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April 4, 2009 2:50 PM   Subscribe

"Shown backwards it is a heroic film about human experience: A man trapped in the logic of ghosts, trapped in a grayscale 2-D flat world, a photograph inside history, frozen in spectral finity: is unfrozen, and is lured outside of a maze where both his wife and son proceed to ‘undouble’ him and assist him in his war with his self and is finally able to drive away from the Overlook, from the lunarscape of this unreal summit and into a perfect mirror, earthmade."
An excerpt of a large-scale guide to the inner workings of The Shining.

Related: Rob Ager's analysis and audio-visual commentary (YT) (part 2, part 3).
posted by jchgf (63 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
boy dull a jack makes play no and work all. boy dull a jack makes play no and work all. boy dull a jack makes play no and work all. boy dull a jack makes play no and work all. boy dull a jack makes play no and work all. boy dull a jack makes play no and work all. boy dull a jack makes play no and work all. boy dull a jack makes play no and work all. boy dull a jack makes play no and work all. boy dull a jack makes play no and work all. boy dull a jack makes play no and work all. boy dull a jack makes play no and work all.
posted by Saddo at 3:10 PM on April 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Boy, I love seeing 'clever' comments based only on the description of the link and not the content.
posted by flatluigi at 3:13 PM on April 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


Well that was unreadable. Or the four paragraphs that I struggled through before giving up were, I'm assuming that the rest was just as impenetrable.
posted by octothorpe at 3:16 PM on April 4, 2009


copy and paste. copy and paste. copy and paste. copy and paste. copy and paste.
copy and paste. copy and paste. copy and paste. copy and paste. copy and paste.
posted by milarepa at 3:19 PM on April 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


I made it through three paragraphs :)
posted by dydecker at 3:20 PM on April 4, 2009


Well that was unreadable

A stream of consciousness is not a good technique to employ in analyzing Kubrick's work, except perhaps for the stargate scene at the end of 2001.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:21 PM on April 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Agreed. A friend sent me a link to that analysis after he read my recent post on seeing 'The Shining' again as part of a superb Kubrick UK National Film Theatre retrospective over the past couple of months, it has a couple of interesting points but even for a pretentious film nerd like me it's just to overwrought and dense for my liking. I vaguely admire the depth of effort though....
posted by Mintyblonde at 3:39 PM on April 4, 2009


I liked it a whole lot, and found the only unreadable thing to be the white text on black background. It just goes to show you how utterly clueless about some things some otherwise-brilliant people can be. For instance, take Stanley Kubrick. He devoted so much instinct and intellect into "The Shining", and then made the worst casting choice in movie history: Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrence. (Casting Ryan O'Neil as Barry Lyndon was almost as bad.) Jack Nicholson (playing, as he always does, Jack Nicholson) telegraphs psychotic depravity from the moment he steps on screen. So we are deprived of the dramatic pleasure and suspense of watching a "normal" man slowly being dragged into madness by the malign influence of the Hotel. Instead, the we spend the early part of the film simply wondering when Jack is going to go "Jack" on us. It's no shock when he finally crashes through the door with an ax saying "Here's Johnny!". It's not a terrifying transformation of character. He could have run wild in the office with an ax in the very interview scene at the beginning, and we wouldn't have been surprised. And what about casting Shelly Duvall? We don't see an ordinary woman driven to terror, we see an actress whose face expresses sheer horror under the most benign circumstances. Because of the casting, we don't see Shelly Duvall as a "normal" woman being terrorized by a husband she barely recognizes anymore, but we see a woman who was born frightened out of her wits, and whose every facial expression shows fear every second of the day. Imagine "The Shining" with the kind of bland actors that Kubrick wisely populated "2001" and "Full-Metal Jacket" with. It would have been a work of art that transcended its time and all of Hollywood. Instead, its a banal little Jack Nicholson film, wrapped in the possibilities of genius.
posted by Faze at 3:42 PM on April 4, 2009 [32 favorites]


