The Shining (1980) Directed by Stanley Kubrick. Starring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall and Danny Lloyd. Here are my 5 Favorite Things about The Shining:

5. Jack Nicholson: Casting Jack Nicholson as someone who is mad or is descending into madness always results in something I enjoy watching. The Shining is the best example on film of Jack Nicholson acting like an insane person. The film is disturbing and Nicholson is certainly part of the reason the film is that way. Other actors that went for the role include Robert DeNiro, Harrison Ford, and Robin Williams. Robert DeNiro can play scary, but not in such a deranged manner. Harrison Ford is too nice of an actor, he always seems like the good guy. Perhaps this could have been effective, to see a leading man type like Ford become the villain, but Stephen King did not approve of either Ford or Williams. At the time Williams had only done comedy, but I feel like the movie would have had a whole different tone with him involved. Nicholson far and away was the best choice.

4. The Overlook Hotel: The Hotel itself is almost like another character in that it helps drive the plot through the strange otherworldly effect it has on the Torrance family. While most of the movie was shot on sound stages, the settings are still fun to look at while watching the film. The Overlook Hotel was based on a few existing hotels including the Timberline Lodge and the Ahwahnee Hotel. The Timberline was used as the model for the exterior of The Overlook and was partially recreated for the film. Some exterior shots are of the actual Timberline and these can be detected by the lack of a hedge maze. The hedge maze was only part of the recreated hotel used in The Shining. And the hedge maze was awesome. I always thought it would be fun to go through one of these mazes and the hedge maze scene didn’t really do much to deter that.

3. The Psychological Aspect: The imagery in The Shining is wonderful. It ranges through different levels of creepiness with some scenes being completely haunting. There is also a lot these images scattered throughout the film, so some of them still have a strong effect on repeat viewings. This layer of psychological thriller over the movie helped make The Shining one of my favorite horror movies. I enjoy that Kubrick took the time and level of detail to craft this movie to have a lingering effect on the audience. It allows you to really get inside the film and feel like you are being effected by it more than just as a traditional audience member.

2. Moon Landing Conspiracy Theory: There is a conspiracy theory that Stanley Kubrick is responsible for directing the famous moon landing video (against his will) in a studio, versus the film being an actual video shot in outer space. It was then theorized that The Shining was an admittance and apology of sorts for having directed a fake moon landing, complete with small details that would tip you off if you were looking for them. Discovery News has an article about the theory using the website “Secrets of The Shining” as a resource. Most of the theory is pretty out there, but one aspect makes you think that the site may be on to something. The scene with the twins is changed from the novel, which only had one child. Even though twins talking in unison are much more creepy than one child, this was supposedly meant to signify the Gemini space mission. That alone seems like the theory is grabbing at straws, but the fact that Danny is wearing an Apollo 11 sweater seems a little uncanny. All in all, this theory seems like any other conspiracy theory (a little too thin to be true), but it is a fun read all the same.

1. Multiple Interpretations: Certain aspects of the film have been discussed as  if they can be interpreted in a few different ways. The idea of how Jack Torrance is effected by the hotel, what he may or may not actually see, and what the photograph at the end of the movie all mean has been points of conversations regarding their exact meanings. Stanley Kubrick has even commented what some of these parts of the movie mean, but people still liked to discuss other possible meanings and interpretations. Part of the fun of these types of psychological movies is doing just that. There are multiple layers to the story and the legend of the film and being able to have discussions about meanings help to breathe new life into the film.


What are some of your favorite things about The Shining?


21 thoughts on “5 Favorite Things: The Shining (1980)

  1. This is my all time favorite movie – you forgot to mention the Stanley Hotel which is based in Estes Park, CO. I visited the hotel and had a drink at the bar where Jack himself sat. It was a beautiful hotel!

    Great post.

    • Wow, it must have been quite the experience to sit at a location from your favorite film and have a drink. Thanks for the additional info!

      • Been to that hotel in Estes Park as well, though I was a kid and had in no way, shape, or form seen the flick at the time. I was aware of the movie, though, and knew that the hotel was used for it in some fashion.

  2. LOL! When I first read the headline, I was like “Oh Man! How can you narrow it down to just five!!” I LOVE The Shining!!

    Jack is sick in this role, and you’re right, The Overlook is ABSOLUTELY a character unto itself. No doubt about it. And of course, I love interpreting the film, I had a lot of fun doing my own interpretation in conjuction with the LAMB MOTM a few months back, it was great.

    During that lead up though, I looked at that Moon landing theory and wow, is that the thinnest thing ever or what? I mean, LOL. “Grasping for straws” is right.

    • Yeah, narrowing it down to just 5 wasn’t the easiest. The Shining is such a great film. I love a film that lets you get into discussions and delve inside it, so I’m glad you had a chance to do so with The LAMB.

      I kind of suspect all conspiracy theories are thinly veiled, but I will probably never stop reading them. They are far too entertaining.

    • I saw this movie in theaters back in November and it was awesome. But seeing it on the big screen allowed me to notice things I hadn’t before. I never knew that the bear guy giving the hummer was bare-ass. If you watch again, his little flaps are open and his ass is just hanging out. It’s weird.

  3. Another “conspiracy” going around is the whole idea that Kubrick detested/hated Native Americans. The Hotel was built on a burial ground and there is a scene when Jack is slamming a tennis ball up against a wall that is decorated with a buffalo head and many trinkets and decor from the natives. Another “grasping for straws” situation I’m sure, but think it’s interesting.

    Great post!

    • That’s weird because I remember reading it was more to the effect that he was showcasing the mistreatment of Native Americans. So much going around, I really want to see that documentary we talked about, Room 237. Hopefully it gets distributed so we can all have a movie night and nerd out together!

      • I have not heard of this documentary but it sounds like fun. I do agree with you that if there is any symbolism at all in that regard it is definitely in sympathy with the Native Americans. The key is that Jack, the crazy psychopathic nutball, is flinging the tennis ball at the wall. On the other hand, if there ARE ghosts in the Overlook then they’re definitely of Native Americans, because they would have had to be there to make Jack Incarnate go crazy as well. Huh.

  4. It’s a bit funny that this movie was up for a few Razzie awards when it was first released is now considered to be one of the greatest horror movies ever made.

    I love what you said about the multiple interpertations. Each time I watch this, I get something new from it

    • I didn’t know that it was ever nominated for Razzies. I can’t see this film being anything but well received.

      The fact that this movie has so much rewatch value makes me really want to see everything Kubrick has made.

      • Oh yes, almost everything Kubrick did was met with mixed reactions. He is the embodiment of ‘ahead of his time’, with a few exceptions, of course. (I’m looking at you, Full Metal Jacket, you dithering, anemic shell of a film).

  5. This is a great list about an obviously great flick, Rob, but I don’t know if I can forgive you for leaving THAT painting off it. LOL.

    “Harrison Ford is too nice of an actor, he always seems like the good guy.” – It’s not a tremendous movie, but you should see What Lies Beneath if you haven’t yet. See another side of ol’ Indiana.

  6. Great post Rob, and a great film.

    I find it funny that Nicholson portrays a crazy guy in the film, but when I watched the Blu ray extras, it’s Shelly Duvall that seems completely nuts.

    Thanks for that link to those crazy moon landing theories

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