I certainly wouldn't want to meet this guy in a dark alley (or be chased by him in a hedge maze). On Halloween I watched the movie, The Shinning. It had been about thirty years ago since I last watched it. I figured since my wife is out of town (she's not fond of scary movies... in fact, she got scared watching the COMEDY, This is the End. Yes, I said comedy), and I'm just about finished reading the novel for the second time (once again, thirty years), I would watch this movie. I actually bought the bluray version, sent to me in two days, AND was able to download it to watch right away all for $7.99. That includes shipping. I love Amazon (and the free market where it actually still exists!).
As some of my professor's will attest to there is nothing I like doing more than comparing a movie to the book.
I like the movie and still felt the tension and terror that Stanley Kubrick was so good at. Jack Nicholson was brilliant. His interpretation of Jack Torrance is downright scary. We all know this man plays crazy better than anyone but this was an entirely different kind of crazy. He brings us a man who slowly is going insane. Some of how he gives us a taste of the change going on as the movie progresses is true artwork. Rumor has it that Kubrick did take after take after take after... you get the idea to get what he wanted out of each scene and every actor in those scenes. Whatever happened the final product did its job... it scared the you-know-what out of moviegoers.
Now the book. I was probably too young to really "see" some of the subtle differences in the movie and the book. Certainly the chapters dedicated to the wasps (very tense in the book), and the true reason this family has no choice but to try and put their lives together literally "locked in" for the winter, AND how the little boy really does have this power the old black man calls "the shinning" are easy to see. But what's missing in the movie is how it is the hotel itself that wants this family. Nicholson plays a guy we really don't like (but can't keep our eyes off of) who goes crazy because of cabin fever. The really creepy part in the book is that the force coming from the actual hotel and it's "past guests" are slowly turning Jack Torrance into a man who never would have been. Some of his past mistakes that are so brilliantly brought forth by King in the novel let the reader sympathize with Torrance and hope that he doesn't do what the hotel is urging him to do... kill his wife and kid. King appears to be just writing along giving us the thoughts of Jack absent of malice when suddenly, and effectively, we are exposed to just a fleeting moment of murder. He really is the king (no pun intended) of horror.
Both the movie and book are worth every minute I spent with them. Obviously it just isn't possible to bring the horror of the book to the big screen in the same fashion. I read that a TV movie was made that aligned with the book but never had the power to scare like Kubrick's version did. I respect both of these artists and authors (Kubrick wrote the screenplay) for their brilliance. Some of my students keep telling me all the "ideas" are taken. That there's no reason to write because nothing is original anymore. I always tell them that the stolen ideas usually create the most original, thought provoking, and brilliant writing around. The writer of Fight Club said he stole the idea from The Great Gatsby.
Just look at how different Kubrick interpreted a book like The Shinning. The movie scared people and kept them coming back for more. The true resemblance was only found in the names of the characters and the hotel. And one major thing happened... it worked!
Until next week... God Bless!