I like seeing anything about this movie, specially with screenshots. In the linked articles there's a point about the mountain in one of the opening shots being a dead end. Getting the visual metaphors pointed out like that is diverting for a while, but the text is a bit of a thicket of clause after clause and the real meat here is the audiovisual analysis videos. Thanks very much for the links.
posted by paperpete at 3:44 PM on April 4, 2009


Fair point, this may illuminate those choices.
posted by Mintyblonde at 3:46 PM on April 4, 2009


I know an instructor who would give this piece a D for the writing alone. The author is writing to impress his audience with how smart he is. That's not how you do it. You write to convey something -- information, emotion, instruction. If your prose is so "impressive" that even mefi residents who are interested in your subject bail at paragraph 3, have perpetrated an Epic Fail.

I estimate the reading level of this piece is around 30 years of education. I bailed at paragraph 5.
posted by localroger at 3:46 PM on April 4, 2009


Faze, did you read the novel? Torrance was insane from page 1. That is the whole point of the ALL WORK AND NO PLAY thing, he was working on that script before he ever started driving toward the Overlook. It's not that the Overlook turned a good man bad; it's that the Overlook CALLED a bad man of the type it needed, particularly a man it could control who had a son of the type it needed even more. That's the source of the horror of the ALL WORK NO PLAY scene, it's not OMFG Jack's nuts, it's OMFG Jack wasn't driven nuts by the hotel, Jack's been nuts forever.

If you know the source material Nicholson was the perfect choice, because he can pass for kindasorta normal, but you know something ain't quite right ... and in The Shining we get the pleasure of watching the inner psycho that normally knows to at least try and stay hidden being dragged out into the open by a force much more powerful and malevolent than even it is.

As for Shelly Duvall's character, again, she has lived with this psycho for years, she knows something is wrong, he has been a blazing alcoholic and then one day just as she worked up the courage to deliver an ultimatum he mysteriously quit and she doesn't know why (we know he didn't kill anyone but she doesn't), and once she is dragged to the Overlook she is going to find out what just how bad things can really get

Finally, you might notice that the story is about the one major character you didn't mention, the boy. He is the focus of it all.

Oh, and it wasn't just white type on black, it was EXCEEDINGLY SMALL white type on black, and I hate having to put on my reading glasses to read a effing webpage.
posted by localroger at 3:57 PM on April 4, 2009 [21 favorites]


I thought this was pretty interesting, although not well written and at some points the plate of beans is clearly being overthought. Nevertheless I wanted to read on when I reached the end. He stopped just short of an amazing bit of framing, one that's so subtle I've often wondered if it is just a happy accident (unlikely, considering Kubrick) - during Danny's conversation with Halloran in the kitchen, there is a single shot where a rack of knives appears directly above Danny's head, like a sword (swords) of Damocles. I wanted to see if the writer picked up on it.
posted by WPW at 4:01 PM on April 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


..As a blank tool, Kubrick employs symmetry as the doorway to signed, symbolic layers.

There's a blank tool here, all right, and it's not Kubrick.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 4:03 PM on April 4, 2009 [6 favorites]


Well, dude's sentence structure needs some serious work, but I thought what he was actually saying was interesting. I do find it odd that he takes this backhanded dig at semioticians:
a semiotician would lose it here but semiosis is a failed cult, its patterning is random, and the semiotician gets to choose what words have codes
but pretty much participates in the same thing himself.
posted by juv3nal at 4:15 PM on April 4, 2009


I got exactly this far:
evidence of a conscious attempt to create motion-glyphs out of seemingly mundane and unrelated forms

blah blah blah freakin' academic gobbledegook if you're that smart then you should probably learn to communicate in the goddamn english language please ok thank you
posted by ook at 4:25 PM on April 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


If we're going to remix The Shining, I much prefer this (dead link; see it here).
posted by GrammarMoses at 4:32 PM on April 4, 2009


Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrence. (Casting Ryan O'Neil as Barry Lyndon was almost as bad.) Jack Nicholson (playing, as he always does, Jack Nicholson) telegraphs psychotic depravity from the moment he steps on screen. So we are deprived of the dramatic pleasure and suspense of watching a "normal" man slowly being dragged into madness by the malign influence of the Hotel.

