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Discuss The Relationship Between Film Form And Meaning In 'the Shining'. Give Examples Of How Genres Utilize Formal And Narrative Conventions To Create Meaning.

2390 words - 10 pages

The Overlook is huge. It's overwhelming. From the opening shots of The Shining, The Overlook Hotel looks like it's going to eat its inhabitants. Toward the end of the film, it looks like it does just that. Throughout this essay I will demonstrate how Kubrick uses filmic techniques to illustrate the film's main theme of claustrophobia, and it's relation to the hotel's progressively terrifying possession of Jack Torrance's mind.The plot of The Shining (based on the Stephen King book) involves a seemingly typical family of three, Jack and Wendy Torrance, and their son Danny. Jack has been selected to - well, overlook - The Overlook, which he thinks will give him the time and space he needs to work on his novel. From the time the family moves into the otherwise deserted hotel, however, there are strange goings on. The boy, Danny, who has visions, sees twin girls who died years before in the hotel. Jack also sees people who aren't really there, like an old woman who drowned in one of the hotel tubs. Suddenly, time and space are closing in on the Torrance's, particularly as Jack starts to lose his mind and gets it into his head that maybe they'd all be better off dead.Director Stanley Kubrick's camera work makes The Overlook look overwhelming to his characters from the opening shots. There is so much headspace as the characters walk through the spacious halls of The Overlook, it looks as though Kubrick could have shot another movie in the top half of the screen. As the film goes on, this headspace is subtly taken away, until instead of being overwhelming, the once capacious Overlook is closing in on its inhabitants. Kubrick takes away space piecemeal as the movie goes on. In one shot in particular, when Jack, freshly off the wagon, goes to whet his whistle in the hotel bar, the camera tracks Jack as he walks toward the camera, which zooms in just as it is panning back. The effect is a man walking through a hallway that is encroaching upon him.Nowhere is the subtraction of space so obvious as in the scene where Danny and Wendy are walking in the maze, juxtaposed with Jack looking down at a model of the maze. As Jack looks down, Kubrick cuts to an aerial shot of the actual maze, and we see Danny and Wendy, the size of ants, trying to find their way out. The effect is simple but effective. The scene foreshadows the terrifying climactic chase through the maze, but more importantly solidifies the feeling of impending doom, with Jack the master of the horrific festivities.'Notions of character here are intimately connected to special strategies, including the idea that The Shining creates a kind of metaphorical, mental landscape. Jack Nicholson's characterization is crucial in communicating many of the film's thematic and formal ideas. The exploration of space (and the relationship of Nicholson's performance and characterization to that space) is a key concern of The Shining.' (Falsetto, p164)Kubrick also uses shapes effectively to force perspective, with...

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