Friday, November 8, 2013
The Shining: Book vs Movie
Let's start with King's work since it is the original. The Shining details the Torrance family - Jack, Wendy, and Danny. Jack is a man with aspirations and responsibilities, but also a man that struggles with an addiction to the bottle. Danny is a young, innocent child that was given a special gift of the "shining" - he KNOWS things and SEES things. To uphold his responsibilities, Jack takes his little family to the secluded Overlook Hotel in the mountains of Colorado for the winter. He wants a fresh start and he believes this is the answer. Needless to say, it is not.
King builds an elaborate world, developing his characters deeply. The first time I read the book, I did not catch the foreshadowing, the depth of his characters, the complexity of the situation. However, in my recent re-read for the #shinealong, I fell into this well-constructed world of the Torrance family. I could relate to the fight for a marriage and the hardships of a mother. In the end, there was a creepiness as well as an appreciation for this piece of work.
In the movie, I found many issues that made it frustrating for me. Wendy was weak. In the book, she had a history that explained behavior that may be construed as weak, but she was far from it. She was a fighter, a woman who fought for her family and for her son. Danny's "shining" was awkward in the movie. Tony lived inside him and spoke from his own mouth, indicated by a movement of his hand. In the book, this relationship with an imaginary friend was portrayed in a more developmentally friendly form, like any other child who would interact with a friend invisible to adults. And, Jack - well, I didn't like him in either case - but, he was easier to attempt to sympathize with in the written version.
Beyond the characters themselves, I did not like the ending in general in the movie edition. Without spoiling the ending, I will only say that the book was simply creepier and there was more closure to the story. (I do know a miniseries was made that followed the book closer than the movie. It has been a long time since I viewed this version, but if my memory serves me well, I preferred the miniseries. The acting was hard to compare to Jack Nicholson, but the story was more accurate and the characters more fitting to their roles.)
The Verdict: Read the book. Forget the movie.
Have you read the book and watched the movie of The Shining? Which did you prefer?