Kubrick’s film adaptation of The Shining focuses on how thin the line between rationality and irrationality can be in the human psyche. This theme is frequently reinforced by symbols such as the big maze outside the Hotel that illustrates the ease with which one can lose their own essence. The director is so clever that he tricks the audience’s minds into wondering about the reality of the events portrayed, practically demonstrating the core of the film.
The audience experiences the film through Jack Torrence’s point of view. Kubrick chose to portray Wendy in the way her husband felt about her: disturbing, creepy, useless and annoying. The director is so successful in this that the audience are led to hate the character themselves almost wanting Torrence to kill his wife. Despite this, towards the end of the story it is almost impossible to relate to Jack Torrence. In fact, he goes through a psychological transformation, which turns him into a terrifying, crazy animal. This metamorphosis shifts his position from the protagonist to the antagonist.
The film’s visuals and sound make the audience believe that someone is spying on the Torrences, rather than reflecting Jack’s point of view. These cinematic techniques suggest that the protagonist of the story has always been The Overlook Hotel.
If we think about the exposition delivered throughout the film, almost all the information concerns the resort. The Overlook Hotel is present in the story since the first page, and despite it not having a voice, all of the characters are speaking about and for it, giving it one.
During the two hour build-up in the first three acts, we are lost in a place where time and space mix together. Night and day are not two separate elements anymore. All you can hear is the sound of a typewriter and the wheels of a tricycle echoing in the vastness. In this environment, we actively participate in the discovery of the horrors behind the Hotel’s walls. The Overlook, spies on it’s residents and wants Jack to kill his family so that more ghosts and horrors can be added to it’s registry. Kubrick’s mastery resides in the fact that we don’t relate to the Hotel and feel like we are spying on the Torrences. On the contrary, we ourselves feel observed and persecuted. Kubrick manipulates us into this crazy game of reality and fiction, making us feel like the new guests of the Overlook Hotel.