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Monday, 28 January 2019

The Shining: Book vs Film

I first watched The Shining when I was sixteen with a friend. Neither of us adored it - it was an okay movie with some humorous and creepy parts but had a boring slow-moving atmosphere to it. It wasn't a particularly terrifying film. I've seen it a couple times since and while I appreciate it more, it reads like a black comedy to me. (Contains spoilers). 

After reading the novel, which made me sob at the end (why do King's books get me all emotional?) I understand why he was so pissed off with Kubrick. The guy shit all over King's characters and his overall story, turning The Shining from a tense thriller with well-developed characters into a parody movie. Jack Torrance in the book is a troubled but loving man who cares deeply for his wife and son. It's the Overlook (which I believe is possessed by 'It' - there's a whole fan theory about that) that gets Jack and takes over him, turning him into a deranged monster.

Wendy is probably the most piss-taking change. In the movie she is an annoying wuss - part of you wants Jack to kill her or chase her around just because she's such a pain in the arse. In the book she is wonderful - she's brave, courageous, compassionate and fiercely protective of Danny. She has strong agency and feels like a real, breathing person, rather than 'freaked out screamy lady.'

As for Danny, he's a strange kid in the movie who talks to his finger (seriously Kubrick?) and doesn't make you feel that attached to him. Tony is this eerie presence, whereas in the novel he is Danny's future self coming to warn him. Book Danny is a smart and curious kid, and is super brave - you definitely root for him and cheer him on as he runs to save himself, his mum and Dick.

Kubrick really put the 'black guy dies in horror film' ball into motion with Dick Halloran, who doesn't die in the book and features heavily in the sequel, Doctor Sleep (which I am yet to read). In the book Dick is my favourite character as well as Wendy, and his ending conversation with Danny is heart-warming. But in the movie he's initially unsettling and later seems like he'll be the significant hero who saves the day, but nope, bang bang, Jacky swings his hammer and kills him.

How they should have been
(from the 1997 miniseries). 
So while the movie is about this crazy guy that tries to kill his wife and son for no reason, the book is about a troubled alcoholic playwright who falls prey to a supernatural hotel. The movie also has little-to-no chemistry between the three main characters - you can't imagine Jack and Wendy as a couple, but in the book they clearly love each other despite their troubled marriage.

I know this endless debate about the two mediums has been going on for decades, but honestly if someone is going to adapt an author's work, sure they can change and amend bits but to completely twist the entire message of the story is super disrespectful. (Another reason to despise Kubrick - that and 2001). I know loads of people love the movie, and I don't mind it, but after reading the book I'm tempted to watch the film just to shout 'LAME!!!!'

Only thing I like about that film (besides the camera work which is unabashedly brilliant - an arsehole can still be a great artist) is Jack Nicholson - it's the same feeling I got when I saw The Dark Knight - The Joker was the only thing I enjoyed. Sometimes you have to root for the bad guy. (Darth Vader is also my favourite character in Star Wars). 

Do you like The Shining? Have you read the book, seen the film or both? Which do you prefer? Let me know!

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I'm Zarina Macha, an author, blogger, and musician from London. I write about stuff on the internet 'cos having opinions is fun -- if you want to join the games, please note your thoughts below. All thoughts welcome, even if they're mean (just no spam links please -- can't tell you what a liability those are to remove).
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