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View Full Version : The Exorcist VS The Shining



Kevin H
08-10-2010, 09:44 PM
Which of these horror classics do you think is the better film and why?

Troy Howarth
08-10-2010, 11:59 PM
Wow, these seem so different, it seems strange to compare them. I know many horror buffs will argue that both are overrated - they both attained a certain "validity" in the mainstream press, so that might explain some of the backlash I see from time to time. To my mind, they both deserve the praise they've received. I'd have to pick The Shining simply because I think it's such a hypnotic piece of filmmaking. There are indelible images that, once seen, can't be forgotten. Nicholson's performance is make or break for many people - I love it, think it suits it perfectly, so for me it's one of the film's many pleasures. Both films have remarkably creepy setpieces, but I think The Shining wins out ultimately because it sustains such an air of claustrophia and overall creepiness. Both are great films, but I'll give The Shining my vote.

Wayne Schmidt
08-11-2010, 12:30 AM
Exorcist, but that isn't a difficult choice for me because I don't like The Shining. I can appreciate the artistry, and it has some excellent set pieces but the film, especially the last act really don't work. There are jumps in Nicholson's character ark that take me right out of the film. But obviously I'm in the minority overall on this film.

The blu-ray is excellent, though. I enjoyed it more when I watched it than I ever have in the past.

Vincent Pereira
08-11-2010, 02:00 AM
TIE.

Seriously, these polls need a "tie" option. It should be mandatory when posting a 'one title -vs- one title' poll like this.

Kevin, I really think you need to edit your original post and offer a "tie" option.

Vincent

Troy Howarth
08-11-2010, 08:18 AM
Oh just pick one, you big baby!! :D

Richard C
08-11-2010, 08:21 AM
What happened to the once obligatory Ian Jane choice?.....

I agree with Troy's comments about the "mainstream" backlash by some but I love both films. I think I'll plump for The Exorcist though just because it had more of an initial impact than The Shining. Need to revisit both though in HD.

cworkman
08-11-2010, 08:37 AM
I hate THE EXORCIST, not because it has mainstream appeal (otherwise, I'd hate movies like THE GRUDGE and THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS), but because I think it's mostly crap, with a very weak, somewhat redundant script, predominantly mediocre performances, and direction that sometimes borders on the absurd. (Now that I've said that, it isn't entirely without its moments; Regan stabbing herself/masturbating with the crucifix and saying, "Let Jesus fuck you!" is a powerful, shocking moment.)

On the other hand, I love THE SHINING, which has terrific performances from all involved, great direction, a wonderful script, etc.

Fred Anderson
08-11-2010, 08:49 AM
As a child I was bored by both of them, but The Exorcist holds up better today.

Jonathan Douglas
08-11-2010, 09:12 AM
THE EXORCIST is still creepy after all this time, there's literally possession in the air all the way, whereas THE SHINING offers better performances and a nicer consistant looking film but to me only has one really skin crawling scene (Jack and the old hag). I like though its feel of time standing still and appreciate that atmosphere, right from the moment they enter the hotel they're like trapped, eerie factor though makes the Friedkin film the poll choice here.

Troy Howarth
08-11-2010, 09:31 AM
I hate THE EXORCIST, not because it has mainstream appeal (otherwise, I'd hate movies like THE GRUDGE and THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS), but because I think it's mostly crap, with a very weak, somewhat redundant script, predominantly mediocre performances, and direction that sometimes borders on the absurd. (Now that I've said that, it isn't entirely without its moments; Regan stabbing herself/masturbating with the crucifix and saying, "Let Jesus fuck you!" is a powerful, shocking moment.)

On the other hand, I love THE SHINING, which has terrific performances from all involved, great direction, a wonderful script, etc.

I have to ask: how can direction border on the absurd? I think Friedkin does a terrific job with the material - he doesn't pull any punches, but neither does he push it to a degree that it becomes unbelievable... for over two hours, it really retains my interest. I thought earlier you said it wasn't the direction but the script that was the main problem? How can that be if Friedkin's direction is absurd? Just asking. :)

And the performances? I think everybody does a fine job, and there are some truly outstanding performances from Von Sydow, Burstyn, Jason Miller, Jack MacGowran, Linda Blair, Lee J. Cobb... Nothing mediocre about the cast, IMO.

