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The Shining

November 9, 2015

The shining“A film is — or should be — more like music than like fiction. It should be a progression of moods or feelings. The theme, what’s behind the emotion, the meaning, all that comes later. After you’ve walked out of the theatre, maybe the next day or a week later, maybe without ever actually realizing it, you somehow get what the filmmaker has been trying to tell you.” Stanley Kubrick

At the beginning of The Shining, the theme music has an unearthly quality. It sounds like a requiem mass, all the while the camera is soaring like a bird as it roams over mountain and water. The viewer is led to ask, Are we trapped in an endgame, or are we allowed to wander? For Kubrick, the answer is open-ended. Life is both ethereal and menacing. Reel Spirituality: Theology and Film in Dialogue – R. Johnston p. 113

In the opening scenes of the film, Jack (former teacher and recovering alcoholic) is interviewing for a job as the off-season caretaker of the Overlook Hotel in the Colorado mountains. Ullman, the hotel’s manager, tells him that a previous caretaker went berserk due to the extreme loneliness and isolation of the place during the winter. He killed his wife, his two daughters, and himself.

Jack Torrance, his wife Wendy and son Danny, move into the Overlook Hotel all winter. Jack’s mental health deteriorates rapidly once the family is alone in the hotel. He has writer’s block, sleeps too little, and is irritable. When Danny meets the cook, Dick Hallorann, he learns that he has a telepathic gift called the shining. But after the family settles in, Danny sees frightening visions of the past. Evil ghosts in the hotel begin to manipulate Jack, desperately trying to turn him into a psychopathic murderer. It’s up to Danny to use his gift to save himself and his mother.

“You wouldn’t ever hurt Mommy or me, would you?” — Danny asks his father

Jack Torrance: [typed] All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Wendy Torrance: [crying] Stay away from me.

Jack Torrance: Why?

Wendy Torrance: I just wanna go back to my room!

Jack Torrance: Why?

Wendy Torrance: Well, I’m very confused, and I just need time to think things over!

Jack Torrance: You’ve had your whole *fucking life* to think things over, what good’s a few minutes more gonna do you now?

Wendy Torrance: Please! Don’t hurt me!

Jack Torrance: I’m not gonna hurt you.

Wendy Torrance: Stay away from me!

Jack Torrance: Wendy? Darling? Light, of my life. I’m not gonna hurt ya. You didn’t let me finish my sentence. I said, I’m not gonna hurt ya. I’m just going to bash your brains in. [Wendy gasps] [laughs] Gonna bash ’em right the fuck in!

Wendy Torrance: Stay away from me! Don’t hurt me!

Jack Torrance: [sarcastically] I’m not gonna hurt ya…

Wendy Torrance: Stay away! Stop it!

Jack Torrance: Stop swingin’ the bat. Put the bat down, Wendy. Wendy? Give me the bat…

Danny Torrance: Redrum. Redrum. *Redrum!* [Wendy sees the word in the mirror which spells “murder”]

Jack Torrance: [smashing the door to bits with an axe] Wendy, I’m home.

Delbert Grady: Did you know, Mr. Torrance, that your son is attempting to bring an outside party into this situation? Did you know that?

Jack Torrance: No.

Delbert Grady: He is, Mr. Torrance.

Jack Torrance: Who?

Delbert Grady: A nigger.

Jack Torrance: A nigger?

Delbert Grady: A nigger cook.

Jack Torrance: How?

Delbert Grady: Your son has a very great talent. I don’t think you are aware how great it is. That he is attempting to use that very talent against your will.

Jack Torrance: He is a very willful boy.

Delbert Grady: Indeed he is, Mr. Torrance. A very willful boy. A rather naughty boy, if I may be so bold, sir.

Jack Torrance: It’s his mother. She, uh, interferes.

Delbert Grady: Perhaps they need a good talking to, if you don’t mind my saying so. Perhaps a bit more. My girls, sir, they didn’t care for the Overlook at first. One of them actually stole a pack of matches, and tried to burn it down. But I “corrected” them sir. And when my wife tried to prevent me from doing my duty, I “corrected” her.

Dick Hallorann: Some places are like people: some shine and some don’t.

Grady Daughter, Grady Daughter: Hello, Danny. Come and play with us. Come and play with us, Danny. Forever… and ever… and ever.

Jack Torrance: Mr. Grady, you *were* the caretaker here.

Delbert Grady: I’m sorry to differ with you sir, but *you* are the caretaker. You’ve always been the caretaker. I should know sir – I’ve always been here.

Jack Torrance: Wendy, let me explain something to you. Whenever you come in here and interrupt me, you’re breaking my concentration. You’re distracting me. And it will then take me time to get back to where I was. You understand?

Wendy Torrance: Yeah.

