While I catched bits and pieces here and there over the years on TV, I only really saw “The Shining” about two years ago – and fell in love with it right away. As I had hoped in advance, it jumped right up there for me as one of the best horror films of all time. Kubrick’s precise direction, the intense atmosphere, many unforgettable moments, the discomforting music, the great performances all around, the perfect ending in the maze… in my very humble opinion, horror doesn’t get much better than this (in case you’re interested and you can read german, here’s the full review that I wrote back then -> fictionBOX – The Shining). However, two years ago I “only” watched the considerably shorter european cut (which is Kubrick’s preferred version), so when the Filmmuseum showed the US-cut as part of their horror retrospective, I jumped at the chance to check out the longer version, and compare the two.
Obviously, all the strengths and great scenes and elements present in the european version are in there, too. So it’s still a really good horror movie. However, in my opinion both cuts are a perfect example of how important editing is. And when I say editing, in this case, I’m talking less about cuts during a scene, or the buildup and flow of the scenes, but rather the movie as a whole; what you keep in and what you take out. The european version is much more intense, because it has a shorter setup, thus it starts to build the tension much sooner. The whole flow of the movie is greatly improved in the shorter cut, which trims scenes that are either redundant (like the talk with the doctor, where we get the exact same information as later, when Jack talks to the bartender) or superfluous (like all the additional weird stuff that Wendy get’s to see during the finale – at a time where our attention should be focused solely on what’s happening in the maze). Granted, there are a couple of scenes that I wouldn’t mind having in the international cut, but overall, there was not a single moment (that I noticed, anyway) that I will really miss when I watch my Blu-Ray again. Ergo: I’m with Kubrick on this.
US-Cut: 9/10 (International Cut: 10/10)