Home Video

The Shining (1980) - 4K Blu-ray Review

  • Movie Review

  • Blu-ray Review

  • Film Details

  • Art

The Shining (1980)

Stanley Kubrick was a director of unparalleled technical mastery in his time. There isn’t a film fan, or filmmaker out there that hasn’t delved deep into the many works he produced over three decades before his untimely death. His subject matters were always vastly different, and when he had a new one coming, you could expect his technical prowess on something completely different from his last effort.

"Kubrick’s handling of the foreboding nature of this film, and many tricks he uses to accomplish it, will be studied and copied as long as film exists"


1980 would see him definitively put his stamp on the horror genre with The Shining. For several years before the name Stephen King had taken the world by storm, releasing hit book after hit book. So powerful and influential had King become that almost everything he’d published up to that point had been snapped up for Hollywood to make movies out of.

It’s now well known, King HATES Kubrick’s take. His (somewhat valid) opinion of the film is its Jack Torrance seemed already off the reservation, so to speak, and therefore has no outlet to de-evolve into the axe wielding maniac in the finale. Most of the world, including this reviewer, disagrees with that assessment and considers this film superior to even the book (that is hard for me to write, as I love King’s novels).

The film opens with Jack Torrance (Nicholson) interviewing for a winter caretaker’s posting in a Colorado resort. It is an idyllic yet remote hotel in the mountains that gets snowed in for half the year. Both the hotel and Torrance have a sordid history that foretells doom for his young family.

Kubrick chose to excise to the more fantastic scenes from the novel, such as the topiary animals in the garden coming to life. Subtlety and audience conjecture are what he carefully constructs in his version of King’s story.

Torrance’s descent is instead externalized with masterfully composed conversational scenes that play straight, as if those he’s speaking to are there, but can be interpreted as being inside his head. There are no effects, or apparitions attached to these, and they are all the more subtle and effective for it.

Danny Lloyd as Danny Torrance does a truly remarkable job. This little kid, as directed by Kubrick, gives a natural yet understated performance of a little boy with psychic abilities that show him terrible things. He has to evoke everything from the normal activities of a little boy, to his psychic alter-ego Tony, to the apprehension and terror that Danny endures. He shows the scars of previous traumas and skittishness without falling into hyperbole.The Shining (1980)

Shelly Duvall’s performance of Wendy famously mentally taxed her to brink of exhaustion. Kubrick hammered her during the lengthy production (as is viewable on the Vivian Kubrick documentary, still attached to the Blu-ray) but she delivered. Her submissive, nervous disposition as Torrance’s wife speaks to an abused woman (without expressly saying it). Her inclination to keep the peace and readily retreat when Jack starts becoming unhinged is frustrating to watch. But when her son’s life is on the line, she fights through her own terror to become a resourceful and clever protector. I find her dialogue, amongst most of the characters, to be inconsistent. But Wendy is essentially a reactionary character, so her lines are kept to a minimum.

Kubrick’s handling of the foreboding nature of this film, and many tricks he uses to accomplish it, will be studied and copied as long as film exists. From the surgical pacing of his tracking shots, to his use of dissolves, to his close ups and deliberate and considered uses of the colour red: it’s all so, damn effective. This is master craftsman who knows how to lead an audience down a narrative and manipulate your emotions exactly as he intended. That is the reason this horror movie is so revered.

How about this reviewer? Did it scare me back in the day? No. Few movies ever have. Did it stay with me though? Yes, very much so. The imagery is at times disturbing. But I agree wholeheartedly with most critics that this is one of the finest horror stories ever committed to celluloid.

4/5 stars

The Shining (1980)

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD

Home Video Distributor: Warner Bros.
Available on Blu-ray
- October 1, 2019
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, French, German SDH, Italian SDH, Japanese, Spanish, Arabic, Czech
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)French: Dolby Digital 5.1 (640 kbps)German: Dolby Digital 5.1 (640 kbps)Italian: Dolby Digital 2.0Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 (640 kbps)Polish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 4K Ultra HD; Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set
Region Encoding: Region-free Playback

VIDEO:

This is the best this film has ever looked. HDR really highlights Kubrick’s colour compositions, especially at the warmer end of the spectrum. The reds, so carefully chosen in each scene, pop off the screen. The roaring fireplace as Jack types away in a wide, overhead shot, really stands out. Grain is intact in this native 4K DOLBY HDR10+ restoration without being intrusive, and adding more much definition and scale to the picture. Blacks are deep and detailed, effectively eliminating the crush problems from the Blu-ray. Skin tones are beautifully rendered. Make-up effects, every pore and strand of hair are captured like never before. This is a first rate transfer. There are a couple of shots throughout that are mildly softer, but I’m boiling that down to the original film source and not deducting a point for it. This is as good as it gets right now.


AUDIO:

CRIMINAL! Warners have gone to the trouble of giving you one of the finest 4K scans on the market and accompany it with this completely average, front heavy original DTS-HD 5.1 mix that was made for the Blu-ray over ten years ago. The only real time the rears get a turn is when the score kicks in. There’s very little directionality and immersion. Also, for the purists, the original mono track is absent. It’s shameful to go whole hog on the picture and not its sound.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

For the 4K: none. You get the same features from the Blu-ray (also included) and a digital copy. The age of extensive features on new releases of beloved films seems to be over.

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  5/5 stars
  Audio 4/5 stars
  Extras 4/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

3.5/5 stars

The Shining (1980)

MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
146 mins
Director
: Stanley Kubrick
Writer:
Stanley Kubrick
Cast:
Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd
Genre
: Horror
Tagline:
Coming this summer.
Memorable Movie Quote: "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."
Theatrical Distributor:
Warner Bros.
Official Site:
Release Date:
June 13, 1980
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 1, 2019
Synopsis: A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where a sinister presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from both past and future.

The Shining (1980)

Movie Reviews

Our Tweets

 

You are here: Home Home Video The Shining (1980) - 4K Blu-ray Review
Follow us on Twitter
Like us on Facebook
Google+
Letterboxd
Find us on Rotten Tomatoes