13 Little Known Facts About ‘The Shining’

On a family vacation to a pair of lakeside cabins in 1999 I decided to buy a weathered copy of Stephen King’s The Shining at a flea market. It rained the rest of the vacation so, stuck inside, I immersed myself in the world of Jack and Wendy and Danny Torrence and the Overlook Hotel. Years later I watched Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation which tells a different, but equally horrifying story. In all the years since these two discoveries nothing has matched the overpowering sense of foreboding and unease I felt interacting with this story. The history of the book and the Kubrick adaptation are rich with the nuance and care of two masters who care deeply about their art. What follows are the most interesting bits of this history.

1.

paurian
paurian

The film that inspired The Shining, the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado — not the Timberline Lodge which was used in the movie adaptation — is actually haunted. According to Wikipedia:

Kitchen staff have reported to have heard a party going on in the ballroom, only to find it empty. People in the lobby have allegedly heard someone playing the ballroom’s piano; employees investigating the music purportedly found nobody sitting at the piano. Employees believe that particular ghost is of Freelan O. Stanley’s wife, Flora, who used to be a piano player. In one guest room, people claim to have seen a man standing over the bed before running into the closet. This same apparition is allegedly responsible for stealing guests’ jewelry, watches, and luggage. Others reported to have seen ghosts in their rooms in the middle of the night, simply standing in their room before disappearing.

Both Ghost Adventures and Ghost Hunters have investigated the hotel and it frequents lists of the most haunted places in the U.S..

2.

The Shining, playing at the Stanley Hotel. Wally Gobetz
The Shining, playing at the Stanley Hotel. Wally Gobetz

The hotel plays The Shining on a loop on one of its TV channels, available in every guest room. It’s the r-rated version.

3.

Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick had one conversation before production began on the movie. Kubrick called King and demanded to know whether the whole idea of ghosts presupposes that there is an afterlife — before hanging up on him. The Guardian recalled the oral history of this conversation:

At seven in the morning, King was shaving in the bathroom when his wife ran in to tell him there was a call from London, it was Stanley Kubrick. Just the mention of the director’s name was shock enough that when King went to the phone, he had a line of blood running down one cheek and the other was still white with foam. The first thing Kubrick said – and it’s worth noting that King’s growly impersonation makes him sound like a swamp creature – was: “I think stories of the supernatural are fundamentally optimistic, don’t you? If there are ghosts then that means we survive death.” King asked him about hell, how did that fit in? There was a long pause, then: “I don’t believe in hell.”

4.

Justin Kern
Justin Kern

This is a photo of The Ahwahnee Hotel which Kubrick modeled the set of his fictional hotel after. The Native American designs aren’t mentioned in the book but Kubrick went to great trouble to build the set in this theme. It’s speculated that the reason for this is that he wanted to use to movie to draw attention to the genocide of the American Indians. The original theory by Bill Blakemore published by The Washington Post can be viewed here.

5.

The Shining

Here’s what the Grady twins look like today.

Stemoc
Stemoc

6.

The Shining
The Shining

There’s an elaborate theory that the moon landing was faked and that Stanley Kubrick did it. The Shining supposedly serves as Kubrick’s confession, hiding clues in plain sight — all superfluous details he deliberately chose to include, as they weren’t in the book. Notably, Danny’s Apollo 11 sweater brings the moon landing to mind, in addition to the number of the haunted room being changed from the novel’s 217 to 237 (the moon is 237,000 miles from Earth), and known space-drink Tang being prominently displayed in the hotel’s pantry. The most haunting clue, if the theory were true, is Jack’s tirade at Wendy which could echo Kubrick’s feelings about faking the moon landing, “Does it matter to you at all that the owners have placed their complete confidence and trust in me, and that I have signed a contract in which I have accepted that responsibility?”

7.

Coven

Jack Nicholson wanted Jessica Lange to play Wendy’s role in the film.

8.

The Shining
The Shining

With their widely noted disputes about the adaptation, some think Kubrick left an “eff you” message in The Shining for Stephen King. At the beginning of the movie we see that Kubrick has changed the book’s red Volkswagon with a yellow one — a seemingly harmless change. However, at the end we finally see what happened to King’s red car, it’s crushed in an accident on the side of the road. This, and other theories were explored in Room 237.

9.

The Shining

In the movie, it took about a year of planning to get the iconic shot in where blood pours out of the elevator right, but only three days to film.

10.

Because he was so young Danny Lloyd, who played Danny in the film had no idea he was shooting a horror movie. He thought it was going to be a drama. Maybe this is the film he thought he was making?

11.

China Crisis
China Crisis

There’s a theory floating around that Stanley Kubrick typed all 500 pages of the “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy” manuscript. Though the process could have been automated, there were errors and formatting changes from page to page, something someone with Kubrick’s extreme attention to detail might actually insist on doing himself.

12.

Stephen King released a sequel to The Shining in 2013. Doctor Sleep follows a grown up Danny as he deals with adult life and his special powers.

13.

The Shining

Jack Nicholson had worked as a volunteer firefighter, so when he tore down the bathroom door he decimated the prop door too easily and the prop department had to use a real door instead. TC mark

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