Sensationalism of the Sounds from The Shining

Over Halloween weekend I was constantly reminded of the novel The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. This novel is representational of the sensation genre, because throughout, Collins elicits internal responses from the reader through his language. This can be seen in the scene where Walter Hartright first meets Ann Catherick.

“In one moment, every drop of blood in my body was brought to a stop by the touch of a hand laid lightly and suddenly on my shoulder from behind me” (23-24)

Collins absolutely elicits a sensational response from the reader with this sentence. I know I got goose bumps the first time I read this line.  I felt the same sensation several times this weekend as well though. Media that provides sensation is still popular. It is still not viewed as the most valued media, but it still is quite prevalent, it has just become the horror genre.

On Friday, I saw The Shining at the Belcourt Theatre. The Shining is a fantastically made movie that provides all kinds of physical responses. I kept alternating between nervously biting my finger nails shuddering at the sounds. These sounds, paired with Jack Nicholson’s crazy facial expressions are what really add to the physical responses. The sounds in the film varied between silence and shrill, loud, dissonant music. Sometimes the scene was not inherently scary, but the music is what caused the sensational response. The scene with Walter Hartright and Anne Catherick was not inherently scary either. People can go out walking and be approached by a stranger and not be this terrified, but the description of his blood being “brought to a stop by the touch of a hand” is pretty frightening. Wilkie Collins elicits a sensational response in the reader through words, whereas sensational media today relies more heavily on sound or music to elicit a response.

If you are interested in reading more about the music of The Shining and how the musical selections were paired with terrifying scenes and what this meant for the movie, check out this link

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