Finally finished reading this. I know some people expressed concern about the price, so let me explain as best I can what you get.
Also, the passive voice should never be used by anyone... Terrific book!I've also read Stephen King's "On Writing" due to some personal research. The first half is his autobiography and you could clearly see where his inspirations come from. The second part is his take on writing, and I finally realized what bugs me about his stories - the guy is a pantser. He is clearly against plotting his books, which, I guess, explains why I don't like his endings or his twists.
I admire people who can read a lot of books at the same timeSo, as of now I'm currently reading the following:
- The ninth book (Winter's Heart) in the Wheel of Time series
- Tolkien's translation of Beowulf (the first title in my "complete, ultimate re-read of JRRT", which is gonna include about 100 titles by him and about him - and the whole 12 volumes of History of Middle-earth is just one title )
- Doug Adams' (no, not that one) Music of the Lord of the Rings Films
- The third volume of M. C. Putna's The Czech Catholic Literature (the third volume is for years 1945-1989, I'm already almost 800 pages in)
- Bohuslav Reynek's Collected Poems
- Jan Zahradníček's Collected Poems
- The first volume (of five) of Bedřich Fučík's collected essays and criticisms
- Torzo díla, a huge (1000 pages or so) selection from the both published works and manuscripts by Karel VI. Schwarzenberg, including his essays and non-fiction books on history, heraldry, legitimism, religion, politics, and many, many more
By JRRT (or somehow connected therewith)
0. Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beowulf:_A_Translation_and_Commentary
1. The Monsters and the Critics (an essay collection)
> Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics – essay
> On Translating Beowulf
> On Fairy-Stories
> A Secret Vice
> English and Welsh
(1a. Finn and Hengest - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finn_and_Hengest )
2. The Tolkien Reader - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tolkien_Reader
> Tree and Leaf - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tree_and_Leaf
> > an essay On Fairy-Stories (again)
> > Leaf by Niggle
> The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son
> Farmer Giles of Ham
> The Adventures of Tom Bombadil
3. The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun - poem
4. The Silmarillion
5. The Children of Húrin
6. Beren and Lúthien
7. The Fall of Gondolin
(these three are compilations of several versions of Silmarillion stories across various drafts, largely republished from The Book of Lost Tales 2, The Shaping of Middle-earth and Unfinished Tales, but usefully compared in one volume)
8. The Hobbit
8A. – The Annotated Hobbit
9. The Lord of the Rings
9A. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull: The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion (The Annotated LOTR)
10. Bilbo’s Last Song
11. The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien
12. Unfinished Tales
13. The History of Middle-earth series (12 books):
> The Book of Lost Tales part 1
> The Book of Lost Tales part 2
> The Lays of Beleriand
> The Shaping of Middle-earth
> The Lost Road and Other Writings [early Númenor drafts, linguistic stuff]
> The Return of the Shadow
> The Treason of Isengard
> The War of the Ring
> Sauron Defeated
> Morgoth's Ring
> The War of the Jewels
> The Peoples of Middle-earth
13M. Tolkien's Legendarium: Essays on The History of Middle-earth - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tolkien's_Legendarium:_Essays_on_The_History_of_Middle-earth
(Essays and notes on THOME)
14. The History of The Hobbit (2 volumes)
15. The Nature of Middle-earth [ed. Carl Hostetter, who's edited Tolkien's linguistic papers]
(15a – Guide to the Names of Lord of the Rings)
16. The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Legend_of_Sigurd_and_Gudrún
17. The Fall of Arthur - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fall_of_Arthur
18. his translations of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl and Sir Orfeo
19. The Story of Kullervo - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Story_of_Kullervo
