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The Shining is a 1980 psychological horror film directed by Stanley Kubrick, based on Stephen King's novel of the same name. Though it had mixed reviews from the critics upon its release, it was wildly popular with moviegoers and was financially successful. It is now frequently ranked as one of the best horror films as well as one of the greatest films in history and its iconic and surreal imagery is deeply embedded throughout popular culture, although there was a long interval between its release and its achievement of iconic status. Director Stanley Kubrick co-wrote the screenplay with novelist Diane Johnson. The film stars Jack Nicholson as tormented writer Jack Torrance, Shelley Duvall as his wife Wendy, and Danny Lloyd as their son, Danny.

The film tells the story of a writer, Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson), who accepts the job of the winter caretaker at a hotel that always gets snowed in during the winter. Jack's son shares psychic abilities with the hotel's chef who calls it "shining". They can see things in the future or past, such as the ghosts of murdered people in the hotel. When the hotel becomes snowbound, Jack Torrance is influenced by the ghosts in the haunted hotel and descends into madness trying to murder his wife and son.

Initial response to the film was mixed and it performed moderately at the box office. Subsequent critical assessment of the film has been more favorable and it is now viewed as a classic of the horror genre. The novel's author Stephen King has had very conflicted feelings about it (see Reception and Comparison with the book) which have oscillated over time. A TV mini-series adaptation of the novel broadcast in 1997 saw King more actively involved.


Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) arrives at the Overlook Hotel for a job interview. Manager Stuart Ullman (Barry Nelson) warns him that a previous caretaker got cabin fever and killed his family and himself during the long winter in which the hotel is entirely isolated. The hotel itself is built on the site of an Indian burial ground. Jack’s son, Danny (Danny Lloyd), has ESP and has had terrifying premonitions about the hotel. Jack's wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall), tells a visiting doctor about Danny's imaginary friend "Tony" and that Jack had given up drinking because he had physically abused Danny after a binge.

The family arrives at the hotel on closing day and is given a tour. The elderly African-American chef Dick Hallorann (Scatman Crothers) surprises Danny by speaking to him telepathically and offering him some ice cream. He explains to Danny that he and his grandmother shared the gift; they called the communication "shining." Danny asks if there is anything to be afraid of in the hotel, particularly Room 237. Hallorann tells Danny that the hotel has a certain "shine" to it and many memories, not all of them good and advises him to stay out of room 237 under all circumstances.

A month passes and Jack's writing project is going nowhere. Meanwhile, Danny and Wendy have fun and go in the hotel's hedge maze, which Jack finds a model of in the Gold Room revealing Wendy and Danny in it. Wendy is concerned about the phone lines being out due to the snow storm and Danny has more frightening visions. Danny’s curiosity about Room 237 finally gets the better of him when he sees the room has been opened. Later, Danny shows up injured and visibly traumatized causing Wendy to think that Jack has been abusing Danny. Jack wanders into the hotel’s Gold Room where he meets a ghostly bartender named Lloyd (Joe Turkel) who serves him bourbon on the rocks. Jack complains to the bartender about his relationship with Wendy. Afterward, Wendy shows up and apologizes for accusing Jack, explaining that Danny told her a "crazy woman in one of the rooms" was responsible for his injuries. Jack investigates Room 237 and has an encounter with the ghost of a dead woman there, but tells Wendy he saw nothing. Wendy and Jack argue about whether Danny should be removed from the hotel and Jack returns to the Gold Room, now filled with ghosts having a costume party. Here he meets who he believes is the ghost of the previous caretaker Delbert Grady (Philip Stone) who tells Jack that he has to "correct" his wife and child. Later, Jack sabotages the hotel radio, cutting off communication from the outside world.

Meanwhile, in Florida, Dick Hallorann gets a premonition that something is wrong at the hotel and takes a flight back to Colorado to investigate. Danny starts calling out the word "redrum" frantically and goes into a trance now calling himself "Tony". Wendy discovers Jack's typewriter and that he has been typing endless pages of manuscript repeating "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" formatted in various ways. Horrified, she confronts Jack, but he threatens her before she knocks him unconscious with a baseball bat and locks him in a kitchen pantry. Jack converses with Grady through the door of the locker, which then unlocks, releasing him.

Danny has written "REDRUM" in lipstick on the door of Wendy’s bedroom revealing itself in the mirror to be "murder" spelled backwards. At that moment, Jack, armed with a fire axe, begins to chop through the door leading to his family's living quarters. In a frantic maneuver, Wendy sends Danny out through the bathroom window but she is unable to fit through the window herself. Jack then starts chopping the bathroom door down with the axe and leers through the hole he has made, shouting the now iconic "Here's Johnny!" line, but backs off after he hears a running engine from Halloran's snowcat outside. Jack leaves the room and begins to wander about the hotel to find Halloran and kills him just moments after his arrival. Jack then begins to pursue Danny and is led into the hedge maze. Jack follows Danny's footsteps, but is misled when Danny manages to walk backwards in his own tracks and leaps behind a corner, covering his tracks with snow. Wendy and Danny escape in Halloran's vehicle while Jack slowly freezes to death in the hedge maze.

The final shot of the film is of an old photograph taken at the hotel on July 4, 1921 in which Jack Torrance is clearly visible while Midnight, the Stars, and You is being played through the hallways. It is worth noting that the actual song, however, was not written until 1932.

