Reflections on The Shining

When we started this blog, the idea was to remember what we’ve seen and what we thought about it at the time. With our Stephen King thread we are watching specifically after having read the book (or rather listened to it). This allows for some deeper analysis and reflection. The Shining seems like a good place to start – it was the first Stephen King book we listened to (before deciding to read them in order) and it is currently the last of the films we’ve watched so far. Warning: here be spoilers!

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The Shining (1980)

Emmy says:
The piercing suspense music is obnoxiously loud and drowns out dialogue at times. It is seriously over used and grating; I found myself covering my ears at times during the film. The characters are thin copies of those from the book, if you hold them just the right way and squint you can see the connection. I’m disappointed in the translation of the characters from book to screen. The ‘shining’ is mostly glossed over and although an integral part of the book seems to just be a convenient hand-wave in the movie. I miss the personality of the hotel itself, the way it communicates with the Torrance family. I feel the film forgets to tell the audience that it’s the hotel itself that’s evil. Disillusioned 2/10.

Jeff says:
The book gave me nightmares when I read it as a young teenager, I don’t mind admitting. The movie didn’t (when I eventually saw it), but I still remember it being a good film. Watching it again this time, I found … it wasn’t. The soundtrack was screeching and over-loud. Shelley Duvall’s portrayal of Wendy was entirely wrong, and Danny was hardly there. It could be the version we watched, but there was so much missing from what was in the book (it was the 119 minute European cut), and yet strangely lots of things added. I love many Kubrick films, but this was terrible. 3/10.

IMDb

Firestarter

Emmy says:
A very faithful adaptation although the largely abbreviated story line left out the bits of the characters worth engaging with. Even after setting aside the cheesy 80’s “suspense music”, I only give it a 3/10.

Jeff says:
A faithful adaptation indeed. The things they trimmed made sense for the format – how DO you make 6 months becoming addicted to the knockout drugs worth watching, for example? I would say they managed to accidentally leave out the emotional connection, but honestly I’m not sure it was there in the original novel. Stephen King even said this was “flavorless; it’s like cafeteria mashed potatoes” but the original story was like that for me too – I just couldn’t enjoy it. That being the case, it’s a very good translation to screen: a bland movie version of a bland novel. 3/10.

IMDb

The Stand (1994)

Emmy says:
This is one that should not be compacted into a movie. Even at six hours I felt that a lot was left out, but for the snippets that were present? I enjoyed it. 7/10.

Jeff says:
How do you miss so much in 6 hours? I guess there is enough for a Game of Thrones length season for each part of the book (it had three parts)? Still, casting was excellent. 7/10.

IMDb

The Dead Zone (1983)

Emmy says:
Unusual adaptation, reordering of scenes and people involved in those, but as a movie it works. 7/10.

Jeff says:
Good movie, weird adaptation. Starship Trooper syndrome: liked both book AND movie even while they’re wildly different. 7/10.

IMDb

Salem’s Lot (1979)

Emmy says:
Missed some of my favourite parts of the book, and is definitely a product of its time. 6/10.

Jeff says:
I think this could be remade now and done better. The visual effects are dated. 5/10.

IMDb

Cat’s Eye

Emmy says:
Two stories much better suited to the page than the screen with the themes playing out better in imagination. The third story? I don’t know what happened there, not worth watching. 4/10.

Jeff says:
How do you incorporate a few Stephen King short stories into one movie? Probably not this way. An anthology should be a episodes of a TV show (like Haven). 4/10.

IMDb

Carrie (1976)

Emmy says:
Too much from the book left out for my liking. 5/10.

Jeff says:
Classic adaptation of a Stephen King novel … ie, not very good. Dated visuals when watching in 2018, but still worth it. 5/10.

IMDb

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