AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Shining
Director: Stanley Kubrick (Dir)
Release Date:   1980
Duration (in mins):  143
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Cast: Jack Nicholson  (Jack Torrance)
  Shelley Duvall  (Wendy Torrance)
  Danny Lloyd  (Danny)

Summary: In the Colorado mountains, teacher and writer Jack Torrance interviews for the position of off-season caretaker at the Overlook Hotel. Because the area becomes snowbound in winter, only the caretaker and his family remain onsite from December to May. The hotel’s manager, Stuart Ullman, cautions Jack that in 1970, a caretaker, Grady, became overwhelmed by “cabin fever” and killed his wife and two young daughters with an ax, then shot himself. Jack assures Ullman that five months of peace is what he is seeking in order to begin a writing project he has planned. Meanwhile, in Boulder, Jack’s wife Wendy and their son Danny discuss the possibility of moving. Danny says that his imaginary friend, “Tony,” is against the move. While Danny brushes his teeth, “Tony” tells him that Jack will get the job and, soon after, Jack calls Wendy and confirms that he has been hired. When Danny insists that “Tony” tell him what is wrong with the hotel, he goes into a trance and sees startling images, among them, two young girls identically dressed and hotel doors from which blood gushes. The visions become so frightening that Danny blacks out and Wendy arranges for a doctor to visit. When the doctor asks Danny what he remembers, he says he was talking to “Tony,” but is otherwise reticent. The doctor prescribes rest and suggests there is a psychological explanation for the incident. Wendy tells her that “Tony” first appeared in Danny’s life after an “accident” in which an inebriated Jack dislocated the boy’s arm. In denial about the significance, Wendy says that good came out of the event, because Jack vowed to quit drinking and has remained alcohol-free for five months. Days later, the family arrives at the Overlook Hotel as staff and guests are leaving. Ullman and staff members give the family a tour of their living quarters and other areas of the labyrinthine building that was built in 1907 on a Native American burial ground. Outside, Jack and Wendy are shown the hotel’s thirteen-foot-high hedge maze and the snowcat, a vehicle necessary to traverse deep snow. While showing the Torrances the grandly decorated Gold Room, Ullman explains that alcoholic beverages are removed during the winter for insurance reasons. While playing in the game room, Danny again sees a vision of the identically dressed girls. Wendy and Danny visit the kitchen and meet head chef, Dick Hallorann, who shows Wendy the stored food in the pantries and walk-in freezer. Wendy is surprised when Dick addresses Danny as “Doc,” because it is a nickname she and Jack sometimes call the boy. As Dick continues the tour, he telepathically asks Danny if he would like some ice cream and, later, when Danny and Dick eat ice cream alone together, Dick reveals that he sensed Danny’s mental powers. Dick explains that he, too, has them and that the abilities are known as “shining.” Danny confides that “Tony” told him not to tell Wendy and Jack about the powers and asks if there is something bad about the hotel. Dick says that the hotel also has a way of shining and that when events happen, they can leave traces like pictures in a book that only those who “shine” can detect. Danny asks about Room 237 and says he thinks Dick is scared of it. Dick tells him he has no need to know about that room, and is adamant that Danny avoid it. A month passes, but during this time Jack is unable to start his novel. However, he proclaims his fondness for the hotel, and tells Wendy he feels as if he has been there before. As Wendy and Danny explore the maze outside, Jack, frustrated about his lack of productivity, bounces tennis balls against the hotel’s inner walls. Days later, while racing his tricycle through the halls, Danny comes to Room 237 and cautiously tries the door handle. The door is locked and an image of the two girls again appears in his mind. Lonely, Wendy visits Jack as he is typing, but, showing anger out of proportion to the situation, Jack tells her to never enter the room while he is working. When the phone lines go down due to snowstorms, Wendy contacts the Forest Service by radio. The ranger suggests she leave the radio on at all times so they can make emergency contact, if necessary. Danny is again racing through the halls on his tricycle when the two girls appear unexpectedly on his path. This time they speak, inviting him to play and anticipating they will be together forever. In his mind, Danny sees images of their bloody and mutilated bodies, and tells “Tony” he is scared. “Tony” reminds him that Dick said the images are harmless, like pictures in a book. One morning, Danny finds Jack in the family’s apartment, sitting in his bathrobe, undressed and unshaven, and staring blankly into space. Jack says he is tired but cannot sleep, and wishes they could stay at the hotel forever. Danny asks if Jack would ever hurt him or Wendy, but Jack reassures Danny that he would never do him harm. A few days later, Danny is playing when Jack’s tennis ball rolls toward him. Danny follows the ball’s path and arrives at Room 237, where the door is now open. In the basement, Wendy is checking the furnaces when she hears Jack screaming. She finds Jack asleep at his desk and when she wakens him, he says he had a nightmare in which he killed her and Danny, and cut them into pieces. Soon after, a traumatized Danny walks into the room, his shirt torn and his neck bruised. Accusing Jack of injuring Danny, she takes the boy from the room, leaving Jack bewildered. Later, Jack enters the empty ballroom, yearning for a drink. At the bar, he sees Lloyd the bartender