Mind you, I'm not suggesting you're "wrong" not to like it. It took me a while to warm to it, myself.

RichardDoyle
08-11-2010, 10:56 AM
I like both very much. I would pick "The Shining" because I'm not very fond of much of what "The Exorcist" stands for, even though I like the resulting movie.

Troy Howarth
08-11-2010, 11:02 AM
I like both very much. I would pick "The Shining" because I'm not very fond of much of what "The Exorcist" stands for, even though I like the resulting movie.

Interestingly, from a theological point of view, not even Friedkin would be behind that... unless I'm mistaken he's an agnostic.

Keith B.
08-11-2010, 11:42 AM
I still can't get into "The Shining" despite several attempts. Excellent photography and musical score, but that's about all I get out of it. But I'm not a huge Kubrick fan.

BrianS
08-11-2010, 12:38 PM
Wow, these seem so different, it seems strange to compare them.

I'm still waiting for the Exorcist vs Beyond the Door poll!







Just kidding!

Troy Howarth
08-11-2010, 12:43 PM
I'm still waiting for the Exorcist vs Beyond the Door poll!







Just kidding!

He doesn't post anymore, but Bill would have gone for Beyond the Door!

Andrew Ellis
08-11-2010, 04:40 PM
"The Shining". I think "The Exorcist" is a little overrated. I remember nobody liked "The Shining" when it came out and Stephen King really dissed it. But then King made his own version (although technically, it was his film-director bitch Mick Garris), and it turns out there is a REASON why King is a writer and Stanley Kubrick was a director who someone like Garris wasn't fit to pull focus for. Kubrick's "The Shining" looks better and better everyday.

As for "Beyond the Door", I LOVE Euro-"Exorcist" rip-offs. You can't fairly compare them to "The Exorcist" perhaps, but "Beyond the Door" wasn't even one of the best ones. The two Bava movies--"Lisa and the Devil" and "Beyond the Door 2" (sorry, I can't remember the actual title right now)--and Massimno Dallamano's "Night Child" are all better than "Beyond the Door", and "The Sexorcist", "Malabimba", Ossorio's "Demon Witch Child" are a lot more fun, but I guess that's a subject for another thread. . .

Ryan O
08-11-2010, 04:49 PM
I don't know if I can compare them fairly because I grew up with The Shining and didn't see The Exorcist until the theatrical re-release in 2001 or whenever it was.

Also, there are moments of dark comedy in The Shining that I don't see in The Exorcist. Unless the things Regan says when she's possessed were meant to be funny - but I think they were intended more to shock.

I wouldn't mind watching these both as a double feature though.

Emanuele Sheriff
08-11-2010, 07:38 PM
Definitely the Exorcist for me. The sheer impact it made upon release because of it's horrific and extreme imagery are undeniable.And it can still shock and scare today. The Shining is a good (but not great) horror film.

Troy Howarth
08-11-2010, 09:04 PM
"The Shining". I think "The Exorcist" is a little overrated. I remember nobody liked "The Shining" when it came out and Stephen King really dissed it. But then King made his own version (although technically, it was his film-director bitch Mick Garris), and it turns out there is a REASON why King is a writer and Stanley Kubrick was a director who someone like Garris wasn't fit to pull focus for. Kubrick's "The Shining" looks better and better everyday.

As for "Beyond the Door", I LOVE Euro-"Exorcist" rip-offs. You can't fairly compare them to "The Exorcist" perhaps, but "Beyond the Door" wasn't even one of the best ones. The two Bava movies--"Lisa and the Devil" and "Beyond the Door 2" (sorry, I can't remember the actual title right now)--and Massimno Dallamano's "Night Child" are all better than "Beyond the Door", and "The Sexorcist", "Malabimba", Ossorio's "Demon Witch Child" are a lot more fun, but I guess that's a subject for another thread. . .

Neither Lisa and the Devil nor Shock were ripoffs; Lisa was transformed into one in reediting, but Bava's original film was made prior to The Exorcist. Shock does have a possession angle, but it's much more subtle - the film was retitled basically to cash in on the presence of David Collin, Jr, who appeared in the first Beyond the Door.

