Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining turns 40. The film is widely considered one of the best Stephen King adaptations to ever grace the big screen. Horror fans from all across the world love this film, and for good reason, too. It delivers the foreboding, atmosphere, and frights that we loved in Stephen King’s novel. Stanley Kubrick took Stephen King’s novel and created his own work of genius. It’s no secret that Stephen King hates Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining. Throughout the years, there has been talk of conspiracy theories surrounding The Shining. I have compiled a list of ten things you may not know about Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.
1. Stanley Kubrick Didn’t Even Read The Screenplay Stephen King Wrote
According to Stanley Kubrick biographer, David Hughes, Stephen King wrote an entire screenplay draft for The Shining. Kubrick didn’t even bother looking at, which makes sense as he once dubbed King’s writing weak. Kubrick chose to work alongside Diane Johnson on the screenplay because he was a fan of here book, The Shadow Knows. The pair worked on the script for eleven weeks. Stephen King’s hatred for Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining may have started with the screenplay.
2. Stanley Kubrick Still Had Questions For Stephen King
Stephen King used to tell this story at some of his book readings. According to King, Stanley Kubrick called him at seven in the morning to ask a question about death. Kubrick asked, “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.” It seems the two were still on talking terms during the filming of The Shining.
3. Stephen King Was “Disappointed” In Stanley Kubrick’s Adaptation
Stephen King went public with his disdain for Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation during an interview with Playboy in 1983. King said, “I’d admired Kubrick for a long time and had great expectations for the project, but I was deeply disappointed in the end result. Parts of the film are chilling, charged with a relentlessly claustrophobic terror, but others fell flat.”
He didn’t think Jack Nicholson was a good fit to play the role of Jack Torrence. Stephen King said, “Jack Nicholson, though a fine actor, was all wrong for the part. His last big role had been in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and between that and the manic grin, the audience automatically identified him as a loony from the first scene. But the book is about Jack Torrance’s gradual descent into madness through the malign influence of the Overlook—if the guy is nuts to begin with, then the entire tragedy of his downfall is wasted.”
4. Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining Had An Original, Different Ending
Film endings usually get changed in post-production, but Stanley Kubrick changed the ending of the film after it’s opening weekend. The film version is lost, but pages from the original screenplay still exist. The scene takes place after Jack dies in the snow. Ullman visits Wendy in the hospital. He tells her, “About the things you saw at the hotel. [A lieutenant] told me they’ve really gone over the place with a fine tooth comb and they didn’t find the slightest evidence of anything at all out of the ordinary.” He encourages Wendy and Danny to stay with him for a while. The film ends with text over black, “The Overlook Hotel would survive this tragedy, as it had so many others. It is still open each year from May 20th to September 20th. It is closed for the winter.”
Roger Ebert said Kubrick made the write decision to change the ending. According to him, “Kubrick was wise to remove that epilogue … it pulled one rug too many out from under the story.”
5. Most Of The Shining Set Burned Down
Near the end of shooting, a fire broke out and destroyed multiple sets. The still photographer said, “It was a huge fire in there one night, massive fire, we never really discovered what caused that fire and it burned down two soundstages and threatened a third at Elstree Studios. It was an eleven alarm fire call, it was huge.” It cost around $2.5 million to rebuild one of the soundstages. Stanley Kubrick famously laughed in front of the wreckage.
6. Jack Nicholson Improvised The “Heeere’s Johnny” Line
Jack Nicholson is responsible for the famous “Heeere’s Johnny” line. It is the only line from The Shining to make it into the AFI’s Top 100 Movie Quotes. While filming the bathroom scene in which Jack chops through the door with an axe, Nicholson shouted out the famous Ed McMahon line from The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. The catch phrase made the scene more emotional, and it stayed in the film. Behind-the-scene footage shows Jack Nicholson gearing up for the iconic scene.
7. Room 217 Was Switched To Room 237 At The Request Of The Timberline Lodge
In the novel, most of the spooky events take place in Room 217, not Room 237. Oregon’s Timberline Lodge, which was used as the hotel’s exterior for some shots, is to blame for this swap. The Timberline Lodge’s management asked for the room number to be changed so that guests wouldn’t avoid Room 217. There is no Room 237 in the hotel, so that room number was chosen. The website of The Timberline Lodge notes, “Curiously and somewhat ironically, room #217 is requested more often than any other room at Timberline.”
8. Jack Nicholson Wrote A Scene For The Shining
Not only did Jack Nicholson deliver one of the most famous lines of the film, he actually wrote an entire scene. He connected with Jack Torrence on a deeper level. He understood why Jack Torrance berated his wife while he’s trying to write.
Jack Nicholson explained the scene best in an interview with The New York Times. Nicholson said, “That’s what I was like when I got my divorce. I was under the pressure of being a family man with a daughter and one day I accepted a job to act in a movie in the daytime and I was writing a movie at night and I’m back in my little corner and my beloved wife Sandra, walked in on what was unbeknownst to her, this maniac—and I told Stanley about it and we wrote it into the scene.”
9. The Shining Has Inspired Several Conspiracy Theories
There are several conspiracy theories surrounding Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. In fact, there is a documentary, Room 237, that talks about the many conspiracy theories. One theory is that Kubrick helped to fake the moon landing and The Shining is his confession. Fans probably got the idea from Danny Torrance’s shirt. A second theory claims that the film is truly about the genocide of Native Americans. Another theory reads the film as a story about the Holocaust and concentration camps.
Stanley Kubrick’s personal assistant during the filming of The Shining, Leon Vitali, has since denied these theories. Vitali said, “I was falling about laughing most of the time.” He added, “There are ideas espoused in the movie that I know to be total balderdash.”
10. Stanley Kubrick May Have Typed All Of The “All Work” Pages
No one really knows if Stanley Kubrick actually typed 500 pages of “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” He didn’t go to the prop department with this task. It is rumored that he used his own typewriter to make the pages. The typewriter had a built-in memory, so it could have turned out the pages on its own. But of note, the individual pages in the film have different layouts and mistakes. People claim that the director probably individually prepared each and every page. We will never know, though. Kubrick never addressed it before he died.