The Shining is a 1980 psychological horror film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick and co-written with novelist Diane Johnson. The film is based on Stephen King‘s 1977 novel of the same name and stars Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers, and Danny Lloyd. The central character in The Shining is Jack Torrance, an aspiring writer and recovering alcoholic, who accepts a position as the off-season caretaker of the isolated historic Overlook Hotel in the Colorado Rockies. Wintering over with Jack are his wife, Wendy Torrance and young son, Danny Torrance. Danny possesses “the shining”, psychic abilities that enable him to see into the hotel’s horrific past. The hotel’s cook, Dick Hallorann, also has this ability and is able to communicate with Danny telepathically. The hotel had a previous winter caretaker who went insane and killed his family and himself. After a winter storm leaves the Torrances snowbound, Jack’s sanity deteriorates due to the influence of the supernatural forces that inhabit the hotel, placing his wife and son in danger. Production took place almost exclusively at EMI Elstree Studios, with sets based on real locations. Kubrick often worked with a small crew, which allowed him to do many takes, sometimes to the exhaustion of the actors and staff. The then-new Steadicam mount was used to shoot several scenes, giving the film an innovative and immersive look and feel. There has been much speculation into the meanings and actions in the film because of inconsistencies, ambiguities, symbolism, and differences from the book. The film was released in the United States on May 23 1980, and in the United Kingdom on October 2 1980, by Warner Bros. There were several versions for theatrical releases, each of which was cut shorter than the one preceding it; about 27 minutes were cut in total. Reactions to the film at the time of its release were mixed; Stephen King criticized the film due to its deviations from the novel. The assessment became more favorable in following decades and it is now widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential horror films ever made. The Shining is widely acclaimed by today’s critics and has become a staple of pop culture. In 2018, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
Jack wanders into the hotel’s Gold Room and meets a ghostly bartender named Lloyd, to whom he complains about his marriage. Wendy tells Jack that Danny told her a “crazy woman” in room 237 attempted to strangle him. Jack investigates room 237 and encounters a dead woman’s ghost, but he tells Wendy that he saw nothing. Wendy and Jack argue over whether Danny should be removed from the hotel, and Jack angrily returns to the Gold Room, which is now filled with ghosts attending a ball. While participating, he meets a ghostly waiter who identifies himself as Delbert Grady. Grady informs Jack that Danny has reached out to Hallorann using his “talent”, and says that Jack must “correct” his wife and child. Hallorann grows concerned about what is going on at the hotel and flies back to Colorado. Danny calls out “redrum” and goes into another trance, referring to himself as “Tony”.
As with some of his other movies, Kubrick ends The Shining with a powerful visual puzzle that forces the audience to leave the theater asking, “What was that all about?” The Shining ends with an extremely long camera shot moving down a hallway in the Overlook, reaching eventually the central photo among 21 photos on the wall, each capturing previous good times in the hotel. At the head of the party is none other than the Jack we’ve just seen in 1980. The caption reads: “Overlook Hotel – July 4th Ball – 1921.” The answer to this puzzle, which is a master key to unlocking the whole movie, is that most Americans overlook the fact that July Fourth was no ball, nor any kind of Independence day, for native Americans; that the weak American villain of the film is the re-embodiment of the American men who massacred the Indians in earlier years; that Kubrick is examining and reflecting on a problem that cuts through the decades and centuries.