Don't recall if it's in this stream-of-consciousness note-taking or elsewhere, but something I read recently remarked on the Shining's reversal of typical horror/suspense narrative conventions. E.g., we see what should be climactic images at the beginning of a sequence rather than at the end. It seems to me that Jack Nicholson's "telegraphing of psychotic depravity from the very beginning" could be read in a similar light.
posted by treepour at 4:40 PM on April 4, 2009


I tried reading this and made it about three paragraphs.

Not only is the typeface too small, the writing is so damn dense the only people who will try and power through it are philosophy students.
I think any concept worth its salt can be expressed in clear, plain language. People who come up with dreck like this (or most of the philosophy books I've read) are just being pretentious wankers.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:44 PM on April 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


Imagine "The Shining" with the kind of bland actors that Kubrick wisely populated "2001" and "Full-Metal Jacket" with. It would have been a work of art that transcended its time and all of Hollywood. Instead, its a banal little Jack Nicholson film, wrapped in the possibilities of genius.

Didn't they try this, with the guy from Wings and Rebecca DeMornay?
posted by Lucinda at 4:50 PM on April 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Faze, did you read the novel? Torrance was insane from page 1. That is the whole point of the ALL WORK AND NO PLAY thing...

Whaaaaaat? I read the book twice and never noticed that. I thought it said he'd started fresh or something and that's when the ALL CAPS AND NO PLAY started.
posted by DU at 4:53 PM on April 4, 2009


Didn't they try this, with the guy from Wings and Rebecca DeMornay?


Yes, a casting feat nearly as impressive as Molly Ringwald's star turn in The Stand.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:07 PM on April 4, 2009


I think any concept worth its salt can be expressed in clear, plain language. People who come up with dreck like this (or most of the philosophy books I've read) are just being pretentious wankers.

Really, even things like quantum physics? Sure, I suppose it could theoretically be expressed in plain language, but it would probably take volumes to express just one tiny facet. I tend to think that good critical theory works in a similar way. One develops a language that's a kind of short-hand for concepts that would take too long think/express in an "ordinary" way. There's really nothing unusual about this -- sports commentary, for instance, uses this sort of shorthand language. Of course, there's also plenty of stuff that pretends to be this kind of shorthand . . . but in this particular case, I'm willing to give the author the benefit of the doubt, especially given that we're basically reading his working notes, not a polished piece of criticism.
posted by treepour at 5:13 PM on April 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


semiosis is a failed cult

Somebody doesn't know what "semiosis" means. Watch "A Day at the Races" and find out.
posted by Wolof at 5:14 PM on April 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


I hate having to put on my reading glasses to read a effing webpage
Command-plus (probably Alt-plus for Windows people) is your friend.

Unfortunately, there is no similar keystroke to assist in unjumbling the willfully dense writing style.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 5:15 PM on April 4, 2009


Some further background.
posted by Mintyblonde at 5:22 PM on April 4, 2009


It's been quite some time since I either saw or read The Shining. What I remember, at the very beginning of the novel was the bit with Torrance thinking "Officious little prick" about his potential new boss.

While I do not think of Torrance as a bad guy from the get go, he is most certainly an unstable guy, with a violent childhood, wrapped up with an alcoholic father who cheerfully passed his anger, his readiness with his fists, and his predilection for liquor down to his son. Torrance is struggling mightily to keep his act together, chewing aspirin and practically twitching in his need for a drink, against which he must balance his love for his family and his desire to produce anything creative. Torrance might as well be a werewolf, for how he's written — a well-meaning werewolf who would rather not be what he was, but, yes, he does not merely snarl and pace, we can practically see his yellow eyes and his hackles standing up as he struggles not to rip out the throats of his wife, his child, and even a boss.

