Bigger Than The Shining is an interesting experiment by acclaimed director and film critic Mark Cousins. It combines two seemingly different films – Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror classic The Shining and Nicholas Ray’s 1956 melodrama Bigger Than Life, to show their similar visual and narrative characteristics.

By intercutting similar sequences from both films, Cousins is able to show how they share a similar narrative theme – a father figure gradually loses his mind and threatens his family both physically and mentally. Scenes wherein Jack Nicholson threatens Shelley Duvall are followed or preceded by scenes of Bigger Than Life’s James Mason behaving similarly towards his wife and son. Cousins also poses a series of questions that supposedly suggest further visual and thematic connections between the films.

However, very few of these questions appear relevant or related to the film clips they are associated with. The film suggests that the similarities between both films implies that the Eisenhower and Reagan-era Americas are closely related, but the following film clips do not reinforce that argument.

A further problem with Bigger Than The Shining is its main argument; that two seemingly unrelated films share similar visual and narrative themes. This is repeated over the course of the 90 minute running time with no further points to make. Whilst this might have made for an interesting 9 minute YouTube video, it becomes insubstantial and repetitive as a feature film.

Adam Thornton

Fri 17 June, 8.40pm, Filmhouse 2

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