The Shining: All Meaning And No Play By Stanley Kubrick

1465 words - 6 pages

Initially tanking at the box office, Stanley Kubrick's The Shining garnered a cult following and high appreciation many years after premiering. The film, differing from Stephen King's original novel, lacked speed and coherence; however, fans accumulated after noticing small details that conveyed entirely different messages. The director dedicated attention to every detail, causing confusion after noticeable inconsistencies and pointless-seeming deviations from the book. Stanley Kubrick's The Shining spawned numerous discussions through multiple enigmatic, open-ended components and deep-reaching symbolism.
The film exhibits American issues of 1920s chauvinism as Jack, slowly adopting the bigots' life philosophies, attempts to join an “exclusive and eternal Fourth of July costume party where the whiskey flows free of charge” (Smith 302). Slowly losing his sanity, the father enters a conversation with the ghost of a previous caretaker in the bathroom; they discuss his interest in joining the party, when the apparition asks why his son, Danny, “brought an outside party into [the Hotel]” (302). Referencing an African-American man Danny sent to save himself and his mother, Wendy, from his murderous father, Jack realizes that he must “shed his enlightened liberal schoolteacher/writer personality and adopt the racist views....[of] wealthy, white, pre-Depression and pre-World War II American [males]” by killing the savior (302). He later succeeds, murdering the man en route to hunting down his son and wife. Furthermore, in the same conversation, Jack shows his narrow views as he references Wendy by calling her “the old sperm bank” (Metz 55). After his wife mentions a mysterious woman in one of the hotel rooms, the man seems interested only after learning that she lays in the bathtub. The woman, morphing into a cackling hag after kissing Jack, represents a test performed by the party ghosts. They conclude that the man will “jump off the wagon then accept their misogynistic perspective....and then commit adultery” just to experience pleasure (Smith 302); the spirits showcase their power and confirm Jack's ability to conform to chauvinistic views in order to enter the similar celebration. The woman in room 237 also represents the party-goers requirement of Jack to leave his family. Attempting to eliminate the “cement shoes of a family holding him down,” the ghosts let the adulteress degenerate from beautiful to ugly, showing their ability to “make things ugly fast” (303). The white bigots long ago found bachelorhood more exciting, forcing the man to adopt the philosophy by enticing him with its possible rewards.
Kubrick utilizes multiple small details to hint at and help deal with the Holocaust. Throughout the movie, the number forty-two appears quite often, appearing “on Danny's sweatshirt” and representing the number of times “Wendy Torrance swings the bat....at her husband” and the “number of cars in the parking lot” at the hotel...

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