After director Stanley Kubrick had finished 1975, Barry Lyndon, he was looking for his next project. How Stanley would find his next project is to read stacks books trying to find something that captured his attention.
His secretary would tell the story that if Kubrick didn’t like a book within the first few pages, he would throw the book hard against the wall of his office. For hours on end, she would hear hard “thumps” against the wall followed by a short time of quiet than another “thump”. Finally, when an extended period of peace would happen, she would know that he had found his next film.
When Stanley decided to make a film adaptation of Stephen King’s bestselling novel The Shining there must have been something about it that he saw because the movie and book are very different beasts.
Stephen King is not a fan of the film at all. He believes almost everything about the movie is wrong from the casting to the story changes. Just about the only thing that Stephen King loves about Kubrick’s The Shining is the camera work. In an interview, King has compared the film with a beautiful car that doesn’t have an engine. It’s not to look at, but it’s not going to take you anywhere.
The filming of The Shining was an intense time for the crew and the cast. Kubrick was infamous for demanding multiple retakes with some scenes being film between 40-75 times. One famous urban legend is the scene when Shelley Duvall is backing away from Jack Nicholson was reportedly shot a record breaking 127 times and even made it into the Guinness Book of Records. It may be a lie as the camera operator and the assistant editor on the film say it was, in reality, shot about 45 times.
One thing that wasn’t an urban myth is the utter hell actress Shelley Duvall undertook in the filming of The Shining. To get the right level of stress and panic out of her performance, Kubrick would demean and yell at her and ordered none of the crew to sympathise with her. This bullying resulted in Shelley suffering nervous exhaustion during the filming, which caused her physical pain and hair loss. Nicholson said it was the most challenging experience he has ever seen an actor go through while Duvall stated that it got the best performance out of her and she wouldn’t trade the experience for anything there is no rush to do anything like it again.
No matter the cause the lasting results is one of the most unsettling, atmospheric and downright terrifying films of all times. Perfect for a Halloween watch this weekend.