Andrew Ellis
08-12-2010, 02:17 PM
Yeah, I only meant they were "Exorcist" rip-offs in the sense that a lot of people THINK they are because "Lisa and the Devil" was re-edited as "The House of Exorcism" and "Shock" got called "Beyond the Door 2".

I actually don't like the whole term "Exorcist" rip-off. "The Exorcist" created a whole lot of hype when it came out and people all over the place took advantage of it. But very few of the so-called"The Exorcist" rip-offs are really anything like "The Exorcist" (including "Beyond the Door"). They just often got marketed that way.

Troy Howarth
08-12-2010, 02:20 PM
Yeah, I only meant they were "Exorcist" rip-offs in the sense that a lot of people THINK they are because "Lisa and the Devil" was re-edited as "The House of Exorcism" and "Shock" got called "Beyond the Door 2".

I actually don't like the whole term "Exorcist" rip-off. "The Exorcist" created a whole lot of hype when it came out and people all over the place took advantage of it. But very few of the so-called"The Exorcist" rip-offs are really anything like "The Exorcist" (including "Beyond the Door"). They just often got marketed that way.

Agreed. And in some instances, it's really a matter of coincidence. For example, Paul Naschy wrote Exorcismo BEFORE Freidkin's film, but it only got financed afterwards.

RichardDoyle
08-12-2010, 05:29 PM
I really like "Abby", or "The Blaxorcist" as I call it.

Ian Z.
08-12-2010, 05:49 PM
The Shining is definitely my preferred film.

Though The Exorcist still stands up very well today (am impressive feat IMO), I felt it would have been 10 times better if it had remained ambiguous as to whether Regan was really possessed by a demon or if she was simply insane. THAT would have been a fascinating little flick, but in the end, it's a straight good vs. evil story. Still groundbreaking for its time, but IMO not quite what it could have been. Of course, I'm asking it to be a different movie than what it was, aren't I?

The Shining may have its flaws, mostly in Jack Nicholson's performance and apparently Kubrick's direction of such, but it has an atmosphere that exudes fear. No, it doesn't end up being any more than a simple horror story either, but somehow I think The Shining is more successful at being scary. The Exorcist has its shocking moments of foul language and head-turning, but The Shining is scary from the moment it begins to the moment the credits roll. The music, the isolated atmosphere, even the photography of the hotel itself just gives me the willies.

I remember watching The Shining on TV in a cut version while alone at night and I was scared shirtless. The Exorcist never had that effect on me.

cworkman
08-12-2010, 05:59 PM
I have to ask: how can direction border on the absurd? I think Friedkin does a terrific job with the material - he doesn't pull any punches, but neither does he push it to a degree that it becomes unbelievable... for over two hours, it really retains my interest. I thought earlier you said it wasn't the direction but the script that was the main problem? How can that be if Friedkin's direction is absurd? Just asking. :)

And the performances? I think everybody does a fine job, and there are some truly outstanding performances from Von Sydow, Burstyn, Jason Miller, Jack MacGowran, Linda Blair, Lee J. Cobb... Nothing mediocre about the cast, IMO.

Mind you, I'm not suggesting you're "wrong" not to like it. It took me a while to warm to it, myself.

The script is the worst offender, but it's like you said once about the director of TWILIGHT: ECLIPSE: the director had the power not to film certain things. And here are a few of those things:

Cobb's ridiculous assumption that witchcraft must be going on because someone broke his neck in a fall, and he broke it in a way that happens only one in a few thousand... Well, Mr. Police Detective or whatever you are, a few thousand falls probably happen every day in which people break their necks, so you have to be a complete idiot to assume that witchcraft is the answer. (And besides, there is no witchcraft anywhere in the film. Demon possession and witchcraft, while they can sometimes be related - but don't appear to be so here, are not the same thing.)

There are those tacky attempts to get us to feel something for mother and daughter, and hence their little wrestling/tickling match. Make me puke. It doesn't feel genuine, it just feels corny.

