|Category||Horror||Theatrical Trailer(s)||Yes, 1 - 1.33:1, non-16x9, Dolby Digital 1.0|
|Year Released||1980||Commentary Tracks||None|
|Running Time||114:45 minutes||Other Extras||Documentary - The Making of "The Shining" (33 mins)
Main Menu Music
Warner Home Video
|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||
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
For those who haven't read the book yet (where the hell have you been?), the plot goes something like this. Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) is hired by the management of the Overlook Hotel, a hotel in an isolated part of the Colorado Rockies. Winters tend to be very cruel to this establishment, so a lot of general maintenance is needed, which Jack is expected to perform while everyone else goes to have a holiday. What the film doesn't mention is the fact that Jack Torrance is a recovering alcoholic with a history of violence, and that he is only hired by the Overlook's management on the express wishes of a friend who sits on the board of directors. This point is very central to the novel and the film suffers very badly for an absence of it. The film also fails to mention that Jack Torrance and his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) have known for quite some time that their son Danny (Danny Lloyd) has something special about him which cannot quite be explained away by mental defects or overactive imagination. During the time in which the Torrance family is shown around the hotel, Danny learns that he has a special power called "the shine" from the hotel's cook, Dick Hallorann (Scatman Crothers). While the nature of "the shine" is somewhat explained during this sequence, it is nowhere near as comprehensive in doing this as the novel - a major reason why a lot of later sequences fail to make complete sense.
Modern horror films (as opposed to slasher films, there is a difference) have the distinct advantage of a carefully thought-out script, likeable protagonists, and coherent execution. The Shining has none of these things. Shelley Duvall's performance as Wendy Torrance is consistently annoying and made me root for Jack all the way through the second half. Danny Lloyd's performance ranges from pleasant (during his conversations with Dick, mainly) to irritating (particularly in the "redrum" sequence). The only saving grace here is Jack Nicholson's performance. He plays mentally unstable characters so well that, twenty years later, he is getting commendations from organizations that have nothing to do with the film industry for it. It makes me wish he'd just chopped up the rest of the cast and left it at that. Why Stanley Kubrick chose to kill off Scatman Crothers, the only other decent performer who has more than ten minutes of screen time in the show, is a mystery to me.
Generally, the transfer is soft, like most films from the late seventies and early eighties (it was the in thing in those days to make the picture somewhat murky, and it serves well in terms of showing a film's age). At times it is also rather softly focused. Again, given that this film was made in what I like to call the "soft picture era", I believe this to be a problem with the film itself rather than the actual transfer. Similarly definition is quite average, with shadow detail quite poor, and the overall presentation is nothing more than average. The film is riddled with film artefacts, with hairs and smudges on the negative showing up every few minutes, or every few frames during the first few minutes. This settles down to an acceptable level once the action gets going, so I wouldn't sweat it. Unless you're anything like me, and want to compare it with other films of such vintage such as Mad Max 2 and Caddyshack, in which case, it stinks.
This disc uses the RSDL format, with the layer change coming rather early at 36:44. In a rare stroke of common sense for Warner Brothers, they placed it in a title shot, so you really won't notice a thing unless you are fussy like me.
The disc gives us a choice of three languages: English, French, and Italian. Again, they are all in mono, and thus I can presume they all suffer the same sound mix problems. Subtitles are offered in English, French, Italian, Arabic, Spanish, German, Dutch, Portuguese, English for the Hearing Impaired, and Italian for the Hearing Impaired. The nicest thing that can be said for the subtitles is that they mostly coincide with the audio. To be fair to the people who made this film, however, the actual dialogue (as opposed to the screaming and whining) is clear and perfectly easy to understand throughout the film, with no audio sync problems present. The score, while somewhat irritating in parts, contributes well to the film's horrific atmosphere. Overall, the sound aspect is not too bad, but it's definitely nothing to rave about, either.
The Region 1 version does not suffer any censorship problems at all, as is the case with all Kubrick titles. It therefore wins hands down, and you can get all of Kubrick's films with the exception of Eyes Wide Shut from Region 1 in a boxed set, anyway.
The video quality is distinctly ordinary, even for a film of this age. It is even more substandard when compared to films of a similar age from the same studio, and thus it stands as my first nomination for the dreaded Hall Of Shame.
The audio quality is disappointing and I suspect it to be less than what I'd get from the VCR version. During the last third of the movie, Jack Nicholson and Scatman Crothers have the privilege of being the only actors allowed to make sense.
The extras are the best thing about this disc. Given that they are pretty ordinary, too, I guess that isn't saying much.
|DVD||Grundig GDV 100 D|
|Speakers||Panasonic S-J1500D front speakers, Sharp CP-303A back speakers, Sony SS-CN120 centre speaker, Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer|