New ‘really weird’ detail emerges about Jack Nicholson in The Shining that nobody has ever noticed before
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Fans of The Shining have been sent into a spiral over several theories surrounding an 'odd happening' which occurs in the movie.
Film writer and lecturer Filippo Ulivieri - author of Stanley Kubrick and me - has taken to Twitter after noticing something 'really weird' occurring in The Shining (1980) which he doesn't think anyone else has ever noticed before.
If, like me, you've previously steered clear of The Shining on the basis of being a complete and utter scaredy-cat, after reading these terrifying - but engrossing - theories, you may just want to put on your big boy pants, keep all the lights on and give it a watch to see for yourself.
In a thread posted to Twitter, Ulivieri notes while there's 'plenty of odd things going on in The Shining' there's one particular 'really weird' occurrence in the movie which he 'cannot find anything about' online, in any article or video.
"Well, it *has* been noticed before, but only once. I mean, one instance. This one," he adds.
But what did Ulivieri notice during his last watching of The Shining?
Ulivieri explains he's 'talking about Jack Nicholson looking right into the camera'.
However, the author clarifies: "I am not talking about when he looks at the camera because he is talking to someone else. This type of shot is called subjective camera - a technique that places the audience in the shoes of a character.
"I am talking about all the times in which Jack Torrance looks at the camera but there’s no one to look at."
This thing happens throughout the entire film. This is the first time.— Filippo Ulivieri (@nessuno2001) May 31, 2023
🧵 8/50 pic.twitter.com/FFvbcTdqiD
Ulivieri notes all the times Nicholson glances directly at the camera are 'very brief moments, captured by a few frames of film'.
"It can happen while the eyes move from one point in space to another," he continues. "But usually it’s as if Jack is casting a brief look at something, as if he’s peeking."
And while some happen 'so quick you can easily miss it,' others are 'unabashedly blatant'.
"And it only happens with Jack Nicholson - or Jack Torrance, that is. No other actor, and no other character in the film, does that. Only Jack," Ulivieri adds.
And this is the last.— Filippo Ulivieri (@nessuno2001) May 31, 2023
🧵 9/50 pic.twitter.com/w7JgCK7VXq
Ulivieri argues the looks 'cannot be accidental' and we even known 'it is intentional' because of the documentary Making 'The Shining' shows Kubrick 'explicitly' asking Nicholson to 'find a way to look down, right where the camera is'.
By breaking the 'illusion of the play's [movie's] reality,' and 'viewer's so called suspension of disbelief', the viewer subsequently no longer watches as if simply 'observing the events' but becomes 'part of' the story being told.
However, Ulivieri notes the way Nicholson breaks the fourth wall is 'completely different'.
"It does not feel deliberate, and it may well escape our perception. [...] Moreover, breaking the fourth wall is usually a one-off device. It is used once per play/film, or very sparingly, and in very specific moments, often at the end. It must have a meaning for it to work," the author explains.
But Nicholson's glances at the camera in The Shining 'don't seem to mean much' and happens 'everywhere in the film'.
"In regard to this look, some say it’s a Brechtian effect to expose the artifice of the mise-en-scène and have the audience reflect on the film medium. But Kubrick’s films are not intellectual. 'The truth of a thing' he said 'Is in the feel of it, not in the think of it'.
"If this look at the camera means anything, for me it means that *we* are not safe from Jack’s fury. He knows where we are. He may come for us next."
One idea why Nicholson breaks the fourth wall with the viewer so frequently but fleetingly, suggested by Ulivieri, is that Kubrick created 'a film that played with the conventions of the genre', going against 'dramaturgical norms and film grammar'.
Or, you could see Nicholson's direct looks at the camera as if the camera is the perspective of the ghosts of the Overlook Hotel watching him. But then would that not mean the viewer is 'a ghost, too?'
Oof. You might want to sleep with the lights on tonight.