Saturday, 30 November 2013

Mise-en-scène Film Programme: The Shining (1980)

Figure 1: Movie Poster [Still Image]
The Shining (1980) is a psychological horror themed movie directed by Stanley Kubrik. It was a movie based on a novel written by Stephen King of the same title. The film is on a subject of Jack who undertook a job as a caretaker at an isolated hotel. His young son, Danny, had a supernatural capability. He had a third eye as he was able to foresee the future and look back in time at the past, encountering with ghosts who resided at the hotel. After some time during their stay at the hotel, the otherworldly presence had successfully managed to influence Jack’s conscience. This drove him into the path of insanity as he made an attempt to commit a homicide against his wife and son. 

Films directed by Kubrick have substantially shown the love he had for one point perspective and a balanced shot. In one of the scenes, Danny was riding his tricycle at the corridors of the hotel but stopped on his tracks when he saw the twins was an example how Kubrick brought this one point perspective, balanced shot thought further as he incorporated characters in it. Ager summarises this point accurately when he said “The most unconsciously powerful form of mirroring in the film is Kubrick’s use of visual symmetry.” (Ager, 2008)

Figure 2: Danny's Corridor Scene [Still Image]
Following the previous point about the visual aspect, trapped and isolation would be one of feelings that could be derived from this film. An example of this would be the iconic scene where Danny was playing his toys on a hexagon patterned carpet flooring of the hotel. Another would be when Wendy chases Danny in a maze and in the hotel, Jack was looking at a maze as he took a break from his writing. As he looked at this maze, what could be seen at the center of it was two tiny figures that appears to be of Wendy and Danny.  Henderson interpreted this scene with precision when he states "It's a memorable summary image for their situation—even given a foreshadowing moment of seeming omniscience, Jack can't free himself from his family any more than his family can escape the sprawling maze” (Henderson, 2007)

Figure 3: Danny Playing With His Toys [Still Image]
Figure 4: Table Top Maze [Still Image]
The immense tension that was created with the help of the sound effects were a perfect match to the visual elements in general. For example, in a scene was trying to avoid Jack, the pitch started to increase creating an intense feeling leaving the audience to have an adrenaline rush, keeping them at the edge of their seats as they anticipate for something terrifying to happen. As Henderson points out in his review, “…the complex musical textures of György Ligeti and Krzysztof Penderecki don't even offer room to breathe, and the disorientation causes the mind to grasp for gravity” (Henderson, 2007)

Figure 5: A clip from the film the illustrate the use of sound [Video]

When The Shining is watched multiple times, it gives the audience new information that was not noticeable in a previous screening. Hence, a statement from Eskstrom  perfectly concludes this film when he states “Everyone has that one film, the one they constantly return to for entertainment, joy, terror, mental stimulation, etc. The Shining is that one film.” (Ekstrom, 2013)

List of Illustrations:

Figure 1 The Shining (1980) [Poster] at accessed on 30 November 2013

Figure 2 Danny’s Corridor Scene [Still Image] at accessed on 30 November 2013

Figure 3 Danny Playing With His Toys On The Carpet [Still Image] at accessed on 30 November 2013

Figure 4 The Table Top Maze [Still Image] at accessed on 30 November 2013

Figure 5 The Shining - Best Scene (1080 HD) [Television Programme Online] Tyrion Lannister Youtube (1980) 4minutes  accessed on 30 November 2013

List of Bibliography: 

Ager, Rob
The Shining
Accessed on 30 November 2013

Ekstrom, Matthem
The Shining (1980)
Accessed on 30 November 2013

Henderson, Eric
The Shining (1980)
Accessed on 30 November 2013


  1. Once again, a thoughtful review and a much better use of quotes this time, Ayunie :)
    Just check again which bits of the image list need to be in italics, here