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Kubrick's Shining WORST novel adaptation ever!

Discussion in 'The Shining (1980)' started by Christine62, Jan 10, 2014.

  1. AnnaMarie

    AnnaMarie Well-Known Member

    I could cross stitch that.
  2. Dana Jean

    Dana Jean Dirty Pirate Hooker Moderator

    Yes you could!
  3. Neil W

    Neil W Well-Known Member

    Possessed Jack would very cross stitch it.

    GNTLGNT The idiot is IN

    ...but why????....
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  5. Dana Jean

    Dana Jean Dirty Pirate Hooker Moderator

    because it's there, and it's cool.:)
  6. Wasp27

    Wasp27 Well-Known Member

    I'm sure someone's talked about it already somewhere but has anyone seen Room 237? It's a documentary about people's different theories about the film, mainly that The Shining is his veiled confession that he somehow took part in/filmed the staging of the moon landing. Really fascinating, regardless of how it relates to the book itself. But I agree with King, the film and it's characters were just cold. Scary as he'll, and there have been times where I actually had to stop watching it (same with the exorcist) because I was so terrified! The guy in the bear suit doing a little something something to the other guy?!?! Creepy!!! But yeah, the ending of the book where after Danny and Wendy had left the overlook and he's reflecting on his father, grieving, that is what made the shining a "warm" story to me- for me, it's not about one mans descent into lunacy as much as it about a terribly gifted little boy who despite his fathers sins, loves him just the same.
  7. prufrock21

    prufrock21 Well-Known Member

    To be fair, Jack Nicholson used the experience as training for his role as the Joker in Batman. Of course, he was funnier in The Shining. No offense, Jack.
  8. Takoren

    Takoren Well-Known Member

    Here's part of what I had to say about this film on my blog:

    "I'll give you my own personal history with this book before I go too much further. I read The Shining well before seeing the movie, and I loved it. This is a novel that goes beyond mere "scares" and really gets under your skin. There's a creeping dread that builds gradually but inexorably that starts on page one and just gets bigger, and you keep hoping against hope that the inevitable can be avoided, even as you begin to realize that no, it won't be.

    Then I watched the movie. And I hated it. I hated it so badly it made me angry.

    Gone was the character development. Gone was the creeping dread, replaced by scare chords and an unhinged performance from Nicholson that started with the dial at nine, cranked up to 11 barely an hour in and broke the knob off. Gone was the palpable struggle each of the main characters were going through, replaced by standard horror movie cliches.

    I've grown up a lot since then. I watched the movie more recently and had to admit, if I'd never read the book, I wouldn't care a whit about it being so different. The movie, as a horror movie, just plain works, and that's okay. No, it's not King's story, and there is no question in my mind that Kubrick was intentionally telling a different one.

    But here's my problem; the movie may be excellent, but the novel is still a great novel, and unfortunately in the last decade or so there are people who have started trash-talking King and this book as though it's a piece of garbage and Kubrick came along and "fixed" it. I don't know how many people I've seen advising others to just watch the movie and skip the novel, which they describe as "lame" and "boring".


    The movie was great. I'm willing to go that far. But was the movie better than the novel? I would argue no, and as far as I'm concerned, if you truly believe that, you either haven't read the novel, or you read it expecting it to be a scare-a-minute fest like the movie was. It isn't, but it isn't meant to be.

    For that matter, I still have a problem with how the movie handled the character of Jack Torrance. This is likely what King's problem stemmed from as well. The subject of alcoholism is one that King returned to many times in his writing career, and for good reason; he was dealing with it himself. He was so far gone that he doesn't even remember writing the novel Cujo and in fact wrote many of his early novels while screaming drunk. The first novel he wrote entirely sober was Needful Things in 1991. Very often he tried working out his addiction issues in his characters, and I don't think any character was more Stephen King himself than Jack Torrance.

