I’ll be honest with you. Part of me didn’t want to mention The Shining in our March Madness series. It felt a little too easy, do you know what I mean? The film is one of my favourites and I’ve written about it a few times on the site, most recently in a series of pieces on the work of director Stanley Kubrick.
But really, how can you talk about madness in pop culture without at least mentioning Jack Nicholson in The Shining.
Now, I’m not going to pontificate on the movie as a whole, or Nicholson’s role in particular. You can go back and read some previous pieces for all of my thoughts on the classic film. Instead, what I will share with you is one of my favourite scenes in The Shining. It’s a scene between Nicholson’s Jack Torrance and his wife Wendy, played by Shelley Duvall, the one that really alerts us all that things are definitely quite wrong between the couple.
Something to keep in mind when watching this particular moment – Duvall’s Wendy bares little to know resemblance to the character Stephen King wrote about in the original novel. King’s Wendy is strong and more classic American girl looking than the waifish Duvall. There are moments when I watch the film and question Stanley Kubrick’s decision to portray Wendy in this manner, as pure victim. I quickly accept, though, that this was the director’s vision of the character, one who has to deal with the insanity that has overcome her husband.
It may not be how King’s saw Wendy, but Shelly Duvall definitely delivers in the face of madness.