“The Shining” in relation to “The Uncanny””

One of the most famous examples of the uncanny – as explained by Freud – can be found in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980). It continually questions the viewer’s perception of reality and makes them unsure of what would otherwise be everyday occurrences and objects. An interesting example of this is when Jack Torrance’s son, Danny, takes a ride on his tricycle through the hotel. This is a relatively normal occurrence for a child of this time staying in a remote hotel. The shot is sinister from the off (shot from the child’s, and eventually the viewer’s, perspective) and displays a prime instance of Freud’s theory that the mundane can sometimes belie something much more ominous. Danny sees two young twins who, in a later flashing vision are seen to have been murdered – their white dresses covered in blood – and this is symbolized by the two red doors that he finds at the elevator. Later, Danny’s mother Wendy comes upon them spewing a thick, blood-like liquid. Red elevator doors would otherwise not be anything to take notice of, but in the context of the murdered sisters, they take on a much more disturbing presence. In many ways, this unremarkable feature of the hotel is used to foreshadow the horrific events to come at “The Overlook” hotel. In one short, well-shot sequence early on in The Shining Kubrick manages to forewarn the viewer of what is ahead. The sisters, the innocence of childhood and the horrors that can be found in the ordinary all reference Freud’s theory of the uncanny and sum it up vividly.

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