The Shining

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The Shining, and Shelley Duvall

The Shining is a masterpiece horror, but Shelley Duvall, who plays Wendy Torrance had to go through a lot of stress while filming the climactic scene where Jack is attempting to hit her with a baseball bat as she ascends the stairs of the Overlook Hotel. To capture the character’s distress and fear, director Stanley Kubrick retook the scene multiple times, and made the actress feel distressed and isolated on set. Although this lead to capturing a powerful scene, where do we draw the line in our quest for making a masterpiece?

  • An interesting idea that's worth exploring. A lot of the old classic movies have harsh treatments of their stars, especially the female actors, behind the scenes that would be completely inappropriate and condemned if it were to happen now. – kerrybaps 5 months ago
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  • I agree with kerrybaps. Certainly worth exploring, especially as many people have no idea that such treatment is still happening. There are certain directors who attain an almost god-like status and sometimes that power can go to their heads. Although I've never been repeated threatened with a baseball bat on set, I did work as an extra on one particular film during which we 'underlings' we left exposed to the elements for so long that three of us were eventually removed from set, suffering from early stages of hypothermia - and all because a certain director needed us to look exhausted, ragged and frozen. Unfortunately, in the film world even actresses of the same calibre as Shelley Duvall are all too aware that they can be replaced, and so feel pressurised into accepting such treatment. It's a dirty world. – Amyus 5 months ago
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  • This feels like a nitpick but was it not Wendy who wielded the baseball bat in that scene? It also wasn't just that one scene either. Shelly Duvall was isloated throughout the entirety of the shoot in Kubric's effort to get her portrayal of a beaten-down, broken woman. The cast was informed to not interact with her and she was also kept from sleeping so that she would be sleep deprived. This extends well beyond the stairwell scene where Jack Torrence tells her he wants to bash her brains in and this topic should be explored in regards to the whole film and Kubrics methods. l I might consider exploring beyond just The Shining. Alfred Hitchcock was a monstrous creep towards his female cast members as well. Perhaps this topic could evolve into a discussion about the mistreatment of women in the film industry as a whole. – FarPlanet 5 months ago
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  • This is an interesting idea. Are there are other actresses, besides Duvall, where something like this has been done? Has it been done to actors or only actresses? – Joseph Cernik 3 months ago
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How should the audience judge films?

Should the audience judge a film based on whether they "liked" it or not? Shouldn’t the audience step back, look at a work of cinema objectively and judge it on its quality, not whether or not it was "too long" or "boring." Even if a film is, at first preview, "boring" or "too slow", The Shining, for example could be appreciated even if you don’t like horror, simply for its master-craft of cinematic voyeur and its layers of hidden ambiguity and subliminal messages. Should the artists’ be judged by their intentions above all else?

  • I believe everything should be looked at objectively and subjectively. Because there are plenty of things that I can say have creative merit, and yet they do nothing for me in terms of enjoyment or entertainment, or perhaps it simply does not appeal to my sensibilities, even if it is somewhat enjoyable. Everything is capable of being looked at both ways, and it reveals quite a bit if we as a society were to approach most things in such a manner. But films, most definitely. You can make a masterfully shot and executed film on a technical level, whether or not it succeeds in captivating an audience, or at least a large audience beyond a cult following, is another but still interesting matter. – Jonathan Leiter 5 years ago
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  • Films should be judged according to their genre to achieve an apples to apples criterion. Munjeera – Munjeera 5 years ago
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  • I see what you are saying. But if a film is high quality and you don't like it, maybe there is a reason why, something the film is lacking. Taking a look at why you like or don't like a film is still a valid way to judge a film I think. – Robyn McComb 5 years ago
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  • Having already picked up one of your topics as the basis for my Jurassic Park article, I encourage you (and whoever decided to pick up this topic) to consider that there is a difference between specatorship and criticism. Being able to separate certain aspects of films from the overall body is the basic tenant of film criticism. A person can say "I don't like the Ewoks" but still think that Return of the Jedi is a good film. Likewise a person can look at The Amazing Spiderman 2 and say "overall the movie was lacking but the sound design was some of the best I have ever heard" and come to the conclusion that the film is "a well polished turd." Meanwhile I believe my Jurassic Park article defends audience pleasure pretty articulately, demonstrating the value of entertaining spectacle as a tool for instruction or inspiration. One cannot argue, however, that an "audience" should be compelled to be critics when some people just want to be spectators. Let them eat cake! – Christen Mandracchia 5 years ago
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  • The topic as it stands is very broad, and therefore difficult to explore thoroughly in an article the length of a standard Artifice submission. Perhaps specifying the parameters of exploration to the limitations of this medium would be more accessible for potential authors and readers alike; for example, limiting the topic to a particular genre (you mention horror, which would be an excellent choice considering the genre is so polemic - people seem to either love it or hate it), one specific director (Tobe Hooper, Roman Polanski, etc.), or even one specific film. – Katheryn 5 years ago
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  • A significant differentiation that needs to be present is that of what type of audience your are referring too. The average moviegoer has different opinions of a film to that of a moviegoer that has an educational insight of cinema. I agree with the comment above, the subject is a bit too broad. Try narrowing your audience first or asked a question that is more specific to a type of critic. For example, is it fair for audiences to judge a film base solely on the actor performance? The subject has potential and it is one that causes curiosity, but because a critic or analysis can be, and is so often the case, derive from a personal opinion it is hard to pinpoint an answered to such a broad question. – Andres24 5 years ago
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