Friday, June 10, 2011
Lit To Film: The Shining
Wow, 2011 has been a strong year for books on film. I mean Water For Elephants, Red Riding Hood, I Am Number Four, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hollows part two, and Beastly have made their appearance known already and it’s only June!! Books are almost destined to take a shot at the silver screen. Some maintain the heart of their printed counterparts while others…uh, try. Then there are some who outshine the book (stop laughing it’s possible). That’s what this segment is about: Books that have been turned into movies and which is better. The long standing debate of ‘can a film ever capture what is on the page’ will be debated here. So grab the film and the book, a bowl of popcorn, and a pair of boxing gloves because it may get fierce. :P
Let’s start off fairly easier as this is a new segment. So no Harry Potter, Twilight, or Lord of the Rings this week. How about one that is certainly a classic film and book, both crafted by masters, and one I think is better than the book.
Let me start off by saying I am a huge Stephen King fan. The bulk of my bookshelf is his work, and he is one of the few people that I would be struck speechless to meet one day. This is not bashing him in anyway. Oh and if you haven’t seen or read The Shining by now, shame on you. LOL Okay but there will be spoilers to both so *SPOILER ALERT*
The story goes Jack Torrence becomes caretaker for The Overlook Hotel, and takes his wife Wendy and his son Danny with him. As he watches over this historical and quite vast hotel he convinces himself that he will write his novel, and that the change of scenery is just what he needs to get the creative juices flowing. (sound familiar?) The general part of the beginning is captured wonderfully by director Stanley Kubrick although he did miss the true reasons from the book as to why Jack had no choice but to take the job.
In the book Jack starts as a teacher in a university, but after a night of drinking he accidently kills a colleague and dumps his body in the river. After that travesty he can’t concentrate on his job, quits, and turns to writing for a living. His writing can’t pay the bills and this job is a few months of having a roof over his family’s head.
This was missed but it didn’t really matter as from this moment on every last thing is painted onto the screen. Kubrick didn’t miss a syllable of King’s words through the middle. You got the mental breakdown, the haunting of the hotel, Danny’s finger friend, Wendy’s passiveness to her husband’s murderous tendencies. It’s all there in all in sparkling Techno-color. You are totally wrapped up in the story now. This is one of the best horror movies of all time, if not the best after all.
Then comes the end and here is where I find the movie is better. Stephen King is great at what he does…but my gripe has always been with his endings. Most of them suck. Seriously. They lack the punch that managed to drag you in at the beginning. In the movie the ending is Danny calls out to the old hotel manager with his Shining power, bringing the old man to the hotel. His arrival is short lived as he gets an ax to the back. Then Wendy and Danny run out into the snowy hedge maze outside with Jack chasing after them. They find their way out while Jack freezes to death. Wow! Bravo! Encore!
Now the book. The end consists of the old hotel manager comes back, knocks out the ax wielding Jack, and then he proceeds to overload the furnace which causes it to explode. Epilogue: Wendy, Danny and the hotel manager are in the tropics and sipping drinks. Ugh, really. That’s it? Yawn. To me the book ended really weak and when you stack the whole experience up to the movie I was left wanting more from the print.
So pick up the movie and book, if you don’t remember already, and add your two cents to the discussion. Which do you think was better? The Lit or The Film?