Alternate cuts

Original theatrical cut

After its premiere and a week into the general run (with a running time of 146 minutes), Kubrick cut a scene at the end that took place in a hospital. The scene had Wendy in a bed talking with Mr. Ullman, the man who hired Jack at the beginning of the film. He explains that her husband's body could not be found, raising several questions and implications. He then walks over to Danny and hands him a yellow tennis ball, presumably the same one that lured Danny into room 237, thus informing the audience that Ullman was well aware of the supernatural events happening at the hotel. This scene was subsequently physically cut out of prints by projectionists and sent back to the studio by order of Warner Bros., the film's distributor.

As noted by Roger Ebert:

European release

The European version runs for 119 minutes due to Kubrick personally cutting 24 minutes from the film as mentioned above. The excised scenes made reference to the outside world.

For international versions, Kubrick shot different takes of Wendy reading the typewriter pages in different languages. For each language, a suitable idiom was used: German (Was du heute kannst besorgen, das verschiebe nicht auf morgen—"Never put off till tomorrow what may be done today"), Italian (Il mattino ha l’oro in bocca – "The morning has gold in its mouth"), French (Un «Tiens» vaut mieux que deux «Tu l'auras» – "What you have is worth much more than what you'll have", the equivalent of "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush"), Spanish (No por mucho madrugar amanece más temprano – "No matter how early you get up, you can't make the sun rise any sooner"). These alternate shots were not included with the DVD release, where only the English phrase "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" was used.



In 1975, Kubrick completed filming Barry Lyndon, a highly visual period film about a poor Irish impostor. Despite its technical prowess, the film was not a box office success in the United States and was derided by critics for being too long and too slow. Kubrick was disappointed with Barry Lyndon's lack of success and realized that he needed to make a film that would please him artistically, yet at the same time be commercially viable.

The entire film was shot on soundstages at EMI Elstree Studiosmarker in Borehamwood, England. The set for the Overlook Hotel was then the largest ever built. It included a full recreation of the exterior of the hotel, as well as the interiors. A few exterior shots by a second unit crew were done at Timberline Lodgemarker on Mount Hoodmarker in Oregonmarker. They are noticeable because the hedge maze is missing. Some of the interiors are based on those of the Ahwahnee Hotelmarker in Yosemite National Parkmarker. The Timberline Lodge requested Kubrick change the sinister Room 217 of King's novel to 237, so customers would not avoid the real room 217.

The massive set would be Kubrick's first use of the Steadicam. The door that Jack breaks down with the axe near the end of the film was a real door. Kubrick originally used a fake door, made of a weaker wood, but Jack Nicholson, who had worked as a volunteer fire marshal, tore it down too quickly. Jack's line, "Heeeere's Johnny!", is taken from the famous introduction for The Tonight Show host Johnny Carson, as spoken by Ed McMahon. The line was improvised by Nicholson. Carson later used the Nicholson clip to open his 1980 Anniversary Show on NBC.

The opening panorama shots (which were used by Ridley Scott for the closing moments of the original cut of the film Blade Runner) and scenes of the Volkswagen Beetle on the road to the hotel were filmed from a helicopter in Glacier National Parkmarker in Montanamarker on the Going-to-the-Sun Roadmarker.

Stanley Kubrick allowed his then 17-year-old daughter, Vivian, to make a documentary about the production of The Shining. Created originally for the BBC television show Arena, this documentary offers rare insight into the shooting process of a Kubrick film. The documentary, together with full-length commentary by Vivian Kubrick, is included on the DVD, HD-DVD and Blu-Ray disc releases of The Shining.

Kubrick's first choice for the role of Jack Torrance was always Jack Nicholson, but he did consider Robert De Niro (who claims the movie gave him nightmares for a month), Robin Williams and Harrison Ford, all of whom met with Stephen King's disapproval.

Overall, The Shining was a long and arduous production. Principal photography alone took over a year to complete, due to Kubrick's highly methodical nature. Actress Shelley Duvall did not get along well with Kubrick and they frequently had arguments on set about lines in the script, her acting techniques and numerous other things. Duvall eventually became so overwhelmed by the stress of her role that she became physically ill for months. At one point she was under so much stress that her hair began to fall out. Also, the shooting script was being changed constantly, sometimes several times a day. Jack Nicholson eventually became so fed up with the ever-changing script that he would throw away the copies that the production team would give to him to memorize, knowing that it was just going to change anyway. He learned most of his lines just minutes before he was supposed to film them. The shooting schedule was often very long and according to Nicholson's then-girlfriend Anjelica Huston, he would come home after a day's work, immediately collapse into bed and be fast asleep within minutes.


The film had a slow start at the box office, but gained momentum and steam, eventually doing well commercially and making Warner Brothers a profit. It also opened at first to mixed reviews. For example, Variety staff criticized Kubrick for destroying what was terrifying in Stephen King's novel. It was nominated for Worst Director and Worst Actress at the Golden Raspberry Awards,and was the only one of Kubrick's last nine films to get no nominations at all from either the Oscars or Golden Globes. As with most Kubrick films, subsequent critical reaction reviews the film more favorably. A common initial criticism was the slow pacing which was highly atypical of horror films of the time, but subsequently viewers decided this actually contributed to the film's hypnotic quality. Film website Rotten Tomatoes, which compiles reviews from a wide range of critics, gives the film a score of 87%.

