When Jack Torrance finds a job as a caretaker for an old abandoned hotel during the winter, he thinks of it as the perfect place to focus on his writing. Even his son's misgivings about the move don't deter him. But soon after the Torrances arrive, strange things start happening...and it looks as if the spooky hotel has a plan of its own for Jack and his family.
Theatrical release: May 23, 1980.
Filmed at EMI Elstree Studios in Borehamwood, England, and at the Timberline Lodge in Mount Hood, Oregon.
The shoot lasted from May 1978 through April 1979.
Estimated budget: $10-15 million.
Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick clashed over the production of THE SHINING. One surreal anecdote records a telephone call from Kubrick to King in the wee hours of the morning in which the director asked the author, "Do you believe in God?" Upon answering yes, Kubrick responded, "I thought so," and hung up. For years King railed against the film but said he came to appreciate the psychological style of horror that Kubrick was mining. A television miniseries based on the novel follows the original story much more faithfully--the screenplay for the miniseries was written by King himself.
The topiary from the book was too difficult to reproduce, so the hedge maze was created in its place.
The ominous snow was actually a mixture of Styrofoam and salt.
The use of the Steadicam, invented by camera operator Garrett Brown, was revolutionary in its ability to get moving shots never before possible.
Cowriters Kubrick and Diane Johnson read works by Sigmund Freud and Bruno Bettelheim to prepare for the psychological nature of THE SHINING.
Of horror films, Kubrick said, "I think the unconscious appeal of a ghost story, for instance, lies in its promise of immortality. If you can be frightened by a ghost story, then you must accept the probability that supernatural beings exist. If they do, then there is more than just oblivion waiting beyond the grave."
The interior of the Overlook Hotel was actually a huge set built in a British studio.
Philip Stone also appeared in Kubrick's BARRY LYNDON and A CLOCKWORK ORANGE; Joe Turkel also appeared in Kubrick's THE KILLING and PATHS OF GLORY.
The film was originally shown with a final hospital scene, but Kubrick quickly edited it out five days after the release, sending editors on bicycles to the theaters to cut the scene.
The Timberline Lodge in Mount Hood, Oregon, served as the Overlook in exterior shots.
In the book, room 217 holds some evil secrets; the room number was changed to 237 for the movie because there is no room 237 at the Timberline Lodge--and the owners felt that no one again would have ever stayed in room 217 after they'd seen the movie.
The book that Wendy Torrance is reading in the beginning of the film is J.D. Salinger's THE CATCHER IN THE RYE--which deals with mental instability and the urge to save a child.
The documentary MAKING "THE SHINING" was directed by Vivian Kubrick--Stanley Kubrick's daughter--who, among other things, followed around Jack Nicholson as he prepared for the "Here's Johnny!" scene and interviewed the actors.
In the film Dick Halloran (Scatman Crothers) describes the shining as the special ability to see the past and the future.
Shelley Duvall described her time making the picture as "tumultuous"; she was in and out of ill health, partially because of the stress of the role and being away from home for so long. Despite several flare-ups with Kubrick, she was wholly satisfied with the final film, and she said she learned more from Kubrick during this shoot than she learned in all her other films.
About his detail and technical proficiency Kubrick has said, "Eisenstein does it with cuts. Max Ophuls does it with fluid movements. Chaplin is all content and little form. Nobody could have shot a film in a more pedestrian way than Chaplin. Nobody could have paid less attention to story than Eisenstein. ALEXANDER NEVSKY is, after all, a pretty dopey story. POTEMKIN is built around a heavy propaganda story. But both are great filmmakers."
"...The atmosphere of the hotel is properly menacing and glamorous..." - 05/28/1980 Variety
"...Spellbinding....Nicholson's Jack is one of his most vibrant characterizations, furiously alive in every frame and fueled by an explosive anger..." - 05/23/1980 New York Times, p.C8
"THE SHINING works as a standalone masterpiece." - 01/01/2004 Total Film, p.134-5
"Few monsters are more frightening than the loving and trusted dad (played to tightly wound perfection by Nicholson)..." - 04/01/2004 Premiere, p.56
5 stars out of 5 -- "[With] agoraphobic locations and magnificent sets....Truly unnerving to watch." - 04/01/2008 Ultimate DVD, p.72