20. Smith of Wootton Major – a novella
21. The Father Christmas Letters
(21a – Chaucer as a Philologist: The Reeve’s Tale)
22. Pictures of J. R. R. Tolkien + JRRT: Artist and Illustrator + Paintings of Middle-earth
23. Mr. Bliss
25. Stuart D. Lee (Ed.) – A Companion to J. R. R. Tolkien
26. Tom Shippey: The Road to Middle-Earth
27. Joseph Pearce: Tolkien: Man and Myth
28. Stratford Caldecott: The Power of the Ring
(re-working of the book „Secret Fire“)
29. Jay Ruud: A Critical Companion to J. R. R. Tolkien
30. Peter Kreeft: The Philosophy of Tolkien The Worldview Behind the Lord of the Rings
31. Bradley Birzer: J.R.R. Tolkiens Sanctifying Myth Understanding Middle-Earth
32. Humphrey Carpenter: J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography
33. John G. West, Jr. (Ed.): Celebrating Middle-earth: The Lord of the Rings as a Defense of Western Civilization
34. ISAACS, Neil David; ZIMBARDO, Rose A. (Ed.) : Tolkien and the critics: essays on J. R. R. Tolkien's The lord of the rings
35. Jared Lobdell (Ed.): A Tolkien Compass
36. Jared Lobdell: England and Always: Tolkien's World of the Rings
37. Ken Craven: Catholic Poem in Time of War: The Lord of the Rings (essay)
38. Mary Salu, Robert T. Farrell: J. R. R. Tolkien, Scholar and Storyteller: Essays in Memoriam
39. Tom Shippey: J. R. R. Tolkien – Author of the Century
40. Ralph C. Wood: The Gospel According to Tolkien: Visions of the Kingdom in Middle-earth
41. David Lord Alton: JRRT, Catholicism and the Use of Allegory (Essay)
42. Katie de Koster (Ed.): Readings on J. R. R. Tolkien (The Greenhaven Press Literary Companion to British Authors)
43. Humphrey Carpenter: The Inklings: CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Charles Williams and their Friends
44. Tom Shippey: Roots and Branches: Selected Papers on Tolkien
45. Joseph Pearce: Bilbo’s Journey: Discovering the Hidden Meaning in the Hobbit
46. Paul E. Kerry: The Ring and the Cross: Christianity and the Writings of J. R. R. Tolkien
47. Joseph Pearce: Frodo’s Journey: Discovering the Hidden Meaning in the Lord of the Rings
48. Myth, Allegory, and Gospel: An Interpretation of JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, GK Chesterton, Chas Williams
49. Michael C. Drout (Ed.): J. R. R. Tolkien Encyclopedia – Scholarship and Critical Assessment
50. Joseph Pearce: Merrie England: A Journey Through the Shire
51. D. J. Moxon – A Once and Future Myth – An applied theology of JRRTs LOTR
52. Jane Chance (ed): Tolkien the Medievalist
53. Ralph C. Wood: Tolkien Among the Moderns
54. Paul H. Kocher: Master of Middle-Earth The Fiction of J.R.R. Tolkien
55. Verlyn Flieger: Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien’s World
56. Elizabeth Solopova: The Keys of Middle-earth: Discovering Medieval Literature Through the Fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien
57. Matthew Dickerson: Ents, Elves, and Eriador: The Environmental Vision of J.R.R. Tolkien
58. Matthew Dickerson: A Hobbit Journey
59. Michael Stanton: Hobbits, Elves and Wizards: The Wonders and Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings"
60. Leslie Ellen Jones: Myth & Middle-Earth: Exploring the Medieval Legends Behind J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings
61. Thomas Honegger (Ed.): Reconsidering Tolkien
62. Leaves from a Tree: JRRTs Shorter fiction
63. Trevor Hart, Ivan Khovacs (Ed.): Tree of Tales Tolkien, Literature and Theology
64. Corey Olsen: Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit"
65. Brian Rosebury: Tolkien: A Critical Assessment
66. Richard Purtill: J.R.R. Tolkien: Myth, Morality, and Religion
67. Verlyn Flieger: There Would Always be a Fairytale: More Essays on Tolkien
68. Richard Purtill: Lord of Elves and Eldils: Fantasy and Philosophy in C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien
69. Andrew S. Higgins: The Genesis of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Mythology (Dr. Thesis)
70. Bradford Lee Eden: Middle-earth Minstrel Essays on Music in Tolkien
71. Mark T. Hooker: A Tolkienian Mathomium: A Collection Of Articles On J.R.R. Tolkien And His Legendarium
72. David Day: Tolkien’s Ring
73. Gloriana St. Clair: Tolkien’s Cauldron: Northern Literature and LOTR
74. Colin Wilson: Tree by Tolkien