All of this is well-established prior to Torrance even hearing about the Overlook, right down to the beating of one of his student, which was presented as an incident of what might have been some righteous anger turned to red-fisted lunacy as what would have been a stern talking-to and a bill for some new tires from a reasonable man proceeds to much more than a pressure-releasing sock across the jaw from a man who accidentally-maybe-not-so broke his toddler's arm simply for idly pouring fizzy, interesting beer across papers a child could not possibly know were important, symbolically showing his father that his alcoholism will destroy his creative output, after all.

Which is precisely why Nicholson was selected. Nicholson, especially at that age, will chew scenery like any other ill-mannered creature brought indoors. He certainly comes off with a kind of saturnine cheer, a sullen grin upon request, a smile hiding unpredictable violence, eyes set just a little closely, like the eyes of those most memorable childhood bullies. Before he aged and mellowed a bit, he always seemed uncomfortable in his own skin, the kind of man who would fidget in his chair during an interview for a hotel manager job, the kind of man who absolutely needed a drink to steady his nerves, even if the drink was completely imaginary.

The other casting choices did not impress me; Shelly Duvall certainly has the milksop characteristics one might associate with a wife who, while not battered physically, might be so emotionally with that sense that her husband was just one bad decision away from laying fists upon her. Wendy Torrance, however, was supposed to be voluptuous, telegraphing hidden reserves of vitality and spine which come finally to the fore in crisis. Like Jack, she also represents a character teetering on some balance towards either having her ego flattened under the weight of her husband's wrath or developing. Duvall brought to the screen a woman already crushed, who, should she escape her husband, would inevitably end up with another guy just as bad. And don't get me started on what was and wasn't done with Danny. Ugh.

Also, I heard recently that if you play Jaws backwards, it's a movie about a giant shark that keeps vomiting up surfers and swimmers, until everyone has to open a beach.
posted by adipocere at 5:32 PM on April 4, 2009 [16 favorites]


Whaaaaaat? I read the book twice and never noticed that. I thought it said he'd started fresh or something and that's when the ALL CAPS AND NO PLAY started.

I think you're both kinda right and kinda wrong. Novel Jack is unstable from the get, as we gradually come to realize -- but "unstable" is not the same as "batshit insane." He certainly could have gone batshit insane all on his own, and clearly was getting there in a more banal way all on his own (i.e., as a violent but probably not murderous alcoholic), but was fairly far along in the process when he became the Overlook's caretaker. But he wasn't all the way better (and, if you place stock in AA, couldn't ever really get all the way better), and so had a weakness that the hotel knew how to exploit. To me, Nicholson is infinitely more convincing as an initially troubled guy than is the gentleman better known as the guy from "Wings"*, who seems to have recovered from his alcoholism the way someone else might from the flu or something. That Movie Jack carries his past with him, is visibly affected by it every second of his Brand New Day, is basically just twitchy and not quite okay, seems a much more realistic portrayal of a recovering alcoholic. Shelley Duvall comes across as a people-pleasing neurotic, desperate to make everything okay, which strikes me as pretty much dead-on for a person in her situation. Prettier, healthier-looking actors might have been easier to rough up as the story went along, but I think the story Kubrick wanted to tell -- which is probably a more interesting story -- is one about fucked up people who try to get better and only get much much worse.

(*Who I really do think tried his best in the ill-advised mini, so I don't wanna run him down all that much. I mean, if anybody else wants to, go ahead. I can't really blame him for trying for his own Heath Ledger moment, ten years earlier; he maybe should have known better, that Nicholson's Jack was just way too iconographic to compete with, but I admire the guts of making the attempt. As much as I think the miniseries is basically a Britney Spears cover of "Satisfaction," I kind of admire the audacity of everyone involved, really.)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:32 PM on April 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


treepour: Actually, that crossed my mind, and in that sort of case you really do need jargon.
I remember sitting down with some Hegel and just rewriting sentences to make them more readable, and in the end a page's worth was a bit less and one could actually understand it. I lay half the blame at the feet of the 19th-century translator, but the awful sentence structure was also at fault. I'd swear some of those guys were just trying to make it hard.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:33 PM on April 4, 2009


(Above: Meant to say "fairly far along in the recovery process" up there. Apologies.)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:35 PM on April 4, 2009


This assault on the senses is exactly what the Readability Bookmarklet was made for.

