Analysis Of Kubrick’s Action In “The Shining”: Mise En Scene

The Shining is an American psychological thriller that was popularized by Stanley Kubrick in 1980. (2001: A Space Odyssey. A Clockwork Orange. Eyes Wide Shut. The screen adaptation was inspired by Stephen King’s 1977 novel. Jack Torrance plays the role of Jack Nicholson. Jack is a hardworking familyman and aspiring writer with a history in abuse and alcoholism that shadows his volatile, impersonal relationship, Wendy Duvall (Shelley Duvall), as well as his young, psychically gifted, timid son Danny Lloyd (Danny Lloyd). Jack accepts the caretaker role at the Overlook Hotel’s Winter off-season. Wendy Duvall and Danny, however, have a false sense for optimism and continue to traverse the hotel’s daunting and imposing darkness. The unnervingly patterned carpets, and the dark corridors of cream make it difficult to not watch the Torrances fall into the embrace of insanity. Kubrick’s subtle, but easily recognisable film style is well-known. It walks a fine line between order and chaos. Kubrick is known for his unique cinematic style. His works often stand alone as a testament to his cinematic genius. The Shining is an example of this. Kubrick created the style mise-en scГЁne, which is the main contributor to meaning. Simply put, the mise-en-scene is the film’s visual elements. It’s everything within a frame that has a specific purpose and contributes to the overall film. Mise-en-scene refers to film elements that are similar to theatre, such as lighting, costumes, and the behaviours of the actors. The director is responsible for controlling the mise-en scene. Every scene in The Shining (1980) incorporates elements from mise-enscene to give the audience a clear meaning to absorb and analyze. The Shining (1980) mise en scene is unique. It differs from other horror films in that it is unconventional. The film opens with majestic shots of Colorado Rockies, captured in stark contrast to the cool shades of blues and whites. The viewer is shown a collection of beautiful, isolated scenes of beauty and solitude. These scenes are remote and bitterly isolated and disguise themselves as splendour. Jack Torrance’s demeanour later reveals the detachment of Jack Torrance’s personality. As Jack Torrance’s car curves more through the mountain scene, long shots are visible above the car. The shot hovers over Jack Torrance. The audience watches the Torrance’s car as it curves through the desolate mountain scene, ignoring the danger in front of them. The audience is placed strategically through the shots to observe the Torrances. This unadulterated dread is reinforced by the music’s foreboding. The viewer will feel a deep sense unease as the deep notes sink down into their stomachs. Kubrick’s chosen music is haunting and almost animalistic, making it a striking scene. Jack Torrance moves up the hill to his Overlook Hotel interview. As the music plays, Jack hears the terrifying sounds of his surroundings and is aware of the sinister intentions of this hotel. The viewer is placed in a cat-mouse-like position from the beginning – very similar to Jack Torrance’s.

The perilous, spectacular drive is contrasted by the warmth and welcoming hotel. It’s decorated in gentle and subtle shades of reds, golds, gentle muskyk and has a lobby adorned with bellboys and guests. As it turns out, the Overlook Hotel is not the horror movie trope of a haunted hotel. Kubrick stated that the hotel should look more authentic than spooky. I believe the hotel’s large rooms and labyrinth design would provide enough eerie ambience. The hotel’s exterior is deceiving. It hides the sinister underside of Jack’s anger and violence.

The film’s remarkable use of red throughout is what makes The Shining’s mise en scene so memorable and beautiful. Red is clearly defined throughout the film. It’s a subtle hint to the viewer and coaxes you into seeing the striking, warning-sounding shades. The film uses the colour to sound alarms. Mary Risk, a prominent freelance writer and producer, states that an associative scheme is a colour scheme that is consistent with a theme or character in a movie. The colour red is often associated with danger, and can be recognized as an alarming colour scheme. As the Overlook Hotel’s months pass, the Torrance’s use of the colour Red becomes a powerful symbol of terror. The viewer is exposed to the slow changes in Wendy, Danny, Jack and their lives through the constant repetition of red. This is the impossibility of the hotel that slowly peels away their layers. Kristin and David Bordwell, well-known film writers and theorists, believe that repetition is fundamental to any film’s understanding. For instance, it is essential that we can recall and identify characters and locations each time they appear. The repetition of the red colour serves to tell the story and provides The Shining (1980), with exposition meant to create a sense of fear in the viewer about what might come.

The hotel in The Shining (1980) is set up as a maze. The hotel’s unsettling walls and warm geometric floor tiles beckon Danny to continue his childish adventure. The hotel is dressed in Danny’s youthful and playful manner. However, there is another use of red that subtly warns the viewer about a potential danger. The viewer follows Danny as he rides his tricycle, which is lowered to his height so that he can see the Overlook Hotel’s incoherent corridors. Danny glides through an eerie, harshly lit kitchen hall. The pale greens reinforce his senses of wonder and childlike wonder. The viewer is left to wonder what lies ahead. Unpredictable, shrill music is a great way to promote a deep feeling of unease. Kubrick chooses to be a gnaw on fear even though he is innocent. Danny is oblivious to his surroundings, allowing the music to draw him in. The music becomes a thumping, steady beat that is accompanied by the occasional pedalling clicks from Danny’s bike. Danny is met by two twins in a yellowed but brightly lit floral corridor with deep, booming music. The twins, who are pinkish and pale and adorned with a sinister innocence through identical baby blue dresses and pink bows, sway in the corridor. The twins stare at Danny, frightened, and repeat an unnerving cry to him. “Hello Danny. Please come play with me.” Danny looks up to see the twins, their bodies covered in blood. The axe and blood-stained walls are another symbol of the danger that lies ahead of them. Danny looks at this grotesque scene and is shocked by the reprised shot with the girls holding each other.

The chanting continues until Danny is overcome with terror. Danny runs to Tony for comfort after they seem to have vanished unfathomably. Tony says that it’s only a fantasy, but Danny can see the terror in Tony’s eyes.

The mise-en-scene in The Shining (1980), tries to convey the film’s underlying meanings. Kubrick’s goal is to convey the terrifying horror of the hotel as well the distinctive concept of a facade. Minor details are used to highlight and amplify a coherent cinematic world. These flashes don’t overwhelm the viewer but instead sink into it.


  • treyknox

    I am Trey Knox, 26 years old, and I'm a education blogger and teacher. I blog about various subjects in education, and I also teach high school English and writing.