75. Karen Haber (Ed.): Meditations on Middle-Earth
76. Rolland Hein: Christian Mythmakers
77. Anne Petty: One Ring to Bind Them All: Tolkien's Mythology
78. Ross Smith: Inside Language Linguistic and Aesthetic Theory in Tolkien
79. Adam Roberts: The Riddles of the Hobbit
80. John Garth: Tolkien and the Great War - The Threshold of Middle-Earth
81. Joseph O’Day: The Ring of Truth - Truth and Wisdom in J. R. R. Tolkiens The Lord of the Rings
82. Gregory Bassham: Tolkien and Philosophy – One Book to Rule Them All
83. Clyde S. Kilby: Tolkien and the Silmarillion
84. Arne Zettersten: J. R. R. Tolkein’s Double Worlds and Creative Process
85. Jane Chance: Tolkiens Art - A Mythology for England
86. Jane Chance: Tolkien’s modern Middle Ages
87. Jane Chance: Lord of the Rings The Mythology of Power
88. Michael Martinez: Essays on Tolkien’s Middle-earth
89. Graham McAleer: Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings A Philosophy of War
90. Randel Helms: Tolkien’s World
91. Ernest Mathijis and Murray Pomerance: From Hobbits to Hollywood: Essays on Peter Jacksons Lord of the Rings
(91a. Matthew David Young: Projecting Tolkien’s Musical Worlds: A Study of Musical Affect in Howard Shore’s Soundtrack to Lord of the Rings)
(91b. Anne Sieberichs: The Medieval Cardinal Virtues in Tolkien’s The Hobbit (Bachelor’s Thesis))
92. Walter and Graham Judd – Flora of Middle-earth – Plants of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Legendarium
93. Patrick Curry: Defending Middle-Earth: Tolkien: Myth and Modernity
94. Joseph Loconte: A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War How J R R Tolkien and C S Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-18
95. Janet B. Croft: War and the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien
96. Randel Helms: Tolkien and the Silmarils
97. Michael White: Tolkien: A Biography
98. Gracia Fay Ellwood: Good News from Tolkien’s Middle-earth
99. Harold Bloom: Lord of the Rings – Bloom’s Modern Critical Interpretations
100. Kurt Bruner, Jim Ware: Finding God in LOTR
101. Tolkien’s Theology of Beauty Majesty, Splendor, and Transcendence in Middle-earth (Lisa Coutras)
102. Joseph Pearce: Tolkien: A Celebration. Collected Writings on a Literary Legacy
103. Matthew Dickerson: Following Gandalf: Epic Battles and Moral Victory in The Lord of the Rings
104. Elizabeth Solopova: Languages, Myths and History: An Introduction to the Linguistic and Literary Background of J. R. R. Tolkien's Fiction
105. Verlyn Flieger: A Question of Time: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Road to Faerie
106. Verlyn Flieger: Interrupted Music: The Making Of Tolkien's Mythology
107. Verlyn Flieger: Green Suns and Faerie: Essays on J.R.R. Tolkien
Not including the issues of Mallorn, Tolkien Studies, Cormarë, Mythlore and others
The Shining by Stephen King - After reading his On Writing I've decided to read something of his to see this style he's talking about. The style is there, all right. The story? This might be one of those rare cases where the movie is better than the book.
The Shining (1977)
This one has been quite long in the making and I apologise for the lateness of this post. In fact, I actually finished the book in August and I admit that in the last five months I've barely gotten through the first half of Rage. Blame the school and my laziness. But also the shittiness of Rage and the fact I knew this was going to be a long post.
Anyway, King's third novel was a huge success and it still is one of SK's most well-known horror works among the general public - of course, for many there are somewhat blurred lines between the book and its Kubrick-directed adaptation (more on that one later), but that's pretty much expected. Let me say this right now, before we proceed - I have already said it many times in the past (and I could swear I have already said so even on this very forum, but I can't be bothered to look after that post) and I guess my opinion hasn't changed: this book is not only Stephen King's greatest achievement, but it is also one of the most striking works of modern US literature, weird as it may sound. Indeed - if there has been a Great American Novel written in the past 50 years or so, I just might put my money on The Shining being it.
