The Shining (4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray Review)

Following last year’s well-received and highly lauded debut of the first Stanley Kubrick film on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray with 2001: A Space Odyssey, Warner Bros is returning to the well (Or hotel) for more. Coming this year will be probably the next likely choice in his adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining. Largely looked upon as one of the crowning achievements of not only Kubrick’s career but the entire horror genre, it is getting a brand new 4K transfer and I’m sure is going to look stunning on the format (Keep on reading to find out). Unfortunately, no new extras have been commissioned for this release. BUT, as I’ve become accustomed to, the important thing is just getting the film itself upgraded. And in all honesty, the DVD and Blu-ray formats have already put out much of what we would want already in these films for bonus features (Though, I don’t think a couple more on The Shining would hurt, wink wink). You can return to the Overlook on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray on October 1st.


Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) becomes the winter caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel in Colorado, hoping to cure his writer’s block. He settles in along with his wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall), and his son, Danny (Danny Lloyd), who is plagued by psychic premonitions. As Jack’s writing goes nowhere and Danny’s visions become more disturbing, Jack discovers the hotel’s dark secrets and begins to unravel into a homicidal maniac hell-bent on terrorizing his family.

I can’t think a more perfect way to kick off the month of October for horror releases than The Shining’s debut on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray. While it has had its time dominating the genre for prestige, it still remains one of the finest crafted films despite that categorical handcuff. Stanley Kubrick stands in a league of his own and doesn’t waste a single frame in this “Madman’s Masterpiece” of a film. The production was a dive into insanity and overindulgence and the quest for perfection. You truly can’t make a film like this nowadays and even back then it was one of a kind. Stories abound that almost make you gasp in horror at Kubrick’s treatment of Shelley Duvall or his constant retakes to cycle Jack Nicholson into a natural madness that one can’t just call up. Was it worth it? Well, I don’t know, but they made a damn masterpiece, that’s for sure.

Kubrick is a filmmaker that can come off as cold to a lot of folks, but that’s because he truly embraces film as a visual medium. He’s not spoon-feeding you everything through script or dialogue. He’s speaking in patterns, designs, camera movements, filming an actor in the right light or knowing the correct take to use. It’s different certainly, but if you’re into technical aspects or the true language of cinema, then its no surprise he’s probably one of your favorites. The Shining is a myriad of balances, colors, movements, hidden symbols, messages and puzzles that only your mind can solve in its own way.

While Nicholson’s performance is rarely debated, Shelley Duvall’s is a different story. Personally, I’m on the side of high praise. Granted, there is a very intense and horrifying behind the scenes thing going on for her emotionally, but it translated perfectly here. Especially in the horror moments. She looks like she has truly seen and damned ghost in many sequences and really has captured hysteria to a high degree. It’s a shame that she was treated in such an awful manner to get this kind of performance as her work is iconic and quite high in the pantheon of intense horror performances.

When it comes to the best Stanley Kubrick film, it’s quite easily between The Shining and 2001: A Space Odyssey. They are quite unique and impeccable offerings that give you who the director is and the rare voice he had in cinema. The Shining remains an absolute triumph and a fascinating marvel I just cannot get enough of time and time again. Its not a movie I abuse, but one I want to watch more and more. I’ll never be “used” to the feeling of this move or not wowed by how the camera moves through the hotel. Every frame in this movie means something and many are gorgeous works of art and set design. The camera work is also such an achievement that even on the smallest screen, The Shining looks and feels larger than life. Its a film I love to just sink into, give myself to and lose myself inside its myriad of wonder for two and a half hours.


Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-100

Clarity/Detail: The Shining debuts on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray with a stunning brand new transfer from Warner Bros. 2001: A Space Odyssey set a standard last year and The Shining now makes it a trend for Stanley Kubrick films on the format. It carries the same 1.78:1 aspect ratio that the previous Blu-ray edition carried despite the film being released in 1.85:1 theatrically. Now, before crying foul, its been known that Kubrick shot his films and crafted them in such a way that they would be framed perfectly for both theatrical release and the 4×3 limitations of the TV safe. 1.78:1 really hurts nothing, doesn’t lose much information at all and presents a larger than life image. I’m a pissy pants about cropping, but this really isn’t as huge a deal as some may make out. The image itself has a gorgeous crispness, grain structure and fine detail about with beautifully saturated colors and natural blacks. This is a BIG jump from its Blu-ray counterpart and one of the finest hours a catalog title on the format. The Shining upon seconds in was already in a heated match fro my top spot in the end of the year lists we do here. I don’t assume it’ll fall off any.

Depth:  Incredible depth of field on display with every moment in the film. Every setting looks like it goes so deep and far back. And when the camera moves, doorways become loose and you can see a room go further back. The opening drive is absolutely breathtaking as well as many of the outdoor helicopter and crane shots. Movements are smooth and cinematic with zero motion issues. The depth truly is the greatest aspect of the film and with this transfer.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and completely natural through this. Shadows, darker hallways, low lit rooms and more cultivate and enriches the image with great saturation. No details are lost and everything is so spookily defined. No crushing witnessed during this viewing.

Color Reproduction: Colors are bold and quite strong and well saturated. This movie features a big focus and intentional use of strong colors that really pop off the screen from the paint chosen on walls, fabrics on upholstery and carpet designs. Reds, oranges, blues, and more rustic browns, tans and such are just so bold. Whites make a stunning appearance with different tones and details able to showcase through any given shade.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish. Every facial feature or texture is clear as day from any given distance. Stubble, bruising, wrinkles, blush, sweat and more all come through like a window. Heck, the details on Shelley Duvall’s teeth is rather intense.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.


Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish, French, German

Subtitles: English SDH, French, German SDH, Italian, Italian SDH, Japanese, Spanish, Czech, Dutch, Finnish, Hungarian, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Swedish, Thai

Dynamics: The Shining doesn’t receive an audio upgrade here in its 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray debut. I know, imagine what a trip an Atmos mix on this would be like? Fortunately, we have a solid, effective mix that gets crazy and simulates rather well by intensifying the room through your additional channels.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Axe hits, doors slamming, engines humming and more necessary buzzes and thumps come from the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation: This does feel like a lot is at the front, but don’t let it fool you. Things are happening plenty from the rear and can actually sneak up on you. One of my favorite aspects of this mix is how the score can just build and build through the channels and then command the room and totally get inside your head.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are pretty well audible, clear with a nice little analog hiss behind it.


The Shining comes with the standard Blu-ray edition and a digital copy of the film All bonus features are found on the standard Blu-ray disc.

Audio Commentary

  • by Steadicam inventor Garrett Brown and Stanley Kubrick biographer John Baxter

Video From The Overlook: Crafting The Shining (SD, 30:22)

The Visions Of Stanley Kubrick (SD, 17:17) 

The Making Of The Shining with Optional Commentary by Vivian Kubrick (SD, 34:59)

Wendy Carlos, Composer (SD, 7:31)


While it’s perfect for October, regardless of genre, The Shining remains one of the most amazing films ever made. Warner Bros has given it an amazing new transfer for its debut on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray. The audio remains a 5.1 mix, but it’s an effective one nonetheless. The vintage extras provide some solid insight. Like 2001 before it, The Shining surprises no one at being a magnificent showcase of a catalog title restored to the finest degree. What Kubrick will we get next year; A Clockwork Orange or Full Metal Jacket?


Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

1 Response to “The Shining (4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Brian Tilley

    The Shining did receive an audio upgrade. The previous 2007 bluray had a 16-bit 5.1 lpcm track, while the new UHD bluray sports a DTS-HD 24 bit 5.1 track, and there is a noticeable improvement.