Not for nothing, but if I were Stanley Kubrick, I’d have done two things:
1. Constantly worn a T-shirt that said “I’M STANLEY FREAKIN’ KUBRICK! I DIRECTED DR. STRANGELOVE AND 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY! ALSO THE CRIMINALLY UNDERAPPRECIATED PATHS OF GLORY AND BARRY LYNDON! MOVE OUT OF THE WAY! GENIUS AUTEUR COMIN’ THROUGH!” on it.
Oh, and 2. Told the BBFC to just shut up already.
Seriously, who would ever cut anything from a Stanley Kubrick film, as the BBFC did? The world needs every precious frame of Stanley Kubrick footage it can get its hands on, so that we may bask in the beauty that one particularly eccentric and gifted eye produced over four decades of craft and innovation. So what if those images were often graphically violent or sexually explicit? Kubrick was a film maker of intelligence and taste. While his movies are often provocative and shocking, they are not gratuitous, nor merely cheap titillation. Every moment is tailored to great effect, leaving you both aghast and awed.
And now, we have twenty-four additional minutes worth of Kubrick moments, in this completely uncensored cut of The Shining, playing at the GFT on the best night for it: Hallowe’en. Jack Nicholson plays Jack Torrance, a struggling writer whose summer job of looking after a spooky hotel becomes a gradual descent into madness. This job from hell threatens the lives of his wife and son, the latter of whom seems to have developed supernatural communication abilities. Adapted from the novel of the same name by Stephen King (who didn’t care for Kubrick’s adaptation all that much, go figure), The Shining is a gripping, suspenseful thriller. Nicholson’s insanity is played out in long, slow edits, and having more of that transition to savour is a treat.
And whilst Nicholson truly does give one of the all time great screen performances in the film, the real standout, for me, is Shelley Duvall as Wendy Torrance. Her performance has an earnest quality to it that is truly remarkable. If her performance was just a little bit louder, or just a little bit quieter, I don’t think it would have worked. She pitches it perfectly every time, and she’s staggeringly, well, real. I guess you would be too if you’d be forced into doing hundreds of takes of the same scene over and over and over and over again as Kubrick did frequently during filming.
Look, you don’t need me to tell you that should go see The Shining this Halloween. It’s a great film, with great actors, directed by a bona-fide freakin’ genius auteur. Just go watch it already. Don’t make me put on the T-shirt.
By Joseph Cardle