Jack Torrance: Now, we’re going to make a new rule. When you come in here and you hear me typing [types] or whether you *don’t* hear me typing, or whatever the *fuck* you hear me doing; when I’m in here, it means that I am working, *that* means don’t come in. Now, do you think you can handle that?

Wendy Torrance: Yeah.

Jack Torrance: Good. Now why don’t you start right now and get the fuck out of here? Hm?

Jack Torrance: What are you doing down here?

Wendy Torrance: [sobbing] I just wanted to talk to you.

Jack Torrance: Okay, let’s talk. What do you wanna talk about?

Wendy Torrance: I can’t really remember.

Jack Torrance: You can’t remember… Maybe it was about… Danny? Maybe it was about him. I think we should discuss Danny. I think we should discuss what should be done with him. What should be done with him?

Wendy Torrance: I don’t know.

Jack Torrance: I don’t think that’s true. I think you have some very definite ideas about what should be done with Danny and I’d like to know what they are.

Wendy Torrance: Well, I think… maybe… he should be taken to a doctor.

Jack Torrance: You think “maybe” he should be taken to a doctor?

Wendy Torrance: Yes.

Jack Torrance: “When” do you think “maybe” he should be taken to a doctor?

Wendy Torrance: As soon as possible.

Jack Torrance: [mocking/imitating her] As soon as possible.

Wendy Torrance: Jack! What are… you…

Jack Torrance: You think his health might be at stake.

Wendy Torrance: Y-Yes!

Jack Torrance: You are concerned about him.

Wendy Torrance: Yes!

Jack Torrance: And are you concerned about *me?*

Wendy Torrance: Of course I am!

Jack Torrance: Of course you are! Have you ever thought about my responsibilities?

Wendy Torrance: Oh Jack, what are you talking about?

Jack Torrance: Have you ever had a *single moment’s thought* about my responsibilities? Have you ever thought, for a single solitary moment about my responsibilities to my employers? Has it ever occurred to you that I have agreed to look after the *Overlook* Hotel until May the *first*. Does it *matter to you at all* that the *owners* have placed their *complete confidence* and *trust* in me, and that I have signed a letter of agreement, a *contract*, in which I have accepted that *responsibility?* Do you have the *slightest idea* what a *moral and ethical principal* is? *Do you?* Has it ever occurred to you what would happen to my future, if I were to fail to live up to my responsibilities? Has it ever occurred to you? *Has it?*

Wendy Torrance: [swings the bat] Stay away from me!

[Repeated line] Jack Torrance: [as he chases his son with an ax] Danny, I’m coming!

Stuart Ullman: I don’t suppose they told you anything in Denver about the tragedy we had in the Winter of 1970.

Jack Torrance: I don’t believe they did.

Stuart Ullman: My predecessor in this job left a man named Charles Grady as the Winter caretaker. And he came up here with his wife and two little girls, I think were eight and ten. And he had a good employment record, good references, and from what I’ve been told he seemed like a completely normal individual. But at some point during the winter, he must have suffered some kind of a complete mental breakdown. He ran amuck and killed his family with an axe. Stacked them neatly in one of the rooms in the West wing and then he, he put both barrels of a shot gun in his mouth.

Jack Torrance: Mr. Grady, you were the caretaker here. I recognize ya. I saw your picture in the newspapers. You, uh, chopped your wife and daughters up into little bits. And then you blew your brains out.

Delbert Grady: That’s strange, sir. I don’t have any recollection of that at all.

Danny Torrance: Dad?

Jack Torrance: Yes?

Danny Torrance: Do you like this hotel?

Jack Torrance: Yes, I do. I love it. Don’t you?

Danny Torrance: I guess so.

Jack Torrance: Good. I want you to like it here. I wish we could stay here forever… and ever… and ever.

Wendy Torrance: Hey. Wasn’t it around here that the Donner Party got snowbound?

Jack Torrance: I think that was farther west in the Sierras.

Wendy Torrance: Oh.

Danny Torrance: What was the Donner Party?

Jack Torrance: They were a party of settlers in covered-wagon times. They got snowbound one winter in the mountains. They had to resort to cannibalism in order to stay alive.

Danny Torrance: You mean they ate each other up?

Jack Torrance: They had to, in order to survive.

Wendy Torrance: Jack…

Danny Torrance: Don’t worry, Mom. I know all about cannibalism. I saw it on TV.

Jack Torrance: See, it’s okay. He saw it on the television.

Delbert Grady: [referring to Jack murdering his wife and son] Mr. Torrance, I see you can hardly have taken care of the business we discussed.

Jack Torrance: No need to rub it in, Mr. Grady.

Jack Torrance: [disappointed at finding the bar empty] God, I’d give anything for a drink. I’d give my goddamned soul for just a glass of beer.

Nurse: Who’s Tony?

Wendy Torrance: He’s the little boy that lives in his mouth.

[about Wendy] Delbert Grady: I feel you will have to deal with this matter in the harshest possible way, Mr. Torrance.

Jack Torrance: There’s nothing I look forward to with greater pleasure, Mr. Grady.

Injured Guest: [to Wendy] Great party, isn’t it?

Danny Torrance: Mom?

Wendy Torrance: Yeah?

Danny Torrance: Do you really want to go and live in that hotel for the winter?

Wendy Torrance: Sure I do. It’ll be lots of fun.

Danny Torrance: Yeah, I guess so. Anyway, there’s hardly anybody to play with around here.

Wendy Torrance: Yeah, I know. It always takes a little time to make new friends.

Danny Torrance: Yeah, I guess so.

Wendy Torrance: What about Tony? He’s lookin’ forward to the hotel, I bet.

Danny Torrance: [Moving his finger to speak as “Tony”] No he isn’t, Mrs. Torrance.

Wendy Torrance: Now come on, Tony, don’t be silly.

Danny Torrance: [as Tony] I don’t want to go there, Mrs. Torrance.

Wendy Torrance: Well, how come you don’t want to go?

Danny Torrance: [as Tony] I just don’t.

Wendy Torrance: Well, let’s just wait and see. We’re all going to have a real good time.

Stuart Ullman: When the place was built in 1907, there was very little interest in winter sports. And this site was chosen for its seclusion and scenic beauty.

Jack Torrance: [laughs] Well, it’s certainly got plenty of that.

Stuart Ullman: …The winters can be fantastically cruel. And the basic idea is to cope with the very costly damage and depreciation which can occur. And this consists mainly of running the boiler, heating different parts of the hotel on a daily, rotating basis, repair damage as it occurs, and doing repairs so that the elements can’t get a foothold.

Jack Torrance: Well, that sounds fine to me.

Stuart Ullman: Physically, it’s not a very demanding job. The only thing that can get a bit trying up here during the winter is, uh, a tremendous sense of isolation.

Jack Torrance: Well, that just happens to be exactly what I’m looking for. I’m outlining a new writing project and, uh, five months of peace is just what I want.

Stuart Ullman: That’s very good Jack, because, uh, for some people, solitude and isolation can, of itself become a problem.

Jack Torrance: Not for me.

Stuart Ullman: How about your wife and son? How do you think they’ll take to it?

Jack Torrance: They’ll love it.

Jack Torrance: Well, that is quite a story.

Stuart Ullman: Yeah it is. It’s still hard for me to believe it happened here. It did, and I think you can appreciate why I wanted to tell you about it.

Jack Torrance: I certainly can and I also understand why your people in Denver left it for you to tell me.

Stuart Ullman: Well obviously some people can be put off by staying alone in a place where something like that actually happened.

Jack Torrance: Well you can rest assured, Mr. Ullman, that’s not going to happen with me.

Jack Torrance: The most terrible nightmare I ever had. It’s the most horrible dream I ever had.

Wendy Torrance: It’s okay, it’s okay now. Really.

Jack Torrance: I dreamed that I, that I killed you and Danny. But I didn’t just kill ya. I cut you up in little pieces. Oh my God. I must be losing my mind.

Jack Torrance: Wendy, listen. Let me out of here and I’ll forget the whole damn thing! It’ll be just like nothing ever happened. Wendy, baby, I think you hurt my head real bad. I’m dizzy, I need a doctor. Honey, don’t leave me here.

Dick Hallorann: Larry, just between you and me, we got a very serious problem with the people taking care of the place. They turned out to be completely unreliable assholes.

Danny Torrance: Tony, I’m scared. [as Tony] Remember what Mr. Hallorann said. It’s just like pictures in a book, Danny. It isn’t real.

Jack Torrance: [staring at the drink in his hand] Here’s to five miserable months on the wagon, and all the irreparable harm it has caused me.

Stuart Ullman: The police thought that it was what the old-timers used to call cabin fever. A kind of claustrophobic reaction which can occur when people are shut in together over long periods of time.

Wendy Torrance: [to Jack] It’s amazing how fast you get used to such a big place. I tell you, when we first came up here I thought it was kinda scary.

Wendy Torrance: Mr Hallorann. How did you know we call Danny Doc?

Dick Hallorann: Excuse me?

Wendy Torrance: Doc. You just called Danny Doc twice now. We call him that sometimes like in the Bugs Bunny cartoons.

Dick Hallorann: You must have called him that.

Wendy Torrance: Maybe, but I don’t remember calling him that since I came here.

Dick Hallorann: Well he looks like a Doc to me. [to Danny, in a Bugs Bunny voice] Eh… What’s up Doc?

Jack Torrance: [to Lloyd] I never laid a hand on them.

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