Stephen King has been quoted as saying that although Kubrick made a film with memorable imagery, it was not a good adaptation of his novel and is the only adaptation of his novels that he could "remember hating". He thought that his novel's important themes, such as the disintegration of the family and the dangers of alcoholism, were ignored. Kubrick made other changes that King disparaged. King especially viewed the casting of Nicholson as a mistake and a tip-off to the audience (due to Nicholson's identification with the character of McMurphy in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest) that the character Jack would eventually go mad. However, the author's animosity toward Kubrick's adaptation has dulled over time. During an interview segment on the Bravo channel, King admitted that the first time he watched Kubrick's adaptation, he found it to be "dreadfully unsettling". King finally supervised a television adaptation of his original novel in 1997, which received lukewarm reviews.

Roger Ebert's initial review of the film was unfavorable, but he later re-evaluated it. In 2006 The Shining made it into Ebert's series of "Great Movie" reviews. There Ebert notes that whenever Jack sees spirits, a mirror is always present; thus, given the themes of madness and isolation, this suggests he may be speaking with himself. However, Ebert concludes that overall the film is ambiguous.

That leaves us with a closed-room mystery: In a snowbound hotel, three people descend into versions of madness or psychic terror and we cannot depend on any of them for an objective view of what happens. It is this elusive open-endedness that makes Kubrick's film so strangely disturbing.

Jonathan Romney writing about the film in 1999 discusses the originally lukewarm perception of the film and its gradual acceptance as a masterpiece.
The final scene alone demonstrates what a rich source of perplexity The Shining offers. At first sight this is an extremely simple, even static film. A family move into a Colorado hotel for the winter so Dad can write his great literary work in peace while perform­ing his function as caretaker. But the ancient blood­-soaked visions recorded like old movie scenes in the hotel's walls emerge, and Jack is possessed, driven homicidal....(Emphasis added)

It all seems simple enough - the Big Bad Wolf storms around with an axe, the Little Pigs (his snarling sobriquet for Wendy and Danny) escape. At the time of the film's release many critics were unim­pressed by this schema - Kubrick had put so much effort into his film, building vast sets at Elstree, mak­ing a 17-week shoot stretch to 46, and what was the result? A silly scare story - something that, it was remarked at the time, Roger Corman could have turned around in a fortnight.
But look beyond the simplicity and the Overlook reveals itself as a palace of paradox....

Romney then goes on to talk about how skilled and subtle the building of atmosphere is in the film, and how effectively the film absorbs the viewer into the cabin fever of the characters, through the use of set design, lighting, and timing.

The dominating presence of the Overlook Hotel - designed by Roy Walker as a composite of American hotels visited in the course of research - is an extraor­dinary vindication of the value of mise en scè ne. It's a real, complex space that we don't just see but come to virtually inhabit. The confinement is palpable: hor­ror cinema is an art of claustrophobia, making us loath to stay in the cinema but unable to leave. Yet it's combined with a sort of agoraphobia - we are as frightened of the hotel's cavernous vastness as of its corridors' enclosure. When Jack attempts to write in the huge Colorado Lounge we wonder what's getting to him more - being imprisoned in his own head or being adrift at his desk as though at sea.

Far from being the 'static' film that it appears on the surface, the film sets up a complex dynamic between simple domesticity and magnificent grandeur, between the supernatural and the mundane in which the viewer is disoriented by the combination of spaciousness and confinement, and an uncertainty as to just what is real or not.

Romney goes on to note how the film has been interpreted in so many different ways, as being about the crisis in masculinity, sexism, corporate America, and racism. He also notes
It's tempting to read The Shining as an Oedipal struggle not just between generations but between Jack's culture of the written word and Danny's culture of images....Jack also uses the written word to more mundane purpose - to sign his "contract" with the Overlook. "I gave my word," he says, which we take to mean 'gave his soul' in the traditional Faustian sense. But maybe he means it more literally - by the end of the film he has renounced language entirely, pursuing Danny through the maze with an inarticulate animal roar. What he has entered into is a conventional business deal that places commercial obligation - the provi­sion of services - over the unspoken contract of com­passion and empathy that he seems to have neglected to sign with his family.

References in the form of both parodies and homages to The Shining are prominent in U.S. popular culture, particularly in movies, TV shows and other visual media, as well as music. See "In popular culture" for more info.

Over the years the film has become widely regarded as one of the greatest films of the horror genre and a staple of pop culture and like many Kubrick films has been described as "seminal." In 2001, the film was ranked 29th on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Thrills list and Jack Torrance was named the 25th greatest villain on the AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains list in 2003. In 2005, the quote "Here's Johnny!" was ranked 68 on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes list. It was named the all-time scariest film by Channel 4, Total Film labeled it the 5th greatest horror film, and Bravo TV named one of the film's scenes 6th on their list of the 100 Scariest Movie Moments. In addition, film critics Kim Newman and Jonathan Romney both placed it in their top ten lists for the 2002 Sight and Sound poll. Director Martin Scorsese placed The Shining on his list of the 11 scariest horror films of all time.

Social interpretations of the film

Native Americans

Although The Shining was viewed upon release as a mass-market horror film, some interpreters see it as reflecting more subtly the social concerns that animate other Kubrick films. Bill Blakemore writing in the San Francisco Chronicle in July 1987 believes that indirect references to the American slaughter of Native Americans pervade the film as exemplified by the Indian logos on the baking powder in the kitchen and Indian artwork that appears throughout the hotel, though no Native Americans are ever seen. Stuart Ullman tells Wendy that when building the hotel a few Indian attacks had to be fended off, a line which does not appear in King's novel. Ullman also brags about "all the best people" that come to the hotel, while appearing casual about the murders that happened there.

