Stanley Kubrick, 1980
Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) has found a job.
Jack is more of an abusive father and husband than a successful novelist. He gets a job as a caretaker for the Overlook hotel, somewhere in the Colorado mountains. Five months of peace to write sound perfect to Jack. Mr Ullman (Barry Nelson) warns him though:
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.
Back in the days, a man named Grady (Philip Stone) completely lost it. He killed his wife and daughters (Lisa and Louise Burns). Jack is not impressed. He definitely feels ready to spend the winter in the mountains with his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and his son Danny (Danny Lloyd).
He quickly suffers from isolation, as expected, and seems to be under the influence of the evil spirits of the hotel, which has been built on a native-American cemetery. He starts drinking again and killing his family becomes his first occupation.
He freezes to death in the snow while Wendy and Danny escape. His face appears on an old photograph, in the middle of a crowd celebrating the 4th of July 1921.
The Shining is about fitting in.
Jack is an outcast. A drinking problem costed him his job as a teacher. Now he’s trying to get back on his feet. He’s accepting a job that nobody else wants because it implies being totally isolated for an entire winter. That’s quite a sacrifice. That job is also associated to a man who killed his wife and daughters because of that isolation. Jack is not afraid of the challenge. He’s doing it to find a place in the world and provide for his family.
It’s a beautiful place. You and Danny are going to love it!
He’s also doing for himself. He sees this job as an opportunity to become a writer. He just wants to prove to himself he’s not a bum. Because nobody around him believes in him, especially Wendy who’s perfectly happy with mediocrity. In her opinion, Jack is not worth very much.
Shovellings out driveways, work in a car wash – any of that appeal to you?
She doesn’t respect him as an artist either. She believes in the habit of writing everyday and the power of sandwiches to write a masterpiece. She just doesn’t get it. Things do not work that way!
Also she thinks he’s a liar. She doesn’t even give him a fair trial.
You did that to him? Didn’t you? You son of a bitch! You did that to him!
Wendy is a diminisher. As for his son Danny, he makes his dad feel bad. The boy is spoiled with chocolate ice cream. He needs to be protected because of his gift. He has a problem with authority. Dick Halloran told him not to go near the room 237 but Danny went anyway. And he’s not been punished for that. Also, he refuses to speak to his dad, which is not cool.
How are you doing Dan?
No wonder Jack goes nuts in this hotel. He lives in a nightmare with his family. He wants to grow. He needs some fresh air. He also needs to be taken seriously.
From that respect, taking care of the Overlook hotel is probably the best experience that ever happened to Jack. He drives back there as if he was driving home. He can’t imagine leaving the place. For the first time in his life, he feels respected. Mr Ullman has trusted him with a big responsibility. In return Jack is fully committed. His heart is in this, indisputably.
The hotel is generous with Jack. At the bar, he is being served a drink he doesn’t even have to pay for. In the Gold Room people are happy to see him. No one is judging him. For the first time in his life, Jack feels good.
It’s good to see you.
It’s good to be back Lloyd!
The Overlook makes him feel like a VIP. The people there makes him feel wanted. He’s someone. He exists.
You’re the only important one!
Awfully nice of you to say…
When Wendy and Danny want out, Jack wants to stay. He doesn’t want to go back to Boulder where he would disappear. He will prove his love to the Overlook. He’s ready to kill people and sacrifice his own life. He will be rewarded for that. He belongs to the hotel now, for ever, and ever, and ever…
Wendy and Danny ran away. And Jack has made a place for himself. Everyone is happy, except for Dick Halloran (Scatman Crothers).
Is it better to serve in Heaven or to reign in Hell? Are ghosts necessarily evil? Have we all found our Gold Room?
This publication reflects the views only of the author.