How “The Shining” Sparked my Love of Film


Alison Pfaff

Jack Torrance Funko Pop figure

Alison Pfaff, Head Photo Editor

One of my favorite movies of all time, Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining,” from 1980, was the spark that lit my love of movies. After watching it in my Film as Literature class in high school, I was glued to the classroom projector screen, literally on the edge of my seat. Based (very loosely) on Stephen King’s novel of the same name, Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall star in the classic movie.

When Jack Torrance, played by Nicholson, takes the job as the caretaker at the Overlook Hotel, his wife and son Danny are faced with the dark history of the hotel and a bad case of cabin fever.

Some of my favorite aspects of the film are its building suspense and tension throughout, where viewers know that there is something coming, but the only question is when. Jack Nicholson as Torrance is one of my favorite actor performances of all time.

The film is so complex that even after watching it a second time, there were things I noticed and missed such as the fact that the Overlook Hotel is built on a Native American burial ground, which is briefly mentioned in the beginning but is a big underlying theme throughout.  Some people, such as Blake Billmore from the Washington Post, who wrote an article called “Kubrick’s Shining Secret,” believes the film itself is about Native American genocide and how it is “overlooked.” There are even full documentaries of conspiracies surrounding the film and director Stanley Kubrick, specifically one called “Room 237.” While some of the claims made are a bit extreme, such as Kubrick directing the moon landing, it is still an entertaining look at theories surrounding the film and the abstract symbolism that, at a first watch, may not make a whole lot of sense.

While I had seen many movies in my lifetime, there was something about the suspense and eerie soundtrack that had me completely sucked in the to the story. “The Shining” is still a movie I could watch over and over.  

After many years of thinking I simply did not have the attention span to enjoy them, this was the first time  a story like this, with its length, truly gripped me. With the perfect mix of 80s movie cringe and genius cinematography, this isn’t just any Halloween movie. It is one that continues to be on the top of my list as one of the best movies of all time. “The Shining” changed my perspective as a movie viewer, and with all the deeper meaning and symbolism I mentioned earlier, made me more interested in film studies.

If you haven’t watched “The Shining” before, it is a must watch for not only the Halloween season but really any time of year. It is available on Netflix for instant streaming as well.