A Summary and Review of The Shining

A Summary and Review of The Shining

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  1. Aspiring author Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson), his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and son Danny (Danny Lloyd) have relocated to The Overlook hotel in the heart of the Colorado Rocky Mountains in the Stanley Kubrick directed screenplay adaptation of Stephen King’s "The Shining". Jack anticipates secluded life at the Overlook as its caretaker during winter break will be the antidote his writer’s block. Instead, the writer finds himself suffering the beginning of cabin fever and an outpouring of something wicked that unlocks his mind beyond writing. The movie title is based on the John Lennon classic lyric "We all shine on" from the Instant Karma song.

    The Overlook, built on ancient Indian burial grounds, may be haunted by enraged spirits. The hotel and its outdoor garden are a massive maze of spaces that match the author’s state of mind and suspect heart. Wife Wendy finds herself overwhelmed in the space and at times lost, confused and increasingly terrified. Jack finds his wife increasingly problematic, a threat to his continued well being in his new found home. If ‘an idle mind is the devil’s playground,’ then Jack’s manuscript pages show that all work and no play make him overdue for devilish play.

    Danny, who gains navigational skills by wandering unafraid with childlike innocence throughout the house and outdoor garden maze, has the gift of shining. Danny discovers through ally Dick Hallorann (Scatman Crothers) that his gift is shared by others and can be a means to gain help. This hunting term refers to seeing a fearful deer at night in the headlights. The deer can be seen as Wendy and Danny. Danny’s shining opens mental doors that transcend what others normally hear, see and sense. Danny can sense darkness within the house, which turns out to be haunted by  a violent past.

    The house entices Jack and Danny. Unlike his father, Danny is not only able to see through trappings with his gift to shine, but employs his skills to evade evil rather than embrace it, become lost in its darkness, or trade  his soul. In one gripping scene, Danny holds a knife as violence is underway, but in childlike innocence is unable to act out to overcome evil with evil. Viewers watch with unimaginable horror during a riveting chase scene reminiscent of the pursuit of a big, bad rabid wolf pursuing a wily rabbit. Danny’s good karma and mental ability attempt to cast a light to lead him and his mother away from manifest darkness in the hearts of evil men.

    The 1980 Warner Bros. Pictures psychological thriller was budgeted at $22,000,000 and grossed over $44,017,374 in the U.S.  


    "The Shining" ushered in the dawning of a new cinematic horror experience that upgraded the horror genre in the minds of millions. The film continues to be a top hit among horror fans as well as an all-time favorite for  fans across genres and generations.

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