Deconstructing ‘The Shining’ with a Different Kubrick Lens

Forty years after its release, Stanley Kubrick’s THE SHINING remains a masterpiece of modern horror. The 1980 film still chills to the bone, especially when little Danny Torrance spouts “Redrum” and sees those creepy Grady twins in the hallway of the Overlook Hotel, beckoning to, “Come and play with us, Danny — forever and ever and ever.”

A0C91691F.jpgAn interesting perspective on the making of Kubrick’s film came by way of his then-teen daughter Vivian, who had unprecedented access to the set. In order for her dad to keep an eye on her during the production and also to show her ropes, so to speak, he enlisted her to film a making-of documentary of THE SHINING for the BBC.

Kubrick-self-portrait-with-daughter-Vivian-and-camera-on-set-of-The-Shining.jpgFor the uninitiated who haven’t yet seen the riveting doc, the first part of THE MAKING OF THE SHINING shows a candid Jack Nicholson as he plays to Vivian’s camera, brushes his teeth and makes small talk before for the classic “Heeeere’s Johnny!” scene. Perhaps the best moment (at approximately 6:40) is watching Nicholson psyche himself up into psycho mode, huffing, puffing and picking up his axe while growling to himself, “Die, axe murder, kill, ha ha!” Watch the fun below, along with the entire documentary:

Overall, Vivian’s film allows a warts-and-all portrayal of both the light-hearted moments on set as well as the tense moments behind the scenes, often involving Shelley Duvall, who diplomatically recognizes how her emotions were pushed and manipulated by Kubrick to elicit the ultimate performance from her, “like a game.” The documentary features interviews with the cast and crew both on and off the set, allowing insights into the concepts of fame and success, the rigors of production, and the psychological elements of the filmmaking process, where hindsight is always 20/20. It’s unprecedented access to a Kubrick film that would not have been allowed had there not been another Kubrick behind the lens.

XLQfEnG.jpgFor those not in the know, THE SHINING is based on Stephen King’s novel and follows married couple Jack and Wendy Torrance (Nicholson and Duvall) as they move in to the remote Overlook Hotel in Colorado with their young son Danny (Danny Lloyd) to be the winter caretakers. A perfect opportunity for Jack to write his novel, he gradually grows distant, falls off the wagon — courtesy of the ghostly bartender Lloyd — gets cabin fever, types “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” over and over and over and over again, then picks up an axe to ease his ailing mind under the guidance of some malevolent spirits.

CFtzCU6UkAAWYH7.jpgTHE MAKING OF THE SHINING also can be found as a bonus feature on THE SHINING DVD and Blu-ray.


Get more insight into your favorite genre films and entertainment, including TWIN PEAKS, the ALIEN franchise, STAR WARS films and collecting, Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, and the work of Ray Harryhausen on IT CAME FROM…



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