Blakemore's general argument is that the film as a whole is a metaphor for the genocide of Native Americans. He notes that when Jack kills Hallorann, the dead body is seen lying on a rug with an Indian motif. The blood in the elevator shafts is for Blakemore, the blood of the Indians in the burial ground on which the hotel was built. As such, the fact that the date of the final photograph is July 4th is meant to be deeply ironic. Blakemore writes,

As with some of his other movies, Kubrick ends The Shining with a powerful visual puzzle that forces the audience to leave the theater asking, "What was that all about?" The Shining ends with an extremely long camera shot moving down a hallway in the Overlook, reaching eventually the central photo among 21 photos on the wall. The caption reads: "Overlook Hotel-July 4th Ball-1921." The answer to this puzzle, which Blakemore considers a master key to unlocking the whole movie, is that most Americans overlook the fact that July Fourth was no ball, nor any kind of Independence day, for native Americans; that the weak American villain of the film is the re-embodiment of the American men who massacred the Indians in earlier years; that Kubrick is examining and reflecting on a problem that cuts through the decades and centuries.

Blakemore also sees this film as being in continuity with other Kubrick films insofar as evil forces get weak males to do their bidding.

Film writer John Capo similarly sees the film as an allegory of American imperialism as exemplified by many clues such as the closing photo of Jack in the past at a 4th of July party, or Jack's earlier citation of the Rudyard Kipling poem "The White Man's Burden", a poem which has been interpreted as rationalizing the European colonization of non-white people, while the phrase has also been interpreted as referring to alcoholism, from which Jack suffers.

Kubrick's concern with the Holocaust

Kubrick wanted his entire life to make a film dealing directly with the Holocaust, but could never quite get the handle on it that satisfied him. Historian Geoffrey Cocks, writing in The Wolf at the Door: Stanley Kubrick, History and the Holocaust, believes not only that all of Kubrick's work is governed by being haunted by the Holocaust but that there is a strong hidden holocaust subtext in The Shining. This, Cocks believes, explains why Kubrick's screenplay goes to emotional extremes, omitting much of the novel's supernaturalism and making the character of Wendy much more hysteria-prone. Cocks places Kubrick's vision of a haunted hotel in line with a long literary tradition of hotels in which sinister events occur, from Stephen Crane's short story The Blue Hotel (which Kubrick admired) to the German Berghof hotel in Thomas Mann's novel The Magic Mountain, about a snowbound sanatorium high in the mountains in which the protagonist witnesses a series of events which are a microcosm of the decline of Western culture. In keeping with this tradition, Kubrick's film focuses on domesticity and the Torrances' attempt to use this imposing building as a home which Jack Torrance describes as "homey".

The hotel is described by the manager as a place that was inhabited by the wealthy jet set which he describes as "all the best people". Nonetheless, it is also a place of evil as Danny quickly intuits with his "shining" ability flagged by his asking Halloran the cook "Is there something bad here?" Cocks claims that Kubrick has elaborately coded many of his historical concerns into the film with manipulations of numbers and colors and his choice of musical numbers, many of which are post-war compositions influenced by the horrors of World War II. Of particular note is Kubrick's use of Penderecki's The Dream of Jacob to accompany Jack Torrance's dream of killing his family and Danny's vision of past carnage in the hotel, a piece of music originally associated with the horrors of the Holocaust. As such, Kubrick's pessimistic ending in contrast to Stephen King's optimistic one is in keeping with the motifs that Kubrick wove into the story.

Literary Allusions

Fairy Tales

Film historian Geoffrey Cocks notes that the film contains many references to fairy tales, both Hansel and Gretel and the story of the big bad wolf, with Jack Torrance identified as the wolf which Bruno Bettelheim identifies as standing for "all the asocial unconscious devouring powers" that must be overcome by a child's ego.

Rob Ager also explained his theory about Hansel and Gretel and room 237 in the film. He wrote, "The events that we see inside room 237 may also be a further reference to child hood imagination. The Hansel and Gretel fairy tale was already hinted at by Wendy’s comments in the kitchen about leaving “a trail of breadcrumbs”, and in room 237 we are presented with a mysterious female character who entices Jack with a sensual invitation, but then she turns into what may be a symbolic manifestation of the wicked woman from Hansel and Gretel, who herself lured the children in with candy before transforming into a witch. This could also explain the over the top colours and patterns of room 237 as being symbolic of the gingerbread house from the same fairy tale."

Ambiguities in the Film

Ghosts and Mirrors

Many have speculated on whether there really were ghosts in the film and Kubrick's smart use of mirrors. It has been noted that every time Jack sees a ghost there is a mirror present, although this is not true of Danny's visions of the Grady twins nor of Wendy's visions towards the end of the film. One analyst wrote,
Kubrick was not religious and didn’t believe in any traditional God or the supernatural; he was, however, vastly imaginative about the possibilities inherent in our universe and within the human mind. Like his exploration of intelligence and capital-I Intelligence in 2001, Kubrick’s exploration of the supernatural is deliberately ambiguous, aspiring to satisfy those who believe in ghosts and those who do not.

Film analyst Rob Ager wrote about the use of mirrors saying,
After passing the four mirrors outside the Gold Room, Jack sits at the bar and again is unable to escape his reflection due to mirrors behind the bar. So he covers his eyes and offers his soul for a drink. When he opens his eyes again the mirrors are cluttered with bottles of alcohol and his refection has been replaced by Lloyd, the barman. The weird conversation that follows is basically a visual metaphor of Jack speaking to himself. They’re both wearing maroon coloured jackets and have a similar cheeky smirk. Once Jack gets into the swing of his dialogue the camera stays on him and we see nothing of the barman.

The Two Gradys

At the beginning of the film, Stuart Ullman tells Jack of a previous caretaker, Charles Grady, who got cabin fever, axe-murdered his family and then killed himself. Later, Jack meets a butler named Grady and Jack tells him that he knows about murders, claiming to recognize him from pictures. However, the butler's name is Delbert Grady, not Charles Grady.

Gordon Dahlquist of The Kubrick FAQ argues that the name change carries great significance; The duality of Delbert/Charles Grady deliberately mirrors Jack Torrance being both the husband of Wendy/father of Danny and the mysterious man in the July 4th photo. It is to say he is two people: the man with choice in a perilous situation and the man who has 'always' been at the Overlook. It's a mistake to see the final photo as evidence that the events of the film are predetermined: Jack has any number of moments where he can act other than the way he does, and that his (poor) choices are fueled by weakness and fear perhaps merely speaks all the more to the questions about the personal and the political that The Shining brings up. In the same way Charles had a chance - once more, perhaps - to not take on Delbert's legacy, so Jack may have had a chance to escape his role as 'caretaker' to the interests of the powerful. It's the tragic course of this story that he chooses not to.

Dahlquist's argument is that Delbert Grady was the butler in the 1920s (as he says himself, he has "always" been at the Overlook) and Charles Grady was the caretaker in the 1970s (a man presented with a "perilous situation," just as Jack would be years later), and rather than being two completely different people (or indeed the same person with two names), they are two 'manifestations' of a similar entity; the part permanently at the hotel (Delbert) and the part which is given the choice of whether to join the legacy of the hotel's murderous past (Charles), just as the man in the photo is not the same man who Stuart Ullman hires to be the hotel's caretaker, but nor is he someone entirely different. Jack in the photo has 'always' been at the Overlook, Jack the caretaker chooses to become part of the hotel (if one follows the logic of this argument, the implication is that the person in the July 4th photo would not in fact be called Jack).

The film's assistant editor Gordon Stainforth has commented on this issue, attempting to steer a course between the continuity error explanation on one side and the hidden meaning explanation on the other;
I don't think we'll ever quite unravel this. Was his full name Charles Delbert Grady? Perhaps Charles was a sort of nickname? Perhaps Ullman got the name wrong? But I also think that Stanley did NOT want the whole story to fit together too neatly, so [it is] absolutely correct, I think, to say that 'the sum of what we learn refuses to add up neatly'

The Photograph

At the end of the film, the camera zooms into a photograph with Jack Torrance taken in 1921 at the Overlook hotel. It is probably the single most frequently asked question about the film. In an interview with Michel Ciment, Kubrick overtly declared that Jack was a reincarnation of an earlier official at the hotel. However, this has not stopped interpreters from developing alternative readings.

Film critic Jonathan Romney wrote,
The closing inscription appears to explain what has happened to Jack. Until watching the film again recently I'd always assumed that, after his ordeal in the haunted palace, Jack had been absorbed into the hotel, another sacrificial victim earning his place at the Overlook's eternal dance of the damned. At the Overlook, it's always 4 July 1921 - although God knows exactly what happened that night. In fact, Jack Nicholson's likeness literally has been absorbed into the picture: collaged into a 20s archive shot and matched to the photographic grain of the original."
After his absorption theory, he quickly pointed out,
"Or you can look at it another way. Perhaps Jack hasn't been absorbed - perhaps he has really been in the Overlook all along. As the ghostly butler Grady (Philip Stone) tells him during their chilling confrontation in the men's toilet, "You're the caretaker, sir. You've always been the caretaker." Perhaps in some earlier incarnation Jack really was around in 1921, and it's his present-day self that is the shadow, the phantom photographic copy. But if his picture has been there all along, why has no one noticed it? After all, it's right at the centre of the central picture on the wall, and the Torrances have had a painfully drawn-out winter of mind-numbing leisure in which to inspect every comer of the place. Is it just that, like Poe's purloined letter, the thing in plain sight is the last thing you see? When you do see it, the effect is so unsettling because you realise the unthinkable was there under your nose - overlooked - the whole time.

Comparison with the book

The film differs from the novel significantly with regard to characterization and motivation of the action. The most obvious differences are with regard to the personality of Jack Torrance, as these are the source of much of author Stephen King’s dissatisfaction with the film.

Character arc of Jack Torrance

The novel presents us with a Jack who is initially well-intentioned but is struggling with alcohol and has issues with resentment of authority. In spite of good intentions, he becomes gradually overwhelmed by the evil forces in the hotel, though near the end of the book he has a moment of recovered benevolence, helping Wendy and Danny escape during a moment of recovered sanity. The film’s Jack is established as a bit sinister (and irritated with his family) much earlier in the story and his final redemption never occurs. Furthermore, Jack actually kills Dick Hallorann in the film, but kills no one in the novel. King attempted to talk Stanley Kubrick out of casting Jack Nicholson even before filming began, on the grounds that the whole theme of an Everyman's slow descent into madness would be undercut by casting Nicholson, who had starred in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest a few years before. He suggested Jon Voight among others for the role. Stephen King has openly stated on the DVD commentary of the 1997 mini-series of The Shining that the character of Jack Torrance was partially autobiographical, as he was struggling with both alcoholism and unprovoked rage toward his family at the time of writing.

Writing in Hollywood's Stephen King, Tony Magistrale writes
Kubrick's version of Torrance is much closer to the tyrannical Hal (from Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey) and Alex (from Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange) than he is to King's more conflicted, more sympathetically human characterization.

Jack's twin demons in the novel are alcoholism and authority-issues, but his demons in the film seem to be alcohol and severe writer's block, though some authority-issues on his part are implied indirectly. The book gives more overt illustrations of Jack's issues with authority that are absent from the film, notably his past conflicts with his own authoritarian father. In both versions, Jack hears the voices of previous tenants of the hotel, but only in the novel does Jack also hear the heavy-handed voice of his father. Similarly, though the film downplays the book's theme of Jack's authority issues, it gives indications of Jack's struggle with writer's block, which he does not suffer from in the novel. In both the novel and film, the ghostly bartender's supplying Jack with a drink is pivotal to Jack's deterioration, but the book establishes Jack's alcoholism much earlier than the film does.

Resulting characterization of Wendy Torrance and Stuart Ullmann

The downplaying of the theme of Jack's issues with authority allows the film to alter the characters of Ullmann and Wendy. In the novel, Jack's authority issues are triggered by the fact that his interviewer, Ullmann, is highly authoritarian, a kind of snobbish military martinet. The film's Ullmann is far more humane and concerned about Jack's well-being, as well as smooth and self-assured. Writing in Stanley Kubrick and the Art of Adaptation, author Greg Jenkins writes "A toadish figure in the book, Ullman has been utterly reinvented for the film; he now radiates charm, grace and gentility." Only in the novel does Ullmann state that he disapproves of hiring Jack but higher authorities have asked that Jack be hired. Especially notable is the film's omission of Ullmann mentioning that both the previous caretaker, Grady, who killed his family and Jack are alcoholics. In the book, Ullmann discusses Grady's history in an almost threatening way, whereas he does so in the film in a concerned way. In particular, in the film we see no sign at all that Ullmann even knows about Jack's drinking problem. In short, in the novel, Ullmann's despotic nature is one of the first steps in Jack's deterioration, whereas in the film, Ullmann serves largely in the role of expositor.

Wendy's concern about Danny also triggers Jack's authority issues in the novel, while in the film he mainly finds her concerns irritating and hysterical. Wendy Torrance in the film is relatively meek, submissive, passive and mousy. This is shown by the way she defends Jack even in his absence to the doctor examining Danny. In the book, she is a more self-reliant and independent personality who is tied to Jack in part by her poor relationship with her parents. She never displays the hysteria or collapse in the novel that she does in the film. Writing in Hollywood's Stephen King, author Tony Magistrale writes about the mini-series remake:

De Mornay restores much of the steely resilience found in the protagonist of King's novel and this is particularly noteworthy when compared to Shelley Duvall's exaggerated portrayal of Wendy as Olive Oyl revisited: A simpering fatality of forces beyond her capacity to understand, much less surmount.

Danny Torrance

Danny Torrance is considerably more forthcoming about his supernatural abilities in the novel, discussing them with strangers such as his doctor. In the film, he is quite secretive about it even with Dick Halloran who shares his ability. (The same is true of Dick Halloran who in his journey back to the Overlook talks with others with the shining ability while in the film he lies about his reason for returning to the Overlook.)

Danny in the novel is generally portrayed as unusually intelligent across the board. In the film, he is more ordinary though with a preternatural gift.

In the novel, Danny is much more bonded to his father than in the film, which is in keeping with the novel's conclusion in which Danny virtually saves the soul of his father.

Although Danny has supernatural powers in both versions, the book makes it clear that his apparent imaginary friend "Tony" really is a projection of hidden parts of his own psyche, though heavily amplified by Danny's psychic “shining” abilities. At the end it is revealed that Danny Torrance's middle name is "Anthony". In the film, the status of Tony is unknown; he could be a separate entity. Only in the film does Danny describe "Tony" as "the little boy who lives in my mouth."

Family dynamics

Stephen King provides the reader with a great deal of information about the stress in the Torrance family early in the story, including revelations of Jack's physical abuse of Danny and Wendy's fear of Danny's mysterious spells. Kubrick tones down the early family tension and reveals family disharmony much more gradually than does King.

In the film, Danny has a stronger emotional bond with Wendy than with Jack, which fuels Jack's rather paranoid notion that the two are conspiring against him.

Motivation of ghosts

In the novel, the motivation of the ghosts to possess Jack Torrance is to get him to kill Danny; if Danny becomes a ghost, they will have access to his "shining" ability, thus making the ghosts far more powerful and able to extend their powers beyond the confines of the hotel. In the film, the motive of the ghosts is ambiguous but seems to be to reclaim Jack Torrance, who is apparently a reincarnation of a previous caretaker of the hotel, as suggested by the photograph of Jack Torrance in the 1920s at the end of the film and Jack's repeated claims to have "deja vu". Thus, in the film, Jack has been the focus of their attention all along rather than Danny. This plot difference re-contextualizes the line "You've always been the caretaker," which in the novel is a lie told by the ghosts to bolster Jack's ego, but may in some sense be literally true in the film. However, Grady, one of the ghosts in the hotel, mentions to Jack that Danny has "a very great talent", suggesting that the hotel's ghosts have an interest in Danny's "shining" ability.

Plot differences

Because of the limitations of special effects at the time, the living topiary animals of the book were omitted and a hedge maze was added. The hedge maze plays a crucial role in the film's plot, acting as a final trap for Jack Torrance as well as a refuge for Danny.

As noted earlier, Jack kills Hallorann in the film but not the novel, whereas in the novel Jack recovers his sanity and goodwill through the intervention of Danny which does not occur in the film. In the novel, the Overlook Hotel is completely destroyed by a fire caused by an exploding boiler, while the movie ends with the hotel still standing. More broadly, the defective boiler is a major subplot element of the novel which is entirely missing from the film. In the novel, Jack's final good act is to enable Wendy and Danny to escape the hotel before it explodes, killing him.

In the film, the hotel is set as being built on an Indian burial ground, while in the novel, the reason for the hotel's personality is less well-explained. In the novel, Jack does a great deal of investigation of the hotel's past through a scrapbook, a subplot omitted from the film aside from a brief appearance of the scrapbook next to the typewriter in the scene when Jack tells Wendy never to bother him while he's working.

More trivial differences include Jack's choice of weapon (a roque mallet in the book, an axe in the movie), the number of the advisably avoided room (217 in the book and 237 in the movie), and the nature of Danny's injury before the action of the story (a broken arm in the book and a dislocated shoulder in the movie).

Some of the film's most famous iconic scenes, such as the ghost girls in the hallway and the blood in the elevator shaft, are unique to the film. The most notable of these would be the "novel" that Wendy discovers in Jack’s typewriter. Similarly, much of the film's most memorable lines of dialogue ("Words of wisdom" and "Here's Johnny!") are unique to the film.

Defense of how the book was adapted

Although Stephen King fans were critical of the book's adaptation on the grounds that Kubrick altered and reduced the novel's themes, a defense of Kubrick's approach was published by Steve Biodrowski, a former editor of the print magazine Cinefantastique. His review of the film is one of the few to go into detailed comparison with the book. Biodrowski states,
Widely reviled by Stephen King fans for abandoning much of the book (King himself said his feelings balanced out to zero), Stanley Kubrick’s film version, upon re-examination, reveals that he took the same course he had often used in the past when adapting novels to the screen (such as Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita): he stripped away the back story and exposition, distilling the results down to the basic narrative line, with the characters thus rendered in a more archetypal form. The result ...[is] a brilliant, ambitious attempt to shoot a horror film without the Gothic trappings of shadows and cobwebs so often associated with the genre.

Music and soundtrack

The film features a brief electronic score by Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind, including one major theme in addition to a main title based on Hector Berlioz' interpretation of the "Dies Irae", used in his "Symphonie Fantastique", as well as pieces of modernist music. The soundtrack LP was taken off the market due to licensing issues and has never appeared as a legitimate compact disc release. For the film itself, pieces were overdubbed on top of one another.

Carlos and Elkind had composed a great deal of music for the film, with the expectation that it would be used. However, Kubrick decided to go with classical music from other sources, as he has done on previous occasions. Some of Carlos' unused music appears on her album Rediscovering Lost Scores, Vol. 2.

The stylistically modernist art-music chosen by Kubrick is similar to the repertoire he first explored in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Although the repertoire was selected by Kubrick, the process of matching passages of music to motion picture was left almost entirely at the discretion of music editor Gordon Stainforth, whose work on this film is notable for the attention to fine details and remarkably precise synchronisation without excessive splicing.

The non-original music on the soundtrack is as follows:
  1. Lontano by György Ligeti, Ernest Bour conducting Sinfonie Orchester des Südwestfunks (Wergo Records)
  2. Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta by Béla Bartók, Herbert von Karajan conducting the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra (Deutsche Grammophon)
  3. Utrenja — excerpts from the Ewangelia and Kanon Paschy movements by Krzysztof Penderecki Andrzej Markowski conducting Symphony Orchestra of the National Philharmonic, Warsawmarker (Polskie Nagrania Records)
  4. The Awakening of Jacob (Als Jakob Erwacht) and De Natura Sonoris No. 1 and 2, by Krzysztof Penderecki, the Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra conducted by the composer (EMI)
  5. Home by Henry Hall and the Gleneagles Hotelmarker Band (Columbia Records)
  6. It's All Forgotten Now performed by Al Bowlly
  7. Masquerade by Jack Hylton and His Orchestra (not on the soundtrack album)
  8. Kanon (for string orchestra) by Krzysztof Penderecki
  9. Polymorphia (for string orchestra) by Krzysztof Penderecki, performed by Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Krzysztof Penderecki
  10. Midnight, the Stars and You by Jimmy Campbell, Reginald Connelly and Harry Woods, performed by Ray Noble and His Orchestra, with Al Bowlly

In popular culture

The Shining has had an enormous influence on popular culture mostly in the form of having its most memorable scenes and iconic imagery imitated and parodied multiple times in many television shows, films and music videos. A full list of references would be very long.

Frequently imitated individual scenes are the two girls in the hallway, the usage of the word "Redrum" ("murder" spelled backwards), the blood spilling out of the opening elevator doors and Jack Torrance's sticking his head through the axe-hewn hole in the bathroom door, leeringly saying, "Here's Johnny." One of the most well-known parodies in television is the Simpsons episode "Treehouse of Horror V", which contains the story "The Shinning", a parody of The Shining.

The axe used to "kill" Dick is now at Planet Hollywood in Orlando, Florida.

During the 2009 World Series of Major League Baseball, Microsoft unveiled a commercial promoting their revamped search engine,, which parodied several scenes in the film.

The entire plot is imitated in the short music video of "The Kill" by 30 Seconds to Mars. Band singer Jared Leto felt their song was a commentary on the meaning of the movie. Scenes parodying much of the film also appear in the Slipknot music video "Spit It Out". Kate Bush's well-known 1982 album The Dreaming contains the song "Get Out of My House," inspired primarily by the novel.


  1. The actual song lyrics are "Midnight, with the Stars and You"—however, the song title is merely, "Midnight, the Stars and You"
  2. The Shining (1980) - Alternate versions
  3. Robert De Niro (speaking about what movies scared him), B105 FM interview on September 20, 2007
  4. Stephen King, B105 FM on November 21, 2007
  5. The Shining—Excerpt from Variety.
  6. Some of the original criticisms are mentioned in a recent review of the Blu-Ray release at
  7. The Shining reviews at
  8. Kubrick FAQ—The Shining, May 5, 2008
  9. "Writing Rapture: The WD Interview", Writer's Digest, May/June 2009
  10. Needs citation.
  11. Ebert published no print review of the film, but did review it on his TV show.
  12. [1]
  15. 100 Greatest Scary Moments: Channel 4 Film
  16. Total Film—Shock Horror!
  17. Kim Newman's choices in the Sound and Sound Top Ten poll 2002
  18. Jonathan Romney's choices in the Sound and Sound Top Ten poll 2002
  19. " Den svenska filmens Guldålder" (in Swedish) Thorellifilm
  20. Original Scene from "The Phantom Carriage" on YouTube
  22. [2]
  23. See Cocks p.174
  24. See Cocks, p. 201
  25. See Cocks Chpater 11
  26. See Cocks p. 174
  34. Movie Junk Archive: Stephen King's The Shining]
  35. The Shining FAQ, Visual Memory website.
  36. TV Guide, April 26-May 2 1997
  37. See Chapter 55 "That Which Was Forgotten"
  38. King discusses this in an interview he gave at the time of the TV remake of The Shining in the New York Daily News
  39. The Shining (1980)—Trivia
  40. Creepshows: The Illustrated Stephen King Movie Guide By Stephen Jones Published by Watson-Guptill, 2002 p. 20
  41. DVD of The Shining TV mini-series directed by Mick Garris Studio: Warner Home Video DVD Release Date: January 7, 2003
  42. p. 100 of Hollywood's Stephen King By Tony Magistrale Published by Macmillan, 2003
  43. See p. 101 of Tony Magistrale's Hollywood's Stephen King
  44. See Chapter 26, "Dreamland"
  45. The obvious example is the notorious discovery by Wendy of Jack's "novel" in the typewriter. This iconic scene in the film is not in the book.
  46. p. 74 of Stanley Kubrick and the Art of Adaptation: Three Novels, Three Films by Greg Jenkins, published by McFarland, 1997
  47. Jack's disdain for Ullmann is the main subject of Chapter 1 of the novel, setting up Jack's authority issues.
  48. The film's Ullmann makes pointed but helpful remarks in the job interview such as "That's very good Jack, because, uh, for some people, solitude and isolation can, of itself become a problem."
  49. A typical encounter can be found in Chapter 20, "Talking with Mr. Ullmann."
  50. An example is the way he echoes back her line "I think we should take Danny to a doctor."
  51. Wendy's troubled relationship with her mother is discussed first in Chapter 5, "Phone Booth," and in more depth in Chapter 6, "Night Thoughts."
  52. Magistrale, p. 202.
  53. See Chapter 17 "The Doctor's Office" and chapter 20 "Talking with Mr. Ullmann"
  54. See Chpater 16 "Danny"
  55. Tony's real identity is revealed in Chapter 54, "Tony."
  56. See Chapter 6 "Night Thoughts"
  57. This is laid out overtly in Chapter 55, "That Which was Forgotten."
  58. Among many other places, this is suggested in The Modern Weird Tale by S.T. Joshi, p. 72.
  59. The simplest explanation for the photograph as stated by Kubrick in an interview with Michel Ciment is that Jack is the reincarnation of a prior hotel guest, although it has been suggested by Roger Ebert that upon death Jack was sucked into a time warp into the past.
  60. See again Chapter 55, "That Which Was Forgotten."
  61. Stanley Kubrick's The Shining
  62. Stanley Kubrick's – The Shining – By Harlan Kennedy
  66. Hollywood Gothique: The Shining (1980) Review
  67. Barham, Jeremy. "Incorporating Monsters: Music as Context, Character and Construction in Kubrick's The Shining." London: Equinox Press. ISBN 9781845532024.
  68. See the Family Guy episodes and Verizon ads
  69. Parodied in the film UHF.
  70. This scene is parodied in a Boondocks episode , "Stinkmeaner Strikes Back," and an episode of Samurai Jack.
  71. The The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy by Gary Westfahl states, "While the scope of reference to fantastic fiction in The Simpsons is vast, there are two masters of the genre whose impact on The Simpson supersedes that of all others: Stanley Kubrick and Edgar Allan Poe." p. 1232
  72. 30 Seconds To Mars A Beautiful Lie CD/DVD Making of The Kill music videoJared Leto & Matt Wachter talk about the song's meaning
  73. [3]

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