In The Shining, Stanley Kubrick tells the tale of a family teetering on the edge of sanity at the hands of a possessed hotel. Kubrick does a great job keeping the viewer on the edge of their seat with a haunting soundtrack that is especially effective. Kubrick also does a great job of using colors symbolically to express a character’s emotions or to foreshadow the coming moments. The overall effect is one which keeps you guessing what is going to pop out around the next corner (especially when riding a tricycle around a haunted hotel! Sound alone would be enough to express the suspense and emotion of the film. From the first seen driving up the mountains the buzzing sound motif starts. That buzzing is repeated in a few scenes and hits a frightening pitch when doc tells Danny about the hotel shining. The other motif is definitely more musical and the intensity and sound of it is constantly changing throughout the film. It’s particularly effective how Kubrick can lull you by controlling the tempo and then really startle and scare you with what happens (or doesn’t happen) next.
There are not many visual effects in the movie, as Kubrick is more than capable of horrifying you without them. From the beginning of the movie you become aware of Jack’s past abuse of Danny and the car scene reemphasized his tough attitude when telling Danny about the donner party. I thought that helped to keep the viewer somewhat unsure of Jack’s madness being caused totally by the hotel at first. It becomes obvious before long that Jack is under the hotels spell and he is quite intent on staying there.
He becomes more and more animalistic as the film goes on and it seems that like an animal he will fight to defend his territory. I thought the scene where Jack sees the dress up bear going down on the waiter having a strong relationship to his personality he has taken on. This scene shows nothing about his response to seeing such a crazy thing while he is chasing his family. He has accepted himself as this animal like person fighting for the hotel in a subservient fashion.
He knows he is willing to go to any length to protect the hotel and we view him in that manner. One other part of the film that also was effective was the way Kubrick uses color to also capture the feeling of the scene or to foreshadow some impending idea. There are so many levels this takes place on, some more apparent than others. I thought it was really interesting how he used reds and blues especially. The scene that doc is at home and calling the operator shows him with a red phone. There is a sense f impending doom for him. When he gets to the hotel and walks past the red couch with that motif blasting, the suspense is overwhelming and then the next thing you know he has a big axe in his chest! At that point you are so wrapped up in the movie and not having any idea how they could possibly survive. That’s just one of those moments in the movie where it shows what an amazing job Kubrick did and how great it is to watch a movie that really makes you forget about anything else for that moment.