Regarded as one of the greatest horror films of all time, ‘The Shining’ is known to give goosebumps to its viewers. Many have been scarred by its brand of horror and continue to shudder at its memory.
Acclaimed director Stanley Kubrick took half a decade to make this film just the way he wanted to. His quest to reach a certain level of perfection meant the actors had to do several takes to get their scenes just right.
Based on Stephen King’s 1977 bestselling novel of the same name, ‘The Shining’ is a film that captures its audience through mind-blowing cinematography, dialogue delivery, a chilling plot and great casting. King’s novel was written based on real-life paranormal experiences he and his wife Tabitha had at the Stanley Hotel in the Rocky Mountains during a visit in 1974. This Stanley Hotel is the inspiration behind the Overlook Hotel in the book.
‘The Shining’ is about a struggling author (Jack) battling alcoholism taking over the management of a haunted hotel (The Overlook Hotel) during its offseason. The hotel plays an important role in the narrative so it was essential for Kubrick to get its visuals right. In the book, the Overlook Hotel is surrounded by picturesque mountains and has a colonial revival touch.
The opening scene was shot at Going-to-the-Sun Road at the Glacier National Park in Montana. The shot of Jack driving to the Overlook Hotel was taken through a helicopter. Other aerial shots for the opening scene depicted the Saint Mary Lake of the Glacier National Park. Kubrick wasn’t the one to shoot these scenes as he hated to fly so these were filmed by a second crew.
Elstree Studios, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, England, UK was where most of the film was shot. Various stages were set at the studio to capture different locations. For the external shots of the hotel, Mount Hood’s Timberline Lodge at Oregon was used by Kubrick to depict the 155 room grand hotel nestled in the mountains. Timberline Lodge did not have a maze so the maze was created at the old MGM Studios in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire. For the wintery maze scene where Jack chases after a character Danny, 900 tons of salt and crushed Styrofoam was used.
More than half of the interior shots, though shot at the studio, were inspired by the Ahwahnee Hotel at the Yosemite National Park in California as it resembled the Stanley Hotel because of its classic wood-finish interior and rustic charm.
Apartment buildings, bar, the airport had to be close enough in appearance to the descriptions in the books so appropriate locations were chosen. Jack’s family apartment in Boulder was shot at the Kensington Apartment Homes in Colorado. The Stansted Airport at Essex, London was used for shooting the interior scenes of the Denver Stapleton Airport. Llyod’s bar was shot at American Legion Hollywood Post 43, Los Angeles, California, USA.
The sinister room 217 mentioned in the book was actually changed to 237 because the owners of the Timberline Lodge felt that their room 217 would never receive any bookings once the film was released. However, 217 remains the most requested room by its guests even today.
As the film neared completion, multiple sets at the Elstree Studios were destroyed by a big fire. Two soundstages were burned to dust. The losses amounted to $2.5 million. The cause of the fire was never found. Ironically, the Overlook Hotel goes down in flames at the end of the book. What do you think might be the cause of the unexpected fire? No wonder the photo of Kubrick laughing in front of the debris gives many people goosebumps.
Stephen King was never impressed with Kubrick’s adaption of his book so he released his own television series adaption of The Shining. This adaptation was shot at the Stanley Hotel and followed the plot as written in the book. However, Kubrick’s adaptation remains legendary and has received worldwide recognition.