|Fig. 1 The Shining Poster|
Stanley Kubrick's The Shining was based on a book by the author Steven King. It is a psychological horror film in which the audience is forced to watch the mental deterioration of a father and his murderous rage that threatens the lives of his wife and son. This film is filled with interesting ideas portrayed both physically and metaphorically, with some scenes moving from the completely abstract to the horribly real.
|Fig. 2 Elevator of blood.|
One of the most powerful scenes is that of a river of blood spilling out of an opening elevator. This stunning image was used more than once within the film with no diagetic sound, only a track of what resembles white noise. The river of blood is first seen completely out of context, to some it may appear to be nothing but an artistic achievement but it can be interpreted as a metaphor for the gallons of blood that the hotel has drawn from countless victims over the years. Geoffrey Cocks explained that “fine words and traditional characterization were trivial compared to the power of images as a means to address larger historical and cultural issues.” (Cocks, 2006:186) These issues he refers to could be those mentioned to the audience at the beginning of the film, the killing of many Native Americans in order for hotel to be built. The audience is told that it was built on an Indian burial ground, so this combined with the tribal/Native American patterns mounted on the walls within the hotel signify that the blood is for them and by them. Their suffering has created a physical manifestation of their loss and the revenge they take on those within the hotel. Cocks also believes that “a close reading of Kubrick's life and work suggests that the ocean of blood flowing from the elevator in The Shining is the blood of centuries, the blood of millions, and, in particular, the blood of war and genocide in Kubrick's own century.” (Cocks, 2006:185) The genocide he refers to is that of the holocaust during World War II. As Kubrick was of Jewish descent he may have felt compelled to try to draw attention to such an inconceivably horrible event through imagery rather than blunt realism as it is an incredibly difficult thing for any director to portray sensitively.
|Fig. 3 Jack playing the wolf.|
|Fig 4. Jack's succumbed to madness.|
The Shining is a fascinating exploration of the fragility of the human mind. Thomas Allen Nelson shared his view, that "The Shining concerns old projects and unfinished journeys, secret longings and frustrated desires, movements in reverse rather than movements forward, "interviews" with the Self's dark but hardly imaginary friends." (Nelson, 2000:211). An excellent way to explain the many themes and narrative elements that this film holds. It is one that leaves the audience feeling a little dazed and confused but also strangely satisfied.
List of Illustrations
Figure 1. Concept Poster (2010) The Shining Poster. At: http://chadtrutt.deviantart.com/art/The-Shining-Concept-Poster-184425983?q=gallery:movie-poster-fans/27066638&qo=46 (Accessed on: 16.01.2011)
Figure 2. The Shining (1980) Elevator of blood. At: http://www.mutineermagazine.com/img/blog/the_shining_blood_elevators.jpg (Accessed on: 16.01.2011)
Figure 3. The Shining (1980) Jack playing the wolf. At: http://www.411mania.com/movies/columns/158633 (Accessed on: 16.01.2011)
Figure 4. The Shining (1980) Jack's succumbed to madness. At: http://www.moviemail-online.co.uk/film/52641/The-Shining-(Special-Edition)/ (Accessed on: 16.01.2011)
Abrams, Jerold J. (2007) The philosophy of Stanley Kubrick. Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky
Cocks, Geoffrey, Diedrick, James, Perusek, Glenn Wesley (2006) Depth of field: Stanley Kubrick, film, and the uses of history. Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press.
Cocks, Geoffrey (2004) The wolf at the door: Stanley Kubrick, history, & the Holocaust. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.
Nelson, Thomas Allen (2000) Kubrick, inside a film artist's maze. Indiana: Indiana University Press