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Kubrick's ending to The Shining


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Initial post: Jul 18, 2011 6:22:47 AM PDT
Darth Chap says:
We all know that Kubrick's the Shining is very different than King's. There's no debating that. But I think Kubrick's version is just as great and stands on its own as a reinterpretation of King's work.

But one thing that troubles me is the last scene when we see Jack in one of the old black and white photos.

Is Jack reincarnated after every death and in every life drawn back to the Overlook? Or are we being told that the Overlook owns Jack's soul and won't let him go even in death?

I'd be interested in what others think.

Posted on Jul 18, 2011 10:00:53 AM PDT
M. Carole says:
I think the latter, that the Overlook is supposed to represent Hell for those that join forces with it and Jack is one of the darned. The previous caretaker is another one that dies and remains behind, so there is a precedent there.

Posted on Jul 18, 2011 10:18:13 AM PDT
In my interpretation, the Overlook Hotel as a force consumed Jack (see "Burnt Offerings" for a similar ending in some ways). The place waits for its prey and overtakes the soul.

Maybe the hotel saw in Torrance a vulnerable and troubled person who'd be easy to taint and haunt and corrupt, a suitable victim.

I like the film ending rather than the book. So much more. And the movie is a classic horror gem, epic.

The ending with the old photo actually could be taken somewhat ambiguously (i.e. can be taken several ways), or it can simply allow the viewer to think, "Aah, he's a part of it now, it won".

I have a feeling lots of people were confused by the ending. But I think it's brilliant. And uber creepy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCUGYgWSz8c&feature=related

Posted on Jul 18, 2011 10:33:22 AM PDT
M. Carole says:
As I think about it, lots of places keep their victims - the Haunting of Hill House comes to mind. And didn't King do the same thing in Rose Red?

Posted on Jul 18, 2011 2:15:56 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 18, 2011 2:17:16 PM PDT
J. Skaggs says:
The Shining is actually one of the most highly-debated films in Kubrick's oeuvre in regards to what it really means, and as with every one of his adaptations, the source material is only a starting point for his own creativity and vision which then proceeds to whatever he wishes to address in the context of the narrative. The entire film has an ambiguous feel to it (in keeping with juxtapositions of sane/insane, sober/intoxicated, compulsion/freedom, protection/menace, spaciousness/confinement), so the ending supports the narrrative trope in that regard, IMO. The last shot is meant for the audience as voyeur and yet even the voyeur is not exempt from visions of madness, as we do not truly know whether there are ghosts in The Overlook, although I believe the presence of evil made manifest in some fashion is meant to be inferred. So therefore the photo which appears to show Jack in another incarnation can be interpreted as symbolic of the evil which eternally resides in that place. But there's a theory which posits the opposite - Jack always has a choice *not* to succumb to his madness or the existant evil, and so therefore the outcome is not predetermined. But reportedly Kubrick stated that was the obvious inference (Jack realizes his "destiny" as a part of The Overlook's murderous history).

Posted on Jul 18, 2011 7:54:09 PM PDT
The film has layers, and many interesting things that were infused or added to heighten the macabre and the eerie flavor.

Some fans have noted that whenever Jack is speaking to anyone other than Wendy or Danny, there is always a mirror nearby, so it can be inferred that he is actually talking to himself. This would show the madness setting in... or the evil. Or is it both?

I always found this to be one of the most hypnotic horror movies made, up there with "Don't Look Now" and "Repulsion". The experience washes over you and seeps its way inside.

It's a pleasure to view a film, particuarly a horror one, that offers the audience the chance to think and wonder; a movie that doesn't spoon-feed us everything.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 19, 2011 6:06:43 AM PDT
Oz le Fou says:
I am in Kubrick's corner on this one. Its been some time since i read the book, but i never considered it King at his best. The boiler build-up kinda irked me.....it seemed so obvious where the story was heading. The hedge-animals seemed corny, and would have taken the film in a completely different direction ( too arty or just plain comical).

The changes Kubrick made were crucial to the outcome of the film - eradicating the hedge beasts kept the story INSIDE, and built the claustrophobic feel, and when we finally burst outside and run into the hedge with Danny and Mom, we breath, for what seems like the first time the whole movie. Stanley still uses the irrational fear that hedge mazes can conjure, and leads us to the iconic shot of Jack's final resting place. Classic Kubrick, cinema history.

