As the days get shorter, the nights get colder, and venturing outside becomes more painful than pleasant, one movie always reminds me I could have it so much worse. Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s novel The Shining (1980) is a stunning portrait of isolation and madness.
When struggling writer Jack Torrance becomes the winter caretaker at the Overlook Hotel it seems like an easy gig, he’ll have plenty of free time to write and he can get closer to his wife and young son, Danny. But as winter sets in and they are cut off from the rest of the world, Jack starts to lose it and the hotel reveals it has its own plans for the Torrances.
Stephen King has always been up front about his issues with Kubrick’s interpretation of The Shining. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, he explained:
In the book, there’s an actual arc where you see this guy, Jack Torrance, trying to be good, and little by little he moves over to this place where he’s crazy. And as far as I was concerned, when I saw the movie, Jack was crazy from the first scene.
And as amazing as I think the movie is, the man’s got a point. From the moment you see Jack Nicholson’s mug, interviewing to be the winter caretaker at The Overlook Hotel, you know he’s got a few screws loose. The whole first act of the movie is primarily foreshadowing to “when’s he gonna snap?”
The set dressing of the hotel is by far the most important piece of wardrobe, but Jack’s getup ain’t bad either. At the beginning of the film he’s all faux-professorial in knit ties and tweed jackets.
But as the winter and his madness closes in, Jack recedes to workwear staples: a corduroy bomber jacket, plaid flannel work shirt, jeans, and workboots. This stands in stark contrast to the black tie dinners that haunt his vision.
Jack stands out like the boorish oaf he is. He’s not a wealthy and respected guest of the hotel, but its working class servant.
In the end, he’s more capable and comfortable using a physical tool (the axe) than he ever was with the intellectual one (the typewriter), and his clothing reflects it.
Danny’s Apollo rocket sweater is also pretty neat.
And even though this movie takes place during the winter, you may want to bundle up a bit tighter than Jack. We all know how far it got him.
Our take on Jack Torrance:
Sugar Cane & Co. Winter Flannel
$250 at Self Edge
Lee 101Z 13.75oz. Dry Jeans
$187 at Cultizm
AMI Alexandre Matuissi Corduroy Bomber Jacket
At Barneys Warehouse (if you can find another red corduroy bomber, I’d like to hear it!)
Timberland Waterproof 6″ Boot
$190 at Timberland
Tanner Goods Standard Belt in Havana
$105 at Tanner Goods
6 lb. Firefighter Axe
$186 at The Fire Store
Images courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures