Why The Shining Creeps Us Out (Kubrick & Perspective) – The Film Tourist

Why The Shining Creeps Us Out (Kubrick & Perspective) – The Film Tourist


Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. Or, the world’s most persuasive argument
for taking the stairs. This movie scares the sh*t out of everyone. But why? It’s hard to say what exactly is wrong with
this place. Is it haunted? Is it all in their heads? Is it possessed by the devil? Tony? Something about an Indian burial ground? “You’re located on an Indian burial ground.” Whereas a lot of traditional horror gives
us an easy-to-understand reason to sh*t our pants, The Shining deliberately avoids an
easily describable premise – and this is part of what makes it so damn horrifying. “You like it?” It deprives us of logical explanation. Kubrick accomplishes this in a variety of
ways, but I’m here at the Overlook Hotel, to talk about one of the most surprisingly
simple: “perspective”. One of the most effective ways to create a
strong sense of perspective is through the way a shot is framed and sequenced. See, a shot can be objective, subjective,
or fall somewhere in between. Purely objective shots show us a scene “as
it is,” a God’s-eye point of view, as if we’re eavesdropping or watching a play. Subjective angles directly insert us into
the action, showing the view from, just beside, or behind a character. Purely subjective shots take us directly into
the eyes of a character, usually by showing their face first, followed by their visual
perspective or emotional experience. It can also invite us to question what we’re
seeing, like an unreliable narrator in literature. In this scene, we see a shot of Danny’s
face, and then a cut to the girls, then Danny’s face again. With this simple sequence of shots, we are
being shown the events through Danny’s mind. Let’s see how Kubrick takes this basic principle
of perspective to create an indescribable supernatural feeling. Consider the famous scene of Danny riding
his tricycle through the hotel’s winding corridors. “Alright, Danny, gimme some skin! …Alright.” Using a state of the art piece of equipment
for the time, Kubrick is able to achieve supernaturally smooth movements to follow Danny, showing
us the hotel from a child’s point of view. We follow Danny in a traditional subjective
shot that emphasizes his experience navigating a large maze-like hotel, but we don’t follow
him perfectly – watch how the camera lingers after he’s left frame… and then hurries
to catch up with him. One film scholar calls this “the wandering
camera,” because the camera ambles along like its own sentient being, or here, an imagined
monster stalking Danny through the halls. This creates the sense the hotel is alive
and watching Danny throughout his sh*tty vacation. When the twins show up, — “Come play with
us.” — we move more intimately into a subjective
sequence of Danny’s POV, flashing between his bloody visions. Danny covers his eyes, and looks again… And now they’re gone. So, perhaps the girls are just in his head? By starting with Danny’s point of view as
we follow him, but then shifting to to a possible camera-monster’s point of view, and then
back to Danny’s maybe unreliable own vision, the film undermines our ability to interpret
the events in front of us: whose point of view is this? Danny’s? The Hotel? Some Demon? Now let’s consider Jack. Is all of of this creepy stuff in his head,
too?. Did someone just spike the water with LSD
in this otherwise normal hotel?. Take this scene in the apparently empty Gold
Ballroom. In this scene, we go from a close-up of Jack,
as he seemingly addresses an invisible being — “Hi, Lloyd.” — to the reveal shot of Lloyd. This subjective sequencing of shots could
suggest that Jack is hallucinating. And just when we’re sure that this is all
a subjective delusion, Kubrick moves the camera backward over his shoulder, taking the shot
from his direct point of view to a more objective one. From there, Kubrick gives the scene an objective
reality by showing both characters in a shot together. Lloyd’s the real deal… we think. Until Wendy shows up, and the ballroom’s
suddenly empty, and we’re left totally confused and creeped out. “Are you out of your f**king mind?” So, what’s going on? We don’t know, and the camera work makes
sure we’ll never find out. Now, at times, Jack’s point of view even
seems to merge with that of the imagined predator that was following Danny. In this shot, Jack’s view looking down on
the model hedge maze blends into a aerial view of his family wandering through the actual
hedges. This effect happens again as he chases Danny
in the final scene. See how the same kind of shot that used to
be stalking Danny through the halls has now mingled with Jack’s point of view, further
confounding the various supernatural elements of the film. When not using point of view to screw with
reality, Kubrick also uses our perception of physical space to creep us out. How do you make a huge, otherwise normal hotel
and present it as a claustrophobic nightmare? Kubrick is famous for what is called one-point
perspective, which adds to the cramped feel. With “one point perspective”, near-perfect
symmetry draws the audience’s eye to one vanishing point at the center of the frame, giving the
sensation that we’re being drawn into the shot, which is further enhanced by the tracking
shot inward. It feels uneasy, like the walls are collapsing
inwards. That’s why, even though the Overlook Hotel
seems like a spacious setting, we feel increasingly cramped as the movie goes on, almost like:
“A kind of claustrophobic reaction, which can occur when people are shut in together
over long periods of time.” By juxtaposing large spaces with much smaller
ones, Kubrick is able to get the viewer to really feel claustrophobic. This starts with the opening shot of the mountain,
which cuts to the shot of the family, clown-car style. Then we move from the large sweeping hotel
lobby to the Torrences’ small hotel quarters. While the hotel may be large, the Torrences
are trapped in increasingly smaller spaces within it. “Well, it’s very… uh… homey!” Eventually, Jack ends up locked in a fridge,
Danny escapes through a tiny window, and nobody has any elbow room. Through these tricks in perspective, Stanley
Kubrick is able to add a layer of creepiness that evades simple description – and that’s
why The Shining is so great, and why film nerds will continue to talk about it for years
to come. There is so much more to talk about in The
Shining, so if you liked this video, let us know if you want
us to do another. And as always, thanks for watching. Peace.

100 thoughts on “Why The Shining Creeps Us Out (Kubrick & Perspective) – The Film Tourist

  1. Hey Jared from wisecrack. I would really like to know your research process in your videos. It's really good and I would love to research the way you do!!!

  2. Please do Bojack season five! Episodes six and eleven truly blew my mind, and all of the others were incredible as well. So many different themes through out this season can be explored!

  3. Hey Wisecrack, please do an analysis on the contrast between Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors and Captain Planet. These two iconic 80s cartoons approached the issue of man’s place in nature vastly differently. Captain Planet fought the forces of a mechanized world to protect humanity however, Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors subvert this trope by having humanity instead uses machines to fight nature and evolution! It is brilliant!

  4. Steven King didn't all much care for how Stanley Kubrick's take on the story, and how it was filmed. I've seen the original, and the remake. I'm sorry to Steven King, but the remake was horrible, Kubrick got it right. That's why most writers make terrible directors.

  5. Plus there’s the sensation of cold and distance. And I don’t mean the winter setting. I mean how unaffectionate and distant everyone seems to be. And as humans that unnerves is when we see people who look human but act so inhuman.

  6. You should do an analysis on Kubrick's use of spatial awareness. The film is littered with impossible architecture and other physical anomalies. In the beginning we follow the characters from the lobby and into the office in which there is a window that shouldn't exist because the layout shows the office to be in the center of the hotel; the television is on yet there isn't a power cable; and on and on. Kubrick's attention to detail wouldn't allow for continuity errors like this.

  7. Very much enjoyed this video and loved the explanation on Kubrick's use of the One-Point Perspective to achieve a sense of claustrophobia.

    The appearance of hosting this video from within the Overlook was a nice touch, but a bit disappointing that Danny wouldn't return the nice gesture. Really! What is it with these actors? Just because they end up in a great film like The Shining, they act like they're too good to acknowledge our presence. 😉

  8. This is great stuff! Makes me a little jealous (more envious) I am not involved in such a project, however the expertise you share eases my pain! Keep them coming!

  9. Are you actually lip syncing in some of those scenes? I feel like you recorded the voice-over in a studio and then recorded the scenes of you talking to the camera and mixed them together. Very impressive.

  10. Amazing video love your omnipresent voice, but forcing you into a scene and doing lip sync, made my experience not as great as other videos.

