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Old 08-01-2005, 23:14   #1
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Question about The Shining...[SPOILERS INSIDE]

Does anyone here know the reason(s) why Stephen King didn't much care for the Jack Nicholson adaptation of his novel? Was it because Stanley Kubrick made so many changes from the book, eg - Hallorann getting killed, 2 little girls in the corridor etc, or was there some other reason, because I'd be very interested to know!
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Old 08-01-2005, 23:19   #2
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I believe King has likened it to a big flash car that didn't have an engine. I haven't read the book, but his dislike for the film always seemed a bit odd to me, as it's one of the best film adaptations to come from a King book, the others being Shawshank and Stand By Me.

EDIT: That didn't help at all, did it.

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Old 09-01-2005, 00:15   #3
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He felt that Jack Nicholson was miscast and would have preferred an actor whose sanity was more concrete from the beginning. I think he had also been rather sheltered following "Carrie" - which remains one of the best and most faithful of all King adaptations - and didn't expect his work to be quite so thoroughly gutted as it was by Kubrick. Mind you, as borefests like "Shawshank" and "The Green Mile" amply demonstrate, being faithful to King is not necessarily a good thing.

I tend to agree with Peter Nicholls' assessment that while the film of "The Shining" is bad King, it is very good Kubrick.
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Old 09-01-2005, 11:50   #4
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Another reason for King's dislike was that the role of Nicholson as a good-turned-bad father was not elaborated on enough - I think King felt very strongly about the role that alcohol played in the family dynamic, too, and Nicholson's descent into madness was apparently not dealt with as extensively/correctly as it was in the book.
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Old 09-01-2005, 12:37   #5
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He's changed his mind about The Shining now, apparently, and quite likes it - he said as much when I saw him in person, ranking it as one of the best films of his work - considering the glut of adaptive crap that came afterwards he should, really. He's also said that his fans don't "find 'me' in there, as some also don't with Christine - I'm just not 'there' ".

As Mike says, King fans dislike it because technically it's a 'bad' adaptation, but a 'good' film in itself; Kubrick essentially destroys any narrative tension that the novel had, gives away his big set-piece (the wave of blood) about a third of the way into the film and turns the explosive ending into a limp exercise in losing one's bearings. BUT, the film has an atmosphere of abstract 'weirdness' that the novel comes nowhere near. And if you accept Nicholson's performance as macabre comedy, and the fact he's a fruitloop from the very start, it's incredibly, mordantly amusing. As someone said (I forget), "It's subtlety lies in its very obviousness".

I'm a fan of both Kubrick and King and have always liked it (compare it to the later anodyne tv miniseries, which is faaar more faithful but about a dust mote's width as affecting).

Similarly I've always liked Lynch's Dune, and am a big Herbert fan, which puts me in a demographic of about ten people.

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Old 09-01-2005, 14:06   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike
as borefests like "Shawshank" and "The Green Mile" amply demonstrate, being faithful to King is not necessarily a good thing.
Indeed. The fact that the Shining is such a great film does not have much to do with Stephen King.
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Old 09-01-2005, 14:21   #7
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Mike - Why do you dislike SHAWSHANK and THE GREEN MILE?
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Old 09-01-2005, 14:24   #8
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Errr... because they're mawkish bogosities of movies? How many more cliches could Shawshank contain before it split its seams and spilled 'em all over the dock!

Same for Green Mile, except more so: it just repeats the themes of Shawshank, only more obtusely.

I can see why, for some people, those films transcend their cheesiness and become something... I dunno, meaningful.

King has one theme lingering in this sort of fiction (The Stand etc): the corruption of Good Ole Boy Americana, and he plays it to the hilt.

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Old 09-01-2005, 14:32   #9
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The fact that so many people rate Shawshank so highly is to me one of the great mysteries of the universe.
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Old 09-01-2005, 17:37   #10
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Excellent posts from both Mike and anephric. The pair of you sum up my own thoughts on this film perfectly. I love The Shining, and I think in 1980, King was responding to what all the critics responded to - Nicholson's "over the top" performance. (Kubrick felt that it was a great performance - on a par with Jimmy Cagney). I am glad that King has softened to Kubrick's version of his pulp novel (which I read in the late 70s - not since). I think the film is the first symptom of Kubrick's degeneration (it does not have the narrative tightness of the earlier work) - but it is still one of the all-time great horror movies.

