Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining turns forty this year! And what a year it’s been.
To be clear, that wasn’t an awkward attempt to shoehorn a sense of relevance into this anniversary. Between sheltering in place and the rest of the world going off-kilter in a way that’s familiar but not quite recognizable, the Torrance family’s stay at the remote Overlook Hotel might feel…oddly resonant. While we can’t all relate to creepy twins appearing in our homes and asking us to play (hopefully), it’s fairly safe to say that loneliness and claustrophobia set in quickly. That isn’t even to mention the ever-present, low-level fear of danger closing in from all sides. In as short a time as a few weeks, our homes became confining, and worries seemed to spring up everywhere, unbidden. If you’re the kind of person whose viewing choices tend to veer toward relevant themes, The Shining might have been somewhere on your list.
Jack Torrance ultimately succumbs to the malice of isolation in the Overlook and the way it fed into his already violent treatment of his family. But while Jack meets a macabre end, it’s Wendy and Danny, vulnerable and alone as they are, who manage to get away. Despite being cornered both by supernatural forces they don’t understand and the mounting, long-standing abuse at Jack’s hands, Wendy and Danny are able to escape. In this sense, The Shining highlights two paths out of trauma: giving in or facing it and freeing oneself.