“The Shining”: The Best Trailer Ever Made?

Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, The Shining, is one of my favorite films of all time, quite possibly my favorite horror film. The video posted above is the official trailer to The Shining. When first released, the trailer was considered to explicit to show to audiences and was banned. Kubrick somehow convinced the M.P.A that “rusty water” was spilling out of the elevators, not blood. Even more shocking is that the M.P.A believed him, and then allowed this trailer to circulate.

The trailer for The Shining has to be one of the best trailers ever made. It perfectly sums up the tonality of the whole film without any gimmicks – a menacing blend of sight and sound. The electronic score by Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind for The Shining is epitomized here in all of it’s synthetic, dissonant glory, as well as the steady, symmetrical dream-like cinematography that would define both the film and Kubrick’s career as an auteur filmmaker. The apparent elusiveness of the trailer creates a disturbing atmosphere that lends to the psychotic horror portrayed within the film.

The Shining ends with one of the most classic shots in film history, and it has since been a source of much theoretical debate amongst film critics and historians: a slow and steady zoom towards an obscure photograph hanging on the wall in The Overlook hotel. As the camera get’s closer, we soon see that the photograph is one of Jack Torrence taken in 1921 at The Overlook Hotel. Much speculation has arisen from this vague epilogue, even despite Kubrick’s interview with Michel Ciment, when Kubrick overtly declared that Jack was simply a reincarnation of an earlier official at the hotel. However, many other theories have surfaced over the year. My personal favorite – and also most eerie – is that of film critic, Johnathan Romney:

“The closing inscription appears to explain what has happened to Jack. Until watching the film again recently I’d always assumed that, after his ordeal in the haunted palace, Jack had been absorbed into the hotel, another sacrificial victim earning his place at the Overlook’s eternal dance of the damned. At the Overlook, it’s always 4 July 1921 – although only God knows exactly what happened that night.”

The events that took place in The Overlook Hotel on the night of July 4th, 1921 are subtly hinted at throughout the film. Kubrick gives us jigsaw pieces of a much larger picture that is up to us to put together: a costume party, mass-murder, sadistic sexual encounters, suicide, and a collective descent into insanity.

What are your favorite trailers of all time?


2 Responses to ““The Shining”: The Best Trailer Ever Made?”
  1. That really is the best trailer ever made.

  2. Chris says:

    that last shot is so good, I always thought along the same lines as Romney – the hotel had claimed another victim

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