Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Review of The Shining [The Book]

The Shining (The Shining, #1)The Shining by Stephen King

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Whenever a movie comes out, pedantic people will always (and I mean always) say, "the book was better". And while 9 times out of 10, the book IS better than the movie, it doesn't always have to be said.

It's just a fact, books are better than their movie adaptations.

Except, some aren't, and The Shining is one of those exceptions. Stephen King, who I adore, has always made a point of stating that he didn't like Stanley Kubrick's version of his story and for good reason. The book and the movie have a lot of major differences, namely in the ending and in the backstory of the characters. I mean, these are major differences, not just small little changes. As a writer myself, I would usually side with the author rather than the director, but in this regard, I actually think Stanley Kubrick did a better job of telling the story of The Shining than even Stephen King. The Shining is just that good of a movie.

Now, that's not to say that the book is bad, as it's not. It's really good. In fact, many of the best scenes in the movie come directly from the book. But Kubrick just took those moments and put them into overdrive. The dead woman in the bath tub is scary in the book, but horrifying in the movie. The bar scene in the book is fascinating, but the movie version is chilling. Even Danny's revelation of REDRUM being MURDER in the book isn't as potent as it is in the film version. Add in the major change in the movie's ending, which has stuck with me since childhood, and you have a movie that is much better than the book. No question.

Now, if I had read the book first, I might have a different opinion, but all throughout reading it, I just kept thinking, this was better in the film, this was better in the film, and I rarely ever say that, even after seeing the movie first.

This book, and Fight Club, are the only instances where I feel the movie is much, much better than the book. It's rare, but it happens, and this is just one such example. Enjoy the book, but love the movie.

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