The Shinning

King’s Least Favorite Of His Films

A lot of Stephen King’s works have already been adapted to both small and big screens. In fact, 1999 credits on IMDB are under his name, in which some can be attributed to the repeat adaptations of his creations. Every filmmaker has the right to love the incredible author. Stephen King has created not only commercial novel hits but also stories that were artfully created and with great substance. The author is great in depicting monster, but they are featured in stories that are anchored in the real life and the characters of his novels are the ones which are considered to be some of the most memorable. As a result, his stories of have become more than the common slasher or monster creature narratives.

However, it can’t be denied that there is a disconnection between his stories that are great for movie adaptation and the reception of the audience once these movies are made. In the almost 200 adapted films of King’s novel, only some of them can be considered as worth watching. When stories, such as 1408, end up at the stronger end of the scale, well, one should know how bad the other adaptations are. Still, they have the option of watching the Stephen King-directed Maximum Overdrive.

Horror does not have the kind of respect that is allotted for other genres, that is why directors have a habit of avoiding creating works under such nature. The same goes for King’s creations even though his stories delved into darkness just like in other films. In fact, only a few known filmmakers have been involved with directing his works. These people include Brian De Palma (Carrie), David Cronenberg (The Dead Zone), and Rob Reiner (Misery). In relation to this, Stephen King is known for selling the rights of his short stories to inexperienced directors, which is possibly the reason why the quality of many of his adapted works is not up to the standards.

On the other hand, the more dramatic adaptations of Stephen King’s works seem to better compared with the horror ones. Yet, no can contradict that the best adaptation of King’s creations is a horror one, and it is considered as one of the scariest movies of all time: The Shining. The visual effects of the movie were very commendable, most especially the blood flooding the elevators and the creepy twin girls. The movie is also known for presenting some iconic scenes, prompting the development of an acclaimed documentary about the most far-fetched fan theories. The masterpiece that is The Shining is a perfect portrayal of the quality of work of Stanley Kubrick.

However, Stephen King himself was not a fan of what Kubrick did with The Shining. In fact, the author hates Kubrick’s depiction of the Overlook hotel and the Torrance family. Stephen King though the representations in the movie were too cold and there wasn’t any emotional investment in the family on the director’s part. On the other hand, King made sure to show his approval for the film’s visuals.

Though, no one can dispute King about his thought on the movie, it is possible that his connection with The Shining influenced his view on the film’s quality.

The Shining can be considered as the most personal creation of Stephen King. The novel not only elevated King’s writing to the next level, it also reflects some of the horrors are based on his own life. King admitted that during his younger years and the time that he already has two children, he sometimes feared himself for feeling antagonism toward his children. It is also known that he had a problem with alcoholism before, and such struggle did not pair well with his negative emotions. He said that his reason for writing the book was to flush out those thoughts inside him but it turned to be also a form of confession.

The main character in The Shining is Jack Torrance, a wannabe writer who is already far behind his deadline. King fully describes in the book Jack’s drinking and emotional problems, which in return, have caused irreparable damage on both his job and marriage. His problems turned for the worse when he broke the arm of his son, Danny, because of outrage and hit a child’ bicycle on the road while drunk driving. Logically, none of the incidents would have happened if only Jack had been sober. And his problems just got deeper when he lost his job after attacking a student because of his misplaced anger.

With such turn of events, Jack had no choice but to accept the job as the caretaker of Overlook hotel during the winter. Jack and his family would have to live in the hotel during the whole season and that is where Stephen King began pouring all the scary elements. At the hotel, Jack was suffering from a lot of problems, including the lack of alcohol, his anger, guilt, his lack of job and capacity of become a good writer, and isolation caused by winter. He was also not safe from the ghost and monsters that were plaguing the hotel and his son. Meanwhile, Wendy, Jack’s wife and a victim of husband’s abusive hands, feared the harm that would come to her and her son as Jack began drinking alcohol again. As for Danny, the boy could not bear the thought his parents splitting up and his powerful psychic ability, the “shining,” also did not save him from seeing the terrors roaming the hotel.

Aside from being a horror story, The Shining can also be deemed as tragedy. Though Jack had violent tendencies, some people can still relate with his character. In fact, King has deeply connected Jack’s character with that of his father, who also had a history with alcohol. Jack’s character has been known for being able to display a good and loving husband but whose inner demons are known by the readers to be just hibernating within him. And for a while, it seemed that the Torrance family would eventually have a happily ever after. Nevertheless, Jack tried to change himself for the good and to fight the evilness inside him, and this struggle really proved to be an important factor that determined the course of the story.

