Released in 1980 and based on the novel by Stephen King, Stanley Kubrick brought The Shining to life. It is the story of Jack Torrence (Jack Nicholson), a writer who takes up a position as caretaker for the Overlook Hotel during the off-season (the exterior of the Overlook Hotel is stunningly portrayed by Oregon's Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood, while the internal shots were all done on Hollywood constructed sets), the hotel's sordid past and abundance of "spirits" drives Mr. Torrence insane, resulting in true horror for his wife (Shelley Duvall) and child (Danny Lloyd). While on the surface this seems to be a mere story about ghosts and madness, it touches on the much deeper subjects of child abuse, duality and morality.

The Shining is one of the few "Stephen King Movies" that Mr. King was not directly involved with, and it deviates quite significiantly from his written work (a remake that Mr. King was involved with has been released as a miniseries), therefore it is important not to view this film as a Stephen King film, but more importantly to view it as a Stanley Kubrick film. It is a masterpiece of suspense and Kubrick builds on that feeling throughout the film: it starts slow (typical to Kubrick's style) but the pace is fitting to the story. I have found myself staying up nights because I caught the beginning of this film, which never fails to keep me up for a couple hours afterwards seeing twins out of the corner of my eye and repeating the word "redrum" over and over again.
The differences between the book and movie version of The Shining are numerous.

The biggest difference would be the end to the story. In the book, Wendy and Danny manage to escape the hotel with the help of Mr. Halloran before it explodes. This explosion is the result of Jack forgetting to check the boiler gauge in the basement. The movie, however, ends with Mr. Halloran being killed with an axe by Jack, and Jack later freezing to death in the hotel gardens.

Other notable differences include missing scenes, that were obviously omitted when creating the movie. The scene with the enchanted shrubbery animals isn't present, as well as Danny's beehive that, one night, suddenly bears angry insects.

Stanley Kubrick's 1980 film, The Shining, is one of the most memorable films of all time. Kubrick's film is one that has several strange twists, and ends on a very odd note, with Jack Torrence (Jack Nicholson), freezing to death in the gardens of the Overlook Hotel while his wife and son escape his wrath. The end becomes even more confusing because of the photograph of a party at the Overlook from the 1920's showing Jack as the caretaker. While discussing this with some friends, I heard an extremely interesting interpretation of this film.

The story is not about a man who goes to the Overlook in the 80's and slowly begins to go mad and tries to kill his family. Jack Torrence does not exist. The murders already happened in the 1920's, when the previous caretaker, Delbert Grady, murders his wife and twin daughters. Jack Torrence is Delbert Grady, or vice versa, as he hears it in the men's room from the ghost waiter who spills a drink on him. The ghost states, "You are the caretaker sir. You always have been."

Jack is in Hell for his crimes. In Hell, he is being forced to relive this horribe time. The ghosts are the demons that are egging him on. In Dante's Inferno, the deepest layers of Hell are not burning as the other layers are, but are rather frozen over in ice. The tormented souls are kept frozen by the winds created by Lucifer's wings. In one of the deepest layers, there is a section frozen in ice that is for the punishment of those who have committed crimes against their families.

As Jack relives this nightmare at the Overlook, he is continuously tormented. His writing is non-existent, all he writes for his book is, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." His wife annoys him to no end (done extremely well by the naturally annoying Shelly Duval), and his son is strange. He is most tormented and tempted by the ghouls, one who is a hot naked woman who turns into a disgusting disfigured hag, and others who are just plain freaky. At the end, Jack is doomed to failure, for he cannot complete his evil wish of killing his family. He finally freezes to death in the Hedge Maze in the garden. The freezing to death is symbolic of Dante's Inferno, for Jack is frozen in punishment for crimes against his family.

Indeed, this movie was remade in 1997 as a made-for-TV-miniseries by the author Stephen King himself. Replacing Jack Nicholson for Steven Weber, Shelly Duval for Rebecca Demornay and Danny Lloyd for Courtland Mead as the Torrance family.

The big differences here are that King expanded the story into a 6-hour miniseries on par with The Stand versus Kubrick's 2 hour feature film. King focused more on the setting, environment and story whereas Kubrick delved more on the character development.

Each version has it's advantages and disadvantages with respect to the story, Kubrick gets into his surreal filmography but alters the storyline that it deviates from the book far too much; King gives the story the touch of the masters hand, but it is painfully slow to watch.

IMHO, the topiary scene with the lions with icicle fangs spooked me the same way the topiary in Zork II did.


The third novel that Stephen King published was The Shining. Many critics and readers consider The Shining to be one of King’s best works ever. It was written just as King’s rise to fame as a horror writer was beginning. This book, is in the typical style of fantasy horror that King is known for. It takes place in the 1970’s at The Overlook Hotel up in the mountains near Sidewinder, Colorado. This book typically appeals to teenagers. The themes of the book include extrasensory powers, child abuse, spousal abuse, self abuse, and substance abuse. The primary theme is that which is in many horror stories: evil or pain remains even when its object is long dead.

The story centers around Jack Torrance. He is the father of Danny, who has “the shinning” and husband of Wendy. Jack takes a job as caretaker of Overlook hotel while it is closed for the winter. Jack is a dry drunk and the cabin fever in this haunted hotel gets to him. He is both a devoted father and an alcoholic homicidal maniac. He has a complete psychotic break and attempts to kill his family. We are told early in the book, by Dick Hallorann, that at least one previous caretaker also went mad in this job. Hallorann’s fears are soon justified. The hotel quickly begins to exert a malevolent influence over the Torrance family. The story climaxes with Jack trying to kill his family with a mallet. The results of the much noded movie are a bit different than that of the book, but I am not going to tell you here how it ends.

This book was conceived as a contemporary version of classical tragedy. It contains all the traditional tragic elements. That is, it is in a restricted setting, has a small cast of characters, the protagonist has a fatal flaw, and there is an unrelenting sense of impending doom throughout the story.

Stephen King wrote this book while staying at the Stanley Hotel, which Overlook is based on. He wrote it in 1977. Three years later Stanley Kubrick directed a movie version of it. In 1997 Stephen King wrote the tv miniseries based on the book because he thought that the Kubrick film was too different from the original story.

The characters of the book, all of which are well rounded, include:

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