Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Shining

This movie gives it all away at the beginning. It creeps you out from the get go with the extreme long shot that makes the cars and hotel look like tiny models. The music is almost just noise, chaotic.

The shot of Danny beneath the knives in the background while he has ice cream with Scatman Crothers. This scene I love as Scatman basically initiates Danny, or 'Doc', into the world of magic by having him eat from the cup. (Wikipedia: cup magick)

The lady in water, siren, bathtub scene.

The labrynthine hotel nicely parallels not only the ending in the hedge maze but also the labrynth of mythology that emprisoned the minotaur. A metaphor that Joseph Campbell sees as an ideal heroic journey.

The writer ego exploding. First he sleeps late and says he should write. Then he kicks her out cause she's breaking his flow. Then a little staring out of the window at his wife and kid like a creepster before getting back to writing. Screaming in his sleep at the desk.

Dipping bacon into sunnyside eggs as he explains how he fell in love with the place. He pounds the wall with a ball as we pan back from a lone typewriter. Dissolve from wife and son wandering in the maze to father wandering to a miniature of the maze. Zooms in on an extreme long shot from above.

Everything is set up so hardcore. The way shots change and get closer or further away to make them creepier. The exposition of the phone lines being out as wife talks to the ranger. The flash of the twins dead bodies. The crazy look on Nicholson's face from the get go.

The tv show mom and son are watching have some sort of older woman/mom seduction undertones. From this Oedipal setup we see Danny venture into the lair of his father to fetch his firetruck (red, power, sex).

The long shot here with Danny way in the background makes him even more insignificant. The mirror placed on the far left of the shot helps trap Danny in the frame as well as play up the duality of his (alcoholic) father.

Which then turns to a tender father/son moment, where they wear complimenting blues bonding them as father and son. But then it turns creepy and Danny asks if he would hurt him or mom. This seems to send the splinter down through the marriage. A battle over the child, a
reason to lash out, hate the one you're with because you hate yourself.

A nightmare reveals what we've been suspecting from the first scene when we hear that an earlier caretaker killed his family. It's like we keep getting hit over the head that this is going to happen. Every scene widening the schism of this family.

The Gold Room. A temple of lights. The empty bar a reminder of the routine of drinking. A confession with the imaginary bartender. A few drinks loosens up his emotions so he can talk about the love of his son, and the anger he feels at his wife covering up the guilt he feels about once hurting his son. It's like that one memory of him hurting his son, and how they all dealt with it, explodes when they are no longer able to interact with anyone else.

From his first hallucination here with just the bartender, it extends to a full ballroom of the rich of another era. His dark red jacket is ruined here by a yellow drink which leads him to the bathroom where he meets the previous caretaker, now a waiter, in the bright red bathroom.
Displacing the feelings perhaps as he projects it on the previous caretaker.

He's framed by the mirror, and informs him of his son telepathically contacting Scatman. The mirror is also where Tony revealed to Danny what happened at the hotel. I believe they both share the gift of the 'shining', and this battle between the father and son (and perhaps his own feelings towards his father reflected by his own face in the mirror) is what comes to the surface.

Enter Redrum. I guess this film's most famous pop culture contribution. Murder spelled, or reflected, backwards. As spoken by Tony, the flipside of Danny. Danny's watching Road Runner & Coyote (a violent dualistic relationship) as mom goes off, baseball bat in hand, to talk to dad.

Why the repeat of "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.'? The creepster angle of showing the same thing typed over in every manner possible def sells us on what we assumed was his mental state; stark raving mad.

Dad using his responsibility towards his job (something he may feel insecure about having 'been' a teacher and trying to be a writer) as an excuse to go off on his wife. She shows concern towards their son and his jealousy explodes into rage.

Knocking him out, dragging him, and locking him up was a good move, which brings out the bargaining aspect of the abusive relationship. No longer in power he tries to woo his way back. While locked in there he has a dialogue with the former caretaker through the door as he stands next to a box of 'sliced peaches' and 'pimento pieces' by a company
called Golden Rey.

Getting back to Redrum, Danny takes a large phallic symbol knife (the sword), and lipstick, and writes redrum on the door. An incantation spoken and performed hypnotically, serves as a warning against the father who's now knocking at the door...with an axe. A wounded hand

Danny escapes his father in the labyrunth having gone through it before with his mother. Jack, although having seen the overview of it via the miniature, can't navigate it like his son from personal experience. He also deceives his father by erasing his tracks.

This leaves dad, the potential writer, to die lost and frozen in the snowstorm labyrinth, the wasteland of his mind. Cut to a pan/zoom in on Jack Nicholson at the hotel in its heyday decades ago. What does it mean?

I also like how the time goes from a month later to certain days to a specific time.

The music is just random noise at times but it's effective in causing some sort of physical reaction. The high pitched wine during the telepathic scenes seem to actually hit certain parts of my brain. The heartbeat sounds over so many scenes. Quiet moments where we pan in or
out, slowing us down, easing us from tense moments, making us think that maybe everything will be okay.

It seems so heavy handed but it works. Is it because we've seen it spoofed a billion times?

And that bigwheel through the hotel shot is just amazing.

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