In 1977 Stephen Kings thriller „Shining“ was published. Three years later Stanley Kubrick one of the best
directors of all time took care of the story. He turned Kings novel into a script and made a movie with Jack Nicholson in the leading role.
What is it about?
The alcohol addicted writer Jack Torrance spends the winter in the Overlook hotel together with his family. The building in the mountains of Colorado is snowbound throughout the winter and is isolated. Therefore the manager Stuart Ullman hires a janitor to take care of the hotel during this time.
Jack Torrance is more than lucky about this job as he just lost his previous work place as an English teacher because he got rough on a student. Moreover, he plans on using the time at the hotel to start working on his new novel.
His wife Wendy also wishes for this to improve the situation. After Jack broke their sons arm while being drunk after the little boy turned his workplace into a mess she considered getting divorced. She discards this idea and hopes that the stay will weld the family together.
The three arrive at the hotel on the last day of the season and are led through the building. The cook Hallorann immediately notices the supernatural powers of the little Danny. The boy is able to read thoughts what Hallorann calls “Shining”. He buoys Danny up and warns him about the appearances in the hotel, especially in room 217. Furthermore, he explains that Danny can call him for help anytime using his telepathy.
After the family spent some time at the hotel it seems to slowly possess Jack. He starts to act strangely and aggressively, shows symptoms of his addiction although there is now alcohol at the hotel.
In the meantime Danny enters the room 217 despite all the warnings. He is attacked by a woman’s ghost. When his mother later sees the strangulation marks on his neck she thinks that Jack got rough on the boy again. Wendy wants to leave the hotel with her son but the onset of winter makes it impossible.
Danny sees the word “REDRUM” (reflection of murder) during one of his states of trance and therefore calls Hallorann for help. Meanwhile Wendy arms herself and locks her husband up in the storeroom after he attacked her. When he is freed by the ghosts of the hotel Wendy begins to believe that they actually want Danny’s supernatural powers and Jack is supposed to help them.
Finally the situation escalates and Jack attacks both Wendy and Hallorann who came to their rescue. While they flee, the Overlook hotel explodes and then collapses.
Book vs. Movie
Stephen King’s novel was more than intriguing. He manages to create an extraordinary tension. You can’t put it down, there isn’t even one boring page. The story is unique, King is a master of his profession.
With Stanley Kubrick the movie was shot by a great director who implemented the story very well. However, the movie differs from the book in several points. The supernatural actions are put in the background a bit in the movie. Stephen King himself wasn’t happy with the film at all. His main criticism was that Jack Nicholson dispossesses the actual main character of the story – the hotel.
Nevertheless, Nicholson plays the role with an unbelievable intensity. He managed to portray the insanity of the character convincingly and terrifyingly. When he tries to break through the door with an axe, is brilliant in one of the most famous movie scenes of all time.
Kubrick created a great atmosphere and shot a first-class movie. But still, the movie and the book are a different kettle of fish. Both the book as well as the film are outstanding – regarded separately. It is extremely difficult to compare them.
In my opinion the book is worth reading just as the movie is worth watching. The story is told from two different points of view.