Unfortunately, the contents aren't improved. Is anyone able to decipher any of this? Because it's reading more like the faux-intellectual rambling common 48 hours into a meth binge than anything coherent or insightful.

What is it about this OK-ish horror flick that attracts so much overthinking? I've read more than one dubious essay on the symbolism and supposed artistic intent of Kubrik. They don't even agree with each other. One guy claims the entire movie is an allegory for the genocide of Native Americans, another has a whole website devoted to the numerology in the film, and I've read more than one scene-by-scene analysis that attributes intent to Kubrik I have a hard time buying. Yeah I get that this movie is a bit dense with symbolism, per Kubrik's style, but I have yet to see anyone make a convincing argument that it all means something.
posted by cj_ at 5:50 PM on April 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wonder I, be subtitles with backwards it watching would how. Coherent how?
posted by Pronoiac at 5:53 PM on April 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


during Danny's conversation with Halloran in the kitchen, there is a single shot where a rack of knives appears directly above Danny's head, like a sword (swords) of Damocles.

I distinctly remember that, because it was one of the few moments during the first time I saw the film that I was actually thrown out of it by formal construction of the images (one of the others was "Hey! Diane Arbus!"). The halo of knives around Danny's head was almost over the top (if I can say that about The Shining, which is all over the top all the time).
posted by jokeefe at 6:15 PM on April 4, 2009


What is this Metafilter? It is a paradox mirror.

Either that, or an outpost attempting to control a gateway to a cosmological heaven, inverted by its misuses upon indigenous spiritual aesthetics, operating as an essence vortex for those unlucky enough to have been seduced by its Western-faced promise: eternity.

That's what I've always thought, at least.
posted by Dia Nomou Nomo Apethanon at 6:18 PM on April 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Dang. Plate. Beans. I watched the movie. I liked the movie. It was gud.

/hoi polloi
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:31 PM on April 4, 2009


What is it about this OK-ish horror flick that attracts so much overthinking? I've read more than one dubious essay on the symbolism and supposed artistic intent of Kubrik. They don't even agree with each other. One guy claims the entire movie is an allegory for the genocide of Native Americans, another has a whole website devoted to the numerology in the film, and I've read more than one scene-by-scene analysis that attributes intent to Kubrik I have a hard time buying. Yeah I get that this movie is a bit dense with symbolism, per Kubrik's style, but I have yet to see anyone make a convincing argument that it all means something.

It's a puzzle -- a mystery wrapped inside an enigma facing a mirror that reflects into our souls and screams for a solution, but the search for said solution only twists the psyche 'round and 'round -- infinitely recursive, like an Escher drawing -- like the snake biting its own tail -- like a veritable Kubrik's Cube

(Shorter: Dude, it's "Kubrick")
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:33 PM on April 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Summary

Stanley Kubrick uses all kinds of symbolism and stuff. We're now going to use a lot of terminology we learned in grad school but never really understood in order to make our main point: we're smarter than you are.

