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"The Shining"-{Blu-ray}
Reviewer:
Taylor Carlson
Studio: Warner Bros.
Genre:
Horror
Release Date:
10/23/07
Special Features:

Commentary, making of, crafting The Shining, Wendy Carlos – Composer – Visions of Stanley Kubrick

Review:

The Shining is directed by Stanley Kubrick and is adapted from Stephen King’s novel. It stars Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, Barry Nelson, Joe Turkel, Scatman Crothers and Philip Stone. The musical score is composed by Wendy Carlos. ***

Jack Torrance, along with his wife and son, have relocated to an ominous hotel in the mountains for Jack to serve as caretaker during the off-season, where he will get back to doing what he loves best in his moments of freedom – writing. Unfortunately for Jack’s wife and son, things don’t go as planned. Jack quickly begins to become insane, not only due to the loneliness and solitude of the location but also due to a mysterious connection he seems to have with the hotel. As his insanity reaches its pinnacle, Jack’s son, who has a mysterious power known as the Shining, attempts to use his gift to bring another hotel employee back in order to rescue them. Will the family escape their insane husband/father figure, or will he kill them before they can get away to safety? ***

The Shining is one of those movies that has always had a fairly mixed reception. Many hail it as an “epic horror film” while some argue that “nothing happens” and it’s a “dragged out” film. Even Stephen King himself denounced Kubrick’s adaptation of this novel! While it certainly isn’t a conventional horror film (if you’re looking for one you’re in the wrong place), it is a solid entry in the Stanley Kubrick filmography. ***

Jack Nicholson is one of the greatest actors who has ever lived, and in his portrayal of Jack Torrance, he gives one of his most memorable roles. Nicholson is comfortable playing Jack at every state of being, from the peaceful drive up to the hotel with his family right down to when he becomes an unshaven, insane axe-wielding maniac who has no shame in murdering his so-called loved ones. Other great performances include Joe Turkel (one of the few men, if not the ONLY one, to appear in 3 Kubrick films) as a ghostly bartender and Scatman Crothers in one of his final roles as another hotel employee. ***

Kubrick succeeds equally well in the visual aspect of the film. The “look” of the film is arguably its greatest strength. The hotel starts out a beautiful place, but quickly the look changes to reflect Jack’s madness. The imagery of this film is now iconic – bleeding walls, ghostly young girls in the hallway, Danny riding his Big Wheel through the hotel, the hedge maze, Jack romancing a beautiful girl in a bathtub who transforms into a hideous, deformed creature… you get the idea. There’s a reason this movie has become an often-imitated pop culture staple. ***

Much as I like the film, though, I’m not going to say it’s perfect. Many of the criticisms pointed at the film are valid. It IS far too long a film – not an uncommon complaint with many of Kubrick’s films, even the truly great ones. Half an hour probably could have been trimmed with no harm done to the final product. Likewise, it’s certainly not a “traditional” horror film – eager young viewers coming in here wanting kills around every corner are going to tilt their heads in confusion. This is a movie that demands patience from its audience – and the impatient and shallow are going to be left out in the cold, just like Jack is at the end of the film. ***

Still, the good outweighs the bad. The Shining was Kubrick’s one attempt at the horror genre (this guy rarely attempted the same genre of movie more than once), and it’s a damn good one. Minor flaws aside, it’s still a classic for the ages. ---

Image and Sound:

The film has received tons of DVD releases over the years, many of which have been less-than-stellar. Fortunately, Stanley Kubrick’s films owned by Warner Bros. recently received some pretty solid restoration efforts. The film is presented in a widescreen aspect ratio (the OAR, like with other Kubrick films, has always been the stuff of debate) and detail and colors look far better than on any previous release of the film. There are some minor blemishes in the picture here and there, but for the most part you won’t notice. Minor noise reduction may have been employed, but even if it was the grain level is intact and never a distraction. Audio also gets a healthy upgrade, with the dialogue loud and clear, and the scary moments and Wendy Carlos’ score have never sounded better. It’s not a great audio track, but it’s certainly the best The Shining has sounded to date – and probably the best it ever will.

Special Features:

Like the other Warner Bros. Kubrick remasters, they have provided a good assortment of behind-the-scenes bonus features. A commentary track from the crew members is included, which will be an enlightening listen for any fan. There are also a number of featurettes that look behind-the-scenes of the film, including looks at Kubrick’s vision for adapting the story and a look at the work of composer Wendy (formerly Walter) Carlos. No fan will want to pass up these features.

Final Words:

The Shining is a horror epic that will remain burned in your head long after you are done watching it. Jack Nicholson’s performance and Stanley Kubrick’s direction come together to create a classic for the ages. Warner’s Blu-Ray transfer is superb, and the special features add to what would have been a worthwhile purchase even if this transfer were a bare-bones disc. Highly recommended!

 

 
 
 
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