Creating The Shining: Looking Beyond the Myths

Book Chapter

“Part of my problem is that I cannot dispel the myths that have somehow accumulated over the years. Somebody writes something, it’s completely off the wall, but it gets filed and repeated until everyone believes it.”
Stanley Kubrick, 1977.

The myths and mysteries about Stanley Kubrick and his filmmaking methods persist to this day. He considered them to be a problem during his lifetime and they have continued to grow. The theories are at their most extreme concerning the creation of The Shining (1980). This research began with the aim of presenting a more reasoned account of Kubrick’s approach to filmmaking. It was an investigation into Kubrick’s working methods for a Masters dissertation. Available archive evidence from all of his feature films was thoroughly explored and interviews were carried out with people who had worked with him. The research demonstrated that throughout his career a definitive methodology developed and that his approach to every film was based on a similar set of distinctive processes.

In this chapter The Shining is presented as a case study. Assumptions and myths are addressed and then challenged with new evidence at each stage of the filmmaking process. Scripts, letters, memos and other documents from the Stanley Kubrick Archive at the University of the Arts London provide vital clues to Kubrick’s methods. In addition new interviews were conducted with Diane Johnson (co-writer of the screenplay of The Shining), Katharina Kubrick (daughter and location researcher for The Shining), Jan Harlan (brother-in-law and producer of The Shining) and Brian Cook (assistant director of The Shining). By examining the evidence in context and looking beyond the myths a sharper picture of Kubrick and his distinctive approach to filmmaking emerges.

Stanley Kubrick: New Perspectives. Eds. Peter Kramer, Tatjana Ljujic and Richard Daniels. Black Dog Publishing.

Publication 2015

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Catriona McAvoy




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