Archive for November, 2010

The Shining

Posted in Review on November 7, 2010 by vegabro

Madness. It’s not real. Pages in a book. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” The mind is a powerful thing that has the ability to take over our actions, our bodies, and how we perceive the physical world. It’s health is of upmost importance and the events that unfold at the Overlook Hotel are akin to LSD.

We begin our journey with the Torrance’s down a long twisty road. Only road in. Only road out. Impossible to get lost. The only way is forward unless you want to go backward. This road represents clarity. Sanity. That is the mental condition of the family at this point. Soon to deteriorate. When the Torrance’s arrive at the hotel, it is open for business soon to be closed. People populate it’s halls and rooms and the Torrance’s themselves get their last taste of sanity as they reach the breakfast kitchen before it too closes. Then the patrons start to leave for the winter and with them, Jack can feel something. He may not realize it yet, but his mind is intrinsically tied to the Overlook Hotel and that all these people leaving represent the emptiness that will soon inhabit his mind.

Scatman Crothers tells little Danny that some people, like himself, have the unique ability to “Shine”. He mentions that some buildings have this ability too. Buildings like the Overlook Hotel. And as little Danny rides his tricycle across carpet and floor of it’s halls, he is in effect touring the empty recesses of it’s brain. And Room 237 is no ordinary room, but the part of it’s brain that contains it’s most precious secret desires and fears.

But how did Danny get the ability to “shine”? If it’s so special how do I get me one? Well, unfortunately the answer is to experience a horrible mental trauma like getting your arm pulled out of it’s socket by your angry drunk father when he comes home one day…as Danny did. Scatman, I don’t know. But the real question is, how can a huge Hotel experience a trauma? I’ve punched a few holes in my walls over the years and my house has been fine with it so far. Oh, it may be the fact that tons of the old caretakers have chopped their entire families up into little tiny bits in a crazed-out furious rage within and onto it’s walls. If there’s anything liable to fuck a building’s sensitivities up, it’s that. And like any bad memory held in a man’s mind, the building thinks back on them in flashes. Except these flashes become visible to the people that shine. At first Danny and later, Jack. Notice how Wendy never sees any of this crazy stuff.

That answers one question, but asks another. What made the families kill their families in the first place? That brings us back to Jack. He is a writer. Writers make a living off their ideas, and a dying off a lack. As mentioned earlier, the hotel being completely unoccupied is an unnatural thing as it would be if the mind were. When Jack is around people he is quick witted and personable. He mentioned he made a living off being a school teacher, but he really wanted to write. His wife also mentions that he is a good family man, but fails to mention or understand that all he really just wants is a drink. His teaching keeps him sane and his family keeps him sane. He avoids both adamantly while in the hotel. And as for the hotel itself, it’s just fine when it has people occupying it’s halls and rooms and kitchens.

The problem starts when the halls of your mind are given nothing to do. You enter a laser focus. Then you create things to do. Things that aren’t really there. Pages in a book. That’s all a writer does after all. But when you stop living in reality, things become less apparent. They are transient. They come in fuzzy flashes. Then those flashes take on entire scenes and soon it’s hard to discern those scenes you made up from those scenes that you actually experience and then you get confused. After a while the twisty turny curvy, easy to follow highway turns into a sharply trimmed uniformly kept confusing maze that becomes impossible to find a way out of. (Let’s also not forget that Jack’s arm dislocating episode happened when Danny jumbled up his papers.)¬†And as a misguided Jack Torrance chases his little boy through the large maze that represents his mind, he gets lost. And he freezes to death inside it. He never finds a way out. The madness of his mind traps him there forever.

The last shot of the movie is of a picture taken in the 1920’s. In it is a lively ballroom scene with an un-aged Jack Torrance toasting in the foreground. There, Jack’s mind and the building’s have become one, or rather Jack’s mind has been sucked into the Overlook Hotel forever and that anachronistic picture is the only evidence of it ever existing, unable to ever escape.

So how do we avoid Jack’s demise. That lesson is held in one Scatman Crothers, a kind cook who has in his room a TV and not one, but two sexy naked afro ladies hanging on either side. Simple delights. The mind is not to be starved and it is not for overcomplicating. Live simply and live happily and your mind will reward you.