Stanley Kubrick's The Shining
is less an adaptation of Stephen King's bestselling horror novel than a complete reimagining of it from the inside out. In King's book, the Overlook Hotel is a haunted place that takes possession of its off-season caretaker and provokes him to murderous rage against his wife and young son. Kubrick's movie is an existential Road Runner cartoon (his steadicam scurrying through the hotel's labyrinthine hallways), in which the cavernously empty spaces inside the Overlook mirror the emptiness in the soul of the blocked writer, who's settled in for a long winter's hibernation. As many have pointed out, King's protagonist goes mad, but Kubrick's Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) is Looney Tunes from the moment we meet him--all arching eyebrows and mischievous grin. (Both Nicholson and Shelley Duvall reach new levels of hysteria in their performances, driven to extremes by the director's fanatical demands for take after take after take.) The Shining
is terrifying--but not in the way fans of the novel might expect. When it was redone as a TV miniseries (reportedly because of King's dissatisfaction with the Kubrick film), the famous topiary-animal attack (which was deemed impossible to film in 1980) was there--but the deeper horror was lost. Kubrick's The Shining
gets under your skin and chills your bones; it stays with you, inhabits you, haunts you. And there's no place to hide... --Jim Emerson
Available on VHS and DVD editions of The Shining
from the 1999 release of the Stanley Kubrick Collection
, The Making of "The Shining"
is a 30-minute documentary directed by Stanley Kubrick's daughter Vivian, who would later provide the eerie, mechanical music for Full Metal Jacket
(credited as Abigail Mead). Rarely seen since it was originally broadcast on British television in 1980, this behind-the-scenes film eschews narration in favor of casual encounters with Kubrick, Jack Nicholson, and other members of the cast. It's one of the only audio-visual records of Kubrick at work, and offers a fascinating glimpse of the director's personality and its influence on his actors and crew. Particularly revealing is a confrontation between Kubrick and Shelley Duvall, who later explains that the filming was intense and often difficult but always rewarding. Nicholson is shown to be insightful, devoted to his craft, and mischievously energetic (this is Jack, after all!), and Scatman Crothers is moved to tears when describing the privilege of working on the film. There's a splendid moment when Kubrick's mother visits the set and gets a quick lesson on the rigors of script revision, and James Mason (who starred in Kubrick's Lolita
) also stops by for a visit, still wearing his costume from Murder by Decree
, which was being filmed in a nearby studio. For Kubrick fans, this is a "home movie" you don't want to miss.
EDITOR'S NOTE: According to a Warner Home Video technician involved in the production of The Stanley Kubrick Collection, Kubrick authorized all aspects of the Collection, from the use of Digital Component Video (or "D-1") masters originally approved in 1989, to the use of minimalist screen menus, chapter stops, and (in the case of 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Shining on DVD) supplementary materials. Full-screen presentation of The Shining and Full Metal Jacket was also approved by Kubrick, who recomposed his original framing, reportedly believing that those films looked best on video in the full-screen format. (In fact, the original theatrical aspect ratio of The Shining was 1.66:1, meaning that a relatively small portion of the image is lost.) Kubrick also chose mono over stereo, believing that inconsistencies in theatrical sound systems resulted in loss of control over theatrical presentation. In every respect, the Warner spokesman said, the films in the Collection remain as Kubrick approved them. Any future attempt to remaster or alter them would have to be approved by an appointee of the Kubrick estate.