The Shining is one of the greatest horror films of all time. The 1980 film was based on the Stephen King book of the same name. The story detailed the descent into madness of a writer who takes on the job of caretaker of the vacant Overlook Hotel through a severe Colorado winter. The film today stands as one of the finest of the horror genre for its great performances and direction by Stanley Kubrick.
The film starred Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall as the couple who are responsible for looking after the hotel during a winter season. Jack Nicholson portrayed Jack Torrance, a struggling writer who is seeking solitude in which he can write in peace. With his faithful wife by his side and young son in tow, Jack looks forward to several months free of distraction so he can complete his upcoming masterpiece.
Kubrick had never produced a horror film prior to The Shining, but apparently had always wanted to. Kubrick’s trademark cinematic elements — the use of brightly colored settings and close-ups of intensely emotional faces — had enhanced several of his previous films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and Dr. Strangelove. These films were in the science fiction and comedy genres, respectively. However, Kubrick’s signature stylings made an easy transition to the horror genre and The Shining has garnered a reputation as not only a horror classic, but also as one of the finest films ever made.
Much of the film’s content has become pop culture fodder and even those who have never seen the film are familiar with the classic lines “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” and the meme staple, “Here’s Johnny.” Here are some fascinating Shining tidbits that you may not know.
10 little-known facts about The Shining
1. The author of The Shining book, Stephen King, disliked the choice of Jack Nicholson for the lead role, believing that Nicholson’s generally crazed appearance from the opening scenes of the movie onward undermined the point that it was the Overlook Hotel that sent Jack Torrance over the edge. Torrance, in King’s novel, was a fairly well-adjusted guy at the beginning of the story and is gradually driven to insanity by the Overlook.
2. The child actor who played young Danny Torrance, Danny Lloyd, would never make another movie despite delivering such a gripping performance in the film. Apparently, Lloyd tried to win roles for the remainder of his childhood before finally retiring from the business at age 14, just as he was entering high school.
3. The famous line uttered by Jack Nicholson after he chopped down the bathroom door with an axe, “Here’s Johnny,” was entirely ad-libbed by Nicholson. Kubrick considered scrapping it but reconsidered and it now stands as one of AFI’s top 100 movie lines of all time, despite its extemporaneous origins.
4. Stephen King claims that the title of the novel, The Shining, was inspired by John Lennon’s song, “Instant Karma,” in which the singer repeatedly sings the line “and we all shine on…like the moon, the stars, and the sun.”
5. The Shining made it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the movie with the most takes of a single scene. Kubrick was a stubborn perfectionist and he wasn’t about to wrap any scene that wasn’t up to his standards. He had Duvall repeat one scene a record 127 times.
6. Lloyd had no idea that the film he was making was a horror film. As far as the actor knew at the time, he was making a drama. Because Lloyd was so young at the time, Kubrick was determined to protect Lloyd and leave him in the dark about the nefarious nature of the film.
7. There is a real haunted hotel in Colorado called the Stanley Hotel. It was the inspiration for the Overlook, and it is considered one of the most haunted places in America. King stayed in the Stanley Hotel with his wife in 1973, later writing it into the novel 1977.
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8. In one of the film’s most famous scenes, elevator doors open and blood comes gushing out and spilling into the hallway. This unforgettable scene actually took a year to set up and the only three takes to get it right. It seems that Kubrick got along better with machines than people.
9. Some observers have claimed that through The Shining, Kubrick confesses that he helped NASA fake the moon landing in 1969. It had been rumored for years by conspiracy buffs that Kubrick was in cahoots with NASA on the the supposed moon-landing prank. In one scene in the film, Lloyd wears a very prominent Apollo 11 sweater. Furthermore, the hotel room which Danny is told to never enter was changed from room 217 in the book to room 237 in the movie. The moon is 237,000 miles away from the Earth, and some of those conspiracy folks believe that this was Kubrick’s way of fessing up.
10. The scene in which Wendy Torrance finally realizes that Jack has completely lost it is the scene in which she discovers the manuscript that Jack has been toiling over for weeks — 500 pages of “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” typed over and over in multiple formats and languages. Some have suggested that Kubrick himself typed all these pages while other sources claim that he had his secretary, Margaret Warrington, do it. Regardless, it was a gargantuan feat — the sort that would drive the most well-adjusted among us to the point of remodeling our bathrooms with an axe.
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