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Old 09-01-2005, 17:48   #11
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In terms of sheer atmosphere (and incredible use of aural landscape) nothing really comes close to The Shining for utter unease... it's certainly one of the only King adaptations that can rightly be called 'unnerving'.

I remember watching The Shining one Hallowe'en in the local indie cinema, coming out at about 4AM and it was snowing and the streets were completely deserted... it was magnificent. I can't remember the last time I thought that coming out of a horror film (not that I'm slagging the genre).

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Old 09-01-2005, 18:39   #12
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Hey there.

This is story I remember hearing once about King, Kubric and the Shining.

I may well be paraphrasing a fair bit here.

Steven King was always a big fan of Kubrics films. When he heard Kubric had gotten hold of the rights to The Shining and planned to make it his next film, Steven King was really happy about it and couldn't wait to meet and talk to him about it... But the call never came. Kubric never once contacted Steven King while writing the script.

King heard about the movie being cast and going into production and still he never heard a word from the director/.. Then in the middle of the night while King is in bed sleeping, the phone rings. King’s wife answers, listens and then turns over to wake her husband. “Steven it’s Stanley Kubric calling from England. He want’s to speak with you. Steven King, springs up out of bed as giddy as a schoolboy that Kubric has finally contacted him. He takes the phone. “Hello Stanley? It’s Steven King here. Thank’s for calling me. I’ve been dying to spea....” Kubric interupts him mid sentence. “I was wondering Steven. Do you believe in god?” King, slightly taken aback by the question, replies. “Why yes, as a matter of fact I do.” Kubric fires back “Yes that’s what I thought. He then hangs up the phone. The line goes dead. King put’s the phone down and wonders what the hell that was about.

Steven King didn't hear from or see Stanley Kubric again until long after the movie has been finished and released...

Apparently pretty much all of the above is true.

Despin out.
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Old 09-01-2005, 18:50   #13
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Hmmm - all that smacks of Kubrick urban-myth. My understanding is that Kubrick may well have terrorized Shelley Duvall (I would have) - but in his business dealings, he was utterly gentlemanly and charming.
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Old 09-01-2005, 19:19   #14
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Apparently, according to King himself, he was consulted very little during the production of the film, only preproduction.

And I quote: "I really had little to do with the actual shooting, but, like Arthur Clarke on 2001, I was consulted. During our first talk, Stanley mentioned that he'd like to change the ending - have all the main leads killed off, and return them later as ghosts. I told him the audiences would have his head if faced with the slaughter of characters they cared about."

Stephen King at the Movies, Jessie Horsting, Starlog Publishing.
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Old 09-01-2005, 22:00   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anephric
I've always liked Lynch's Dune, and am a big Herbert fan, which puts me in a demographic of about ten people.
So that's you and me...I wonder who the other eight are?

I've always thought The Santaroga Barrier would have made a good film, though I suspect it may have dated a little by now.
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Old 09-01-2005, 22:27   #16
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Similarly The White Plague; though I can't imagine who'd want to make it...
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Old 10-01-2005, 11:22   #17
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Hey there.

"Hmmm - all that smacks of Kubrick urban-myth."

Well that story came from Frank Darabont and he was told it by Steven King.

I don't think it's a myth at all.

Despin out.
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Old 10-01-2005, 12:21   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanWilde1966
Kubrick may well have terrorized Shelley Duvall (I would have)
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Old 10-01-2005, 12:32   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Despin
Hey there.

"Hmmm - all that smacks of Kubrick urban-myth."

Well that story came from Frank Darabont and he was told it by Steven King.

I don't think it's a myth at all.
Fair enough. And thinking some more about it, what you describe has more recent resonances. Fred Raphael's controversial EYES WIDE OPEN contains the following passage, after he'd effectively completed and submitted the screenplay for EWS:

"EYES WIDE SHUT finally started shooting in November 1996, two years after I had started working on the first draft of the script...I was kept regularly informed of what was going on, unofficially,but Stanley himself never called me again... I did not hear from him personally until last winter [1998], when he had almost finished editing..." (pp.185-186)

The two never met or spoke again, though Kubrick mailed Raphael a 1998 Christmas present. And of course, two and a bit months later, Kubrick was dead.
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Old 10-01-2005, 15:27   #20
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I have the R2 version, is it worth picking up the US version for extended scenes ?
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