Friday, October 02, 2009

Pink and Gold are My Favorite Colors

The Shining (1980)
directed by Stanley Kubrick
rating: 5 out of 5 cravats
on DVD from the vaults

Critics pay so much attention to the psychological aspects of The Shining and to the grueling filmmaking techniques of Kubrick himself that it's easy to forget how opulent the movie is - the heir to Barry Lyndon's candlelight and the supernatural antecedent to the rotting grandeur of Eyes Wide Shut. Joe Turkel's bartender is the famous ballroom scene in miniature, eerie but comforting, as warm as a hearth fire. Each fade from scene to scene; each tracking shot from room to room; the rhythm as Danny rides his tricycle over Indian rugs (softly) and hardwood floors (a rolling gait): these are rich, physical impressions, without which the ghoul in the tub or Jack himself could be part of any anonymous thriller.

Anyone else would make the child a signpost to preface each new horror, and keep young Danny's expression glazed. Kubrick does, at first, but Danny eventually spends more time reacting to his nightmares than predicting them. Kubrick's sympathy for the child is an emotion the coldest readings of The Shining don't make room for, as when Danny sees the twins in the hallway and covers his eyes. It's how all of us tried to crowd out bad dreams as kids, and how we scare off scary movies even today. But The Shining isn't scary, it's a dream.