Tell Me How You Really Feel: Stephen King on Kubrick's Version of 'The Shining'
When we watch a movie, the final product has been filtered through so many minds and visions, and passed around from so many different pairs of hands that, most of the time, it is very different from the original — the version thought up by the writer. What do writers think about the end result of their stories? Stephen King gave his opinion of The Shining 2 years before its release in a 1978 article from Cinefantastique, talking about the direction in which Stanley Kubrick took it in terms of casting and content. Hit the jump the find out what he said.
Stephen King is the king of horror. He has written over 70 books in his nearly 40 year career making him one of the most prolific (and successful) writers in his genre. So many of his works have been adapted into screenplays and made into films, so the question of what King thinks about them is an important one.
At Cinephilia and Beyond, they shared an article from Cinefantastique from the late 70s focusing on King’s thoughts on the films that represent his work. Here’s what King says about Stanley Kubrick and his work on The Shining:
From the beginning, when I first talked to Kubrick some months ago, he wanted to change the ending. He asked me for my opinion on Halloran [the hotel cook played in Kubrick’s film by Scatman Crothers] becoming possessed, and then finishing the job that Torrance started, killing Danny, Wendy and lastly himself. Then, the scene would shift to the spring, with a new caretaker and his family arriving. However, the audience would see Jack, Wendy and Danny in an idyllic family scene—as ghosts—sitting together, laughing and talking. And I saw a parallel between this peaceful setting at the end of the picture and the end of 2001 where the astronaut is transported to the Louis XIV bedroom. To me, the two endings seemed to tie together.
After watching The Shining, I doubt most of us could imagine any other actor portraying Jack Torrance other than Jack Nicholson. In my opinion, he was perfect for the role, but for King, that wasn’t the case:
I’m a little afraid of Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance in that context because he is not an ordinary man. So far as I know, he’s never played an ordinary man and I’m not sure he can. I would have rather seen Michael Moriarty or Martin Sheen portray Torrance. But these actors are not supposed to be ‘bankable’—Hollywood loves that word. [Shelley Duvall as Wendy] is an example of absolutely grotesque casting.
Whether you agree or disagree, I think hearing from the original visionary on a project gives us an interesting opportunity to see new dimension of a film. Go here to read the rest of King’s thoughts on The Shining, as well as his twisted coming-of-age story Carrie.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with Stephen King’s opinions about The Shining? Tell us why or why not in the comments?