Keeping The Overlook alive instead of an EXPLOSION ( that would have ruined the film ), allowed Jack to haunt the halls forever...with Lloyd the bartender.....and the Grady Girls ( shudder ).

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 19, 2011 7:38:07 AM PDT
Exactly, T. Sloan,
Discarding the whole boiler/explosion element from the novel was crucial.

Plus, imho, even in King's tv miniseries, the anthropomorphised topiary beasts are not really frightening.

Another thought about this if I can be indulged--

Kubrick added the best touch to that story, that revealed how deranged Jack had become: the reams of paper that Wendy takes a look at, with just one sentence typed endlessly. That always freaked me out. It just screams that something is so very, very wrong with this man.

Nothing quite so dreadful struck me in the novel.

Posted on Jul 19, 2011 8:57:31 PM PDT
those twin girls are about the creepiest image in cinema history. I've always preferred Kubrick's version. My only wish is that Nicholson hadn't descended into madness almost from the first twitch of his eye in the opening scene.

Posted on Jul 19, 2011 11:26:46 PM PDT
I don't have a problem with Kubrick's ending; the whole living topiary thing in the novel didn't work for me, anyhow. As for the shot of Jack Torrance in the photograph of the 1921 Overlook ball, well...there's no firm explanation for that, and there shouldn't be. Henry James and Oliver Onions and Robert Aickman would tell us to delight in the ambiguity of that final shot, rather than striving restlessly for an answer :)

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 6:52:49 AM PDT
Darth Chap says:
J Skaggs,

One of the really interesting ideas you suggest is that Jack always had a choice. Throughout the film (and novel) we see Jack stuggling with self control issues (which is typical addict behavior). Eventually he's not strong enough and gives in to his cravings, in effect going on a "bender" (albeit a psychological, murderous bender).

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 20, 2011 9:55:24 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 20, 2011 9:55:52 AM PDT
How is Nicholson nutty in that first scene at the job interview? I just see a normal guy.

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 12:34:19 PM PDT
M. Carole says:
The interview includes some foreshadowing when they talk about what happened with the previous caretaker and ask if Jack has any potential issues with the isolation. But the whole scene where Wendy is justifying Jack breaking Danny's arm is early in the film and is pretty clearly intended to show that he's a ticking time bomb.

Agreed with the community that hedge animals aren't scary once you get past puberty. The thought that the Overlook hotel is still out there claiming victims is far more frightening than the novel's actual ending. I've often wondered if Stephen King was trying to guarantee he'd never write a sequel with that boiler thing, but there are rumors he is thinking of a sequel based on a website poll where he offered it as an option. No guesses as to how, unless they rebuilt the Overlook...

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 1:11:58 PM PDT
MarcTheKing says:
One of my favorite details from the interview scene is the overdub that Ullman has when he utters the word "isolation". If you watch the film again, you can distinctly hear that word emphasized and ringing in his sentence. Very creepy and a nice prelude to the madness to come.

The book and the movie had so many differences, we could start another thread just discussing those. The 1997 Mini-Series was far more faithful to the book and it wasn't a bad film, just kinda paled in comparison to Kubrick's vision. Some of the more critical elements in the book that the Mini-Series brought out included the Boiler, the Topiaries, the dormant bees nest, the mallet, and some of King's sillier word choices like Torrance's affection for calling Danny "pup"...as his father had called him in his childhood.

I've loved King's writings for decades now, but sometimes I think his curse word choices ring false, mainly because he likely wants to move beyond the 7 dirty words and make them his own. The Shining remains my favorite book and film. Shelley Duvall doesn't get enough credit for her part, in which she plays the most fragile of women and has a distinctive presence in the film. Her most memorable role, and I'd wonder what others thought of her part.

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 1:26:43 PM PDT
This really is a confusing film, now that I think about it. Is it a ghost story or merely a descent into madness?

Delbert Grady (a butler from 1921?) says ominously to Jack in the restroom: "You've always been the caretaker". They actually go back and forth, claiming that the other guy is the caretaker. Confusing. And in the interview scene after the opening credits sequence, the man mentions to Jack that in 1970 a winter caretaker named CHARLES Grady went bonkers and killed his family. More confusion. This is messy. Maybe it ought to stay vague. Besides, there's no reliable narrator or viewer to show us what's genuine.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 20, 2011 1:29:47 PM PDT
Gryphon X says:
I think it was a reference to Polanski's 'Repulsion.'

