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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Shining is the classic 1980 Stanley Kubrick-directed film based on the Stephen King novel about a man hired to be the caretaker of a hotel deep in the mountains of Colorado who develops severe dementia from a combination of "cabin fever" and the dark and haunted past of the hotel. Blood flows throughout this film -- literally -- in several notorious scenes. There are axe murders and decomposed bodies. The main character, a recovering alcoholic, slowly goes insane and aims to kill his family. He verbally abuses his wife throughout most of the film. There's some alcohol and cigarette use. The main character's wife discusses with a child psychologist a recent incident in which her husband came home drunk and physically abused their son Danny. There's occasional profanity, including a scene in which the cook of the hotel is called the "N" word and a use of "f--k." Frequent horror imagery. Full-frontal nudity -- an attractive young woman turns into an elderly woman with rotting skin. Implied oral sex in a sequence of nightmarish imagery.
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What's the story?
In a career-defining role, Jack Nicholson plays Jack Torrance, a writer entrusted as caretaker of a gargantuan Colorado hotel during its off-season winter months. Accompanying Torrance are his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and his son Danny (Danny Lloyd). Slowly, the punishing snowstorms and overall isolation (or perhaps something else?) pushes Jack into madness.
Is it any good?
Director Stanley Kubrick can make your own living room seem creepy and unfamiliar. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the freak-out factor is unnaturally high in THE SHINING, Kubrick's 1980 film of Stephen King's celebrated horror novel.
At first, the film feels a bit empty. Nicholson's Jack seems nutty from frame one, providing little arc for his character. Each character sees visions, leaving the audience no easy points of identification. The apparitions seem to know more about the story than we do, fostering some very real twists and turns. Kubrick constantly pulls the rug out from under us in relation to what is real and what is not. This film is truly one of the scariest movies of all time and is not for the faint of heart. Teens might be drawn to this movie for its one-of-a-kind menacing atmosphere. However, it's inappropriate for kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the relationship between fantasy and reality in the film. Do you find yourself confused about what's "really" happening at various points in the film? In what different ways could these scenes be interpreted?
Stephen King, the author of the novel The Shining, strongly disapproved of the ways in which Stanley Kubrick interpreted both the characters and the story of his novel, and yet, The Shining film is considered to be a classic. What would be the challenges in adapting a novel to film, and why do you think some filmmakers take liberties in both the story and the way in which characters are conveyed?
How is music and sound used to heighten the moments of horror and suspense in this movie?
How does this classic compare to modern horror movies?
- In theaters: May 23, 1980
- On DVD or streaming: June 12, 2001
- Cast: Jack Nicholson, Scatman Crothers, Shelley Duvall
- Director: Stanley Kubrick
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Book Characters, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 144 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: adult situations, language, nudity, graphic violence.
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