However, in the movie adaptation, Kubrick almost disregarded all the emotional conflicts faced by Jack. In the big screen, Jack’s problem with alcoholism was not highlighted that much as well as his struggle in trying to write. And such portrayal seemed to be very far from that is depicted in the novel. In addition, the supernatural manifestations that were seen in the movie were argued to be brought about by madness and not by just ghosts alone. However, King emphasizes that ghosts were always present in the hotel and they were the ones who drove Jack toward the edge of madness. Moreover, some monsters that were included in the book, such as the snake-like attacking fire hose and the animal topiary that came to life, were not seen in the movie.

As for Jack Nicholson, who played Jack in the movie, his portrayal did not parallel the character of the novel version. The same can be said for Jack’s simultaneous feelings of love and hate for Danny. And as noted by King, it seemed that Jack in the movie version of The Shining did not really try fighting away the darkness.

Kubrick also did not pay much attention to the book’s ending, as he gave Dick Hallorann, the Overlook’s cook and who had a psychic connection with Danny, a death that was different from that in the book.

More importantly, the movie ends with Jack going on a rampage and hunting Danny through a hedge maze before finally freezing to his death. This could have been what made Stephen King think that the film was too cold. Though Jack also hunted in Danny in the book, King made it clear that Jack was being controlled by the supernatural forces in the hotel. In addition, Jack was able to regain his consciousness for just a while and just enough to tell his son that he loved and him and to allow him to escape. In the end, Jack died in the hotel during the explosion in the boiler room.

Independently, Kubrick’s version of The Shining can be considered as one of the most powerful and thrilling films of all time. Yet, people could not blame Stephen King for his reaction. The author involved his personal life while writing the book and it seemed that Kubrick just plainly ignored it.

And since the original author did not like the adaptation of The Shining, one could only hope that the succeeding re-adaptation would fair off much better. So, as expected, The Shining was re-adapted as Stephen King’s The Shining, and for sure the horror novelist preferred this version.

Meanwhile, Mick Garris’ Shining was also released a part of the King miniseries shown in ABC. It came out with the likes of The Stand, It, The Tommyknockers, Storm of the Century, and Rose Red. Idea of creating such a project was commendable but the special effects that were used were not that great.

A lot of people did not like the TV version of The Shining though the story it portrayed was close to that of the book.

There are several factors that led to the failure of TV version of The Shining to sail through. First was the poor acting Steven Weber, which was incomparable to that of Jack Nicholson in the big screen. In addition, Courtland Mead was the wrong choice for playing the role of Danny.

Meanwhile, Rebecca De Mornay did pretty well as Wendy in the small screen considering that King thought that the Wendy in the movie was rather insulting to women and did really present a complex character which should have been there in the first place.

Another mistake made by the miniseries is in terms of the atmosphere. The Overlook in the TV version was not as scary as in Kubrick’s film, which is understandable considering that there is some limitation with the budget. Moreover, Garris made a mistake in showing Danny’s imaginary friend, “Tony,” in the screen. However, Kubrick did away by just making Danny wiggle his finger and speaking using the voice of his invisible friend.

Though Danny really sees an imaginary Tony in the book, it really did come out as absurd when literally depicted in the movie. Moreover, the miniseries did something more stupid by showing that Tony possibly speaks to Danny from the future. And even the firehose sneak and the hedge animals did not appear that terrifying in the miniseries. Thus, in short, Garris should have known his limitations while creating Shining and he should have looked for ways to make ends meet.

Meanwhile, people should still give the miniseries a chance. With over four hours of air time, it was able to portray most of the content of King’s original story. Though the miniseries is not that great, it still had its own powerful moments, and people cannot deny the rising and falling tension, which was very effective when tackled from the narrative point of view.

With a hit and cult-book such as The Shining and the kind of adaptation that it could be made into just like what Kubrick did, the most avid fans would really be the ones who will be put into test. The question lies whether they would prefer a somewhat “wrong” but effective film adaptation or that seems to be “right” but is basically ineffective. Nevertheless, one thing is clear. Avid fans do not have to be always loyal.

Take The Shining for example. None of the versions of The Shining can be considered as perfect. As for the novel, it is not free from some of the mistakes that can only be attributed to writers. In addition, let us not forget some of the racist and misogynistic statements that Jack had used as threats. Meanwhile, Kubrick also made a major mistake with modifying the death of Hallorann.

In summary, no one can deny the excellence of The Shining as a novel in providing the readers with a good tragedy and horror story that is backed up with characters struggling with their own complexities. On the other hand, Kubrick’s version also comes in as highly commendable and can really be considered as classic of the horror genre.