A goddamm masterpiece that really SHINES!

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Some experiences stay with you a life time.

Seeing the movie THE SHINING for the first time was definitely one of those occasions.

Back in 1980 I was fourteen years old and visiting my older brother Tony in Sydney. He took me along to a late afternoon session of the film on what was my very first trip to the southern city.

Back then for a kid from sleepy Brisbane, visiting Sydney was like taking in the bright lights and razzle dazzle of New York. By the time we emerged from the cinema after being subject to two straight hours of throat-closing, jaw-tightening primal terror it was dark. I remember walking through the city mall on the sort of clear night that made you feel like you could reach up and touch the stars. I’d never seen so many people in the one place before in all my life.

As my brother and I half walked/half staggered to the train station (ok, it was more me doing the staggering), coping with the effects of shell-shock brought on by the blood-curdling scenes and images that were still fresh in our minds, our path was suddenly accidentally blocked by a man whose entire face was covered by raised skin lesions. It appeared as if every last centimetre of his face had been infected with enormous, festering warts. The poor chap was definitely not in a good way and his appearance was non-intentionally shocking.

We moved around him, executing a ‘twinkle toes’ sidestep that would have made a State of Origin winger proud and continued on our way. Yet that chance,  quite surreal encounter, lasting all of just a few seconds but coming on the back of two of the most terrifying hours I or anyone could ever spend in a movie theatre, all but guaranteed what I saw that night would be still clearly etched in my memory close to 40 years later.

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Can you spot the mystery doorknob on the cream wall in the centre pic? The documentary makers behind ROOM 237 have a field day unearthing hidden images in Stanley Kubrick’s THE SHINING.

While loitering recently in amongst the aisles of my local JB HI-FI store (Fun fact: Did you know the ‘JB’ in JB HI-FI are the initials of the original owners name John Barbuto, back when the franchise had just the one store in Melbourne) I stumbled upon a title in the documentary section called ROOM 237. I went ahead and bought it then watched it in utter fascination in its entirety later that same day.

I’m typically a person who skips the ‘Bonus Extra’s’ on DVD’s. You know the type I’m talking about – featurettes depicting the behind-the-scenes making of a film along with interviews with the director and/or cast members recalling stories from the set. The movie-purist in me has always disallowed this, believing it somehow strips the film you’ve just enjoyed of some of its magic.

The focus of ROOM 237 is more concerned with multi-layered analysis and discussion of the themes and symbolic meanings presumed to be on offer in the movie THE SHINING. The director of THE SHINING was filmmaker extraordinaire Stanley Kubrick (1928 -1999), a writer/producer/director frequently cited as one of the greatest and most influential film helmsmen of the 20th century and someone who was reputed to have an IQ of 200.

Kubrick had a reputation as a meticulously layering director who liked to insert hidden meanings and symbolic images into his films. If we’re to believe the makers of ROOM 237 (the title refers to the room number in the haunted Overlook Hotel in THE SHINING where a number of unusual incidents play out), THE SHINING is an overflowing smorgasboard in these departments, offering film buffs near endless Freudian and non-Freudian gold class nerdgasms.

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Some theories put forward in ROOM 237 such as the suggestion clouds in the sky seen in the background of certain outdoor shots in THE SHINING contain hidden meanings that sync with the overlaying themes of the film had me scratching my head wondering “Did the director really intend that when he made the film?”

Yet if you accept the contention offered in ROOM 237 that those meanings are there regardless of whether the author/director was conscious of them, then just about anything becomes to at least some degree plausible. ROOM 237 holds fast to the notion that, largely because of who made it, nothing in THE SHINING is arbitrary and, like 3D chess, it may be viewed on many levels.

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On the other hand when you consider that images which are shown on the screen for mere seconds have been paused, reviewed and analysed within an inch of their lives over and over again by the five principal creators behind ROOM 237, who each confess to having watched THE SHINING dozens (and in one person’s case more than a hundred viewings including a couple backwards) of times, in does make you question if all the next-level over-explaining of continuity errors and the like transforms the original movie into a somewhat enhanced, completely different commodity.

In the end it doesn’t matter.

ROOM 237 is an entertaining journey into the wormhole of insanely dedicated film buffery seen through the eyes of five film analysts who’ve watched THE SHINING closer than anyone ever has.Capture

Enter the maze for yourself HERE

If you’re up for a really good laugh click HERE 

If you insist upon throwing gasoline on to a by-now completely fried brain, then you may as well go ahead and click HERE

Ps. Your bonus read this week is someone you all know quite well discussing their favourite books over at Bridgetwhelan.com (6000 plus followers). Read it HERE

And one more thing…

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16 thoughts on “A goddamm masterpiece that really SHINES!