and orders a bottle of bourbon. He tells Lloyd he always liked him and that he was the best bartender. When Lloyd asks Jack how things are going, Jack expresses resentment that Wendy will not forgive him for injuring Danny. Wendy runs in and tells Jack that Danny told her a “crazy woman” tried to strangle him. Searching for the woman, Jack finds, in Room 237, a young, nude woman, who silently leaves her bath and approaches him. After they embrace, she turns into an elderly hag with gaping sores. Frightened, Jack backs out of the room, but when he returns to the family’s apartment, he says he found nothing and suggests that Danny’s bruises are self-inflicted. Wendy proposes that the family leave, but Jack condemns her for creating Danny’s problem, and not appreciating his need to write or his responsibility to the hotel. In his bedroom, Danny spots the word “Redrum” written on the door in red then sees the vision of the elevator gushing blood. Meanwhile, in Miami, Dick watches Colorado weather reports and is unable to shake his feeling of foreboding. After seeing visions of Room 237 and a terrified Danny, he phones the Forest Service about his concerns for the family. The ranger tries several times to contact the Torrances, but to no avail. On his return to the Gold Room, Jack sees the Overlook’s hallways strewn with balloons and party streamers, and hears music and finds the room filled with revelers in 1920s attire. When a waiter bumps into Jack, spilling a drink on his coat, he offers to help Jack clean up in the men’s room and reveals his name is Grady, the name of the caretaker who killed his family. However, Grady denies he is the man and claims that Jack has always been the caretaker. Grady tells Jack that Danny is trying to bring in someone from outside and that Danny has a “very great talent,” but is “naughty.” In the family’s apartment, Wendy makes plans to leave Jack and drive Danny down the mountain in the snowcat. When Danny begins to call out the word, “Redrum,” repeatedly, she talks to him, but “Tony” answers, saying that Danny cannot wake up. In the hallway, Jack hears the Forest Service’s attempt to contact them and dismantles the radio. Spurred by his concern for Danny, Dick flies to Denver where he borrows a snowcat and drives the winding roads up the mountain. At the Overlook, Wendy, armed with a baseball bat, looks for Jack at his desk and, finding him gone, examines a stack of papers that Jack typed. She discovers that all of them contain, in multiple formats and with spelling and grammatical variations, the words, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” When Jack appears, Wendy warns him to stay away. Although Jack addresses her with brutal language, he maintains that he will not hurt her. Menacingly, he backs her up the staircase until she swings the bat at him and sends him tumbling down the steps. She then drags Jack into a large pantry and locks him inside. Soon after, she discovers that Jack has disabled the snowcat. In the afternoon, Jack is addressed from outside the pantry by the voice of Grady, who chides him for not disciplining Wendy and Danny, and questions his motivation and sincerity. After Jack asks for another chance, the pantry door unlocks, freeing him. In the apartment, Danny repeatedly chants “Redrum,” and takes a knife. With Wendy’s lipstick, he writes the word on a door. As his chant gets louder, Wendy looks in a mirror and sees the word reversed to read “Murder.” Jack breaks the apartment door with an ax, and Wendy and Danny take refuge behind the locked bathroom door. Wendy pushes Danny outside through a window, where he slides down a snow bank to the ground below. However, she cannot fit through the window and, as Jack chops his way through the bathroom door, she takes the knife Danny dropped and slashes Jack’s hand. Jack abandons his pursuit of Wendy when he hears Dick’s Snowcat approaching. When Dick enters, Jack bursts out of the darkness and kills him with the ax. Hiding in the kitchen, Danny lets out a blood-curdling scream and Jack chases the boy. Danny escapes to the hedge maze, but observes that his footprints in the snow will lead Jack to him. After walking backwards several steps, careful to step into his previous tracks, Danny squeezes through a hedge wall. Jack follows Danny’s tracks until they end, but then, cold and exhausted, he collapses. While searching the hallways for Danny, Wendy encounters ghostly images of previous hotel patrons. After she finds Dick’s mutilated corpse, a blood-spattered ghost appears and tells her it is a “great party.” She finds the Colorado room filled with cobwebs and skeletons, and the elevator doors gushing blood. She joins Danny outside and they drive down the mountain in Dick’s snowcat. The next morning, Jack is dead, frozen in the maze, but inside the Overlook there is a photo hanging on a wall. The photo, dated July 1921, shows a large group of people at a party. Jack is among them, front and center, smiling into the camera. 

Distribution Company: Warner Bros.
Production Company: Hawk Films Ltd.
Director: Stanley Kubrick (Dir)
  Douglas Twiddy (Prod mgr)
  Brian Cook (Asst dir)
  Terry Needham (Asst dir)
  Michael Stevenson (Asst dir)
Producer: Stanley Kubrick (Prod)
  Jan Harlan (Exec prod)
  The Producer Circle Company (Prod in assoc with)
  Robert Fryer (The Producer Circle Company)
  Martin Richards (The Producer Circle Company)
  Mary Lea Johnson (The Producer Circle Company)
Writer: Stanley Kubrick (Scr)
  Diane Johnson (Scr)

Subject Major: Authors
  Family relationships
  Mental illness
Subject Minor: Alcoholics
  Battered children
  Death and dying
  Hotel managers
  Multiple murderers
  Psychological torment
  Rocky Mountains
  Snow storms

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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