The Hero and Villain Paradigm in The Shining
Kubrick’s film The Shining is a loose adaption of King’s novel with different implications and themes. When comparing Kubrick’s variations on theme and plot with King’s, the conclusions drawn from both the novel and the film are more meaningful. One of the most important differences is how the hero and villain paradigm is presented and how it influences the source of anxiety in both versions. By choosing to emphasize different areas of the story, the artists’ manipulate their audiences’ view of how the protagonist fits in the hero and villain spectrum. In his novel, King uses long descriptive passages to build Jack’s character. Knowing Jack’s past and his thoughts allow readers to empathize with him and attribute his monstrous actions to outside forces. The psychological battle between Jack and the Overlook help establish Jack as a failed hero and the Overlook as the antagonist or evil outside force. By contrast, Kubrick’s adaption, which ignores most of Jack’s nuances, makes it easier for the audience to distance themselves from Jack and to view him as a villain. Comparing King and Kubrick’s portrayal of Jack shows that tension can stem from an internal conflict or an outwardly one. King’s conflict focuses on Jack’s quest to battle his internal demons so that the reader is very much invested in Jack’s success. Jack’s decent into madness is met with anxiety as the reader strives to see if it is possible for him to come back to reality. In Kubrick’s version the audience is distant from Jack and anticipate that he will commit a horrible crime. Tension is created as the audience waits to see whether Wendy and Danny will be able to realize the danger they are in and escape in time.
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... I am not going to let you fuck this up” (The Shining). Given Jack’s portrayal in the film, it is not surprising that Jack tries to kill his family. Anxiety does not stem from whether Jack will go crazy and try to succumb to the hotel’s wishes because this is implied from the beginning. Instead the audience’s anxiety stems from when Jack will finally try and commit the crimes. In the final chapters of the film, Kubrick inserts the days of the week in bold white letters to break up the scenes. By breaking up the scenes this way, Kubrick uses time as a catalyst for anxiety. All these elements together create anxiety as the audience waits for Wendy and Danny to notice Jack’s intentions before it is too late.
King, Stephen. The Shining. New York: Pocket Books, 1977. Print.
The Shining. Dir. Kubrick Stanley. 1980. Web. Warner Pictures, 1980.
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