The Shining is a 1980 psychological horror film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, co-written with novelist Diane Johnson, and starring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers, and Danny Lloyd. The film is based on the Stephen King novel The Shining. A writer, Jack Torrance, takes a job as an off-season caretaker at an isolated hotel. His young son possesses psychic abilities and is able to see things from the past and future, such as the ghosts who inhabit the hotel. Soon after settling in, the family is trapped in the hotel by a snowstorm, and Jack gradually becomes influenced by a supernatural presence; he descends into madness and attempts to murder his wife and son.
Unlike previous Kubrick films, which developed an audience gradually by building on word-of-mouth, The Shining was released as a mass-market film, opening at first in just two cities onMemorial Day, then nationwide a month later. Although initial response to the film was mixed, later critical assessment was more favorable and it is now viewed as a classic of the horror genre. Film director Martin Scorsese, writing in The Daily Beast, ranked it as one of the 11 scariest horror movies of all time. Film critics, film students, and Kubrick's producer, Jan Harlan, have remarked on the enormous influence the film has had on popular culture.
The initial European release of The Shining was 25 minutes shorter than the American version, achieved by removing most of the scenes taking place outside the environs of the hotel.
Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) arrives at the Overlook Hotel to interview for the position of winter caretaker, with the aim of using the hotel's solitude to work on his writing. The hotel itself is built on the site of a Native American burial ground and becomes completely snowed in during the long winters. Manager Stuart Ullman (Barry Nelson) warns him that a previous caretaker developed cabin fever and killed his family and himself. Jack's son, Danny (Danny Lloyd), has ESP and has had a terrifying premonition about the hotel. Jack's wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall), tells a visiting doctor that Danny has an imaginary friend called Tony and that Jack has given up drinking because he had hurt Danny's arm after a binge.
The family arrives at the hotel on closing day and is given a tour. The African-American chef Dick Hallorann (Scatman Crothers) surprises Danny by telepathically offering him ice cream. He explains to Danny that he and his grandmother shared this telepathic ability, which he calls "shining". Danny asks if there is anything to be afraid of in the hotel, particularly Room 237. Hallorann tells Danny that the hotel itself has a "shine" to it along with many memories, not all of which are good. He also tells Danny to stay out of Room 237.
A month passes; while Jack's writing project goes nowhere, Danny and Wendy explore the hotel's hedge maze. Wendy becomes concerned about the phone lines being out due to the heavy snowfall and Danny has more frightening visions. Jack, increasingly frustrated, starts acting strangely and becomes prone to violent outbursts.
Danny's curiosity about Room 237 gets the better of him when he sees the room's door open. Later, Wendy finds Jack, asleep at his typewriter, screaming while in the midst of a horrifying nightmare. After she awakens him, he says he dreamed that he had killed her and Danny. Danny then shows up with a bruise on his neck and visibly traumatized, causing Wendy to accuse Jack of abusing Danny. Jack wanders into the hotel's Gold Room where he meets a ghostly bartender named Lloyd (Joe Turkel). Lloyd serves him bourbon on the rocks while Jack complains to him about his marriage.
Wendy later tells Jack that Danny told her that a "crazy woman in one of the rooms" tried to strangle him. Jack investigates Room 237, where he encounters the ghost of a dead woman, but tells Wendy he saw nothing. Wendy and Jack argue about whether Danny should be removed from the hotel and a furious Jack returns to the Gold Room, now filled with ghosts having a costume party. Here, he meets the ghost of the previous caretaker, Grady (Philip Stone), who tells Jack that he must "correct" his wife and child.
Meanwhile, in Florida, Hallorann has a premonition that something is wrong at the hotel and takes a flight back to Colorado to investigate. Danny starts calling out "redrum" frantically and goes into a trance, now referring to himself as "Tony".
While searching for Jack, Wendy discovers his typewriter; he has been typing endless pages of manuscript repeating "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" in different layouts. She is confronted by Jack, who threatens her before she knocks him unconscious with a baseball bat. She manages to drag him into the kitchen and lock him in the pantry, but this does not solve her larger problem; she and Danny are trapped at the hotel since Jack has sabotaged the hotel's two-way radio and snowcat. Later, Jack converses through the pantry door with Grady, who then unlocks the door, releasing him.
Danny writes "REᗡЯUM" in lipstick on the bathroom door. When Wendy sees this in the bedroom mirror, the letters spell out "MURDƎЯ". Jack begins to chop through the door leading to his family's living quarters with a fire axe. Wendy frantically sends Danny out through the bathroom window, but it will not open sufficiently for her to fit through it herself. Jack then starts chopping through the bathroom door as Wendy screams in horror. He leers through the hole he has made, shouting "Here's Johnny!", but backs off after Wendy slashes his hand with a butcher knife.
Hearing the engine of the snowcat Hallorann has borrowed to get up the mountain, Jack leaves the room. He kills Hallorann in the lobby and pursues Danny into the hedge maze. Wendy runs through the hotel looking for Danny, encountering several ghosts and a huge cascade of blood from an elevator. Meanwhile, Danny walks backwards in his own tracks and leaps behind a corner, covering his tracks with snow to mislead Jack, who is following his footprints. Wendy and Danny escape in Hallorann's snowcat, while Jack freezes to death in the hedge maze.
In a photograph in the hotel hallway dated July 4, 1921, Jack Torrance smiles amid a crowd of party revelers.
- Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance
- Shelley Duvall as Wendy Torrance
- Danny Lloyd as Danny Torrance
- Scatman Crothers as Dick Hallorann
- Barry Nelson as Stuart Ullman
- Philip Stone as Delbert Grady
- Joe Turkel as Lloyd the bartender
- Anne Jackson as Doctor
- Tony Burton as Larry Durkin
- Barry Dennen as Bill Watson
- Lisa and Louise Burns as the Grady girls
In the shorter European cut of the film, all of the scenes involving Anne Jackson and Tony Burton are cut (although their names still appear in the credits). Barry Dennen is onscreen in both versions of the film, albeit to a limited degree (and with no dialogue) in the shorter cut.
The actresses who played the Grady daughters, Lisa and Louise Burns, are identical twins; however, the characters in the book and film script are merely sisters, not twins. In the film's dialogue, Mr. Ullman identifies them as "about eight and ten". Nonetheless, they are frequently referred to in discussions about the film as "the Grady twins".
The resemblance in the staging of the Grady girls and the famous "Twins" photograph by Diane Arbus has been noted both by Arbus' biographer, Patricia Bosworth, and by numerous Kubrick critics. Although Kubrick both met Arbus personally and studied photography under her during his youthful days as photographer for Look magazine, Kubrick's widow says he did not deliberately model the Grady girls on Arbus' famous photograph, in spite of widespread attention to the resemblance.