The Shining is an iconic ghost story that earned its beloved reputation, helmed from an acclaimed author Stephen King, and rendered on the big screen by the ingenious craftsmanship of Stanley Kubrick. Though Kubrick used more than his fair share of artistic licence and gave the tome his flair, to the displeasure of King himself. In 1997, King set out to make a more faithful adaption to the words he had written into a compelling miniseries, bearing the name of The Shining.
Writer (and recovering dysfunctional alcoholic) Jack Torrance welcomes the opportunity to take up caretaking at The Overlook Hotel during its off-season, his family are less enthused, as they will be effectively cut off from civilisation during this period. The hotel has a bloodied history and the isolation and lack of liquid supplies might be getting to him and causing some old behaviours to rise. Jack’s family starts to worry that the hotel’s alleged ethereal residents might be inspiring Jack in darker ways than they hope.
King was more involved in this T.V. adaptation, and you can tell from the show’s strict adherence to the book. There are no meetings with ghosts in bathrooms or drastic changes to the thrilling conclusion. But the kernel of the tale is an engaging one even broken up into three parts and the new casts hired to live up the likes of Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall certainly do their best to differentiate themselves. Steven Weber captures the last glimmers of sanity that Torrance had before his stay at the Overlook and is a clear departure from the take that Nicholson brought in 1980. Rebecca De Mornay is also strong as Wendy, acting as a foil to Jack’s increasing irrationalities.
Getting to film in the actual inspiration for the Overlook Hotel is a treat, and it’s an absolute pleasure to see how the hotel matches up to the literal descriptions 20 years ago. The Stanley Hotel is a distinct building, somehow modern and retro, the perfect location for a ghost story. The miniseries also uses then-current effects to bring some of the hotel’s more extraordinary charms to life. The famed fire hose and the grass gargoyles spring to mind not to mention the glimmers of former (and current) guests.
Those who loved the book, warts and all, would probably love to see it realised on the screen, I sure know I did, despite being overshadowed by the superb film interpretation all those years ago. It is certainly an adaptation that will keep you engaged and engrossed throughout. Proof that a good story can succeed in practically any medium. This three-parter should be sought, showing audiences all those years later that the Overlook Hotel is worthy of a check-in.
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