One of my favorite scenes in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is a two or three second shock during which a series of terrifying events happen. At this point in the film, Danny has been replaced by Tony, who’s saying “Redrum” in a voice that’s robotic at first and amplifies in intensity and urgency as Jack’s presence gets closer. As Danny—or “Tony,” his psychic alter-ego—screams “Redrum,” Wendy reads the words backward in the mirror. The camera pans in on the word “murder” written in childish handwriting with blood-red lipstick. Almost as soon as we, the viewers, read “murder” in the mirror, we hear the unnerving sound of an ax chopping through wood and the camera moves to Jack, who wields the huge, sharp, silver device and uses it to slice through the wooden door of the caretaker’s quarters, where Danny and Wendy reside. As if this nexus of sensation weren’t enough to alarm us, the viewers, and pull as even a little more deeply into The Shining’s sinister, unpredictable world, Wendy’s voice intercepts this moment with a simultaneously frenetic and bone-chilling scream—a scream that we’ll hear different variations of for the rest of the movie. In turn, we, as the viewers—at least a little bit—start feeling Wendy’s maddening fear, and our cognition is ultimately forced to accept a mis-en-scene and narrative moment that’s eliminated anything reassuring or comforting for us to latch onto. We are, in a sense, in the void, and we are there with Wendy.Continue reading “Fiction’s Fearless Females – Wendy Torrance”
Of Shakespeare’s sister that Virginia Woolf imagines in A Room of One’s Own, Woolf speculates: “Perhaps she scribbled some pages up in an apple loft on the sly but was careful to hide them or set fire to them.” For some scholars of women’s literature, it’s fairly common to assume that there was a vendetta against the combination of women and work in Anglo-American history, and that stifling the ability to work– often forbidding, particularly, artistic expression – resulted in concomitant madness for oppressed women. It’s a common trope, although there were some significant historical exceptions to the rule. I’m not an expert on the subject, but I’ve heard that Jane Austen had to hide her manuscript whenever a guest entered her room. And one must wonder, as VW did, what happened to the likely expansive throng of brilliant, would-be productive women who weren’t given a voice prior to, say, the Romantic or Victorian eras – or later. As an unrelated heads up, there will be spoilers throughout this piece!Continue reading “Thoughts on Scribbling from the Apple Loft: Madness and Work in Various Texts”
If it’s not obvious from the different analysis I publish on this site, I’m a huge fan of The Shining. In fact, I’m reading Stephen King’s On Writing right now, and I’m a bit torn, because I know he hates Kubrick’s version of his story, but I happen to love it. Still no matter what version of the classic tale you favor, we can all agree that the idea of being snowed into a haunted hotel with a mentally unstable, alcoholic, misogynist, self-interested writer and schoolteacher (how Kubrick, though not King, presents Jack) is a precarious situation, especially when you have son with exceptional capabilities but a penchant for blacking out and losing his sentience. Well, since I live in the freezing Erie, PA, a city that repeatedly makes winter headlines for its record amounts of Lake Effect snow, I’ve gotten, over the past few days, to get a sense of what it feels like to be completely snowed in. As such, I thought I’d write a post about the experience of being “snowed in” for three days, and the cabin fever that ensues from such an experience – you know, in the service of exploring different territory for my blog. Continue reading “Snowed-In: A Cabin Fever Story”
In the beginning of Place: An Introduction, Tim Cresswell describes the significance of placing a specific art exhibit, one foregrounding Bollywood movies, in an elite Swedish town where only the 1% tend to visit, in part because it’s difficult to get there. Cresswell includes the following quote in his introduction: “ ‘It’s difficult to get to,’ Mr. Wakefield added, ‘but because of that, it also demands a different kind of attention. You discover the art through the place and the place through the art.’ The exhibition at Gstaad reflects a wider interest in how art and place interact on the part of both the artists and art theorists” (2). This got me thinking that it might be intriguing to examine The Shining not just from a few lenses but – perhaps – from the intersection of a few lenses: Space or place, as its conveyed in the film, the cultural space in which the film is produced, and the current cultural space in which I, the viewer, am watching the film. This move, I think, is necessarily spectral, or turns the art under examination into a specter that disrupts linear time, since I become sort of engaged in this spectral moment, where I’m looking at the art forward, backward, etc – and this is especially true of The Shining, which situates its primary space, The Overlook Hotel, as a place that’s both mad and spectral, that consistently – if not constantly – manifests itself as a presence in the spectral moment by embodying both the past and the present – and, to the contemporary viewer, the more recent past (1921, 1980, 2017, but arranged as 2017 encompassing a film that shifts back and forth between 1921 and 1980, that begins by emphasizing 1980 but ends by emphasizing 1921). As a “cautionary note,” I found, as I was watching, that it was challenging to thread the entirety of this analysis throughout my interpretation of the film, especially for a blog post, but that’s the general angle I’m coming from when I look at the film. (As a sidenote, I wonder the extent to which we could deduce that all art is “spectral” – or maybe that’s what I’m getting at, but that seems like a sweeping argument for a later time). Continue reading “The Shining: A Spacial and Temporal Examination of a Spectral Narrative”
With Michael Miller
So yesterday, Michael and I spent a fair bit of time flexing our creative muscles and writing a The Shining Meets the Ghostbusters, a mashup that mixes the relatively dark Kubrick version of King’s canonical horror story with the beyond famous, original Ghostbusters franchise (although the new female Ghostbusters gang will likely be featured in later series installments). In other words, the blog has a new feature: genre mash-up fan fiction. Our version of The Shining, with the intervention of The Ghostbusters, has a bit more levity than the original. And Michael’s masterful knowledge of The Ghostbusters, creativity, and quick wit helped animate and bring them to life. We hope you enjoy. We had a lot of fun with this, so there’s likely more fan fiction to come….
So…final papers continue to be imminent, and I continue to break for a frequent, intense, scene by scene examination of The Shining, my all-time favorite horror film directed by the one and only Stanley Kubrick. My intent, when I started writing, was to write a couple posts. But, this is segment number four in the series, and Jack isn’t even (completely) crazy yet. As such, I think I’ll continue. If you’d like to read my first three blog posts, which cover about the first half hour of the movie, you can check out the first, second, or third!
After a three-week writing hiatus, apparently, I need to make up for lost time. Despite writing a considerably long piece on key scenes from The Shining last night, I feel pressed to continue my analysis tonight, at the expense of working on final papers. I should mention, right now, when it comes to grad school, I’m operating under the dangerous dictum that “it always gets done, eventually,” which I’m hoping doesn’t backfire horrendously. And anyway, my Thursday afternoon class is cancelled, which means that tonight is practically a weekend for me – the perfect time to write about horror. I can’t explain why I enjoy looking so carefully at the most unsettling – albeit sometimes most unrealistic – elements of life, only that I do. And in that vein, I’ll pick up where I left off yesterday, and continue to compile a sort of cinematic, scene-by-scene “close reading,” of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, my favorite horror movie of all time, and one of my favorite movies of all time, period. (Ironically, it’s competing with The Sound of Music and Goodwill Hunting for that title). If you haven’t read the first or second segment of my analysis, consider doing so before you read on. Continue reading “A Tribute to The Shining: Let’s Not Overlook Anything – Part 3”