Now, before I'll lose any of my remaining credibility, let's explain as fast as I can. The reason for this is that for a horror novel (and it is a good horror novel, there's no doubt about that) it contains quite a lot of stuff that not only tells us about the main characters and America in general, but because of the fact the book is mainly a horror novel, that stuff is mentioned mostly in the background, in passing, so its intentional vagueness adds to the mystique and makes it look like the novel talks about more than it actually talks about. But I'll get to that in a while.
On the inspiration of the novel: On October 30, 1974, King and Tabby checked into The Stanley Hotel
in nearby Estes Park, Colorado. They were the only two guests in the hotel that night. "When we arrived, they were just getting ready to close for the season, and we found ourselves the only guests in the place — with all those long, empty corridors." King and his wife had dinner that evening in the grand dining room, totally alone. They were offered one choice for dinner, the only meal still available. Taped orchestral music played in the room and theirs was the only table set for dining. "Except for our table all the chairs were up on the tables. So the music is echoing down the hall, and, I mean, it was like God had put me there to hear that and see those things. And by the time I went to bed that night, I had the whole book in my mind." You probably can tell that atmosphere like this writes the book by itself and he captures it perfectly on its pages. It has been said many times that hotels in general are unnerving places on their own. Part of it is possibly pragmatic - despite all the effort and maids cleaning up, you can't help but to think how many people there were sick or dying or doing... strange things in the very room you were in - but it might be partly also because of the very philosophy thereof - here is a place that made sleepovers into an industry, a place which you make your home for a night, yet it is completely depersonalised and dehumanised ("DON'T YOU REALISE???" *ahem, never mind) and as such it might bear the ideas and thoughts of its previous inhabitants, let alone the presence of the people they indeed actually died there (and I do not necessarily mean all that in a metaphysical way, although that one too), yet all of these are unwanted.
King actually uses this to create both the horror "meat" of the book and its background and eventually its greater message as well. The supernatural part of the story consists mainly of the hotel being both somehow "alive" and stuck in a strange time warp where the former guests reappear, "enjoy the party" and interact with the main characters. Throughout the book we also watch as Jack is slowly consumed by an irresistible obsession with the hotel, its history, its previous inhabitants and slowly realising that there is a much darker side to this hotel (and possibly other hotels as well) than he previously thought. I know I'm going to sound crazy, but it was these small glimpses that thrilled me the most about the book. Both the scrapbook (who created it? Who wrote those cynical comments?) and the other stuff that Jack found in the basement (an old menu, a doll, the snippet "Medoc, are you here // I've been sleepwalking again my dear // The plants are moving under the rug") seems familiar, yet strangely otherworldly. It all makes you think of many other older stories that you might have been a part of but just as well might have not. And - and these are more or less Jack's thoughts quoted verbatim - it makes you think of how many parties there were, what deals had been made here, what did these people drink and think, what did they dance to? How did all those rich people spend the time here then, between the two wars, celebrating the victory and thinking the world is theirs? Our lives are built on a comfy cushion of past, of all those storylines and events that shaped the world that we actually live in and Jack starts to realise this somewhere here, too. "It's all forgotten now", as a jazz standard would have put it (again, more on that later), but the nights were young and fresh and thrilling, the people were shivering before their first kisses and dances or their first rendezvous with prostitutes. And yes, as Balzac said, "behind every great fortune there is a great crime", or - to be more precise - "The secret of great fortunes without apparent cause is a crime forgotten, for it was properly done." The Shining does not shy away from the fact that many of those millionaires were, for all intents and purposes, actually gangsters. That's the dark, moist underbelly that Jacks sees, tries to confront Ullman about and is eventually most fascinated and pulled by. With Horace Derwent being a thinly veiled homage to Howard Hughes and the fact so much of Vegas and other business was handled by the mob in the first half of the 20th century, this is the background that I find really interesting. And I'd really, really like to be a fly on the wall in any of those hotels. Or other places, you know what I mean. Jack would, too, and the hotel tries its best to use this intrique and pull him in deeper. Also, again, how many people have actually died there? But like I mentioned in the third paragraph, it's all vague enough to be just a background info, a setting for the play, yet it also gives us a lot of social commentary. We often idealise the past, but the past is often just as dirty and unpleasant as the present is. The "endless party" aspect was quite fascinating, yet very, very creepy.
