It is no secret that Stephen King hates the direction and changes that Stanely Kubrick made in The Shining (1980). The book version and the movie version of The Shining are two different beasts. Stephen King revealed that his greatest issue with the movie version involved the main character, Jake Torrance, played by Jack Nicholson. Read excerpts from the Stephen King interview below.
Stephen King said:
The character of Jack Torrance has no arc in that movie. Absolutely no arc at all. When we first see Jack Nicholson, he’s in the office of Mr. Ullman, the manager of the hotel, and you know, then, he’s crazy as a sh*t house rat. All he does is get crazier. In the book, he’s a guy who’s struggling with his sanity and finally loses it. To me, that’s a tragedy. In the movie, there’s no tragedy because there’s no real change.
I talked to Stanley on the phone before he started and I remember I could feel him reaching, trying to find his way into the books, and he said, ‘Well, don’t you find that all ghost stories are optimistic, don’t you think so? Because it means that the presupposition is that if there are ghosts, there’s an afterlife, we don’t just die, we go on.’ And I said, ‘Mr. Kubrick, what about hell?’ There was a long pause at the other end and he said in a very stiff voice, I don’t believe in hell.’ And I said, ‘Well, OK, you don’t, but my feeling is that if there are ghosts, they’re as likely to be maligned as they are to be ‘come into the light.’ You remember the movie with Patrick Swayze, Ghost? There was a feeling there that ghosts are really kind of on our side, but it’s just as likely that the experience of dying has driven some of them mad.
I think The Shining is a beautiful film and it looks terrific and as I’ve said before, it’s like a big, beautiful Cadillac with no engine inside it. In that sense, when it opened, a lot of the reviews weren’t very favorable and I was one of those reviewers. I kept my mouth shut at the time, but I didn’t care for it much.
The Shining (1980)
Synopsis: A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil and spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future.
Directors: Stanley Kubrick
Genres: Horror, Drama
Writers: Stephen King, Stanley Kubrick, Diane Johnson
Producers: Robert Fryer, Jan Harlan, Mary Lea Johnson, Stanley Kubrick, Martin Richards
Musicians: Wendy Carlos, Rachel Elkind
Editors: Ray Lovejoy
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