All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy......
is quite simply one of the greatest horror films of all time, one that would make Alfred Hitchcock proud and one that is rarely made anymore. Kubrick fills the film from beginning to end with incredible imagery paired with overpowering music and sound effects, balanced with riveting performances from Jack Nicholson, Shelly Duvall and Danny Lloyd.
Kubrick immediately sets the tone of the film with its sweeping vista of Colorado landscape overlaid with haunting music, later followed by such creepy scenes as Tony’s introduction and vision to Danny, and Danny’s proclamation, “Don’t worry, mom, I know all about cannibalism. I saw it on TV” (“See, it’s okay. He saw it on the television,” Jack intones).
Once again, Kubrick uses music to his fullest strength particularly in moments where the high-pitch music highlights a simple scene and a lower pitch for introducing high intense moments. And yet, he’s most effective when doesn’t use music at all and instead uses the never-ending heart beating to emphasis the terror of the scene.
However, the creepiest aspect of this film is Danny Lloyd’s performance, both as Danny and as the “imaginary” friend, Tony. The high-pitch, throated muttering “Redrum” is especially eerie which highlights the scene where Danny picks up Wendy’s knife and lipstick and writes “Redrum” on the bathroom door.
Kubrick’s photographic past continues to shine through with wonderful camera angles such as the low angle up to Duvall as she reads the typewriter, the low angle of Nicholson’s head against the store locker door as he screams at Duvall, the ultra-high angle of Duvall and Lloyd walking through the hedge maze, and just about every shot of Lloyd throughout the film, especially when riding his big wheel around the hotel.
Philip Stone makes his third and final appearance in a Kubrick film, here as the ghost of Delbert Grady, the previous caretaker, after appearing as Alex’s father in A Clockwork Orange
and Graham, the Lyndon family lawyer, in Barry Lyndon
. This also features Joe Turkel’s third and final appearance in a Kubrick film, here as the ghostly bartender, Lloyd, after appearing as Tiny in The Killing
and Pvt. Arnaud in The Paths of Glory
. Both actors bring great gravitas to their roles, especially Stone who quickly and without warning goes from goofy to deadly serious.
Unfortunately, the documentary Room 237
leaves a lot to be desired for. It’s a mishmash of interviews between 5 film critics who ramble aimlessly on their different theories about what The Shining
means (and stating it all as if it were Fact). They suggest that the film is either about the massacre of Native Americans (which is the only one that doesn’t feel like its grasping at straws), the Holocaust, ghosts being sexually attracted to the living, history of everything, or, the most absurd of them all, Kubrick’s confession that he was directly involved in faking the moon landing (a theory which I’ve read on Cracked.com and actually comes off as even more absurd in this film).
The only interesting aspects of the documentary are some of the visual elements that these critics point out, particularly the spatial anomalies that exist within the hotel itself, continuity errors throughout the film, duality, and how certain imagery lines up when the film is played forwards and backwards at the same time.
However, all of these theories and insights are lost in what felt like an unedited mess (one interviewee is interrupted by his daughter in an obvious phone conversation which adds nothing to discussion) and aren’t given any room to breathe and flourish. In the end, I felt like I wasted two hours of my time watching this documentary when I had hoped for more interesting in-depth analysis of the film.
Next up: Full Metal Jacket