A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
Stanley Kubrick's cold and frightening "The Shining" challenges us to decide: Who is the reliable observer? Whose idea of events can we trust? In the opening scene at a job interview, the characters seem reliable enough, although the dialogue has a formality that echoes the small talk on the space station in "2001." We meet Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson), a man who plans to live for the winter in solitude and isolation with his wife and son. He will be the caretaker of the snowbound Overlook Hotel. His employer warns that a former caretaker murdered his wife and two daughters, and committed suicide, but Jack reassures him: "You can rest assured, Mr. Ullman, that's not gonna happen with me. And as far as my wife is concerned, I'm sure she'll be absolutely fascinated when I tell her about it. She's a confirmed ghost story and horror film addict."
Do people talk this way about real tragedies? Will his wife be absolutely fascinated? Does he ever tell her about it? Jack, wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and son Danny (Danny Lloyd) move into the vast hotel just as workers are shutting it down for the winter; the chef, Dick Hallorann (Scatman Crothers) gives them a tour, with emphasis on the food storage locker ("You folks can eat up here a whole year and never have the same menu twice"). Then they're alone, and a routine begins: Jack sits at a typewriter in the great hall, pounding relentlessly at his typewriter, while Wendy and Danny put together a version of everyday life that includes breakfast cereal, toys and a lot of TV. There is no sense that the three function together as a loving family.
Danny: Is he reliable? He has an imaginary friend named Tony, who speaks in a lower register of Danny's voice. In a brief conversation before the family is left alone, Hallorann warns Danny to stay clear of Room 237, where the violence took place, and he tells Danny they share the "shining," the psychic gift of reading minds and seeing the past and future. Danny tells Dick that Tony doesn't want him to discuss such things. Who is Tony? "A little boy who lives in my mouth."
Tony seems to be Danny's device for channeling psychic input, including a shocking vision of blood spilling from around the closed doors of the hotel elevators. Danny also sees two little girls dressed in matching outfits; although we know there was a two-year age difference in the murdered children, both girls look curiously old. If Danny is a reliable witness, he is witness to specialized visions of his own that may not correspond to what is actually happening in the hotel.