(Also - funnily enough, Danny's "shining" ability makes him more susceptible to the hotel's supernatural torment, yet it pretty much never tells us anything about the hotel's history we wouldn't already know beforehand and all of our spotty information is mainly gained through Jack's efforts.)
There's also something about the soundtrack to the Kubrick adaptation that's connected with this, but I'll discuss this in the adaptation's review.
But although everything I said above is essential to the book and very well put, it's not what The Shining is actually about. At the risk of sounding banal, let me say that eventually, this novel is about the family and especially its head, Jack Torrance. King is almost certainly autobiographical here, since Jack is also a writer, he has a "gifted" child and is an addict. Yet - and I can't stress how unbelievable this is - the prophetic feel of this novel is uncanny. He manages to vividly capture the family in its phase of decay, all those nasty thoughts and things people do to each other when they've beel already together for some time. All the inner turmoil and repressed hatred (in the worst cases), the blame shifting and guilt swinging, the writer does show how the most important secular relationship and the "backbone of the society" slowly erodes and makes its participants a little bit worse and more reprehensible in the process. And, to top it of, this book contains some of the most honest and direct, sickening and bare demonstration of alcoholism I have ever witnessed. We slowly watch Jack spiral back into addiction, after seeing him (via flashbacks) in the place nobody wants to go to - the endless party where only skeletons dance eventually. To quote Danny Elfman, "I'm all dressed up with nowhere to go // Walkin' with a dead man over my shoulder // Waiting for an invitation to arrive // Goin' to a party where no one's still alive... It's a dead man's party who could ask for more? // Everybody's comin', leave your body at the door // Leave your body and soul at the door." Indeed, we watch the protagonist trying to keep that spark, that vigour, that "party" even as everyone with a little bit of sense (like his friend Al) tries to run away as fast as they can. And we are presented with the result, the devastating effects on Danny and Wendy, the only people Jack thinks he cares about, before we realise that, unfortunately, he just might care about himself a bit more. Gluttony, Wrath, Envy and Pride are Jack's combo of mortal sins, and man, does he make use of all of them. When I first read the book in high school, I didn't really understand these parts, I admit as much, but re-reading the stuff now when I'm older, it's really gut-wrenching to watch him try to (albeit involuntarily) destroy as many lives as possible along with his in the process. The lashing out of a hurt, shamed addict - just go and re-read the telephone conversations first with Ullman and then with Al. When Danny tries to read him and sees all the stuff in his head, it's pretty accurate, yet vague and it really makes you think.
Why do I find it so interesting? Well, although King's addiction later spiraled out to possibly similar proportions (I'd recommend you to go and read the autobiographical parts of On Writing if you haven't already) and he had been married for some time when this book was written, I seriously doubt he had the experience by then. In On Writing he admits that he wrote The Tommyknockers as an allegory of his addiction and didn't even realised it at first... and that was in 1987, ten years later. That makes it very prophetic and also kinda creepy, as if his very own subconsciousness tried to warn him beforehand and failed. The description of marriage that was entered and then never worked upon and therefore now reaching its expiration date becomes more and more haunting with each re-read. In that way, I can safely say that the book works for me on every level possible, forty years later, after 20 readings or so.
Anyway, enough about Jack - I think that the book actually did a pretty good job with Wendy, giving us insight in her history and life and explaining why she puts up with all this as long as she does without picturing her as a mere victim of domestic abuse. She is believable and interesting and you can kinda feel why Jack hates being outshined by her (in the field of common human decency) so much. Danny... is a believable child character with outstanding abilities. I probably can't quite comment on that any further. The chapter with the doctor in Boulder is quite amazing, though and gets me every time. However, I'd like do stress that I really like Dick Hallorann. One of my favourite King's character ever, in fact. He just... shines, you know? And no, that's not just a bad pun. I could imagine reading a whole book dedicated to him. Interestingly enough, he cropped up again nine years later as a bit character in It, but he has much less space there and I wasn't even sure if it wasn't just a re-use of the same name.
Connected with the above, King's style here is phenomenal. He manages to pull it all off and tells the reader everything this novel is supposed to tell him. In some ways, he was still a beginner and some of the homages and shout outs are not as subtle/precise/natural as it might have been later (just see the huge Poe obsession, that's quite heavy-handed), but I'll give him a pass in that regard, both because the results are quite extraordinary and because I don't have to squint all that much to overlook it. (OK, that one was also not a pun. Anyway...)
@Ariana @Mosh @Cornfed Hick @mckindog @Maturin Any thoughts?
The music mentioned within:
As mentioned above, there's a lot of time spent on the interbellum party, so there are a lot of old standards mentioned. Some of these are of later origin, but that's not an anachronism, as the hotel floats throughout various periods. These are namedropped:
(only Ticket to Ride, but it's hard to find a swing version thereof, so the medley will have to do)
To be continued, because of the forum's YT link limitation.
Sorry for the delay, but you know the drill... Work, school, marriage, friends, godparenting and everything. In between, there were two shitty exams before me, my car kinda broke down (though it’s already fixed), we were setting up a mortgage and buying a flat (currently we’re in the process of moving) and even my friends sometimes tended to "put the load right on me" (as if I didn't have enough reading for school, I was supposed to have read Fromm's To Have or To Be? so we could discuss - that was one weekend, the second was spent by playing D’n’D, which was actually great), but here goes...
The Shining (1980)
I'm going to be honest here and openly admit that while I respect Stanley Kubrick, I don't like him very much. When I want something cold and academic, I prefer Hitchcock or Kurosawa or Tarkovsky, when I want something visually enticing, I go back to Leone. Let's say that I usually see what he's trying to do and he's talented and everything, but I just don't see myself as his fan, neither now nor in twenty years. I'm afraid that, once again, this is not a very popular opinion nowadays. You see, he managed to create this kinda cultish devotion around him (though some of that was possibly already after his death) and - like pretty much every good thing - can't help but be a tad overrated.
That being said, while I personally don't adore him as many others do, I still respect him and watch his movies from time to time ... and would even recommend those to anyone looking for an intriguing and technically brilliant movies. Which is much more than can be said about, say Trier. I really liked both Eyes Wide Shut and Barry Lyndon and though it’s not my personal cup of tea, I openly admit that both Clockwork Orange and Odyssey were both stimulating and outstanding in many ways.
In all honesty, I don't particularly remember how many times have I read King comment on any given movie adaptation of his works and how did these come off, but I don't think I'm being that unfair if I say that he sometimes might look as if his main concern with the adaptations was the fact the director didn't keep everything as he, the Author, had written it. Considering how well received this movie was, him being displeased with it anyway, plus the fact seventeen years later he participated in filming another adaptation, this time for TV, which is allegedly closer to the book that Kubrick’s piece (allegedly, 'cause I haven’t seen it yet), it’s not inconceivable for someone to think he was just being his good old curmudgeonly self.
But I kinda get it here. Now. I have seen the film many times before and I was mostly satisfied with it (well, at first I was completely crazy about it). But with this last viewing... I don't know, something's changed. Something's broken and I'm not sure whether it's going to be possible to fix it again.
Maybe it's because of the director. I believe I have already stressed most of the novel's strong sides in my previous post. Honestly, I don't feel much remained in the movie version. Kubrick approached it as a bona fide horror and also managed to make it all artsy... but most of the overreach of the novel has been lost in the process. Those intriguing things and questions mostly disappeared and haven't been properly replaced (apart from some - more on that below).
At times, the movie follows the novel very closely - quoting many scenes and even dialogue lines almost verbatim - but then creates something altogether different out of that. The single parts (scenes) are still there, instantly recognisable, but compared to the whole (as pictured by the director), they don’t really fit. It’s really rather strange, because even you try to find out the differences and changes, you realise that the last few scenes you’ve watched were actually pretty close to the book, yet you don’t see and feel the connection. And sometimes it just strips the scenes of their meaning - creating this weird dissociation between what you see and what you should actually see, making the movie even more nonsensical than it already is.
Probably the most striking instance of this dissociation would be near the end where Wendy - completely scared and panicking - runs through the hotel and she sees someone in an animal costume (it might be a dog, but it might be a pig or a bear instead all the same) probably fellating another bloke in a tux. If you haven't read the book, this is going to seem very crazy and out of the blue. It just makes no sense. If you have read the book, you'll probably be offended at the film/director for making such an obscure reference that makes no real sense on its own. It's as if the director of the movie was a fucking hipster who's trying to show off - but the result is meh at best.
But I'd say that it's also because of Nicholson.
I have always liked the bloke, and, well, I still do. He's unbelievably charismatic, you can't miss him and he's able to hold lesser movies together by the sheer power of his performance. It's been said that people with similarly abrasive personalities actually did become friends with Kubrick and remained in touch with him long time after the shooting ended and - which is more important - broke out of the director’s notorious perfectionism, actually making changes, bringing additions to the table and did the things their own way. I suspect this might have been a factor here. Because his performance is really not that good. Throughout the movie, he mostly seems completely separated from reality and he's completely unbelievable and - with this last viewing - also rather annoying as a character. He's slow, weird and - apart from picking up an axe - he undergoes no development at all. When he arrives in the beginning, you know everything you need to know and you can’t be possibly surprised during the whole movie. He has his bouts of casual sociopathy, he stares blankly into space, he’s cold, distant, both annoyed and annoying… Everything the book has tried to tell you about the character is utterly flushed away here. Wait, did I say he undergoes no development? Well, actually, that’s not true - in the second half of the movie he hams it up even more, turning into such histrionics I had a really hard time taking the character (if not the very movie) seriously this last time.
Shelley Duvall is … very weird. I guess I wouldn’t mind her in the role were she not pitted against Nicholson. This way there’s too much strangeness and I have a hard time caring for any of the characters.
Danny Lloyd as Danny Torrance is mostly okay, apart from the sad fact he makes the boy look more catatonic than he already is.
I wouldn't deny the film is very iconic, but that doesn't mean it must move me in the same way it moves others. There are cool moments, but I have a hard time enjoying it, really.
Visually, well, it’s Kubrick, what did you expect? Also, so as not to be all negative, let’s say that if you manage to completely forget the book and you manage to fall under Nicholson’s charm, you’re probably in for a treat, because I remember that when I first saw the movie, I liked it a lot. Also, as a pure horror film, it’s not that bad. The ending shot with the photograph is very cool, I admit. So is the beginning. The long shots combined with the music are rather haunting.
Actually, in one way it manages to compliment the book in an interesting way - there are two cuts that are played throughout the movie, both by the Ray Noble Orchestra (with singer Al Bowlly, whom I once really loved)
Especially the second one - “It’s All Forgotten Now”. Seriously, Kubrick managed to dig out something that really, really works a lot, even as far as the book is concerned. It might be partly because Kubrick himself was a Brit and picking British big band music, obscure as it might be in general, was more natural to him, I don’t know, but there’s something transatlantic about these picks. It completely works with the “endless party” and “decadent interbellum society” and everything, it sounds very familiar (because it’s big band music), yet distant (because the approach of Noble and the UK big bands in general was noticeably somewhat different from the approach of Miller, Goodman and the like) and the very title of the second song says it all - it’s all forgotten now. This is such a haunting choice it makes me believe that the director actually has read the book... and fucked it up only later on. (only joking, I know he read the book many times over and called King in the middle of the night ... but what for?)
I admit I'm biased, but although I would recommend this to everyone, because it's a classic, I also wouldn't recommend it that much, if you know what I mean.
Anyway, we have the miniseries ahead and ... Rage, WHICH I STILL HAVEN'T FINISHED YET. Do you realise how much fucked up must the book be? I just want it to be over...