I watched The Shining again.
Perfect horror film. Existential fear
right there. Amazing performances, brilliantly
filmed – that feeling of unease that trickles
in with Wendy Carlos’ amazing music and the
sound-design just so.
And I’m ordering a book to read about the film
and noticing my copy of Stephen King’s novel up
there on the shelf – it might be a crime to admit
this but I’ve never read it. So I’m climbing up to
hunt that down. And thinking that now is better
than never, so I’m flipping pages in that as
the film plays out for the 24th go, or however many
times it’s been.
Just a brilliant film. Fine example of Kubrick’s vision
too. Many King fans like to support their man by saying
that the movie didn’t accurately reflect the book – but that
was part of Stanley’s genius. He used source material as
the starting point. He was never interested in an accurate
reflection. He knew what film could do and what it should
do and where it was supposed to take you.
Someone said on a Facebook thread
that King’s book had humanity attached – the way
it almost always does with his stories. No matter how
gore-filled or ghastly there’s a blast of humanity. Sometimes
that’s the truly chilling part.
Kubrick was all about removing humanity, I said in my
reply to the post that kicked the conversation off. That was
the truly chilling art that Stanley Kubrick hoped to bury
himself deep down inside.
The Shining has held me in its sway for a quarter-century
Jack’s performance. The documentary that Kubrick’s daughter
made on set. The doco that came out more recently with
all the conspiracy theories. The Stanley Kubrick exhibition
I was lucky to get to see back when you could travel the world
without risk of death – or even worse, Government-subsidised meals
and accommodation for a fortnight if you make it back!
Also, what about Shelley Duvall?
She’s fucking incredible in that film.
And if you get the sense she’s falling apart
it’s because she was – the actor began tearing
clumps of her hair out, nervously unfolding before
Stanley Kubrick. He would have found it very hard
to take her particular brand of humanity.
The music of The Shining haunts me some days.
The music from the documentary Room 237 did its
best to haunt me too.
I told the guys in the video store that The Shining is
about the only film in this world I find truly terrifying.
(And still do).
They beamed at the chance to talk about Kubrick. And I
did too. Like the old record store days when someone would
come to the counter with a Frank Zappa reissued CD on Rykodisc
or one of those brilliant questions like, “is this a good Tom Waits
CD to start off with?” My answer was always that if it had his
name on the spine it was a good one. (You could also
try one or two Captain Beefheart ones instead. Though that
was sometimes a trap).
I mentioned that the other Kubrick film that’s really held me
in its fist, that doesn’t get the instant kudos of almost all the others,
is Full Metal Jacket. I saw it first when I was 10. Which isn’t right.
But it’s just how it was. And it had the most profound effect on
me. I grew up a little faster that day. Couldn’t wait to see the movie
again – but knew I couldn’t tell my folks about what I’d just seen.
“Fuck, you seemed to turn out okay”, said the guy in the video
Which is more than can be said for what was supposed to be – and
sometimes still is – a poem about The Shining.