The Shining: Which Truly Shines – Movie or Book?

I thought that soliloquy might have just managed to save my blog. But looks like the ‘saving’ is still under way.

Last day, I wrote in my diary, after quite a long time. And, I don’t know if it was the myriad thoughts already in my mind, bursting to be freed, or the way the pen floated so smoothly over the paper (LOVED the feel of it) or even the mere act of writing…but I ended up writing a lot. Like, a lot. And not just normal diary entries; the ‘lot’ included random thoughts, some crazy, some profound. At the end of it, the process of emptying all those thoughts onto paper felt so great, so relieving…so much that I couldn’t stop smiling and feeling happy. And that also gave me  this longing to blog. Which is why I’m back here, nearly one month after I promised myself I would try not to neglect my blog!

The book I’m currently reading is ‘The Shining‘ by Stephen King. I saw the movie a few months ago. I kept seeing it in all the ‘Top the-shiningHorror Movies’ lists and decided to watch it (being the horror-movie-fan I am). Unfortunately, I didn’t like it much. I was disappointed, to be honest. Yes, it might probably be because I was expecting a real horror movie. By the end of the movie, I couldn’t figure out if there were actual horror incidents in the movie or if they were all just the characters’ imaginations. I’d call it more of a psycho-thriller than a horror movie.

But the book is an entirely different case! There were quite a few instances in the book which gave me the chills (and I’m only halfway into it!). It pulls you pulled me into the life of the Torrance family in a way the movie didn’t. The characters have a depth that they lacked in the movie (in the movie, I couldn’t figure out if Jack Torrance had a streak of insanity right from the beginning or if the hotel/the ghosts did it to him)…a depth that makes you understand why they act/react the way they do, that makes you see sense in what happens to them. It’s a lot different from the movie in terms of situations, characters and plot. Jack Torrance seems to be a much more emotional person, deeply attached to his wife and son, more than I remember him to be in the movie.

Well, I did some googling, and, turns out I’m not the only one who didn’t like the movie so much.

Stephen King has been quoted as saying that although Kubrick made a film with memorable imagery, it was not a good adaptation of his novel and is the only adaptation of his novels that he could “remember hating”. 

… King suggested that he disliked the downplaying of the supernatural element of the film, which he felt took the “bite” out of the story and made Jack a less sympathetic character. According to King, he viewed Jack as being victimized by the genuinely external supernatural forces haunting the hotel, whereas Kubrick’s take viewed the haunting and its resulting malignancy as coming from within Jack himself.” 

Sometimes, I wonder why exactly books turn out to be much better than their movie adaptations. The experience with ‘The Shining’ offers one possible explanation. A book can delve deeper into characters than a movie, giving you a lot of background with which to understand more about a person – his traits, behaviour, idiosyncrasies. This is particularly true in the case of books made into movies. The book would have drawn out a complete portrayal of the characters, giving you a perfect grasp of why they acted in the way they did. The movie can hardly achieve this kind of detail, considering the limitations the medium has, as compared to a book. So, when someone who has read the book watches the movie, they see semi-detailed characters, interesting situations omitted/altered, less sense in the way the plot pans out.

 

Whatever reviews might say, I’d skip the movie and go for the book any day! 🙂

Care to mention the movie-adaptations which, you felt, lacked the depth of the book?   

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2 thoughts on “The Shining: Which Truly Shines – Movie or Book?

  1. well one should say its a good observation,, but going back to the topic of why books tend to depict the traits of its characters much better than movies,, well i think you omitted out on one key aspect,, thats the ‘time limitation’. U see movies have got this time constraint in which they have to both show the framework within which a character is portrayed and also tell the brief story!! wen it comes to books, its the reader who sets the time frame and as such the time constraint factor is non-existent!! the only way then, to successfully tell the story in a more elaborate and satisfying way would be to tell it through a series of movies rather than a single one. well dats just my thought 🙂

    • True. That’s why I did mention that movies have their own limitations, time being the major one! But I’ll still disagree that a series of movies will be able to “successfully” tell the story in a satisfying way. 🙂 Maybe this dissatisfaction is a problem faced only by readers…maybe the movie is good in it’s own way. So, my opinion might probably be sort of biased. But, well, I still stick to my opinion, all the same.

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