Shining; Movie vs. Mini Series
As someone who lives in the state of Colorado, whenever friends or family visit from out of state I often play tour guide. Being part of the Horror industry through building haunted attractions, I often have requests of friends and family when visiting for me to take them to the Stanley Hotel, inspiration for Stephen King’s The Shining. While the Stanley Hotel has had a recent boom and steady increase in the tourism industry due to the ghost hunting fad, the hotel has begun to manipulate itself to cater to fans of its more recent media based history. The hotel runs ghost tours out of its basement and even rents out E.M.F. detectors to guests staying in hotel rooms upon request.
The first question I often encounter when showing off this beautiful and historic hotel is, “why does it not look like the one in the movie?” While the Stanley Kubrick film depicts an actual hotel few recognize the hotel from the silver screen. This is because Stanley Kubrick chose to film the Colorado based movie out of state and mostly on sound stages in the U.K. While the book was inspired by the hotel itself and Stephen King’s experiences there, the classic film has nothing to do with the hotel. Even the Stanley Hotel shows the Stanley Kubrick film on loop in its rooms although the film does not depict the Stanley. After the film’s release Stephen King was frustrated with the changes to his story which Kubrick made and eventually created a mini-series which more accurately depicts his book as well as is filmed at the Stanley Hotel. This mini-series was created for TV similar to Rose Red and is available to hotel guest only through purchase from the hotels gift shop.
While I am a fan of both the movie and mini-series this review’s aim is to assess the differences between the two. Stephen King first released The Shining in 1977, three years later the book was adapted by Stanley Kubrick into a film. Seventeen years later Stephen King created his television adaption of his book. While the Film is almost 2 and a half hours long the mini-series stretches over 4 and a half hours delving deeper into the original story line. While the Shining Mini-series does restore many of the books elements that Stephen King felt was missing from Kubrick’s rendition, the length is somewhat distracting from the storyline.
Examples of how the mini-series tends to over explain things and are very prominent throughout most of the story but the largest one in my mind involves our protagonist’s Danny’s imaginary friend. King over explains Danny’s imaginary friend, Tony, by showing us Danny’s visions where a physical form of a being materializes and forewarns Danny of impending dangers. This physical form is eventually shown to be a teenage version of Danny in the conclusion of the mini-series demonstrating that Tony is a piece of the future adult which Danny will become. This leave’s the viewer with a bizarre time-traveling telepathic vision of Danny’s teenage self. Kubrick avoids this through making Tony completely imaginary. Danny speaks to his own crooked finger in a croaky voice creating a creepy mysterious element for the viewer. This causes the viewer to question whether Danny is speaking to his own subconscious or even an otherworldly being. Through never answering this Kubrick creates a deep fear which resonates with anyone, the unknown.
While the underlying story is the same, we encounter vast differences between these two versions. In Kubrick’s film Jack Torrence chases Danny with an ax while in the mini-series Danny is chased with an oversized croquet mallet. The mini-series falls true to the book providing large topiaries chasing after Danny in the snow, while Kubrick created a large now infamous hedge maze sequence to replace this scene. Kubrick’s hedge maze is so popular of a concept that currently the Stanley Hotel is in an effort to grow their own maze to pay tribute to the film. Another large plot difference is in the fate of Richard Hallorann, “Danny’s Psychic friend”. In Kubrick’s film we see Hallorann instantly die as he arrives to rescue the Torrance family, while in both the film and book Hallorann’s rescue attempt is a success. Kubrick also created one of Hollywood’s most famous scenes through having Jack Torrance utter the line, “Here’s Johnny” while breaking through the door where his wife is currently attempting to seek shelter from Jack’s deranged rampage. This iconic moment is a bit of a letdown in the mini-series due to Jack’s simple single word line of “Boo!” This being said the original line King wrote in the book, “No Where to run, you little cunt” would have never aired on television due to its content.
These adaptations are vastly different and both paint their own picture of a very unique and terrifying story. Like in most cases if you want the full experience I recommend referring to the original material, Stephen King’s book written in 1977, The Shining. Overall I must admit I am a fan of both the film and the mini-series. Although they both tell the same story, they truly feel very different when watching them. The Shining will always be a classic in the horror genre for both literature as well as in film. It’s mysterious, dark, and unique storyline has even caused Stephen King most recently to write a sequel, Dr. Sleep which came out in September 24, 2013. With Hollywood now in the era of reboots and sequels within the horror genre it will be interesting to see if Dr. Sleep ever debuts on the silver screen.