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 20, 2011 1:31:09 PM PDT
I bet Duvall was glad when that shoot was over. Kubrick tortured her with retake after retake. The results are super, though. She goes through so many emotions, and ends up this tattered and frazzled wreck of a person.

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 1:34:16 PM PDT
MarcTheKing says:
Baron: The bathroom Grady "corrected" his family. No matter his name, I think his admission that he did in fact chop his family up makes it clear that he was a vision of the past come alive and was the same Grady discussed by Ullmann.

Another confusing bit for film lovers who didnt read the book was the scene where Wendy was running through the halls and seeing visions...the guy in the Dog Suit for instance...the book makes it clear there was some odd sexual activities going on with that character but Kubrick ignored that storyline (probably for the best). Confusing to some, but i felt it added to the chaos that she was in the middle of as the walls and halls came alive.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 20, 2011 1:37:47 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 20, 2011 1:43:49 PM PDT
MarcTheKing says:
Baron: There is a short documentary shot by Kubricks wife that shows the behind the scenes action featuring a hammy Nicholson, a scattered and flustered Duvall and a weepy Scatman Crothers. Find it somewhere in the Kubrick DVD collection.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 20, 2011 2:00:07 PM PDT
Gryphon X says:
Yes, "hammy" is the word. Kubrick should have lavished some of his sadism on Nicholson, whose over-the-top performance has dated very badly.

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 2:09:44 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 20, 2011 2:11:04 PM PDT
J. Skaggs says:
<<How is Nicholson nutty in that first scene at the job interview? I just see a normal guy.>>
I ascribe this to Nicholson's innate aura of manic intensity.

<<Besides, there's no reliable narrator or viewer to show us what's genuine.>>
I believe this was intentional and is a trope of horror narratives.

<<Another confusing bit for film lovers who didnt read the book was the scene where Wendy was running through the halls and seeing visions...the guy in the Dog Suit for instance...the book makes it clear there was some odd sexual activities going on with that character but Kubrick ignored that storyline (probably for the best). Confusing to some, but i felt it added to the chaos that she was in the middle of as the walls and halls came alive.>>
It was a bear suit, actually. There's a lot of bear symbolism in the movie entire.

Posted on Jul 20, 2011 4:08:14 PM PDT
jmk says:
I gotta be honest, I've always felt Shelley Duvall was horribly miscast in the part of Wendy. It almost ruined the movie for me. She and Jack Nicholson had zero chemistry together and they were supposed to be playing a married couple who had a very strong physical relationship. I personally didn't care for the movie ending, liked the ending in the book better.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 20, 2011 7:52:13 PM PDT
MarcThe King,

I've seen Kubrick's daughter's (or was it his wife's) home movies of the set It's a special feature on the WB Stanley Kubrick Collection dvd... even though it's not truly a formal documentary but they claim it as such... but I did enjoy wathcing it, a great deal, and that ending montage with Sibelius' Valse Triste was perfect.

In one scene, Shelly Duvall seems like such a contrary pain in the butt, but Stanley seems to be testing her endurance as she gets more flustered and bewildered and angry. It is very cool to see this footage of these people making the movie-- and to see that creating a film can be harrowing and infuriating at times.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 20, 2011 8:03:52 PM PDT
J. Skaggs,

Re: the alleged bear symbolism

You'll probably enjoy this:

http://www.godlikeproductions.com/forum1/message897090/pg1

Some things are more scary than anything Stephen King ever thought up.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 20, 2011 9:08:34 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 20, 2011 9:11:37 PM PDT
Oz le Fou says:
@ Gryphon X

I don't find it dated. So much is going on behind Jack's eyes, and all the little physical ticks and movements keep the role fresh, for mine.

I watch the film probably once a year, and am always impressed by the depth of Nicholson's mania. From that mad twinkle in his eye at the interview, through to his eventual complete immersion into stone cold crazy, there is so much 'little-stuff' going on in his performance, that there seems to be always more to see.

With every viewing, i notice new tidbits in his performance, so as opposed to dated, i find it renewed. Of course, if i was able to see and absorb every single detail in one viewing, i may find it dated, but as it is, i don't.
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Discussion in:  Horror forum
Participants:  26
Total posts:  103
Initial post:  Jul 18, 2011
Latest post:  Jan 28, 2013

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