While many cinephiles out there would insist that Jack Nicholson's best performances can be found either within Chinatown or the more naturalistic and off-the-cuff aesthetic of New American Cinema gems like Five Easy Pieces and Easy Rider, the majority of movie fans remember the Jack-man best for his over the top rendition of axe-happy, madman Jack Torrance in Stanley Kubrick's 1980 film adaptation of Stephen King's The Shining. I saw it for the first time late at night on tv as a kid and Jack (and the film) certainly made an impression, scaring the living bejeezus out of me
Kubrick took King's text as a mere jumping off point for the story he wanted to tell; in his hands, it's a chronicle of a man whose ego and vision of himself are way out of check with the reality of his family and social position. Cognitive dissonance, ain't it a bitch? Well, something's gotta give and, in The Shining, it's Jack's mind and soul that takes on most of the damage (even if it's Shelly Duvall, Danny Lloyd, and Scatman Crother's characters who are most directly terrorized by Jack's actions).
Kubrick's intentions seem to go a bit deeper than what resides on the surface of the story, though. Over time, many interpretations have arisen surrounding the meaning of the film, ranging from The Shining as a Holocaust metaphor, commentary on the genocide of Native American peoples, etc. When taking a horror genre film course at school, I was drawn to view the film through an ecological feminist lens, one that incorporated the obvious patriarchal aspects promoted within a surface reading and mingled them with issues of race, dominance over natural landscapes, and, truly, the uncontainable desire to exert control over all things (aka Manifest Destiny). Basically, there's a lot going on here and, if interested, one can spin all kinds of theories that arguably fit within the film's narrative framework. Or you can just choose to sit back and enjoy a damn fine and frightening film.
But on to the main point at hand: the Hollywood Theatre's got a 35mm print of The Shining to share with the Portland public. It starts tomorrow. You should definitely go.
And, yeah, though it's been way overplayed since going viral way back in 2005, this recut trailer still makes me laugh:
The Shining returns to the Hollywood Theatre on Friday, October 5th. More info available here.
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