Saturday, 26 March 2011

The Shining - Film review

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A psychological thriller set in a hotel in America. A man is left in charge of an empty hotel over the winter months with just his wife and son for company. When he took over the hotel, he was told a story about a man who had previously looked after the hotel and had gone mad and killed his family. This almost creates a level of expectation, and leaves the viewer on edge waiting for the inevitable outcome. This adds to the psychological thriller element of the film.

There is a psycho-analytical element to the film too. The id, ego and superego are represented by the son, mother and father. The id (the son) is the childlike desires. The ego (the mother) is the mediator between the id and the superego: it tries to please the id without compromising the superego. The superego (the father) is the ‘law enforcer’, the controller of morals. This is first seen when they are driving to the hotel and the son says he is hungry, the father tells him he should have eaten before they left and then the mother compromises by saying he can eat when they arrive. The theme is continued through the film, when the boy wants to leave the hotel and the father will not because of his responsibility to look after it. The mother only gives in to the son’s wish to leave when she believes there is a danger. There is also a sense of conflict between the father and son for the mother’s attention, in a similar way to Freud’s Oedipus complex.

A combination of the isolation felt in the hotel, not being able to escape from his family or the situation, and the conflict from the Freud-like relationships drives the father to the point of insanity and he tries to kill his family to prevent them from leaving the hotel.

The setting of the hotel itself creates a huge feeling of isolation. It is full of empty bedrooms, long corridors and huge unused halls, and when it begins to snow and there is no ‘escape’ this isolation is really emphasised.

Throughout the film the suspense builds. The viewer knows that his insanity is inevitable, however the way in which it progresses holds their attention. His hallucinations provide an insight, if a slightly confusing one, to the level of his insanity, and the son’s gory visions add to the fear felt by the viewer.

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