When you’re an author and Hollywood comes calling with the idea of making one of your books into a feature film, it can be both exhilarating and terrifying. We like to imagine that we’d be a whole lot less nervous about handing over our work if we were passing it along to Stanley Kubrick – which was the situation Stephen King found himself in when Kubrick decided to make a movie out of The Shining.
Kubrick changed King’s novel about a family trapped for the winter inside a haunted hotel in some pretty major ways, but his film is great – easily one of the best horror films of the past 50 years – and mostly retains the spirit of King’s novel throughout. King, however, has never been particularly pleased with Kubrick’s take on the tragedy that befalls the Torrance family at the Overlook Hotel – and he’s never been shy about saying as much. Heck, he went so far as to allow ABC to remake the film – with Mick Garris at the helm – and considers that version better than the one helmed by one of cinema’s all-time greats.
A lot has been written about King’s feelings about the Kubrick adaptation of his novel – including this zinger from a Playboy interview in 1983:
“The real problem is that Kubrick set out to make a horror picture with no apparent understanding of the genre. Everything about it screams that from beginning to end, from plot decision to the final scene — which has been used before on The Twilight Zone.”
King also has repeatedly stated he hated that Kubrick’s film made Jack Torrance appear insane and relatively unlikable from the start. King’s Jack is a victim in his own way – and Kubrick excised many of the story elements that humanized Jack in the early going.
What’s interesting is that King wrote his own draft of the script back in the '80s, and while we’ve never read the whole thing, we can share the first page with you. How different might The Shining have been if they used King’s script? Would it have been better?
We’ll never know the answers definitively – however, we can say that we think Kubrick’s opening sequence featuring the drive up through the mountains to the Overlook is better than King’s opening here. We can also say that we think Kubrick’s film’s climax (which differs radically from the novel) is significantly better than the ending to King’s book.
What do you guys think? Check out the first page of King’s take below and then weigh in on this horror controversy.
[via Cinephilia and Beyond]