  11. This movie was amazing on psylocibin mushrooms. I recommend it with the caveat that you have to already enjoy the movie from a non-horror standpoint. I should also disclose that everytime I've done mushrooms my trips make me see terrible things like; my skin melting off, myself in the mirror fast aging into a skeleton, people's faces distorting, etc.. it's not scary to me because I'm always acutely aware I'm on a drug and that I'm fine and I actually enjoy seeing such fantastic things, but this may have made me more tolerant of horrific hallucinations than another person, in which case the shining might take you on a bad journey. I thought it was awesome though.

  12. Very good and concise. One thing I noticed when I re-watched the film last night is how we clearly see the family in the VW Beetle – yet the pile of their luggage and belongings in the lobby (which Jack points out to the hotel manager) would simply never fit into the small car – especially with 3 people in it.

  13. Call me a conspiracy theorist but I'd like to see a video about the themes in The Shining, particularly the one that views The Shining as Kubrick's confession to "faking" the moon landing.

    If not I'll just go put my tin foil hat on now.

  14. Is there anyone else out there who has never understood why The Shining is considered scary? Confusion doesn't lead to a feeling of creepiness it just distances the viewer from the story.

  15. The Shining never did creep me out. Its horror devices were far too obvious for that. (A tidal wave of blood washing down a corridor – brrrrr I am terrified- not). Kubrik was a great. But sadly it seems he was not a great maker of horror flicks – he simply did not seem have what it takes I am afraid. And really neither did the script or actors – Jack Nicholson hamming it up as a madman………. sorry Jack this one is not one of your better efforts either. Either Kubrik did not understand the genre or perhaps he never really intended the film to be an actual horror film and just thought it to be an interesting concept. As for me, I found having to sit through the entire thing like having teeth pulled, when pretty well every other Kubrik film I at least enjoyed at some level. And many I loved. But The Shining I sat through one and a bit times. Once because I had paid to watch it and so watched though I did not enjoy it. And then I tried once more but failed, thinking I must be getting this wrong, , Kubrik made this movie so it must be great just as many people said, so perhaps I had missed something. I hadn't.

    To be fair to Kubrik this genre is notoriously difficult to pull off well and the vast majority of so called "horror' movies are indeed horror movies but only in the sense that they are – well, horrible. And that is the only sense in which they even remotely succeed in meriting that description. This is particularly true of mainstream horror movies which (especially in these more modern times) rely far far too much on gory special effects rather than on the traditional mechanism of horror – slowing building a sense of suspense, dread and fear. Or they are far too derivative – its hard to do something spine chilling when you pinched your film idea from an independently made film that was done cheaper and better or are formulaically releasing the 3rd sequel in a series and everyone knows exactly what's coming having seen it all before. So at least Kubrik was spared that fate. Also, to be even more fair I am not sure that this concept was Steven King's best idea either. So perhaps Stanley K was behind the 8 ball from the beginning.

  16. I really liked your video.. you took an extra step by superimposing yourself, seemlessly sitting on a toilet in a key scene is very impressive. and in other scenes. as well. To me, some things should be left alone, it was unsettling to me your flawless execution of inserting yourself into actual scenes from the movie. my hat's off to you for your analysis and savvy use of green screen.. it goes to the question – just because we can, does it mean we should? movies are visual and if you cut yourself into an iconic scene it feels like a cheap toying with a great work that happens to be a classic of film and also technology of the timel. I did enjoy your video & use of tech, but those cuts of yourself seeming to be in the actual film, although very impressive mind you, didn't feel quite right. maybe fitting though for the film you broke down like I said, it was impressive.

  17. am i the only one who uhm. doesnt like this movie. imo its extremely boring and not scary. maybe it’s my bimbo brain but i find goosebumps episodes scarier

  18. I like this series. I appreciate the time and care taken to create it. But I makes the viewer more engaged in the production. This is a Watch Video, rather than a listen one for the content.

    My favorite part was the “high five Danny” as he rolls on by,

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