The Overlook is huge. It's overwhelming. From the opening shots of The Shining, The Overlook Hotel looks like it's going to eat its inhabitants. Toward the end of the film, it looks like it does just that. Throughout this essay I will demonstrate how Kubrick uses filmic techniques to illustrate the film's main theme of claustrophobia, and it's relation to the hotel's progressively terrifying possession of Jack Torrance's mind.
The plot of The Shining (based on the Stephen King book) involves a seemingly typical family of three, Jack and Wendy Torrance, and their son Danny. Jack has been selected to - well, overlook - The Overlook, which he thinks will give him the time and space he needs to work on his novel. From the time the family moves into the otherwise deserted hotel, however, there are strange goings on. The boy, Danny, who has visions, sees twin girls who died years before in the hotel.
Jack also sees people who aren't really there, like an old woman who drowned in one of the hotel tubs. Suddenly, time and space are closing in on the Torrance's, particularly as Jack starts to lose his mind and gets it into his head that maybe they'd all be better off dead.
Director Stanley Kubrick's camera work makes The Overlook look overwhelming to his characters from the opening shots. There is so much headspace as the characters walk through the spacious halls of The Overlook, it looks as though Kubrick could have shot another movie in the top half of the screen. As the film goes on, this headspace is subtly taken away, until instead of being overwhelming, the once capacious Overlook is closing in on its inhabitants. Kubrick takes away space piecemeal as the movie goes on. In one shot in particular,