The Shining, the 1980 film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick and co-written with novelist Diane Johnson, is widely accepted as one of the greatest horror films of all time.
The film, which was based on Stephen King’s 1977 novel of the same name, starred the likes of Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, and Danny Lloyd. Famously telling the tale of Jack Torrance, an aspiring writer and recovering alcoholic who takes the job as an off-season caretaker of the secluded ‘Overlook Hotel’ in Colorado, The Shining led Kubrick to major Hollywood success through his film company Hawk Films.
Battling the extreme winter conditions with his wife Wendy Torrance and young son Danny, Torrance witness his boy begin to possess “the shining” which is the terrifying abilities that allow him to see the hotel’s horrific past. It is these supernatural forces, combined with the winter storm leaving the family trapped in the hotel, that leads Jack’s sanity to deteriorate.
Remarkably, the production of the film was almost exclusively filmed at EMI Elstree Studios with expertly crafted sets which were based on real locations. Kubrick, as he famously liked to do, preferred to work with an intensely small crew which subsequently resulted in long, stressful and exhausting days on set. While several versions of the film were released, the overall immediate reaction was less than positive and reviews proved to be incredibly mixed.
The reviews were mixed and Warner Bros. crawled to a small profit. In fact, in an interview with Playboy in 1983, Stephen King himself felt let down by the result: “I’d admired Kubrick for a long time and had great expectations for the project, but I was deeply disappointed in the end result. Parts of the film are chilling, charged with a relentlessly claustrophobic terror, but others fell flat,” he said.
Despite initially failing to success, like many of Kubrick’s films The Shining‘s legacy grew significantly in the years that followed. Early criticism of Kubrick’s decision to cast Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall were proved wrong and the film has stood the test of time.
Below, enjoy a short film which explores the behind the scenes creation of the film.