The Shining
Director and Producer:
Stanley Kubrick

Genre: Horror
Adapted from: Stephen Kings novel.
Starring: Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance, Shelley Duvall as Wendy Torrance, Danny Lloyd as Danny Torrance
Setting: The Overlook Hotel, during the winter months
Music: Bela Bartock - strings, percussion and celestia
Makeup: Tom Smith

Mary's murmerings!


You know something terrible is going to happen but you can't look away. Kubrick's films don't reveal all of their mysteries at one time. The underlying story of a father's hate for his child and wife is a very very frightening one. His underlying evil nature plays into the hands of the ghosts created by the echoes of the evil murderous deeds that have taken place in the hotel.

Kubrick creates surprising, surreal images.
Kubrick is interested in gothic stories and influenced by a story by Stephen Crane called The Blue Hotel. He called on screenwriter, Diane Johnston who wrote "The Shadow Knows" to create an adaptation of King's novel, The Shining.

Kubrick created a psychological thriller - something that touches us at the subconscious level.

There was always a question as to what extent the supernatural was real: could a ghost be strong enough to open the freezer door? Kubrick made things less explicit and so left things not explained and open ended. We don't get a typical gothic horror answer. It remains full of ambiguity.

The Timberland Hotel in Oregan is the setting for the exterior of the hotel and the UK was where the interior was created. Kubrick sent out people to photograph the hotel rooms all over America to select various rooms for his sets. He built the hotel in an English studio.

Creation of White-out alpine lighting.
Kubrick set up racks of 800,000 to 1 million watts of light outside the windows of the set on huge scaffolds. This filled the set with a cold white-out look outside and created the light in the high altitudes. The kind of cold light that fills every space and doesn't fall off.

Use of the light in shots
Because of the huge spaces in the hotel you could follow the actors as they moved around quite naturally being bathed or illuminated by this white-out alpine light that created a sense of isolation, cold and mystery.

Kubrick used backward tracking shots and had the freedom to move around with them as you do in life, taking in the great spaces and emptiness of the hotel.

Steadicam
Kubrick was very interested in moving camera. Steadicam had must come in and he was able to get the inventor, Garret Brown to help him develop the filming of The Shining. According to Brown steadicam is a "way of disconnecting the camerca from the bloke who is holding it. People are always in motion. Cameras need to be immune to that motion. The result is that whatever you want from a camera you can do."

Use of the filming technique of Steadicam in The Shining.
Low tracking shots following Danny on his pedal car. Kubrick wanted to get a low shot so they inverted the camera and hung it from its top rather than the bottom. Then they followed Danny in a converted wheel chair with the hand held. The lense was only two to three inches off the ground. The produced an incredible effect. The primal colours of the red and black design of the carpet were swirling by close to the lense, slightly crazily, making us feel a little off-balance even though the camera is holding steady. The walls of the sets' hotel corridors were sweeping by and so it looked like Danny and the audience - through the eye of the steadicam - were piercing the space. It also created the ability to explicitly show, or forshadow, what it is they are in for in this hotel. It shows just how vast and isolated the hotel is and as a result, just how vulnerable this family is to the imprint of evil that the murder has left in this hotel.

Sound technique
Kubrick was surprised by the effect that the pedal car's wheels made as it crossed over carpet and rumbled across the polished wooden floors. It was an unexpected bonus sound effect that was picked up by the microphone following so close to Danny and so close to the floor. This technique served to emphasise the vast empty isolated setting.

Maze Scenes effects
The maze was created out of boxed timber and chicken wire. Yew leaves were threaded into the wire-netting and trimmed.
The size of the maze was made to look much bigger through the use of an extremely wide lense called a 9.8. Kubrick was vigilant about keeping the lense level because if it tilted up a little bit it lost its realistic effect. The maze was only 8 foot tall but the effect of using the 9.8 lense was that the hedge height looked at least 12 feet tall.

High Angle maze shot special effects.
Introduction to the maze comes with Jack looking over the model from inside the hotel. Then it cuts to a high angle where you see them (Danny and Wendy) walking through the maze. To get this effect they shot the model of the maze from a scaffold. Then they built one section of the maze next to an apartment block and set up a platform that Kubrick leaned out from to film Danny and Wendy walking through the maze. They then cut out that little section of the film and superimposed it over the model.

In the winter scenes they shifted the maze inside the studio. It was styrofoamed up to look like snow. The formaldahyde glue vapour was very strong, it was over 30 degrees celcius in temperature and they were breathing in smoke oil. The snow on the ground of the maze was salt. Boots would start to rot out after a week.

Holding the steadicam allowed the filmmakers to create backward and forward tracking shots that followed a crazed Jack around the maze. It did not make any extra tracks. Danny's boot marks in the salt looked like he was walking through crisp virgin snow and Danny was able to step back in his own tracks.