The demon's elaborate plan to get Father Merrin involved so it could kill him. (At least, that's what we're led to believe...) What are the chances that Father Merrrin, all these years later, would be called into this case specifically??? That's a bit of a stretch. (Kind of like the witchcraft assumption.)

And back to the witchcraft assumption, how many times does Cobb's character need to explain that to various characters. After the first five-to-ten minute sequence, the second one is simply redundant and doesn't bring anything new to the table AT ALL. NOT ONE THING. He just tells it to a different person, which could have been done in a one or two-minute explanation (or not at all, because we got it already).

Look, I generally like Freidkin, and I want to like this film, but it's simply too flawed for my tastes. There are a couple of creepy scenes (I prefer the new version over the old, because there's just enough of a hint that Regan may have been molested and that this is her mind and body's way of dealing with it that it's even creepier and more nuanced), granted, but they aren't enough to offset the issues.

And I think the performances are all over the place. Von Sydow is good, though; I would never argue otherwise. Linda Blair, it depends on the individual scene. Sometimes she acts way too young, sometimes too old, and is rarely convincing. What is convincing is the voice, but then, that isn't Blair's performance.

cworkman
08-12-2010, 06:02 PM
I really like "Abby", or "The Blaxorcist" as I call it.

It's wonderful, and not that much like THE EXORCIST, beyond its basic idea, yet wasn't it the only film Warner went after??? Mind-boggling, I must say.

It's a hoot, one of the most entertaining films I've ever seen.

Troy Howarth
08-12-2010, 06:47 PM
The script is the worst offender, but it's like you said once about the director of TWILIGHT: ECLIPSE: the director had the power not to film certain things. And here are a few of those things:

Cobb's ridiculous assumption that witchcraft must be going on because someone broke his neck in a fall, and he broke it in a way that happens only one in a few thousand... Well, Mr. Police Detective or whatever you are, a few thousand falls probably happen every day in which people break their necks, so you have to be a complete idiot to assume that witchcraft is the answer. (And besides, there is no witchcraft anywhere in the film. Demon possession and witchcraft, while they can sometimes be related - but don't appear to be so here, are not the same thing.)

There are those tacky attempts to get us to feel something for mother and daughter, and hence their little wrestling/tickling match. Make me puke. It doesn't feel genuine, it just feels corny.

The demon's elaborate plan to get Father Merrin involved so it could kill him. (At least, that's what we're led to believe...) What are the chances that Father Merrrin, all these years later, would be called into this case specifically??? That's a bit of a stretch. (Kind of like the witchcraft assumption.)

And back to the witchcraft assumption, how many times does Cobb's character need to explain that to various characters. After the first five-to-ten minute sequence, the second one is simply redundant and doesn't bring anything new to the table AT ALL. NOT ONE THING. He just tells it to a different person, which could have been done in a one or two-minute explanation (or not at all, because we got it already).

Look, I generally like Freidkin, and I want to like this film, but it's simply too flawed for my tastes. There are a couple of creepy scenes (I prefer the new version over the old, because there's just enough of a hint that Regan may have been molested and that this is her mind and body's way of dealing with it that it's even creepier and more nuanced), granted, but they aren't enough to offset the issues.

And I think the performances are all over the place. Von Sydow is good, though; I would never argue otherwise. Linda Blair, it depends on the individual scene. Sometimes she acts way too young, sometimes too old, and is rarely convincing. What is convincing is the voice, but then, that isn't Blair's performance.

Well, I can't say I agree with 99% of what you're saying - you're right that the director has the power to insist on changes, so I will agree with that - but I thank you for explaining your point of view! :)

Troy Howarth
08-12-2010, 06:48 PM
It's wonderful, and not that much like THE EXORCIST, beyond its basic idea, yet wasn't it the only film Warner went after??? Mind-boggling, I must say.

It's a hoot, one of the most entertaining films I've ever seen.