  1. I respect your boundries Neil.
    In place of watching the whole movie, would you be up for seeing a two minute excerpt that contains not a trace of any blood, violence, redrum or even name calling?

    In this scene, Wendy (the wife) stumbles upon her husband Jack’s unattended typewriter, and, giving in to curiosity, decides to have a look at what has been occupying his time over the last few months of their stay in the deserted-for-the-winter Overlook Hotel.

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  2. That “what the final image in “The Shining” clip really DID fry my brain. I read the book first when I was a teenager, but I don’t remember Mr. King’s conclusions. When the movie came out, I was four years older than you, Glen, so I wasn’t as scared, and I remember being very disappointed that the director killed Scatman Crothers (that character survived in the book) and feeling REALLY annoyed with the blood pouring out of the elevators. It looked SO hokey to me. My husband says it’s an iconic scene, but I just don’t get it!

    The best parts of the movie for me were Jack’s slow deterioration, the vast, eerie emptiness of the hotel where boredom and creepiness hovered in equal measures constantly, Wendy discovering the “All work and no play” manuscript, the “give me the bat,” scene, and that fantastic conversation in the bathroom with the butler. Just remembering the slowly escalating tension taking place in the well-lit and sterile environment of the men’s room, the penetrating expression on the butler’s face, the long, pregnant pauses…. my hair’s standing up on end right now!

    AND, of course, the boy running away in the maze. Fantastic and unforgettable. I knew I would NEVER have been able to come up with a plan like that on the fly, as I ran for my life from my deranged, murderous father, to stop and then back up in my own footprints. Never would have happened. Would have been caught and beheaded. Or whatever he was gonna do.

    I’ve heard about some of those Easter egg surprises planted throughout the movie, and they’re really fun. Room 237 sounds like a blast. My husband and I watched a lot of the “fake video” of “Kubrick” admitting he’d filmed the Moon landing several years ago. I recall there was some detail that was screwed up while fake Kubrick was speaking to the guy filming which refuted the entire thing. But it was a fascinating idea to think that nobody had landed on the Moon and it had all been faked. If anybody could have done it, it WOULD have been Kubrick!

    I wish I had been 14 when I’d seen The Shining. I probably would have been scared sh**tless, instead of a calloused “I read the book first” jaded 18-year-old. 🙂

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  3. This comment has ‘brilliant’ covering its every syllable.
    Thank you so much!
    You are very right about the difference in impressionability between a 14 year old and an 18 year old. Those four years are a big, big maturity gap.
    And the scene where Jack is escorted into the bathroom by Delbert Grady? A hair raising classic!
    Little does Danny know how much this carefree stroll taken with his mother through the maze during daylight will assist him at the end of the movie…

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  4. The shot of Jack leaning over the model of the maze and then we descend down into the model and see Wendy and Danny walking in there….*shiver*. Really creepy. So well done. That kid was really smart. I wouldn’t have remembered how to get out of the maze even if it was still spring, and he managed it when it was winter and transformed under the snow. I love the story of visiting your brother, though, and the bright lights of Sydney, and then the odd situation with the man with lesions to top it all off. Classic !!

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  5. Wow!
    It’s amazing to find someone who actually reads a full post rather than just skims.
    Thankyou Stacey.

    One of the things that made seeing the film THE SHINING even more unique was the fact that the little boy who played Danny (child actor Danny Lloyd – now 47, a biology professor in Kentucky U.S and a father of six) retired from acting soon after that part so I’ve never seen him in any other role.

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  6. Yet another truly fascinating read Glen. I confess I am far too scared of the terrifying reputation accompanying ‘The Shining’ to ever actually watch it. Thriller is NOT my genre at all. I always feel enlightened after reading your blogs. Your writing appeals so much because of the entertaining combination of knowledge of your subject matter and dry humour. Keep up the good work!

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  7. It appears THE SHINING represents a line in the sand – as far as scaring yourself silly – that many folk just refuse to cross. I can only stand back and admire the sense of not wanting to ruin the next twenty years of night time sleeps because of what this movie will inevitably etch into the viewer’s mind once seen. Keep to your better judgment Shannon and go on and enjoy your life I say!

    In the meantime there’s this…

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  8. Pingback: Shining Examples | Scenic Writer's Shack

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