Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Shining, The

UK movie (1980). Warner/Producer Circle. Pr Stanley Kubrick. Exec pr Jan Harlan. Dir Kubrick. Screenplay Diane Johnson, Kubrick. Based on The Shining (1977) by Stephen King. Starring Scatman Crothers (Dick Halloran), Shelley Duvall (Wendy Torrance), Danny Lloyd (Danny Torrance), Barry Nelson (Ullman), Jack Nicholson (Jack Torrance), Philip Stone (Delbert Grady), Joe Turkel (Lloyd). 146 mins (usually cut to 119 mins). Colour.

Critically excoriated adaptation of King's Supernatural Fiction. Last year Delbert Grady, winter caretaker of the remote Outlook Hotel in Colorado, went berserk during the isolation, slaughtering his wife and daughters. This year struggling alcoholic writer Jack Torrance takes the job, hoping that same isolation will, through forcing him to dry out, help him overcome his writer's block. His psychic young son Danny voices his premonitions to himself through Invisible Companion Tony; Tony predicts horror. As Jack and wife Wendy view the hotel, chef Halloran takes Danny aside and tells him he has recognized the boy's Talent; he too has it, calling it the "Shining". After the Torrances are left alone, it is not long before the hotel's Wrongness makes itself felt. Jack becomes less and less rational, experiencing detailed Hallucinations and suffering nightmares (> Dreams). The Ghosts of Grady's Twin daughters try to entice Danny to join them in the land of death, and later he is attacked by a mysterious naked woman in Room 237, the room he knows is the source of the Evil. Terrified, the child psychically summons Halloran from his winter residence in Florida. This "betrayal" is communicated to Jack by Grady himself, taking the form of a waiter at a hallucinated 1920s party at which Jack is an honoured guest . . . The violence escalates as Jack succumbs to Possession by the building, becoming progressively more infatuated by his own presumed cleverness (indeed, believing himself a Jack), until he is pursuing his terrified wife and son with a fire-axe . . .

It is a measure of the underlying strength of TS that it survives Nicholson's performance (apparently dictated by Kubrick), which seems modelled on the worst B-grade Horror Movie, to stand as a powerful Ghost Story. Much of the credit is down to the direction and the cinematography (by John Alcott), and to the truly chilling juxtaposition of such material with the brightly lit, sumptuously furnished, cheerily heated luxury hotel – which, as Wendy and Danny flit in terror through it, becomes an Edifice. Also successful is the intermixture with the supernatural fantasy of something quite different: some of the events we witness are, we know, products of the increasingly crazy Jack's Perception. The core of this movie's fright is that we don't know which. [JG]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.