From the Page to the Screen – The Shining

The Shining Book Review

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From the Page to the Screen – The Shining

The Shining is a 1977 horror book which remains one of Stephen King’s finest and most elaborate works. It is truly a fantastic read. But the film is just as great and it will be difficult comparing the two as they are both simply brilliant. This is honestly the finest example of book-to-film adaptations.

 

THE FILM ADAPTATION

The film was directed by Stanley Kubrick and released in 1980 to decidedly mixed reviews but as with all truly great films, it got reevaluated with time and is now regarded as one of the best works in the horror genre and from the director’s filmography. I agree with both as the film never disappointed me and actually surprised me tremendously how brilliant it is.

 

PLOT

These two are so great as they accompany each other perfectly. What one does wrong, the other does right. I loved the use of topiary animals in the book as well as the telepathic powers, but the movie features much better and more believable action in my opinion. The ending in the book is incredibly touching and inspirational whereas the one in the film is very mysterious and otherworldly.

WINNER – TIE

 

CHARACTERIZATION

Some of the acting is questionable in the film, but still the characters are mostly superbly adapted for the big screen. Dick Hallorann unfortunately got shortchanged, but the protagonist is more menacing and memorable in the film than in the book. Jack Nicholson is so well cast here.

WINNER – TIE

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The Shining Movie Review

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EMOTION

In terms of atmosphere and horror elements, the film is amazing and so well crafted. In that manner, it is even better than the novel. It is such an effective, classical horror film. But the book features a much more emotional approach with some touching dialogue and a truly heartwarming ending.

WINNER – TIE

 

THEMES

Desperate family, violence, communication and isolation are some of the themes well utilized in one of King’s smartest stories. The film is not shallow, far from that. But it is just never as sophisticated as the novel.

WINNER – BOOK

 

TECHNICAL ASPECTS

Stephen King’s writing here is some of his best. His descriptive passages are truly terrific here as is his dialogue. But he wrote action here quite poorly. The film, on the other hand, is brilliant across the board – the atmosphere is menacing, the cinematography is simply outstanding and the score is creepy and perfect. But the direction from Kubrick is absolutely spectacular and the reason why the film works so well. He truly remains one of history’s best directors.

WINNER – FILM

 

BOOK 4: FILM 4

In the end, the book and the film are tied. And that was to be expected given the caliber of King’s writing here as well as the power of Kubrick’s direction. Again this is a textbook example of how to properly adapt a book – you remain true to the spirit of it, but change some things and change them for the better to remain original in your own way. I am disappointed sometimes with the novel but mostly with the film versions and this is the only time that I was so happy with both of them. They just complement each other immaculately.

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