Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Shining: Eradicating the American Dream

It's October! My favourite month. Partly because of my birthday, partly because of Halloween. As you most of you already know, I'm a huge horror movie fanatic. Like, absolutely, totally, entirely. 

Anyway, I was talking to the bestie the other day (speaking of which, she's an artistic maven and everyone should look at her instagram)  and trying to brainstorm some stuff to do for the month of October and she got super excited and suggested I dedicate a month to horror on the blog! It made perfect sense. Soooo anyway I figured, why not ramble on about some horror classics, some contemporary gems, and maybe even throw in a Halloweeny-inspired fashion post here and there too? Sounds like a dream.

Cue The Shining! This was such a good excuse to watch one of my all-time favourite horror classics. Kubrick is a God and does wonders. From creating a sense of isolation in a massive hotel, to his fluid use of a Steadicam, this movie is a complete masterpiece. The music is painstakingly scored to be absolutely menacing, and the set work is beautiful and beyond unsettling.

Moving along, as I'm sure most people know, the movie centers around a writer (Jack Nicholson) and his lil' family who all agree to watch over a hotel in its winter down season while it is empty. The catch? The hotel is probably (definitely) haunted and the last groundskeeper went nutso and axed his whole family. LOVELY. 

Obviously, Jack goes mental, giving way to historic one-liners, but there's so much more to this film. Nothing Kubrick does is by chance, and there are so many theories out there for what it's truly about. Some say it's a metaphor for Danny (the son) being abused by Jack. Others say it's a metaphor for the American treatment of Indians. With so many different theories and contradictions, it's really up to the viewer to interpret it how they will, and honestly, after seeing this movie countless times, there's always a different thing I pick up on as well.

After watching it this time..I thought I noticed something clever, and it really stuck with me. It was a sort of downfall of Americana,and the perfect American dream. So many things about this are anti "white picket fence." From things like Danny's Apollo pullover (after it gets shredded, suggesting a symbol of a torn-apart American icon), to the obvious breakdown of Jack shouting the classic, "Honey, I'm home"-esque line, "here's Johnny!", this movie is riddled with little clues. 

The colour palette throughout the entire movie is the good ol' American red, white, and blue. The frustration with the american dream and family runs so deep, it's nuts. Right off the bat, you can tell Jack isn't happy with his family. Doesn't get on with his wife too much, takes a sneaky peek at the rumps of two lovely ladies as he enters the hotel. Driving to the hotel you notice he's short with his boy. Irked by his questioning, he only lights up when Danny tells him he's learned about cannibalism on TV. TV after all, is the driving force of a structured family life. With his "here's Johhny" breakdown near the end, it's essentially a quote from popular TV culture, and in a way, the breakdown of the nuclear family. 

Jack's run-ins with the ghosts as well are jabs at American culture. Dealing with racism and class, all these elements are quintessentially a part of American history and the slow deterioration of society. When he's talking to the old caretaker of the hotel, and he brings up Jack's son intermingling with a coloured man, this whole scene takes place in a red and white bathroom, with Jack standing in the middle, in his working class blue jeans. Coincidence? 

Even more so, when we see the Grady girls murdered in the hall, it's interesting to see that they're both dressed in blue, doused in blood (red), with the blue and white walls surrounding them. Kubrick, you're a legend.

With all these sprinkled little clues, the most obvious one, is the fact that Jack in fact out to kill his family, just how the groundskeeper did before him. If that's not an attack on the quintessential nuclear family, I don't know what is. 

The Shining is unforgettable. It's beautiful, it's terrifying, and it's spun to such perfection, it shows that horror films don't have to rely on cheap scares to leave its audience transfixed. It's a timeless film, and truly shows Kubrick at his absolute best.

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