Apart from Marshall's typically fine performance, I though that one was a snooze...

cworkman
08-12-2010, 10:47 PM
I saw it on the big screen and found it very, very entertaining. I have a DVD of it but haven't watched it in that format, so I can't say how it plays on the small screen in the comfort of one's living room. There is definitely a difference in the way films play between the two mediums. And I certainly can't say anything negative about anyone disliking it, because I can see why that would be the case.

cworkman
08-12-2010, 10:50 PM
About THE EXORCIST, I don't think it's a total piece of shit or anything. When I watch it, I'm struck by just how masterful the horror sequences tend to be. But when I'm not watching it and am thinking about it, those sequences don't tend to come to mind first; instead, it's the non-horror sequences that I mentioned above, and particularly Cobb's scenes. Now, I think Cobb is a great actor, and he's good here, but he has to spout some of the film's silliest dialogue. (He should get credit for saying this stuff with a straight face.) I actually think if you could get rid of most of his scenes, you would improve the film by a substantial margin.

Vincent Pereira
08-13-2010, 03:04 AM
Oh just pick one, you big baby!! :D

I will not!...

:)

Seriously though, polls like this that offer only two options need a "tie" option IMO.

Vincent

Ryan T.
08-13-2010, 03:13 AM
I found The Exorcist a bit boring. I'd go with The Shining.

RichardDoyle
08-13-2010, 05:56 PM
It's wonderful, and not that much like THE EXORCIST, beyond its basic idea, yet wasn't it the only film Warner went after??? Mind-boggling, I must say.

It's a hoot, one of the most entertaining films I've ever seen.

They probably targeted it because it was American. If I'm not mistaken, it's the only "Exorcist" rip-off from the US (or at least the only one with much of a profile).

John G.
08-13-2010, 06:13 PM
THE EXORCIST is much more successful as a drama, and indeed the slow build-up to the horror with moody direction and atmosphere (not to mention the brilliant use of Mike Oldfield's eerie "Tubular Bells") is very effective... once the horror kicks in, the effects are dated, the setpieces clunky and the theology is very dated. Essentially, those faults reside more with Blatty's simplistic good-vs-evil dichotomy that forces the film to rely on style despite its claims of substance. Friedkin's directorial skill essentially sells the picture - I still really like it, but I think the first half and the moody foregrounding of the horror is far more chilling than the more famous grotesque scenes.

THE SHINING is a much better horror film and so I voted for that. I'm watching it tonight (on Bluray, no less) so I don't feel adequate typing out a response right now, haha. :)

John G.
08-13-2010, 06:18 PM
One more thing about THE EXORCIST (I love talking about that film, perhaps because its flaws make it more interesting) and proof that Friedkin knows what he's doing as a filmmaker... compare his (Friedkin's) original ending to the picture, with its somber and ambiguous final note, to the rather ridiculous Version-You've-Never-Seen-Before version (basically, Blatty's preferred cut) which wants to hammer home to the viewer that "the Devil didn't win." The jokey conclusion is completely superfluous and it should have remained on the editing-room floor.

Troy Howarth
08-13-2010, 08:30 PM
THE EXORCIST is much more successful as a drama, and indeed the slow build-up to the horror with moody direction and atmosphere (not to mention the brilliant use of Mike Oldfield's eerie "Tubular Bells") is very effective... once the horror kicks in, the effects are dated, the setpieces clunky and the theology is very dated. Essentially, those faults reside more with Blatty's simplistic good-vs-evil dichotomy that forces the film to rely on style despite its claims of substance. Friedkin's directorial skill essentially sells the picture - I still really like it, but I think the first half and the moody foregrounding of the horror is far more chilling than the more famous grotesque scenes.

THE SHINING is a much better horror film and so I voted for that. I'm watching it tonight (on Bluray, no less) so I don't feel adequate typing out a response right now, haha. :)

You're in for a treat with The Shining BR - the image just comes alive in a way no other video version prior to it ever did....

Todd J
08-13-2010, 08:45 PM
except the pink instead of yellow section. You know, the tennis ball rolls to Danny while he's playing with trucks...that part.

I just watch it again this past Sunday. It looks so friggin' awesome.

John G.
08-13-2010, 09:30 PM
Wow, you guy weren't kidding about the Blu-Ray transfer... amazing. What's especially nice about THE SHINING in this format is that the Overlook is like another character in the film, and the absolutely stunning transfer emphasizes how effectively the film puts it to use.

Troy Howarth
08-13-2010, 09:35 PM
Absolutely. And the floating steadicam work almost takes on a 3D dimension in this transfer.

cworkman
08-13-2010, 11:55 PM
THE EXORCIST is much more successful as a drama, and indeed the slow build-up to the horror with moody direction and atmosphere (not to mention the brilliant use of Mike Oldfield's eerie "Tubular Bells") is very effective... once the horror kicks in, the effects are dated, the setpieces clunky and the theology is very dated. Essentially, those faults reside more with Blatty's simplistic good-vs-evil dichotomy that forces the film to rely on style despite its claims of substance. Friedkin's directorial skill essentially sells the picture - I still really like it, but I think the first half and the moody foregrounding of the horror is far more chilling than the more famous grotesque scenes.

THE SHINING is a much better horror film and so I voted for that. I'm watching it tonight (on Bluray, no less) so I don't feel adequate typing out a response right now, haha. :)

My reaction to THE EXORCIST tends to be just the opposite. It stinks as drama (for the reasons I mention before) and only comes alive when its being a full-throttle horror film (with the only aspect of that not working being Regan's head-turning sequence).

cworkman
08-13-2010, 11:56 PM
Wow, you guy weren't kidding about the Blu-Ray transfer... amazing. What's especially nice about THE SHINING in this format is that the Overlook is like another character in the film, and the absolutely stunning transfer emphasizes how effectively the film puts it to use.

I thought the same thing. I hadn't really noticed The Overlook all that much before, but this time out it was THE persona hanging over the entire picture, a living, breathing entity stalking the remaining characters. Very spooky.

cworkman
08-13-2010, 11:57 PM
Before the BD of THE SHINING, I detested the film and rarely revisited it. Since getting the BD, I've watched it three times and will likely revisit it a lot more.

MattEvans
08-16-2010, 07:42 PM
Am I the only one that enjoyed Exorcist 3 over the first? Sorry to go off topic.

Troy Howarth
08-16-2010, 07:51 PM
I've heard quite a few people say that. I like the third one a lot - hell, I even find the second one fascinating in its own way - but to me the first is still the best.

Randy Thomas G
08-16-2010, 08:58 PM
The Shining is really hypnotic. I agree that the drama elements in the Exorcist are stronger than the horror elements in many ways, the film is definitely a cut above because of the director more so than the script.

RichardDoyle
08-17-2010, 06:24 PM
Am I the only one that enjoyed Exorcist 3 over the first? Sorry to go off topic.

I like the third one, but I wouldn't go so far as to say it's better than the first. I think it starts out strongly but really isn't so good in the last third.

R_Strange
08-17-2010, 06:43 PM
The Exorcist is obviously dynamite, and I do find it more viscerally unnerving than Kubrick's opus; however, The Shining, in all its visual and structural atypicality, is for me the more lingering and disturbing film - something about mad Jack being so likeable even (especially!) when he's trying to cut his family up into little pieces. I prefer it.

Not quite sure which cut I prefer, mind. Probably the long version, but there's a compelling argument out there for the streamlined mix, too.

Daniel M
08-19-2010, 11:38 PM
This represents a photo-finish at the "Modern Classics Race Track," but as much as I love Kubrick in general and the Shining in particular, I'm giving the nod to The Exorcist.

The French Connection,The Exorcist, and Sorcerer....It feels like heresy for me to put another film ahead of this "trilogy," which I insist on thinking of as one big six hour marathon of perfect existential filmmaking.

Darcy Parker
08-20-2010, 09:04 PM
Exorcist, but that isn't a difficult choice for me because I don't like The Shining. I can appreciate the artistry, and it has some excellent set pieces but the film, especially the last act really don't work. There are jumps in Nicholson's character ark that take me right out of the film. But obviously I'm in the minority overall on this film.

The blu-ray is excellent, though. I enjoyed it more when I watched it than I ever have in the past.

I agree. The main problem with the film adaptation of The Shining is a philosophical disconnect between Stephen King's book, which clearly showed supernatural causes for the disintegration of Jack's psyche, and Kubrick's unwillingness to fully commit to the concept. I think the root of this is Kubrick's staunch athiest stance, as illustrated in the famous phone call to King during the filming. King tells the story of being awoken one night by a call from Kubrick in London, which consisted of one question "Do you believe in God?" King answered "Yes", to which Kubrick replied "Well, I don't".

King wrote a ghost story where spirits used people's psychological weaknesses to control them. Kubrick made a movie where people go crazy for no real reason, because he refused to commit to the idea of a supernatural explanation.

paul h.
08-20-2010, 10:04 PM
I agree. The main problem with the film adaptation of The Shining is a philosophical disconnect between Stephen King's book, which clearly showed supernatural causes for the disintegration of Jack's psyche, and Kubrick's unwillingness to fully commit to the concept. I think the root of this is Kubrick's staunch athiest stance, as illustrated in the famous phone call to King during the filming. King tells the story of being awoken one night by a call from Kubrick in London, which consisted of one question "Do you believe in God?" King answered "Yes", to which Kubrick replied "Well, I don't".

King wrote a ghost story where spirits used people's psychological weaknesses to control them. Kubrick made a movie where people go crazy for no real reason, because he refused to commit to the idea of a supernatural explanation.

I know what you're talking about, but I don't completely agree.

Isolation is a pretty good reason to go crazy. I feel like Kubrick did use quite a bit of the supernatural side of King's book (in the movie, they ALL see ghosts, and one ghost lets Jack out of the food locker). In King's book, most of Jack's problems stem from his alcoholism and guilt for hurting Danny (and maybe killing another child while driving drunk??). Some of the character's doubts, insecurities, and problems manifest themselves as "supernatural entities" brought on by the catalyst of long term isolation in an old historic place.

The ending of Kubrick's film is pretty supernatural, don't you think?

I think both versions contain psychological and supernatural explanations.

Troy Howarth
08-20-2010, 10:13 PM
I definitely don't agree that Kubrick made a film where people go crazy for no good reason... the film provides ample reason for what unfolds, both in what is said and in what is implied. The fact that Kubrick leaves the story open to interpretation (it could all be explained away, or it might really be the supernatural) is one of its great strengths, I think.

Randy Thomas G
08-21-2010, 04:38 AM
One thing that can't be explained away is when the door to the locked storage room is opened for Jack. I guess one could say that Jack is a repressed telekinetic and opens the door himself with his mind, but there seems little basis for that in the film and is hardly a less fantastic explanation than a supernatural one.

Troy Howarth
08-21-2010, 01:32 PM
Kubrick raised the possibility that it could have been Wendy - that she came back later and unlocked it because she couldn't deal with the possibility of his being trapped in there. Not saying I believe it, but hey - it's a possible explanation.

Darcy Parker
08-21-2010, 02:06 PM
Kubrick raised the possibility that it could have been Wendy - that she came back later and unlocked it because she couldn't deal with the possibility of his being trapped in there. Not saying I believe it, but hey - it's a possible explanation.

I feel that shows the weaknesses in Kubrick's approach. The fact he needed to formulate an Ex Post Facto explanation shows that he screwed up telling the story in the film itself.

In the book, the spirits that reside in The Overlook chose Jack to b their next Caretaker by sacrificing his family under their influence, and slowly push him out of his own mind. In the movie, he just goes crazy, but everyone else does, too.

I didn't find Kubrick's ending to be supernatural, really. The whole thing felt clinical and detached, much like the rest of Kubrick's work. I appreciate his films from a technical standpoint, but he wasn't much of a story-teller and he stunk out loud as an adaptor from books.

Troy Howarth
08-21-2010, 02:09 PM
I don't agree - he didn't say that that WAS what happened... he merely said it was a possibility. It certainly doesn't "prove" that he screwed up anything, however.

You don't think he was much of a storyteller, Darcy? Much as I disagree, I can't protest too loudly - I used to dislike his movies, too, but I've grown to appreciate them profoundly over time.

John G.
08-21-2010, 02:10 PM
In my opinion, it's just the opposite... Kubrick was a great adapter of novels, and one need only look to the thoroughly mediocre SHINING miniseries and the lackluster Jeremy Irons LOLITA to see just how excellent his adaptations were... different from the novels, for sure, but Kubrick is a filmmaker, not a novelist. I think THE SHINING is a better horror movie than King's work is a novel.

