In this month of December, leMagduCiné offers an immersion in artistic creation as a backdrop for a cinematographic work. To launch this new cycle, let’s start by going back to the very origin of a film: writing.
If many feature films feature the figure of famous writers (Neverland, Jane, Shakespeare in love, Tolkien…) in more or less fictionalized biopics, others have used the art of writing, on a secondary basis, to characterize their characters and trigger terrifying events. As such, the protagonist of the writer lacking in inspiration, sublimated by Jack Torrance in shiningis ready to do anything to overcome his fear of the blank page.
Blank page, dark moods
The figure of the writer in lack of inspiration, singular and dramatic, fairly regularly animates thrillers, horror literature and horror cinema. How to explain that among all the arts, that of writing occupies such a predominant place as a catalyst for the horror genre?
It immediately appears obvious that the writer or screenwriter projects his own fears and torments into his works by breathing them into his characters. Confronted directly with this inevitable fear of the blank page, the authors like to express it, to explore it, to confront it in their stories.
But beyond this truth inherent in literary or cinematographic creation, the protagonist of the writer in editorial block constitutes a dramatic subject with powerful springs. In the first place, such a character, in search of success and fame, to conquer or regain, can show himself ready to run all the dangers, to make all the sacrifices to achieve his ends. Secondly, the writing process is necessarily accompanied by a phase of introspection, of introspection, which brings the author back to the center of his own psychology.
By combining these factors, the figure of the writer is ultimately much more likely than others to slip into a very wide range of doubts, obsessions and madness…
Therefore, faced with the despair of the blank page, all means, even completely irrational, perilous or even deadly, remain good to succeed in writing. Thus, in Sinister, Ellison Oswalt, a writer adept at crime stories, voluntarily moves into a house that witnessed the murder of an entire family. The hero of Below Zero, Jack, who does not manage to continue his novel, decides to live the same adventure as his characters by locking himself for several days in a cold room. Eddie Morra, failed writer who can’t make ends meet, tests in Limitless a mysterious new substance, NZT, which allows him to write a hundred pages in a few hours.
Worse, writing as a source of analysis and introspection can reveal deep psychological problems, already present or latent. Let us quote the famous Morton Rainey of secret window, a successful writer in the midst of an existential crisis since her divorce proceedings. Disturbed and unable to complete his novel, he begins to manifest dissociative identity disorder.
But the Palme d’or for the character of a tortured writer goes unquestionably to a certain Jack Torrance for the horrific shining by Stanley Kubrick, adaptation of the eponymous novel by Stephen King.
The writer Jack Torrence: live to create, die to exist
Jack, a former professor dreaming of becoming a writer, settles down for the winter in a large hotel in Colorado, the Overlook, with his wife Wendy and his son Danny. Hired as a caretaker, he finds a job there but is above all looking for a perfect setting to overcome his glaring lack of inspiration. Also, he pays little attention to the warnings of the director, who pointed out to him that the previous guard, Charles Grady, massacred his wife and two daughters with an ax before committing suicide. To write, you have to accept to take all the necessary risks.
The long journey on the snowy, narrow and winding road leading to the hotel already symbolizes for Jack the endless time needed to find the longed-for inspiration, which almost seems to evaporate at each new bend. As he gets closer, the Overlook becomes a mysterious but horribly fascinating figure, like an idea, an obsession that Jack can never get out of his mind.
By crossing the threshold of the hotel, Jack definitively seals his fate. He finally found in the Overlook the muse he so desperately needed. When he begins to write, he plunges body and soul into the strange universe of this place inhabited by the ghosts of a resurgent past. Also, he gets angry with his son and his wife who come to disturb him in the middle of work, causing him to lose track of this unexpected inspiration.
As Wendy and Danny begin to get lost in the eerie maze of bedrooms, including meeting the creepy twin sisters, Jack sinks deeper and deeper into his neuroses. Each new page written costs him his clarity of mind and reinforces the reactions of the hotel. The creative process given to Jack is therefore neither gratuitous nor trivial. Writing involves unwavering commitment and accepting to pay the price.
Accepting this burden, Jack isolates himself from his family and chooses to become one with his subject, the hotel. In the large living room, frozen in the past, he then meets Lloyd, an imaginary bartender. This one, related to the figure of Dracula, buys the soul of Jack against glasses of alcohol. In this festive ballroom, Jack feels good. Finally, he can write and for the first time, truly live his life. The Overlook made him someone, a feeling that his wife and son never managed to give him.
So when Wendy, terrified, asks Jack to leave the hotel, the writer can’t even imagine it. Finishing his book is a pact he has already signed. It is impossible to give it up because writing is his reason for living. He lives only to create, and can therefore sacrifice everything to achieve it. Jack must therefore prove his determination, even if it means killing, starting with the innocent cook, then his own family if necessary.
Pursued by Jack armed with an axe, Wendy and Danny try to escape through the hedges of the garden, a vast labyrinth symbolizing the ultimate test of the work of the neurotic writer. Jack finally disappears buried in the snow. He paid with his body and his soul for the right to belong to the history of the Overlook, as evidenced by his photo hanging on the wall. By dying, Jack has achieved his work and can finally exist.
More than just a horror movie, shining addresses through the character of Jack all the preparation, the loneliness, the commitment and the sacrifice involved in artistic creation. Just like Jack, let’s not forget that many artists died before achieving real fame…
We would like to say thanks to the author of this short article for this awesome material
Art as a secondary element of a work: The Shining, the horror of the blank page | LeMagduCine