I dislike movies that try and change a written story. Sorry, scratch that. I hate it. I’m not one of these people that will always say that the book is better than any movie adaptation and I’m not one of these people that says that a director cannot have any creative licence with a story. What has really annoyed me recently comes isn’t a new film representation of a well known book. It’s quite an old film.
Stanley Kubrick‘s The Shining is a modern classic of modern cinema and of the horror genre. The imposing Overlook Hotel, ’Here’s Johnny!’, the axe wielding drunken insanity of a husband hell bent on murdering his family and of course the famous scene of Jack being a snowman. However, everything is not as it seems. Whilst the film still tops the best horror movies of all time, the real story is somewhat different.
I have been reading the book ahead of this year’s follow up, Doctor Sleep, and I was very surprised when I watched the movie afterwards. Surprised in a bad way. You see, in the first half hour of the film, it is clear that the story is going in a totally different way to what the original story tells. There are numerous changes ranging from small details to key plotlines. The majority of the iconic scenes found in the movie either don’t exist in the book or are substantially different.
For one, Jack is portrayed as a husband who seems to have no (or at most a smidgen of) love for his wife Wendy after settling into his play, but in the book, this is not exactly the case. Jack still loves Wendy and although they have their disagreements, this is not shown at all in the movie. There is also no real indication why Jack Torrance and family are in the deserted hotel in the first place!
The same is seen about Danny’s gift, The Shining. Danny is seen as having a croaky voiced split personality who is capable of giving other people migraines by pulling a face like someone trapped in a windtunnel. Of course, Danny’s telepathic powers are shown throughout the film but it doesn’t explain how it works or who the mysterious Tony is (whilst the book actually does).
The film in my mind just shows a man who has gone mad with cabin fever who decides suddenly that he wants to kill his family with no real explanation. It was designed just to shock and just be what most modern horror films are now. They don’t really scare you, just make you jump and feel sick because of gory images. Real horror is something that lulls you into believing that the horror may actually be capable of transpiring in real life.
Although I agree that the film was entertaining, I can’t help but feel disappointed actually knowing the story and subplots of the original book. Fans of the movie who haven’t read the book may be in for a few surprises if they do choose to read the follow up and I dare say, they would probably feel confused and cheated by what they’ve seen in the movie.
So, to all those who really want to know what is going on in the silver screen adaptations of famous stories, I urge you to read the original version before watching it in the cinema. Not only will it allow you to get a better picture of the characters and the world they live in, the book adds continuity to a story without the chopping and changing you may see in a movie. I understand that a film has a finite time to tell it’s story and make an impression on the viewer, but by changing the story into something which is only pale comparison (or completely different) is unforgivable. I am not totally against Kubrick’s interpretation of Stephen King’s classic, I just feel confused at the the way the final product turned out.
Five questions for The Shining lovers:
1. What was the room that Danny was warned not to enter?
2. What was Jack’s weapon of choice to pursue Wendy with?
3. How was Jack stopped?
4. According to the book, what was the hotel built upon?
5. What was Jack’s original job?
- Scary Good: Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (shugarlove.com)
- The crazy, chilling theories behind Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” (baddiesboogie.com)