Monday, November 25, 2013

10 Facts You May Not Have Known About THE SHINING

Back on October 30th, I had the opportunity to see my personal favorite film on the big screen for the first time, and what an experience it was. To experience The Exorcist in that fashion was a beautiful experience, but The Shining… that was borderline religious. I spent All Hallows Eve with a packed house of eager faced people, some who had never seen the film, others just as big a fan as I am, and the Torrance family. It could not have been more perfect. 

I had yet to see it in this format, it’s true format, and after seeing The Exorcist, I couldn’t wait. In honor of that, let’s take a look at the iconic film by Stanley Kubrick and some facts about the film that may surprise you.

Now, I’ve been wanting to write a series about King for a while. I’m sure a few of you may remember me discussing this a while back, but it’s been a daunting task. I mean, I have so many thoughts about his work, that’s it’s hard to express in a length that would be tolerable to read. You can absolutely expect a very in depth analysis of this film in the future, but for now, let’s celebrate it with this list of facts and trivia about the 1980 classic.

 1. Stephen King Hates Kubrick’s Film

Stephen King, who wrote the book in 1978, has gone on the record stating that his views on Kubrick’s adaptation of his beloved novel are far from favorable. This has been no secret, however he has continued through the years to state his distaste, even going on to call it a misogynistic film as recent as this past September. If you’ve read the book, you will understand why King feels this way (in addition to the fact that Kubrick either ignored or blatantly cut out pretty much all of King’s creative notes). It really is a piss-poor adaptation of the book; the film strips the story of almost all psychological terror, in favor of a more “horror-movie” based, psychotic terror. It’s a good thing that Kubrick still created such a vibrant and beautiful piece of art with his film, otherwise this article would be taking on a very different tone. 

King went on to create his own mini-series in the mid-90’s, which most people hate, however I find it to be enjoyable on the level that it is quite accurate to the book. If you want accuracy in your adaptations, go for the mini-series. 
2. There Is No Overlook Hotel

As obvious as this one should seem, I’m including because it seems that the general belief is that The Shining was filmed at an actual hotel. Some say it’s in Colorado, others say it’s in Oregon, and while they’re not completely wrong, they’re not completely right either. 

The infamous Overlook Hotel was inspired by The Stanley Hotel, in Estes Park, CO, which is where Stephen King and his wife vacationed when he came up with, as he calls it, “the bones of the book” in his mind. For the film however, the opening shot (the infamous aerial shot of The Overlook Hotel) is none other than The Timberline Lodge, which is located in Oregon. There is no hedge maze at the Timberline, so that explains the mysterious absence of the maze. The rest of the film though was shot on soundstages at EMI Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire, England. It was at the time the largest set built, including the entire exterior of the hotel, the hedge maze, and all interiors which were modeled after several hotels in America. 

3. Stanley Kubrick Literally Drove His Cast to Tears

Kubrick is known for being a meticulous director, so much so that The Shining is in the Guinness Book of World Records as having the most takes done for one scene (which included Shelley Duvall). He developed certain relationships with certain characters, believing that the way he treated them would affect their performance on screen, thus he had a cold and calloused relationship with Duvall (to foster her fear and anxiety on screen), while he treated Danny Lloyd (Danny Torrance) as his own son, often sheltering him from the violence and keeping the fact that they were making a horror film a secret. Kubrick’s manic tendencies got to a point that while they were filming a scene in Dick Halloran’s bedroom (where he receives Danny’s telepathic SOS), Scatman Crothers was brought to tears by the sheer amount of takes that they were doing. It was then that Jack Nicholson decided he would never work with Kubrick again.

4. Danny Lloyd Was Not Aware That The Shining Was A Horror Film Until His Late Teens

We all know Danny Lloyd as the sweet faced, mop topped Danny Torrance, the kid with the worst luck west of the Mississippi. Plucked from auditions by Kubrick, he was given special attention throughout the duration of the shoot, with the cast and crew all playing with him, nurturing him and shielding him from the horrors that were going on all around them. They were obviously quite successful, because it wasn’t until Lloyd was 16 and he watched the film with friends did he realize that he was not in some run-of-the-mill drama film, but one of the most iconic and classic horror films of all time. 

Lloyd now lives life as a pig farmer and high school teacher, but is open to the idea of revisiting the world of The Shining in a cameo if Doctor Sleep ever makes it to the big screen.

