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Nose Norton

Location: Plainville
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
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In Reply To
Superman's Pal

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 5,654
Subj: Re: New banner! Thanks Superman's Pal! So which did you like better -
Posted: Sat Jul 20, 2019 at 02:10:49 am EDT (Viewed 850 times)
Reply Subj: Re: New banner! Thanks Superman's Pal! So which did you like better -
Posted: Fri Jul 19, 2019 at 02:26:49 pm EDT (Viewed 897 times)

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    I'm also not a Stephen King fan. The only Stephen King novel I like is It. (Which, by the way, came out in 1986, which makes it on topic for us. Actually, a lot of Stephen King novels and their adaptations in various media are on topic for us. Hmm.)

I read quite a bit of Stephen King's stuff in the '80s and '90s, my formative years. I liked the peek inside these warped characters' minds and of course the creepy-crawly stuff as well. Although some of my strongest memories are of stories that had no supernatural bent like Rage or Apt Pupil, both about sociopathic teens. The former of which King no longer keeps in print due to one of the Colombine shooters having a copy in his school locker, I believe.

    I'll make a confession. I never saw either one. Another confession: I'm not a Jack Nicholson fan. I didn't even like him as the Joker. The only movie I liked him in was - believe it or not - Terms of Endearment. (Which, by the way, came out in 1983, which makes it on topic for us. Actually, a lot of Nicholson films are on topic for us. Hmm.)

I had never seen the Kubrick version of The Shining in its entirety until just now when I bought the Blu-Ray. I had been aware that King was never happy with it since it guts the characters and he pushed for the 1997 TV miniseries remake which would stick more closely to the novel. Most people aren't even aware it was made.

It's interesting that reviews for The Shining when it came out in 1980 were fairly poor. It was actually nominated for two Razzies, for worst Actress (Duvall) and worst director (Kubrick). By the end of the decade it was being hailed as one of the all-time great films, a cinematic masterpiece.

    - the 80s Shining or the '97 Shining?

    And why?

I'm going to go with Kubrick's because it is simply a more powerful film.

King objected to two main things in the movie, I think. One is Jack Torrance, who in the novel is a good man fighting against his dark side, and in the end, finds redemption and tries to save his family. In Kubrick's version with Nicholson, you get more of a sense that Jack is simply a ticking bomb just looking for an excuse to go off. "Here's to five miserable months of sobriety and all the damage it's caused!" He revels in his badness all the way to the bitter end. The other is Wendy, as played by Shelley Duvall. In the book she takes a lot more steps to try to save her son and herself from her husband and the hotel, and even realizes that the hotel itself is causing her husband's problems. In Kubrick's version she mostly whimpers and screams.

However, while the TV version directed by Mick Garris (who had previously done King's The Stand as a TV mini) sticks more closely to the novel, it can't match the production value of Kubrick's. Someone points out on the Blu-Ray that Kubrick could have been a professional photographer, he had the skills, and basically every shot of the movie is a perfect picture. But more than that, I think it's his sense of pacing that makes it work. I noted in the TV version (that runs 4.5 hours) that at like the 3 hour point nothing bad or alarming had really happened yet. So in order to remind you that this is going to be a horror movie, they had to keep throwing in jump scares and false alarms like doors slamming shut on their own. Jack's descent comes fairly late and is fairly abrupt. In Kubrick's version there is a sense of unease radiating off every character and every situation at all times so no time is necessary explaining Jack's change, he can just start going wild and it all makes sense to the viewer.

Rebecca DeMornay plays Wendy in the TV version and she is probably the best improvement. Although she comes across stronger than Duvall's version she also takes a lot of punishment. On the commentary they point out that it was hard to get past the TV censors when they had Jack smashing her with the Denver croquet mallet repeatedly, the whole domestic violence aspect really comes through in this version. Steven Weber has the unenviable task of stepping into Nicholson's shoes. He was mostly known for his run on the NBC sitcom Wings. I think he had the potential to play genial family guy and also psychopath but I think in his own words he may not have fully committed. On the commentary he says he's not a method actor who stays in character all the time, he wants to be liked on set and keeps it "acceptably superficial" I think was the quote. The last hour or so of the TV version is fairly decent.

The hedge maze in Kubrick's version was a good visual and was entirely Kubrick's invention. King had them being attacked by topiary animals that came to life and they are in the TV version, realized with dated '90s CGI. Not the greatest effect.

I liked seeing both, Kubrick's for the first time and Garris' again on DVD. This was mostly prompted by seeing the trailer for Doctor Sleep which is a new movie based on the 2013 novel by King which was about a grown-up Danny Torrance, a character from The Shining. Living in the age of nostalgia they seem to have gone all-in on visual references to Kubrick's film.

Here's a side-by-side comparison of the two versions, mostly comparing the visuals.

Great analysis. I really don’t have anything to add other than my experiences with the movies. I know I watched the tv version when it first aired but haven’t seen it since and only have vague memories.
The Kubrick version is a great movie that I know fairly well, but, again, I probably haven’t seen in 20 years. It’s something I’d have to watch again by myself without interruption so I could really enjoy it.
Never read the book but I do like King’s work.

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