    Book Jack is a scarred man, raised by a drunken, abusive father, who found himself a much slave to the bottle as his father had been. Despite this, and his anger issues, he wants nothing more than to be a loving husband and father. At least, he wants to want it. But he wants drinks more, and he makes excuses for himself that send him careering into a living nightmare in which he realizes he's turning into his father. When he finally realizes he's gone too far, after an incident where he drunkenly breaks his son's arm and then runs over a bicycle, realizing he might have killed someone, he goes sober and, by the time the story starts, has been for over a year. His anger management issues are still there, evidenced by him beating the **** out of a disgruntled student who slashed his tires, ultimately costing him his job, but at the start of the book, he's seemingly ready to be the man he's always wanted to be. He's stone cold sober, he and his wife, who found themselves facing divorce, are happy and in love again, and his relationship with his son, five-year-old Danny, couldn't be stronger. He's even found a temporary job as winter caretaker for the remote Overlook hotel, a job that will keep him and his family fed and cared for, and give him time to finish a play he's working on, while he tries to get back into the school's good graces. But then a combination of isolation, his own inner demons and the physical demons within the hotel start working on him, driving him slowly mad even as he fights it.

    Movie Jack is an insane, abusive husband and father who can't stand his family and spends his job interview displaying a slasher smile. When it's mentioned in the interview that the last caretaker went crazy and killed his family with an axe, you can practically see Movie Jack thinking "Oh, an axe! That's perfect! I was gonna use a Roque mallet but an axe would get the job done much faster!" No sooner has he gotten his family up where nobody can get to them than he turns on them, first just speaking to them like the evil abusive man he is, then chasing them with an axe and trying to do the same thing the last caretaker did, something he was clearly capable of well before he got to the hotel.

    Oh, and he's an alcoholic as well.

    The movie sort of glosses over this critical aspect of his character. It's present, but it's made pretty clear that he doesn't need it to be evil. We're barely 45 minutes in (the movie itself is two and half hours long), and Jack hasn't had a drop to drink, when he browbeats Wendy for interrupting him using horrendously abusive language that Wendy, apparently used to it, takes in stride, and does her best to keep from bothering him again. Book Wendy would have slapped him, called him a bastard, and locked she and Danny away from him. It's like Kubrick's take on Jack's drinking problem was "Yeah, sure, why wouldn't an abusive monster also be an alcoholic?"

    Just how much of a non-factor is Jack's drinking? It's not even brought up in his job interview. In the book, hotel manager Ullman is hiring Jack because the hotel owners (one of whom Jack is tight with) ordered him to, but makes it clear that if it were up to him, he wouldn't do it. He doesn't trust a drunk. It's the first chapter of the novel, showing that Jack's struggle to put his demons to rest will always be dogged by the fact that no one will let him forget the man he's trying, and mostly succeeding, to stop being. Movie Jack and Movie Ullman get along fine, and if anything, it's Jack who's more hostile during the interview. More creepy, at any rate.

    We also only get one, maybe two, scenes of the hotel trying to force Jack to drink, and the way it's presented makes it seem like it's all in Jack's mind. In fact, there are still discussions today among fans of the film about whether or not the ghosts were real or whether they were just Jack's inner demons being given visual form by Danny's powers.

    And speaking of those powers, they're sorta shunted to the side as well; definitely present, but by no means the focus. I mean the freaking title is The Shining, so named because Danny has a very bright "shine" (incredibly strong psychic ability), and the hotel wants to absorb him into itself so that it can use that ability to physically manifest the ghosts and demons that infest it. In fact, just his being there makes the demonic force behind the hotel stronger, and its purpose is to get Jack to go mad, prodding his alcoholic nature and violent temper, so that he will kill Danny and the hotel can have him forever.

    In the movie, Jack wants to kill Danny because Jack's a crazy bastard."
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 4, 2015
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  9. Brian's Twinner

    Brian's Twinner Pennywisenheimer

    Best. Post. Ever.

    I just finished watching the '97 mini-series. So much better than this Kubrickian abomination. The character depth, the adherence to the original story line, and the emotional investment you place with the story > Psychopathic Jack slipping through the cracks, breaking his mother's back.
  10. mymaria

    mymaria Sower of discord

    If you had watched the movie before you read the book you might have liked it very much. If I had watched 11-22-63 first, I might have been able to appreciate the movie, however, when you already have a story in your head, you are looking for the same story on screen. For me, it doesn't work the same way in reverse. I was able to enjoy the book after seeing the movie first.