Wendy Shelley's character was someone who was very needy. She had adjusted to tolerate the intolerable behaviour and contempt of her husband. Jack's character worked hard to scare her and work her into a space of hysteria.

The hair, makeup and clothing was middle American but not worn out looking. They were set to look like middle American cut outs from a magazine.

Once Diane Johnston found out that Jack Nicholson was playing the part of Jack Torrence she wrote in more pieces where Jack demonstrate his quirky unbalanced antics.
Kubrick would demand 60-80 takes of each shot. The actors were completely worn out and then would start to do crazy things. They would pull exhausted and strange faces and these were the shots that Kubrick would choose. He wanted Jack Nicholson to over act. Jack could give Kubrick catatonic (staring into space) to hysterical.
The Nature of Evil
What gives the plot the power is that you don't know what is going on really. We know that the ghosts seem to be part of an echo of an horrific evil past event, not an extension of Jack's soul. But then the final shot at the photograph of the party from the 1920's places Jack's face in the party as the caretaker. Is he reborn, did he always know that he was going back there, or is he just being used by the ghosts who lived there because the hotel was built on an Indian Cemetary?

Danny and Jack have "the shining". Danny is able to learn from his extra sensory perception and he is also protected by his spirit guide, Tony.

Kubrick raises questions about the nature of evil: it's containment, it's appearance, it's power and the fact that it lurks beneath the veneer of domestic life, or everyday life.
Danny is dressed in cute knitted jerseys with mickey mouse of them. He is an innocent child, this makes it all the more effective and shocking when he, under the influence of spirit guide Tony, picks up the blood red lipstick and writes Redrum across the back of Wendy's bedroom door and then approaches her bed with a chopping knife in his hand groaning "red rum, red rum" until Wendy wakes up. Wendy wakes up to see Redrum in the mirror as "murder".

Kubrick shows that horror is domestic, across the kitchen table and in a family. It is frightening to the viewer to consider that the horror is so near home but it is and that is one of the messages in the movie.

Kubrick used cinema to show what society was afraid of at the time.


Opening Scene - Trombone playing a mournful tune very reminiscent of a funeral dirge.
Helicopter photography - showing isolation and dangerous cliff faces.
High Strings - now accompany the trombone. Sounds like a human spirit being tortured.

Then the hotel and its mountain comes into view.

We see Jack turning up for his interview at the resort.

Scene two - Boy and mum at the breakfast table. We are introduced to "Tony". Boy moves his finger up and down like a puppet talking. Tony is Danny's spirit guide.
Intercutting - back to Jack's interview and forshadowing from Stuart the boss "tremendous sense of isolation". Jack calls it "five months of peace..."

Foreshadowing - stuart tells him about the tragedy in the winter of 1970. Charles Grady was the winter caretaker. "At some point ...ran amuck and killed his family with an axe....perhaps cabin fever..."

Jack's eyebrows already look crazy.

Tony tells Danny that Jack gets the job.

Foreshadowing - Danny has a premonition of the blood and the twin girls: Tony shows him.

Scene Three - CLOSING DAY. Aerial shot by helicopter of the isolated road out to the hotel. (Visual technique). Accompanied by the (Sound Technique) of chello strings.

Family drives out to the hotel. We hear about the Donner Party that got caught in the snow during one winter and turned to cannibalism to stay alive. Their wagons were trapped in the snow.

Mist - accompanies shots of the car and sound effects - high strings/low strings with trumpets like the baying of Buddhist monks' horns soar and dip as the Overlook Hotel comes into view.

It is closing day and everyone is packing up and mopping floors. (Visual technique) the indian patterns on the flooring and walls, reminds viewers that the Overlook Hotel is built on an Indian burial site.

The tour of the hotel starts with the Colorado Lounge. (Visual techniques)The use of the wide angle lense makes the set look expansive and the use of the lighting outside the windows gives the impression that the alpine white light is shining in through the windows. It looks bleak and isolated outside. Wendy sounds very shrill.

The scene switches to a close-up of Danny who is playing darts in the games room. (Visual technique) the camera zooms out from him and is accompanied by the high feed back (sound technique) which is used everytime something supernatural is about to happen to Danny in the movie. As he steps up to get the darts down from the games room something makes him look at the doorway. (Visual technique) the camera zooms in to a extreme close up of Danny's face so that we can see his reaction to what is there.Two girls who look like twins are standing in the doorway. They are holding hands and turn to smile at each other before leaving the room.

Scene switches to Jack and Wendy being shown the staff section of the hotel.

