Sunday, July 18, 2010

Wendy? Darling?

Light of my life? Give me the bat.

UG. Being a life long Stephen King fan (well, if life begins at 12, when I first stumbled into my most beloved writer's work, The Shining, being my first "big girl" book, and being a time in my life that was definitely ripe for influence and permanent stamping of lifelong love) I am often confronted with the film adaptation of The Shining, and, to get to the point of it: how do I not adore the movie with wild abandon? Why...WHY am I such an evil bitch? Well. Two reasons: It doesn't follow the book; Wendy is not supposed to be an ugly wimp. What, no girl power??? WHAT, I am NOT, in fact, a SUPPORTER of all women??? (despite the fact that some deserve no support at all?)

Yes. That is me. Label me an Asshole. Whatever. I do not care. Because A.) parts of the movie do not even make sense without the book (dog costume man giving supposed head to 20s dapper man), and B.) most importantly, Wendy is NOT supposed to be some weak willed idiot wailing and flailing at Jack like some helpless half wit. King's tendency to make his women Lil' Helpless Squealers does not escape his heroine, don't get me wrong, but there are two crucial deviations from book to movie: First, Wendy is supposed to be attractive. I know it is superficial, but it is one of those things that, when you first notice it you think: What, they couldn't spring for someone with a pretty face? Too expensive? It doesn't help to learn that Kubrick mentally tortured Shelly Duvall during the filming of this movie...almost as if he knew she was completely wrong for the part and decided to punish her for it. (Side Note: I blame the casting director, James Liggat, who obviously had his head in a bucket of bourbon.)

And, second, Wendy fights like HELL on the stairs in the book. It is, in fact, a whole different scenario on the stairs. He surprises her, she fights like a demon. It is bloody and horrible, but she wins...not because she "luckily" smacks him with a bat (see below) but because she knows the stakes and beats the living shit out of him despite the injuries he subjects upon her in the process.

SO, what is my favorite part of The Shining, the movie? Well, it might be too easy to guess.

My only happy ending, of course, would have been the moment when Jack actually DID bash that idiot Olive Oyl's head in. Oh well. Maybe dreams come true in the sequel.


Blogger Shiny said...

P.S. I always enjoyed Kubrick's ending much more since it was far more inventive (though his obligatory sacrifice of the Magical SK Black Man was regrettable, not just to the narrative but to our stunted, racist culture as a whole). You gain some, you lose one.

3:37 AM  
Blogger Toby said...

Did you see the miniseries King authorized a few years back to try and hew closer to the book? I've seen both, but never read the book, so I can't speak to how well the miniseries stays to the original. Of course, from a strictly technical perspective, there's no comparison between the two film versions.

As for Shelly Duvall, all I can say is that there seem to be a lot more actresses in the 70s who got through on skill than looks. Would Shelly have gotten a chance at a major film if she strolled into casting calls as a new actress in 2005? Sissy Spacek? Barbara Streisand?

11:49 PM  
Blogger Shiny said...

Tobes, it's more the screeching helplessness, coupled with her "looks," that got me. I know, I'm bending to my mean girl gene here, but knowing the book first made me all the angrier that some screaming sissy with googly eyes got the part. I swear they chose her based on her ability to a.) scream, and b.) google horror eyes. I would have gone with Cybil Shepard or someone like that. She could have done it.

PS. READ the BOOK. It is So Good. That stairway scene alone will have you rolling around, clutching at appliances, it is SO good.

PPS. In the recent reboot, I could not get past that poor child with the deformity. His poor, poor bucky teeth. I mentioned a mean girl streak, ya? Color me the best casting director ever.

10:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Am I the only one in the world who thinks Shelly Duvall is cute? Googly eyes are adorable.

Completely agree with the weak woman thing.

11:08 PM  

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