    Maybe that's what I should do. Wait for the screen adaptions before reading the books.
  11. EMTP513

    EMTP513 Well-Known Member

    Richard, my daughter's godfather (and my partner), certainly thought so. But he's harsh on directors. He's a director of photography and is supposed to work closest with the director and he doesn't like most of them. Not that I blame him if they frequently do what one of them did to him, in front of everyone on the set, me and God's own creation; it was totally insulting if you ask me and when the final product came out viewers disliked the DIRECTOR'S decisions not the director of photography but the director's attitude at that point was to say "viewers don't know what a good movie is."
    But Richard disliked The Shining so much that he walked out while it was playing. I tried to stay to the end but even I turned it off before it could conclude. I don't understand the woman's character. It's nothing like the book. It might as well not have been the same story.
    BTW I left because he had every woman in the movie being like a second class citizen next to any man in the story. That annoyed me so I stopped watching the movie.
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  12. Ceefor

    Ceefor Well-Known Member

    As I said in the other thread, I like both of them. I like Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance, though there are a couple of bits I wasn't entirely enamored with, namely Danny's voice when he pretended to be Tony and Shelley Duvall; no disrespect intended to her, and I'm sure she's lovely, but her character was weak.
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  13. prufrock21

    prufrock21 Well-Known Member

    I must definitely agree with doowopgirl. This is early King, and early King is scalpel sharp. I think Kubrick was blinded (no pun) by the brilliance of Stephen King's masterpiece. So much so, that even with Jack on board, he couldn't pull it off.
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  14. grin willard

    grin willard Grin. Boasting a profile u could cut cheese with.

    Kubrick was never going to film a novel "straight" -- as written. No more than Hitchcock would have. Or really could have. A genuine artist can't film a book as written anymore that he could sculpt it from clay. In my mind I separate the two. Two different entities. The film has gone from mixed reviews when released to being considered a masterpiece today. I saw it very young, and it absolutely terrified me. I guess my 2nd look at a King adaption was Christine. I saw it again recently, and still thought it quite good! And very faithful to the book. But no masterpiece. Those movies were what got me reading his books. I've long been curious, and have never gotten a good answer, if fans of the novel preferred Kubrick's ending to King's. ("She creeps ...")
    I suppose I have my answer. I sort of like the idea of the proud, creepy old eyesore still standing, waiting for another Danny Torrance to show up. Now as payment for my non-insightful yet quite delightful comments, you must watch this video in it's entirety. G-d forgive me. Wait, did Boris Karloff narrate this?

    Last edited: Feb 23, 2017
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  15. grin willard

    grin willard Grin. Boasting a profile u could cut cheese with.

    They say the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day.
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  16. Neesy

    Neesy #1 fan (Annie Wilkes cousin) 1st cousin Mom's side

    Hi Grin

    How's it going and Welcome to the SKMB
    11-22-63 Welcome.JPG [​IMG]
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  17. grin willard

    grin willard Grin. Boasting a profile u could cut cheese with.

    Hi Neesy, thank you! It's going well. Now in appreciation of your kindness, I'll perform the archaic and largely forgotten 1990's social custom of raising the roof!

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  18. skimom2

    skimom2 Just moseyin' through...

    I don't know that it's the worst adaptation ever--I've seen some pretty horrific page-to-screen malignancies. As an adaptation, it sucks. Perverts the heart of the story; maybe that's what's really offensive to Mr. King. As a film, it's okay. Not a huge Kubrick fan, but he tells an effective story here. Not AFFECTIVE, though.
  19. grin willard

    grin willard Grin. Boasting a profile u could cut cheese with.

    Well ski-mom duce, if being scared sh1tless means being affected, then I was affected. :) Possibly even infected! And I think Scatman Crother's performance was incredible. It kind of gave this great individual who had been around for decades a great chance to show what he could do in a dramatic role. He was really the hero of the film. And I may be in the minority, but I thought Shelly Duvall was fantastic.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 24, 2017
  20. Tery

    Tery Dreaming in Middletown Moderator

    It certainly didn't hew to the book as much as I would like. But it's still an effective horror film. I still remember the trailer; the elevator doors opening and releasing that river of blood. Wow. Now that's a visual!

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