Conclusion

Mental masturbation: Its greatest tools and tests remain hidden from a vast majority of viewers and await discovery.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:33 PM on April 4, 2009


Even as an evil English professor (TM), member of a profession long accused of "just making stuff up," I have qualms:

1) Ager justifies his analysis of K's "subliminal narrative" by quoting K on 2001: "'I don’t like to talk about 2001 too much because it’s essentially a non-verbal experience. It attempts to communicate more to the subconscious and to the feelings than it does to the intellect. I think clearly there’s a problem with people who are not paying attention with their eyes. They’re listening. And they don’t get much from listening to this film. Those who won’t believe their eyes won’t be able to appreciate this film.'" But nothing in this quotation suggests that there's a "dual narrative" (as Ager claims) or "subliminal narrative" in 2001. If anything, this quotation suggests that K is doing his darndest to rule out exactly the type of analysis that Ager goes on to perform. That is, the film has no "real meaning," subliminal or otherwise (and if it were subliminal, just "looking" wouldn't help much, either). We're supposed to "experience" 2001 without anatomizing the film for its "concepts" or its "message" or its what-have-you. Ager keeps taking K's refusal to discuss "meaning" as a sign that there must be a super-ultra-secret meaning requiring some magic decoder ring, when--again, just going by Ager's own evidence--K consistently dismisses all inquiries about "what it really means" as uninteresting, irrelevant, silly, etc.

2) The analysis itself reminds me of Delia Bacon's work on Shakespeare, speculations about "Bible codes," etc.--not just because Ager assumes that he's unlocking the film's meaning by pointing to a series of deliberately-planted clues, but also because he assumes that Kubrick's control-freakery really did control anything and everything in the scene, sometimes to bizarre lengths. (Shelley Duval looks like Goofy?! Really?) Every time Ager notices that film is a collaborative medium, he somehow makes everything a result of K's own intent. It doesn't help that at least some of Ager's observations are objectively wrong, as far as I can tell--for example, this page, in which he argues that "Woodstock is chasing a ball, which is important because it was a ball that lured Danny toward the symbolic room 237." Except Woodstock isn't chasing a ball--he's flying after a balloon.

3) By the same token, he keeps interpreting horror conventions as original "meanings," as in his reading of the film's allusions to cannibalism, the genocide of Native Americans &c. as serious political commentary. Ager's right that racism is a major theme. But by the same token, it's also a genre convention that haunted houses (or hotels) have some connection to an unresolved and unjust act--here, the Native American burial ground. Similarly, there's considerable irony in K's hotel incorporating Navajo & other designs into its decor--the architects & decorators turn bloody US history into sanitized commercial decorations. But, again, assuming that the past can be rendered safe for modern consumption is still a genre convention. If you've read or seen enough horror/Gothic, there's nothing particularly unexpected, let alone "subliminal," about what's going on here. K probably is commenting on the dark side of US history, but he isn't constructing a subliminal narrative about it, let alone a code to be cracked. (It's horror. The history is always going to be bloody.) When Ager concludes that a"possible meaning for the manuscript is that it could represent the Indian Removal Act, which was a key document that resulted in many native deaths," he both confuses "theme" with "meaning" and ignores how this genre usually operates.

4) Last but not least: nobody has ever noticed? Ever? (I'm reminded of literary works that are supposedly "subversive," even though nobody at the time noticed. In which case, they're failures.) K was trying to conceal his nefarious subliminal narrative from the entire cast and crew? Aren't there more plausible interpretations of his behavior?

(Well, at least this post temporarily distracted me from John Henry Newman's Loss and Gain.)
posted by thomas j wise at 7:57 PM on April 4, 2009 [9 favorites]


Metafilter: banal, wrapped in the possibilities of genius
posted by intermod at 7:59 PM on April 4, 2009


(By "they're failures," I mean the works, not the readers.)
posted by thomas j wise at 7:59 PM on April 4, 2009


Lucid critique, tjw. Far, far better than it merits.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:13 PM on April 4, 2009


I don't think Kubrick's films are all that complicated in their messages, really. The beautiful cinematography and symbolism and hidden meanings are just there for to give the audience something to chew on, but they all tend to underline exactly what you can grasp from the basic plots.

The Shining, for me, is about the horror of domestic violence. The ghosties and knives and whatnot are there to contrast with the very real terror of living with a guy who might break your arm or murder you or your mum because he's got unresolved issues.

