The Shining

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Details At A Glance

Category Horror Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 1.33:1, non-16x9, Dolby Digital 1.0
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1980 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 114:45 minutes Other Extras Documentary - The Making of "The Shining" (33 mins)
Main Menu Music
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (36:44)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 2,4 Director Stanley Kubrick

Warner Home Video
Starring Jack Nicholson
Shelley Duvall
Scatman Crothers
Danny Lloyd
RRP $29.95 Music Wendy Carlos
Rachel Elkind

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None Dolby Digital 1.0
16x9 Enhancement No Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 1.0, 192 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 1.0, 192 Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 1.0, 192 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio ?1.66:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking Yes
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    The Shining is generally considered the best horror film of the modern era and has achieved almost legendary status, especially with director Stanley Kubrick at the helm.

    Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) has successfully applied for the position of winter caretaker at the Overlook Hotel in the Colorado Rockies, a position that basically lasts five, long months. Being a winter caretaker is a very lonely job and the isolation can have some profound effects upon people - as one such caretaker found out, resulting in his butchering his wife and two daughters, before killing himself, in the infamous Room 237. Undeterred, Jack brings along his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and young son Danny (Danny Lloyd) to accompany him during the winter vigil, during which he hopes to write a book. Whilst things start out fine, the long, lonely weeks start taking their toll - especially as young Danny has the gift of "the shining" as described by the hotel chef Dick Hallorann (Scatman Crothers). This gift is something of a psychic connection with events in the past, and young Danny starts seeing some weird things in the empty corridors of the hotel. Obviously things go from bad to worse for everyone concerned, building to the climax during which the nature of Jack's existence is brought into question.

    Modern horror films seem to revolve around as much blood and guts as is possible to squeeze into a film. This is the perfect answer as to why they often fail. Whilst there is blood and guts in this film, especially with the demise of Dick Hallorann, the horror in this film comes from great acting and a great story with a slowly building climax. A film made for the talents of Jack Nicholson, his performance is utterly superb and it is inconceivable that any else could have played this role as well as he did. A pity that the choice of his wife was not a little better as Shelley Duvall is nowhere near as convincing as the frightened wife - as Stanley Kubrick seemed to think too, based upon the contents of Vivian Kubrick's documentary. Overall though this is a well crafted film from Stanley Kubrick and probably deserves its reputation on Jack Nicholson's performance alone.

Transfer Quality


    Well after two films out of the Stanley Kubrick Collection, it has to be said that the video transfers leave something to be desired.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, but is not 16x9 enhanced. The packaging incorrectly states this to be a 1.85:1 widescreen presentation.

    Overall, the general transfer is not very sharp and at times is extremely soft focused. Whether this is a transfer problem or inherent in the film is unknown, but it does take some getting used to the inconsistency. Similarly definition is quite average, with shadow detail quite poor, and the overall presentation is nothing more than average. The transfer also has quite a brightness to it at times, which sometimes is a little distracting.

    The colours are quite muted and this is not a vibrant transfer at all - apart from perhaps the very gross orange carpet in the hotel (very 1970's). This is definitely an indication of the age of the film, but despite the lack of vibrancy, there is a naturalness to the colours that is quite convincing. There were no problems with oversaturation of colours.

    There did not appear to be any significant MPEG or video artefacts during the film. Film artefacts however were very prevalent and were very distracting at times.

    This is a RSDL format disc, with the layer change coming quite early at 36:44. Whilst the change is noticeable, it is very well placed at one of the title frames and is not at all disruptive to the film.


    Well this is definitely not a demonstration disc as far as audio is concerned.

    There are three soundtracks on the DVD, all of which are Dolby Digital 1.0 soundtracks: English (the default), French and Italian. I listened to the English default.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand throughout.

    Audio sync is not a problem with the transfer.

    The score comprises original compositions from Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind together with some twentieth century classical compositions from composers such as Bartok, Penderecki and Ligeti. The overall effect is quite superb, and contributes enormously to the strength of the film.

    The soundtrack is very much front and centre and it really is most disappointing that a remastered 5.1 soundtrack has not been provided (probably one of the restrictions from the Kubrick estate). You will not need to worry about surround channels or bass channels at all during this film. What we have is not too bad, but what is not available is what upsets.


    A small but appealing collection of extras from Warners on this one.


Theatrical Trailer

    The quality is not the best, and it is a theatrical trailer and not a teaser trailer as stated on the packaging.

Documentary - The Making of "The Shining"

    Actually quite an engaging look behind the scenes, highlighted by some very interesting insights as to how Stanley Kubrick made a film - including giving a serve to one of the leads! Well worth a watch, if only to gain an insight into how Jack Nicholson works. Subtitle options are available in English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, English for the Hearing Impaired and Italian for the Hearing Impaired. Be warned though, MPEG artefacts appear to be quite prevalent during the latter part of the documentary.

R4 vs R1

   The Region 4 disc appears to miss out on:    Since the Region 1 version does not suffer any censorship problems apparently, Region 1 is definitely the way to go.


    The Shining is fully deserving of its status as one of the great horror films, and the DVD deserves a place in your collection even given the rather average video and audio transfer, and the censorship bastardisation.. Hopefully Warners will decide to really do a restoration job on this film for a 20th Anniversary reissue??

    The overall video quality is very average.

    The overall audio quality is okay for what it is.

    The extras are quite good in content if somewhat limited in extent.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris
29th September 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL