26 September 2011

Stephen King’s The Shining


I’ve been slowly examining the works of Stephen King, after enjoying The Dark Tower so thoroughly.  I’ve already read Carrie and Salem’s Lot, so I seem to be going in chronological order.
I had seen Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation a few years ago, and so I suppose I went into the reading constantly fighting certain expectations.  There were innumerable differences between the film and the novel, however, and that actually proved to my advantage, as I was able to be surprised at the reading.
In the version I read, King gave an introduction where he talks about the choice he had to make in writing, whether to delve into the character of Jack Torrence and explore his own complicated inner demons: an alcoholic, abusive father; his own alcoholism; and his own authority issues.  King said he felt it made the novel stronger, and I have to agree wholeheartedly with him.  In fact, it is this delving into Jack that makes the novel so different from what I expected, having seen the film.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of the novel, however, was the character of Danny, and how well King seemed to capture the internal world of a five-year-old psychic.  The way he approached the world, how he could switch so quickly, so mercurially between emotions, perfectly captured what little I remember of being that age.  I enjoyed how, when Danny would encounter concepts he didn’t yet understand but nonetheless knew because of his Shine, King would capitalize them.  (Example: Danny was reading his father’s thoughts, who thought Wendy and Danny might be sad or lonely but would be okay in the LONGRUN.)  This seemed an excellent way of capturing that confusion of childhood: knowing but not yet understanding.
Wendy was also far more interesting in the novel than in the film, which surprised me as well: She had barely made any impression on me in the film - I couldn’t even remember who played her until I looked it up.  Wendy in the novel was much more realized, and strangely I always pictured her as Toni Collette.  Who was, incidentally, not in the movie.  Shelley Duvall was...and I have to say I found her incredibly annoying in the film.  According to many sources, so did Kubrick, so there we go.
Perhaps the most interesting thing to me, though, was the difference in the endings, which I think points to a fundamental difference between King and Kubrick.  I’m a big fan of both, and I accept their differences.  So as I consider the relationship between The Shining in prose and in film, when I ask myself if it was adapted well, I have to say “No.”  But The Shining was still a great film, and it definitely stands the test of time.  It simply can’t be related to the novel - they are two totally different entities.  And I think that’s okay.
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Books: Reading Tom Sawyer.  I have a small collection of the classics that I need to read on my iPad while I am out of town.

Bottles: Nothing lately...hoping to visit the wine bar when I get back, or maybe one in Vancouver.  Apparently there's one in Yaletown.

Writing: Nearly killed Shawn again in Into the Shining Sun.  I always feel so guilty every time I do it.  And sadly I know this won't be the last time, either.

Guitar: Didn't start any new projects since I'll be gone, but hopefully I'll have access to my cousin's acoustic again and can brush up on some songs like "Mother" and "Goodbye Blue Sky."  I brought my The Wall songbook just in case.