoy it even though there are big discrepancies between it and the film. After reading the book, it prompted me to book tickets to see the extended version of ‘The Shining’ at the BFI Southbank in London at the Kubrick season (April – May 2019). The extended version is in fact the original US theatrical version clocking in at 144 minutes. After initial bad reviews, Kubrick cut it by 33 minutes and that cut is well known to me in the UK and the rest of the world. After seeing the extended version and on the big screen, it did feel like I was viewing it for the first time again and it was a beautiful feeling.
‘The Shining’ is the perfect horror movie. Timeless, ageless, full of iconic moments that will haunt cinema and me for years and years to come. The work is helped along its way by superb performances by the always brilliant Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall (definitely not the “worst actress”!) and Danny Lloyd, ‘The Shining’ is a film I could honestly talk about for hours. I’m proud to present ‘The Shining’ in my masterclass and I suppose this is, in a sense, a love letter to Stanley Kubrick for inspiring me and delivering unforgettable cinema.
If you want to see my other entries in my Masterclass, read my previous articles:
Ian Crow’s Film Masterclass #7 – American Psycho (2000)
Ian Crow’s Film Masterclass #6 – The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Ian Crow’s Film Masterclass – Goodfellas (1990) #5