The Shining (1997)
Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Mick Garris (Dir.),Stephen King (Writer),Steven Weber(Actor)
Listing-Cast & Crew
Additional Footage-11 scenes, with optional commentary
|Year Of Production||1997|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4,5||Directed By||Mick Garris|
Warner Home Video
Rebecca De Mornay
Melvin Van Peebles
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
This is certainly not Kubrick’s The Shining, but it definitely is Stephen King’s The Shining.
First off, I am not going to be engaging in a discussion here regarding which is the better movie of the two versions, because in all honesty, both are good movies, and both have their faults. If you want to split hairs or count angels dancing on pinheads, you would do wise to first remember that these are two different films made by two completely different kinds of film makers. One is not a remake of the other. Further, they were made for different formats – Kubrick for the big screen, and this version here for TV.
Secondly, for those of you who are not Stephen King fans, I have got to say that this might not be for you. I used to read King’s stuff when I was a little kid and I still occasionally pick up a book here or there when I’m feeling nostalgic. The Shining was one of my favourite books, and still remains one of my favourite by this particular author. The reason why The Shining works so well in the novel format is that so much more is hinted at than is brought out explicitly. It was like a David Lynch horror movie, working on numerous psychological levels. So, I have a bit of a bias going in here, and that should be kept in mind.
So what’s The Shining all about exactly? On the surface, one might say that The Shining is all about a haunted hotel. But that is probably its most simplistic interpretation. What the novel, and also this 3-part TV adaptation, are all about comes down to human nature – an abused son growing up to be a shadow of his father, an alcoholic harbouring a mean and violent streak which he cannot control, sometimes unleashing that side on his family. This man is Jack Torrance (played here by Steven Weber), a recovering alcoholic on his last chance after falling off the wagon a few too many times. He sees the opportunity to be winter caretaker at the grand Overlook Hotel in Denver, which gets snowed in for four months a year, as a chance to dry out once and for all and set up a life for his family which is better than their current ‘just-scraping-by’ existence.
Although Jack can be abusive and occasionally violent, he is still an essentially good man. He loves his family – his wife Wendy (Rebecca De Mornay) and his son Danny (Courtland Mead) – and wants the best for them. For their part, Wendy is a resourceful woman, but also in some ways a weak one. She stays with Jack even though she knows he has a temper and struggles with alcoholism, feeling trapped between a possessive mother and a husband she loves but cannot trust. And Danny, he is something special. Although his parents are only vaguely aware of it, he has the second-sight, a combination of telepathy and precognition. However, as a small child, he does not fully understand what he sees.
Once at the Overlook Hotel, Jack and Danny start experiencing weird occurrences. Jack passes these off as symptoms of drying out, but is also scared he is losing his mind. Danny, who has been told by the Summer chef – Dick Halloran (Melvin Van Peebles) – that he may from time to time see weird things that are not real at the hotel, passes off what he sees as being like pictures in a book, even though his imaginary friend Tony (Wil Horneff) warns him of danger. Wendy is caught in between these two, largely immune to the visual hallucinations, but also vaguely aware that something is not right at the Overlook and some presence there wants to harm them all, particularly her child. And all this time the boiler in the basement of the Overlook – a metaphor for both the frustration of cabin fever, the tension in the Torrance’s marriage, and Jack’s repressed rage – simmers and boils to an explosive climax.
What was great about the book was that although on one level these manifestations could be called ghosts, you were never quite sure whether Jack was making up a lot of this in his head as a result of going cold turkey, while Danny was suffering from a case of a child’s overactive imagination coupled with trauma having seen his parents fight – a child’s second sight. Part 1 of the TV series works best from the chills factor because it too is very much like this, with a whole lot of suggestive rather than explicit manifestations. The manifestations become more explicit as the series goes on, particularly with the lady in the bath in Part 2.
On the whole, I have to say this was a pretty good watch with a couple of genuinely creepy moments. I already went into it with mediocre expectations which you should do with anything made for TV, and was pleasantly surprised that for much of it the series was able to capture the essence of the book. Sure, it had its low moments: the boom mike very obviously in shot for three seconds at 49:20 during the first episode; the CGI topiary lions, which were just a bad idea full stop and came off as more laughable than scary; the overly schmaltzy final moments which were totally unnecessary and a b******isation of King’s novel and the brilliant if bloody “masks off” idea (interestingly enough, the adaptation was written by King himself, who should have known better); Melvin Van Peeble’s acting, which was just plain bad, especially when measured against the rest of the cast, who were actually very good by any standard, not merely TV. But overall, it was quite effective and I will be revisiting this one on cold winter nights at home alone.
Presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, this is a modification of the original broadcast aspect ratio of 1.33:1. Although there are perhaps a few slightly sliced heads as a result of this modification, by and large it works pretty well, and it was approved by the director, so I guess that’s good enough.
The quality of the picture is fairly good throughout, and the only real problems come with the film-to-video transfer process, which I will deal with below. Overall, the picture was sharp and clear except for a couple of mildly out-of-focus shots during Part 3 at 7:02 - 7:11 and again at 11:46 - 11:49.
Colours are well saturated and not muddied, and shadow detail was quite good, which is important given how much of this takes place at night or in darkened rooms and shadowy hallways. The picture is a little grainy, but not overly so – perhaps on par with the Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season 4 transfer.
There are no real MPEG artefacts like macro-blocking, but there is some persistent albeit very faint low-level noise throughout. There are quite a few film-to-video transfer artefacts, though. During Part 1, there was aliasing at 23:34 and 76:38, moire on the side of the Overlook at 33:08 - 33:24 and on the grille at 38:46 - 38:50, and dot-crawl during the credits. During Part 2, there was aliasing on stacked plates at 62:20, dot-crawl on Jack’s striped shirt at 8:16 - 8:18, and moire again on the side of the Overlook at 14:14 - 14:24. During Part 3 there was some obvious moire on the grille on the back of a bus at 11:08 - 11:12.
In addition to these artefacts, there are also a number of obvious film artefacts aside from the odd dot of dirt. During Part 1 there was a collection of white dots in the middle of the screen at 26:33, a slight wobble in the picture at 30:33, an a line down the middle of the screen at 49:28. During Part 2, there was a blotch in the middle of the screen at 5:14. Part 3 was relatively clear of film artefacts.
There are ten sets of subtitles: English, English for the Hearing Impaired, Italian, Italian for the Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish, German, Dutch, Arabic and Romanian. They are white with a grey border, and are clear and easy to read at all times. The English subtitles seemed to convey the story fairly well.
The 2 Disc set is composed of one dual-sided single-layered disc containing Parts 1 & 2, and one single-sided single-layered disc containing Part 3 and the special features. Consequently, there are no dual layer pauses.
There are three soundtracks available – English, French and Italian – all in 2.0 Dolby Surround. On the whole this is pretty good, particularly for a made-for-TV production. Of course, it is no Band Of Brothers in terms of its sound technology, but it had maybe a quarter of the budget, so again come with mediocre expectations and you will not be let down.
The dialogue was clear and easy to understand throughout. I had no problems there.
The score, a very effective piece of work by Nicholas Pike, has a dynamic range and adds to the creepy spine-tingling atmosphere quite well. It utilises the bass range well enough to get the hairs on the back of my neck standing up, so it has to be above average.
There are a few good directional cues and the rears were used to flesh out the score and also during outdoor scenes when the wind is howling and the snow is falling. I would not call this a full surround presence in the way that the aforementioned Band Of Brothers puts out, but it is quite a good soundfield nevertheless.
Sadly, there is no subwoofer use.
|Surround Channel Use|
All menus are presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, and are static. The main menu has a 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo soundtrack as an underscore.
Presented in 2.0 Dolby Stereo, these guys seem to take it in turns to talk, never really talking over each other. But they talk for the full four and a half hours, all through the credits as well, and there is rarely an extended patch of silence. A lot of interesting information is conveyed during this track, including insights into the making of the film, and also the book from which it was adapted.
Presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Stereo, there are 11 deleted scenes here, mostly from Part 2, but also a couple from Part 3. As director Mick Garris explains during the audio commentary, most of these were cut for timing considerations, although I could have suggested a few scenes which the director would have done been better to remove instead (starting with the awful CGI topiary lions) as most of these were pretty good.
A single still frame listing the principal cast and crew.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The R1 version of this disc would appear to be identical, aside from the NTSC transfer.
The Shining is a very well produced TV mini-series based on Stephen King’s classic novel. Do not expect the Kubrick version here, or anything much like it. Definitely one more for King fans than others, but it still works well overall.
The video is quite good, especially given this was produced for TV. It has its faults, but over 4 and a half hours worth of film, they are nothing major.
Sound is a good mix with an excellent range, although not real surround sound as you would conceive of in the 5.1 Dolby Digital sense.
The extras were very good, particularly the audio commentary.
|DVD||Panasonic DVD-RV31A-S, using S-Video output|
|Display||Beko 28" (16x9). This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver.|
|Speakers||Energy - Front, Rear, Centre & Subwoofer|