No horror film in cinematic history has had a bigger impact on popular culture than Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 classic The Shining. The internet is filled with weird facts about The Shining (among other things) and endless stories regarding the film's hellish production.
It’s no secret that Stanley Kubrick was not just a perfectionist, but also kind of a raging dick. He would do anything and everything to get a scene just right. Whether it was making an already fragile actress do the same part of a scene 127 times or taking one year to film a 26 second scene, Kubrick never backed down from his artistic vision.
Thanks to the internet, there are countless conspiracies about The Shining out there to ponder. There so many The Shining facts that one could spend, say, an unhealthy amount of time in an abandoned winter chateau obsessively reading them and still not be satisfied. You know, all work and no play etcetera, etcetera. Anyway, here's a few of the most interesting ones.
The Film Was Shot Mostly In Chronological OrderPhoto: via YouTube
Contrary to the belief of most eleven-year-olds, movies are not typically shot in chronological order. Instead, the production team plans out the best way to film from a logistical standpoint. Some directors, however, throw out efficiency and ease of production and instead opt to shoot the movie in chronological order.
The Shining was only supposed to have a 100 day shooting schedule. Due to Kubrick's meticulous nature, however, production lasted 250 days. The fastidious director chose to shoot his horror film mostly in order so that he could change aspects in the script if he thought changes were needed. Cameraman Garrett Brown said of Kubrick's style, "It’s his nature to want to control everything, but he wants to preserve spontaneity.”
Kubrick Made Shelley Duvall Do 127 Takes Of A Single SceneVideo: YouTube
By many accounts, Stanley Kubrick did not treat actress Shelley Duvall very well on the set. In fact, he would scream at her in front of the cast and crew in order to get the proper amount of fear and paranoia he wanted the actress to bring to her character Wendy.
During the scene in which a petrified Wendy weakly swings a baseball bat at her crazed husband (Jack Nicholson) while walking backwards up the steps, Kubrick made Duvall repeat the scene 127 times. The scene actually broke the record for "most retakes of a single movie scene with spoken dialogue." No wonder Duvall's hair fell out and she reportedly suffered a nervous breakdown during filming.
Danny Lloyd Had No Idea He Was Making A Horror MoviePhoto: Warner Bros.
As cruel as Kubrick was to Duvall, he was inversely protective of young Danny Lloyd (who played Danny Torrance.) Lloyd was just five-years-old when production started, and it was his first acting job. In order to protect the child's innocence, Kubrick told Danny he was making a drama, not a horror movie.
In fact, Lloyd only saw a cleaned-up edited version of The Shining and would not see the full-cut until he was 17-years-old. During the scene when Danny's mom accuses his dad of hurting him, Wendy picks up young Danny and leaves the room. Of course, that's not really Lloyd, but a dummy doll wearing his clothes. This was so Lloyd didn't have to hear so much as a disturbing argument on set.
The Endless Efforts To Get The Big Wheel Steadicam Shot Exactly Right
One of the most memorable scenes in The Shining is young Danny's Big Wheel ride around the Overlook Hotel. The one-take continuous shot was achieved via the fairly new-at-the-time invention of the Steadicam, which allowed the cameraman to strap the camera directly onto his body via a harness. The device created the smooth effect of a tracking shot, but without the tracks, and allowed the cameraman to move along with the action.
Kubrick opted to use the Steadicam shot and called on Garrett Brown (who actually invented the device) to walk behind Danny's swift-moving Big Wheel. However, the camera weighed 60 pounds, and the three-minute long shot made Brown extremely winded. Additionally, the camera needed to be suspended just a few inches off the ground.
The production team first tried a skateboard, then a wheelbarrow, neither of which worked. Finally, they were able to rig a wheelchair so Brown could sit in it while following the racing Danny. And because it's Kubrick, he needed to do at least 30 takes, and that tired out the man responsible for pushing Brown's wheelchair.
It was a long, exhausting process. But in the end this shot is absolutely visually stunning. The cherry on top of the visuals are the menacing sounds of Danny's Big Wheel going from wood floor to carpet to wood floor.