The Shining Textual Analysis

This is the opening title sequence of ‘The Shining’


By watching this cold opening title sequence, the audience can assume the genre of the movie to be a thriller / horror due to the slow, creepy music used as well as the eerie sound effects. Also the isolated location adds to the eeriness of it all. The purpose of this opening title sequence is to reveal the location but nothing else is given away just yet. It has been filmed in Glacier National Park in Montana on the Going-to-the-Sun road and Stanley Kubrick’s (the director) intention was to introduce his unusual vision of horror/thriller, as haunting landscapes and creepy sound effects create a uneasy atmosphere.

Personally, I like this opening title sequence due to the tense atmosphere that has been created but it is not one of my favourites. Although, the slow music and isolated area creates a tense atmosphere, which I like as many title sequence designers make the whole title sequence to be very fast paced to make the genre of thriller to be clear to the audience, however the slow pace of this specific title sequence also creates an eerie, creepy atmosphere. Despite this, I think the typography does not fit in as the bright blue colour does not fit in with the genre, or the atmosphere that has been created. The shots are good as many angles have been included which reveals the full, isolated setting.

This opening title sequence was shot by Greg McGillivray who spent several weeks filming these shots.

Textual Analysis:

In the first shot, an establishing shot has been used to present the setting which is of a lake surrounded by mountains where everything seems quiet and isolated. Non diegetic sound has been used as there is slow background music immediately creating a sinister tone. The camera then begins to move and film through the space which is called tracking and the camera is placed at a canted angle.

There is a transition onto the next shot which is of the road where the camera begins to track the small yellow car from a bird’s eye view, which foreshadows the themes of isolation and madness that are later revealed in the movie. Intentionally, a long shot has been used to portray the car to be quite minuscule in contrast to the roads and mountains, also hinting at the theme of isolation as the car is isolated in this soundless location. The music also becomes slower and deeper, forming a more tense atmosphere.

A cut onto the next shot presents the car continued to be tracked, however the camera angle changes to a high angle. The non diegetic music becomes more high pitched and eerie sound effects are added. The tone of the music overall changes creating an ominous mood.

The editor has cut onto the next shot which is a medium shot which has been shot from a high angle and the camera moves faster and gets closer to the car. The fast pace hints at the theme of madness.  During the actual movie, the audience is constantly wondering what will happen next and what lies around the corner which is foreshadowed by the car taking turns on the curvy road. The music gets faster and more sound effects are added adding to the eerie tone that is being created. Also, the titles begin to appear in this shot which are in a bright blue, basic font. It is very simple and fits in with the background and mood that is being created. Due to the colour being bright blue, the titles stand out in contrast to the background because if darker colours were used, as expected in a horror/thriller movie, then they would not stand out as much.

A bird’s eye view has been used for the next shot where tracking is continued and there is a shallow focus on the car and road as the rest of the scenery/setting has been slightly blurred. The music remains fast and creepy along with the sound effects. This then cuts onto the next shot where the music slows down but the sound effects remain, tensing the mood. A long shot has been used, and tracking is continued from eye level which is then cuts onto the next long shot which has been shot from a high angle and the music continues. A final cut is used once again, which is also a long shot which presents the car still being tracked as the music gets louder and creepier.



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