Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining: Meaning and Symbols
The phrase that gave the name to King’s novel and Kubrick’s film is taken from a John Lennon song . “We all shine on,” Lennon assured everyone, we all shine, but each in its own way. Kubrick’s The Shining is different from the original because the director and writer shone differently. This did not prevent the novel from collecting all kinds of prizes; this did not prevent the film from taking an impressive place in all ratings of films of the horror genre. And the fact that King’s main character burns out in the explosion, and Kubrick’s – freezes into the ice, only emphasizes the independence of the film.
The director’s approach to the novel angered King. The film is beautiful and scary, but not mystical. The source of all the horrors in the picture is the sick subconscious of the protagonist, and not the vengeful ghosts of an Indian cemetery.
Fathers and children, husbands and wives
The Shining was one of the first horror films to take the topic of domestic violence seriously. Baby Danny communicates with a fictitious friend who predicts the future, falls into a trance and sees ghosts for a reason – he began to “shine”, that is, to show unusual abilities, after his drunken father dislocated his hand. The root of Jack’s troubles lies in the fact that he, too, was once a victim of his father’s abuse, and this led him to alcoholism.
The vicious circle of domestic violence is worse than any streams of blood pouring into the hotel corridor and half-decayed corpses crawling out of the bathroom. Jack Torrance, a former teacher and now a writer, after a nervous breakdown and a scandal, decides to “sit out” the winter in a hotel among the mountains as a caretaker: a great chance to fix his nerves and earn money. But the idea is doomed from the very beginning: after all, he brings his demons along with him. Here they are, sitting in the car – himself, his wife and son, the sources of fury and irritation. For Jack, the victim of violence and rapist, there is no way out of this triangle.
The horror of “The Shining” is not that ghosts are found in a hotel built on the site of an Indian cemetery, but that the closest person can become an enemy bringing your death along the way of destroying his personality.
Closed space of infinity
An incredible panorama of snowy peaks, magnificent landscapes, a road winding between forest and mountains, it would seem, make Jack open his soul towards divine beauty, but he locks himself in the corridors and rooms of the hotel. This symbolizes Jack’s isolation on his problems; instead of forcing himself to get out of the crisis, he plunges deeper and deeper into himself. Caught in a time loop , he types the same phrase over and over again instead of a planned novel . And what can a person meet on the way to his subconscious? Only the ghosts that inhabit the diseased memory.
Loneliness slowly but steadily drives the hero crazy, he is absorbed by the gloomy atmosphere of his own “I”. Jack delights in listening to the whisper of his subconscious, dictating the lessons of cruelty. In the most literal, non-metaphorical sense of the word, he sells his soul to the ghostly bartender for a drink – because it is alcohol that allows his thirst for violence to unfold in full force.
In the confined space of the hotel, Jack does not rush in search of a way out, does not try to escape from fate. He begins to find pleasure in the evil that awakens in him. An ordinary city apartment or a luxury hotel room in the snow – what’s the difference? If a person hates himself, hates his past and present, does not believe in the future, soon the “unwanted” spouse, the “stupid” son will start to irritate, the doors will crack under the blows of the ax, and with a triumphant cry: “Here’s Johnny!” his true face will appear in the hole.
I`ve corrected them …
Correct others, but not yourself, – hints to Jack his ghostly predecessor named Dilbert Grady, who killed his family. The caretaker must forever connect with the hotel, become a part of it. And the wife and children are only a hindrance. But what is the meaning of this obsessive desire to join the ranks of the otherworldly servants?
After all, many people think in the same way, seeing the root of their own problems not in themselves, but in their neighbors. Why change yourself, why bear responsibility – after all, it is easier to blame the one who is nearby, who does not understand your “great goals”, your “huge responsibility.” All “small” and unlucky individuals try to assert themselves at the expense of others and inflate their own egos. When confronted with his subconscious, the normal person becomes stronger; a weak person breaks down. He can only bow subserviently to the power of evil.
Replacing King’s living, predatory shrubs with an eerie maze, Kubrick once again gave the viewer a clue, guiding him along a path of unexpected comprehension of signs and symbols. The snow maze in which Jack’s wife Wendy and their son Danny are hiding is the embodiment of a “frozen”, hopeless and unbearable situation. To be a hostage of the closest person, to be afraid of the one who should love and protect you – what could be worse?
In essence, the Overlook Hotel is an ordinary hotel in the mountains, and if someone has died here, that’s okay. Death can overtake us everywhere. Abnormal is a person who has given his soul at the mercy of his own demons. Ghosts and monsters live and come to life within us. And you need to be able to “shine” in order to anticipate the appearance of the first germs of evil.
The meaning of the ending of the film “The Shining”
Jack is killed, Wendy and Danny are saved. In an old black-and-white photograph in the hotel’s ballroom, we see Jack Torrance among the guests. The explanation for this fact was given by Kubrick – Jack in his “past life” was already the caretaker of the hotel, and now the hotel “called” him again. But there is another explanation: the hotel finally absorbed the soul of the writer, and Jack took his place in the photograph as a sign of becoming an integral part of the hotel. Now it’s time for Jack to wander the corridors, waiting for the next victim, in an attempt to awaken in her a thirst for evil and violence.