Both are obsessed about their "missions" or "jobs" -- HAL with, well, you know; and Jack with his caretaking-contract with the Overlook (and, by extension, to his pseudo-job of writing his book.) Just as HAL says to Bowman "this mission is too important for you to jeopardize it", Jack goes ballistic whenever it's suggested that the family leave the Overlook (and also when Wendy interrupts his "writing.") And both HAL and Jack turn into homicidal raving maniacs by the end . . . (E.T.) [Excerpts from Jeff Smith's article, "Careening Through Kubrick's Space", CHICAGO REVIEW, Volume 33 #1, Summer, 1981 pp. 62-73] The aerial shots that introduce the mountain setting of THE SHINING sweep across a hilly landscape, recalling the penultimate, "Star Gate" sequence of 2001. We might guess that Kubrick once again is taking us to a hotel, there to see a man transformed, again by "aliens" -- but aliens who, like the landscape, will prove all the more sinister for their surface familiarity, and contact with whom promises nothing so climactic as in 2001. Indeed, such contact marks only the beginning of the odyssey in THE SHINING. From the outset, the Shining's reduction of 'environment' to a particular place suggests a different outlook. Elimination of 2001's visual expansiveness leaves a 'space' that, though superficially vast -- clearly too big for its three winter occupants -- both physically and psychologically imprisons. . . . Thus the many doors that open only onto more hotel, and the mirrors, deceptively breaching or enlarging space, that really turn one's view inward and collapse the prospect of space back onto itself: the equation of space and the self in a paradox of identity perseverant from Narcissus to NO EXIT . . . With THE SHINING Kubrick fully develops the most forbidding implications of his own longstanding worldview, and in a work addressed, like 2001, directly to the theme of man's relation to the universe. Structurally, he accomplishes the task by making a whole story based on 2001's middle section, the space journey. The new "astronauts" have no universe except their claustrophobic spaceship, where relationships begun in uneasy balance gradually break down into menace and terror. Jack serves as the HAL aboard this ship. His degenerate sense of duty and integrity blocks Wendy's supposed efforts to "jeopardize this mission," and in savaging her request that they leave the Overlook, Jack betrays his hysterical, HAL-like fear of disconnection. Many other motifs suggest a parallel identification of Danny and Wendy with Discovery's astronauts, the passengers and victims whose suspicions ignite the ship's crisis. But a crucial difference arises in THE SHINING out of the inseperability of space and spaceship, goal and journey. Jack ultimately also fills David Bowman's spacesuit; even more than in 2001, man is his technology, and hence the computer can be neither unplugged nor wished destruction. The temporary disconnection merely marks arrival at an essential plane of being. Utterly depraved, man victimizes himself, and since the Spaceship Overlook has no "space" to move in except itself, the voyage never ends. In other words, THE SHINING depicts a chaotic and relativistic universe devoid of higher agencies, one whose very size and emptiness infuriatingly underscore human limitations and forever condemn man to endure his own grotesque self. Space, technology, and aliens constitute the universe but nowhere are objectified and rendered "safe"; and with God displaced, the weak and conflicted self known to the seventeenth century comes to the center position, doomed to the endless deceptions of its own doors and mirrors. What earlier eras and classic science fiction account a Faustian interest in at least some kind of transcendence becomes (as it is for many modernists) a chilling picture of self-satisfied human "striving" toward indenture to the demons of the Id. The devil's pact offers no reward in a universe where certainty of knowledge is not possible. Man defines himself existentially only by his own dehumanizing actions -- hence Jack's ultimate reduction to pure act, and his likely readiness to annoint yet another as having "always" been the caretaker. (Submitted by J.D.)
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