I enjoy teasing out the symbolism, but generally after I'm done with it all, it comes back to something you could have gotten from just watching the main action. I think Kubrick just enjoyed layering things up.
posted by harriet vane at 8:17 PM on April 4, 2009



The cinematography is masterful and this imaginative essay helps affirm that.

It's known that Stephen King was annoyed enough with Kubrick's artistic license to make his own remake of the Shining for TV in the 90's. Who is the bigger artist. ?
posted by celerystick at 9:35 PM on April 4, 2009


Scanning through the comments, I thought, "Oh wow. There's a book of THE SHINING? I gotta get that." Not because I haven't read The Shining at least 3 times in my life, but because it's doing something so radically different than the movie -- plotwise, thematically, tone -- that my brain refuses to store the two in the same spot.

It's a brilliant, overly dense, symbolically complicated film -- that's was Kubrick's shtick always, taking a genre and blowing the doors off of the expectations of it.

The kind of symbolic pickapart that the article writer in engaging in requires a little language density and some arrogance -- who has the gall to believe they know what Kubrick was really trying to pull off except the arrogance of either youth trying to prove its intelligence or academia so removed from folks that it doesn't consider its reading audience?
posted by Gucky at 10:32 PM on April 4, 2009


Am I the only one who concluded that the author is mentally unbalanced in some way? Further examination of the writings on the site seem to suggest this is true. I can't help but be reminded of the rantings of my schizophrenic friend. Also, I kinda want to get the author hooked in to Galactica's mainframe so he can pilot the ship into the sun.
posted by incessant at 10:44 PM on April 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Im gonna watch in backwards, but first I really must watch Wizard of Oz with the sound turned down queued up to Dark Side of the Moon. Come see my MC Escher book.The Walrus was Paul. snark. Actually glad people had the passion to write stuff like this, as long as they remember to go outside and play on a nice day.
posted by celerystick at 10:52 PM on April 4, 2009


[He] made the worst casting choice in movie history: Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrence.... Jack Nicholson (playing, as he always does, Jack Nicholson) telegraphs psychotic depravity from the moment he steps on screen. So we are deprived of the dramatic pleasure and suspense of watching a "normal" man slowly being dragged into madness by the malign influence of the Hotel. Instead, the we spend the early part of the film simply wondering when Jack is going to go "Jack" on us.

You may know, or not, that this was the position of Stephen King, stated in his 1983 Playboy interview and elsewhere.

Personally, I have more truck with Kubrick than King in general and on this issue. I think the film is brilliant, and one of the things that makes it so is that it is not a slavish adaptation in the conventions of the horror film. That "dramatic pleasure and suspense" you miss isn't Kubrick's point at all.
posted by dhartung at 11:01 PM on April 4, 2009


I had heard (or read somewhere, no cite, sorry) that one of the reasons King so disliked Kubrick's version was because The Shining had a few autobiographical elements in it. It was his way of dealing with the effects his alcoholism/drug addiction had on his family and his work, how it can make a monster out of a man. And even if King knew that Kubrick didn't realise there was anything of King in Jack Torrance, you'd have to have a pretty tough skin not to take it personally when Jack Nicholson is being obviously psycho right from the start.
posted by harriet vane at 1:18 AM on April 5, 2009


Climbin' up on Salisbury hill...
I can see the city lights


That 'Shining' trailer is gold start to finish, from "Meet Jack" to the hilariously-voiced "Shining".
posted by sixswitch at 4:54 AM on April 5, 2009


I think of two things when I try to read this impenetrable tosh: Private Eye magazine's Pseuds Corner, and the Sokal Affair.
posted by jonnyploy at 5:17 AM on April 5, 2009


Located directly at the continental divide in Glacier National Park, the road’s construction/destruction was begun in 1921, the year the film ends, so in a subtle manipulation, the road begins in 1921 as well as the photograph that ends the film in a flash: a nod to continuum.