Troy Howarth
08-21-2010, 02:11 PM
Absolutely. King's book is nothing to write home about, IMO, but Kubrick made a film that is still endlessly quoted and debated; there's something to be said for that.

Darcy Parker
08-21-2010, 02:16 PM
In my opinion, it's just the opposite... Kubrick was a great adapter of novels, and one need only look to the thoroughly mediocre SHINING miniseries and the lackluster Jeremy Irons LOLITA to see just how excellent his adaptations were... different from the novels, for sure, but Kubrick is a filmmaker, not a novelist. I think THE SHINING is a better horror movie than King's work is a novel.

I felt Kubrick's The Shining was too sterile and the pacing of Jack's descent into madness was a it abrupt, where the novel made the timeframe more clear, and explained things in a more interesting way than simple cabin fever.

A Clockwork Orange was greatly undermined by Kubrick's decision to omit the final chapter from his screenplay, as that was where the real weight of the story resided. I know the American printings also dropped chapter 21, but he was living and filming in Britain, so I just don't get it. He also changed the aesthetics greatly from what was described in the book, which also didn't help.

Lolita worked, but was radically different from the book, so half points there.

2001 would have been improved by dropping some of the long, slow effects scenes in favor of a bit more of the book's exposition being worked in somehow.

That being said, all of his films are visual masterworks. I just find the technical proficiency, when as divorced of human emotion as in Kubrick's work, feels unsatisfying and hollow to me.

Troy Howarth
08-21-2010, 02:24 PM
I can't argue Clockwork, as that's one film of his that I simply can't get into. It looks great and it has some wonderful performances, but it's too smug and self-satisfied for my tastes.

Armando Hernandez
08-21-2010, 02:50 PM
The Exorcist because I found it a bit more entertaining than The Shining.

John G.
08-21-2010, 03:58 PM
2001 would have been improved by dropping some of the long, slow effects scenes in favor of a bit more of the book's exposition being worked in somehow.
I disagree completely here... I think Clarke's book is rather mediocre, too straightforward and the writing is pedestrian. I appreciate the mystique of Kubrick's film, the long dialogue-free stretches. There's none of that in Clarke's too-literal book.

R_Strange
08-21-2010, 04:08 PM
One thing that can't be explained away is when the door to the locked storage room is opened for Jack. I guess one could say that Jack is a repressed telekinetic and opens the door himself with his mind, but there seems little basis for that in the film and is hardly a less fantastic explanation than a supernatural one.

For me, that's the point: The Shining is a film where the psychological and supernatural horrors are both equally real; Jack feeds off the hotel and vice versa.

Iíve never felt the need to discard one reading for the other.

Paul A J Lewis
08-21-2010, 05:26 PM
The fact that Kubrick leaves the story open to interpretation (it could all be explained away, or it might really be the supernatural) is one of its great strengths, I think.
Ditto. The ambiguities within THE SHINING are what bring me back to the film. As a materialist, I have to say that I'm not a huge fan of supernatural narratives, unless there's ambiguity (as per THE SHINING or Jack Clayton's THE INNOCENTS) or the supernatural is used as a symbolic motif.

In my opinion, it's just the opposite... Kubrick was a great adapter of novels, and one need only look to the thoroughly mediocre SHINING miniseries and the lackluster Jeremy Irons LOLITA to see just how excellent his adaptations were... different from the novels, for sure, but Kubrick is a filmmaker, not a novelist. I think THE SHINING is a better horror movie than King's work is a novel.
I'd add Kubrick's BARRY LYNDON as one of the best literary adaptations of the 1970s.

I'm not a big fan of Kubrick's A CLOCKWORK ORANGE though, which although it looks absolutely great (especially on the big screen) sacrifices moral points for aesthetic ones.

R_Strange
08-21-2010, 07:57 PM
At the risk of sounding like a Kubrick apologist, I've always found A Clockwork Orange's ponderous aesthetic immorality to be essential to the contradictive, paradoxical nature explored through Alex's freedom-turned-state-robot journey.

You almost get the impression that Alex (during the funny/scary 'Home' attack) speaks directly to the audience when he bids "Viddy well little brother. Viddy well." to Mr Alexander. The moral confusion is intended, IMO.