Scene switches to outside the hotel. Wendy is asking when the Overlook was built. They are told that construction started in 1907 and finished in 1909. (Verbal technique - dialogue is used to forshadow and go some way to explaining where the original source of the evil in the hotel may have come from) "We are told that the site is actually on an Indian burial ground and they had to repell a few attacks as they were building it."

We are shown the snowcat. That we are told is very easy to drive.

Then we cut to the huge kitchens. (visual film technique - backward tracking shot with steady cam and wide angle) It is used to show them walking about the vast kitchens. We are introduced to Mr O'Halloran. Who appears to know that Danny is called "Doc." O'Halloran tells him about the "Shining". We learn that Danny has Tony as a spirit guide who tells him things. "Is there something bad here?" asks Danny. We learn from O'Halloran that when things happen they leave a trace behind. "Burnt toast leaves the smell behind." This is using the technique of dialogue to advance the plot and explain what might be forshadowed. "I think a lot of things have happened right here in this particular hotel and not all of 'em is good."
"What about room 237?"
"You're scared of room 237 aint ya."

"There aint nothin' in room 237. But you aint got no business goin' in there anyway." This is the use of dialogue in the visual text to forshadow that something is definitely going to happen later in Room 237!

A MONTH LATER - White on black background = (visual technique to show the passing of time). This is always accompanied by the sound technique of a wolf howling as the scene changes.
Danny is riding his pedal car around the kitchen, out into reception and into the Colorado Lounge. (visual technique) the use of the steady cam held low to the ground to follow Danny. The microphone picks up the sound of the pedal car rumbling over the wood and then going unexpectedly silent over the rugs. The 9.8 wide angle lense makes the walls and carpets fly by. We follow his progress but are afraid of what he is going to see.

Scene cuts to Wendy delivering a breakfast tray to Jack who can't seem to wake up and start writing. The dialogue in this scene shows us just how much he dislikes Wendy. "Somethin' will come. It's just a matter of settling back into the habit of writing everyday."
Jack looks at Wendy and says sarcastically, "Yeup. That's all it is..."

Scene cuts to the empty page in Jack's type-writer and then to Jack throwing a ball up against the wall in the colorado room.

Scene cuts to Danny and Wendy running into the maze. (sound technique) accompanies them. The feedback plus the sliding strings as they explore the maze. (visual technique) The maze is only eight feet tall but the use of the wide angle lense makes the hedge height stretch to what looks like 12 feet tall. (camera technique) The steady cam is used to back track and have Danny and Wendy walk towards the viewer. The hedges are constructed with yew leaves woven into chicken wire to look like a maze.

Scene cuts to Jack playing in the colorado room. (sound technique/device) The sound of the timpany drums starts to rumble. This indicates that something supernatural is occuring to Jack or within his mind. (special effects) Jack looks down on the model of the maze and sees Wendy and Danny walking through the middle of it. This has been created by filming the model from a crane ...etc see above. Jack is not even phased by the fact he sees them. We the audience are. it's just another unanswered question from Kubrick's film.

TUESDAY - WHITE ON BLACK BACKGROUND = (VISUAL TECHNIQUE TO SHOW THE PASSING OF TIME.) Followed by the sound device of the wolf howling.
Danny is on his pedal car. (visual techniques) The steady cam is held low to the carpet behind him. The crazy angular designs in the carpet swoop past. It has the effect of unnerving the audience even though the camera is steady. Remember the cameraman was sitting on a wheelchair filming. (sound techniques) The music builds and then drops away to the feedback accompanied by the strings playing up and down also like a question. Almost childishly playful as Danny reaches room 237. There is a nursery-like tune overlaying the feedback and the soaring and dipping strings. Almost beckoning Danny to open the door. He gets off his pedal car and approaches the door. As he approaches the door and touches it, and tries to open it up the timpany starts rumbling again. As it the evil in the hotel is waking up in that room. Just as we saw it waking up in Jack earlier. We see Danny pedal away but the rumbling timpany keeps going and creates a music bridge to the next scene where Jack is typing in the Colorado Room. It is very dimly lit. The camera approaches Jack from behind and then flicks in front of him so that we can't see what he is typing. (sound techniques) This has changed to light nursery xylophone sounds that swirl up and down. This is accompanied by an underscore of strings that are rising to indicate that something is building in Jack's mind. The music is a mass discordent sounds and the camera cuts to back behind Jack again to show Wendy entering the room. (dialogue) use of dialogue again shows us just how much Jack despises Wendy. He is verbally abusive of her and shows her no respect when she asks him how the writing is coming along.

The scene cuts to outside in the falling snow. Wendy and Danny are running and laughing. Then it cuts back to a close up of Jack. The lighting on his face makes him look pale and shows that he can't sleep. The camera slowing zooms into an extreme close up of Jack's crazed eyes and menacingly arched eyebrows.