5. Jack’s Manuscript Was Changed to Fit Each Language the Film Was Shown In

“All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy,” is such a common place term to us, but it would be strange to someone from, say Germany or France. Kubrick realized while filming that audiences in foreign countries would not understand the American idiom, so he filmed the iconic scene with Wendy discovering Jack’s work using drafts in several different languages. Here’s a rundown of the languages and translations that he used:

German: “Never put off ‘til tomorrow what may be done today”
Italian: “The morning has gold in its mouth”
French: “One ‘here you go’ is worth more than two ‘you’ll have its’”
Spanish: “No matter how early you get up, you can’t make the sun rise any sooner”

6. The Infamous Elevator Shot Took Over a Year of Continuous Takes to Get Right

Kubrick, in true perfectionist fashion, was extremely picky about this scene and this is definitely what caused the shoot to last over a year. The infamous shot of the tidal wave of blood pouring out of the elevator took over a year to shoot, simply because Kubrick was not satisfied with the way the blood looked. It would take 9 days to reset for the shoot, and it would be shot again, only for Kubrick to say “It doesn’t look enough like blood”. This was not the only scene like this, it took about 60 takes to get the shot of the tennis ball rolling into Danny’s toys just right. 

7. “You’ve always been the caretaker here.”   

The Shining has one of the most talked about endings of all time, with the photo of Jack fronting the group photo at the July 4th Ball in 1921.This was not a photo that was taken using extras though, it was an actual photo from 1921, with Jack Nicholson’s upper torso airbrushed into the photo by hand. What is written on the piece of paper that he is holding in his right hand has been speculated about for years. Not to mention the mere fact that he is in the photo himself. Has Jack always been a part of The Overlook? Was his whole life just a dream that he awoke from when he returned to The Overlook? It is one of the most theorized endings of any horror movie ever. 

8. The Shining Was The Only Kubrick Film (Of His Last 9) Not Nominated for an Oscar, But Was Nominated for 2 Razzies

The Razzies, short for the Golden Raspberry Awards, are awards presented in recognition of the worst in film. It’s no surprise that Shelley Duvall was nominated for “worst actress” but Kubrick too was nominated for “worst director”. They both “lost”. 

9. C-3PO Claims Danny to Have Followed in His Footsteps

Anthony Daniels, the lengthy individual who played C-3PO in the Star Wars franchise has a few stories of his own about visiting the set. The Empire Strikes Back was filming at Elstree studios and his dressing room was across the hall from the soundstages that housed the hedge maze. In an interview he talks about paying a visit to the set and went on to say that the ambience of the environment was very sinister, “especially because the whole place was draped in silent snow.” After walking around the hedge maze, he discovered that he was leaving foot prints in the freshly lain styrofoam/salt snow, so he retraced his steps and coyly takes credit for giving the idea to Kubrick to have Danny do the same in the heart attack inducing climax of the film. 

10. There Is An “Original Ending” That Was Shot and Later Cut From The Film

When the film was initially released in the summer of 1980, it played in select theaters across the nation before receiving a national roll out. During this limited screening, there was an alternate ending that showed Danny and Wendy recovering in a hospital after the traumatizing experience at The Overlook. Kubrick ultimately decided to cut it, but not soon enough before it was seen by a few audiences. Kubrick originally felt that at the end of a horror film, the audience needed to feel like things went back to normal and be reassured that Danny and Wendy would be alright. I am not sure why Kubrick ultimately decided to cut the scene, there are several conflicting stories, but it is uncertain as to whether or not that scene will ever be seen by the public. He supposedly had all copies of it (except for one) destroyed. You can read some scans of the script, which seemed like it would have made one hell of a scene. Even audience members who happened to catch a screening with the original ending don’t remember much about it, so that just leaves us fanatics with plenty of things to speculate about (as if we didn’t already have enough). 

Pages from the script can be seen below:

Seeing this film on the big screen, in such a grandiose fashion, was something that I will not soon forget. It was a beautiful reminder of what an amazing and awe inspiring film this is. To see the fear that was instilled in this audience of wide eyed faces, staring up at a screen in silent anticipation… that is the true magic of horror. Reminders like that are very nice every once in a while, especially when watching a scary movie is a daily occurrence for you, as opposed to an occasional treat.

For now, that is all. Expect more fun articles in the future!

Keep it spooky,
Rg Lovecraft

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