Classic Rewatch

The Shining

“Here’s Johnny!”

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy… So let’s hope that Jack Nicholson is having plenty of play on his 83rd birthday – what better way to celebrate than a LockdownnRewatch of one of his finest performances: The Shining. The Stanley Kubrick directed 1980 horror classic was adapted from a Stephen King novel by Kubrick and Diane Johnson, and also stars Shelley Duvall and Danny Lloyd as the unlucky family stranded in the Overlook Hotel. Upon release the film was met with mixed reviews, but has in subsequent years become one of the most influential and critically lauded psychological horror films of all time – it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” in 2018. Hopefully it will be as preserved as Jack Torrance in the snow…

But did you know…

1) The eerily smooth camera movements used to great effect to create tension and horror were the result of a new cinematic invention, the Steadicam, invented by Garret Brown in 1974. The Shining was amongst the first films to utilise the now ubiquitous Steadicam and Brown was hired by Kubrick to operate the device. The shot of Danny riding his bike through the corridors of the hotel were achieved by Brown operating the Steadicam whilst being pushed around in a wheelchair (the camera was so heavy it was difficult to operate it for long periods).

2) Stanley Kubrick was a well-known perfectionist, demanding the very best from his cast and crew, shooting takes over and over again until he got exactly what he envisioned; he was no different on the set of The Shining. The famous scene of Nicholson descending on Duvall with a bat was shot a ridiculous 127 times. Another take between Scatman Crothers and Danny Lloyd had a massive 148 takes – Lloyd was six years old at the time.

3) Stephen King is not a fan of the film saying in an interview published in 2016, “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 favourable and I was one of those reviewers. I kept my mouth shut at the time, but I didn’t care for it much.”

The clip shows Nicholson and co-star Shelley Duvall in preparations for the film’s iconic “Here’s Johnny” scene.