Kubrick to cinematographer while scouting for the overhead car shot: That road is perfect! So photogenic. But was it built in 1921? No? Keep looking.
posted by starman at 6:03 AM on April 5, 2009


The last time somebody posted something about it The Shining it was a documentary about all the boxes he kept. One of the things the director found was loads and loads of pictures. Apparently he was that anal about what he shot. Although another documentary I saw about The Shining, Kubrick was doing re-writes on the script daily as the cast waited around for the pages. So I'm not sure what to make of that, except maybe different things (such as actual speaking lines) didn't carry as much weight for Kubrick.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:45 AM on April 5, 2009


My uncle took my cousin and I to see THE SHiNiNG when it came out at the drive-in. I was 10, my cousin was 8. Some of it was so scary that we just shut it out and started playing around in the back doing silly shit, like kids do. I still like the movie. And, It's great to watch when you feel alone and depressed, and are not liking your family too much. I would love to see a critique by Harry Frankfurt of the link/critique just posted. Reading that piece was a Google fest for me. Now, I'm going to watch the movie and see if I can make any of these connections, and if I just get bored, then I have to believe that dude was high as hell on some smart drug, or something, when this was written.
posted by Flex1970 at 10:49 AM on April 5, 2009


As a recovering critical theorist, I was put off at first by the article's coinages, its all-encompassing "cosmological" pretentions. But I am always looking to improve my abilities as amateur film critic, so the few truly legitimate insights I found kept me reading: perhaps there would be an upside to slogging through the whole thing.

The minutes passed, and I felt it drawing me further and further into its screwy but somehow perversely appealing logic...I resisted at first, remembering how critical theory had taken over my mind for four long, unproductive years. But I had committed to reading the whole thing, dammit! It was my f***ing responsibility.

By this time, it was the world of the article--a world of distorted and reversed time and a really perfectly sensible cosmology, when you thought about it--that had come to seem more real. The rest of the world was wrong: the article was right. I would see things its way. It was like coming home.

...then, abruptly, it ended. It was only a portion. Thank god. Imagine what might have happened if it had kept going to the end!
posted by MimeticHaHa at 11:04 AM on April 5, 2009


I had to watch The Shining a couple of times to get what Kubrick was trying to do - to transcend the traditional limitations of the horror flick. Once I realized that much I was just taken with the cinematography and overall atmosphere of the movie, and it was excellent.

King deciding to remake the thing was just one more bone-headed move on his part, plus a need for a little cash infusion. I don't know. I had enough respect for both of them not to question any of that too much.

Later on my little brother and I sat watching the flick on cable with the sound muted. We knew a lot of the dialogue by then, and were armed with an acoustic guitar and a harmonica to provide a soundtrack. Between intense fits of the giggles, the movie still managed to provide a chill or two, despite our nonsense.

No matter how high or low-brow the conception of such a thing may be, much depends upon the seriousness of the viewer. I don't believe I've ever enjoyed The Shining as much as that night me and my brother were sitting there somewhat stoned and trying to provide a silent film soundtrack to that flick. It was ridiculous and wonderful.

Up until the scene with Scatman and the axe. I think we fell silent at that point.
posted by metagnathous at 5:18 PM on April 5, 2009


Who is the bigger artist. ?

Kubrick. Although Eyes Wide Shut sucked ass. Seriously. Bleeagh.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 5:45 PM on April 5, 2009


I've said it before and I'll say it again: Kubrick's Shining would have been about 10x better without this shot.
posted by stinkycheese at 7:51 PM on April 5, 2009


No beer and no TV make Homer something something?
posted by LilBucner at 9:33 AM on April 6, 2009


"Go crazy?"
posted by Pronoiac at 1:34 PM on April 6, 2009


Don't mind if I do!
posted by harriet vane at 9:31 PM on April 6, 2009


Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown.
posted by Forrest Greene at 7:46 PM on April 8, 2009


Part 3 has been posted today.
posted by jchgf at 8:23 PM on April 8, 2009


The last part of the analysis was posted on mstrmnd today, and I must admit the complete series didn't live up to its introduction.
posted by jchgf at 11:21 PM on April 28, 2009


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