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Stanley Kubrick: Self Made Butcher Essay

2118 words - 8 pages

In 1977, horror master Stephen King released his third novel, The Shining. The book was "the first widely read novel to cover alcoholism and child abuse in baby-boomer families" (Amazon). The Shining defined dysfunctional family long before television shows like Married with Children and The Simpsons were even born. Along comes director Stanley Kubrick who has directed such critically praised films as Spartacus and A Clockwork Orange. He decided to take a shot at directing a horror film and felt that The Shining was the perfect choice. Kubrick immediately bought the rights from King. He also hired Jack Nicholson, a very big name at the time, to play the role of the father. Selling the rights was King's vital mistake as Kubrick's version of The Shining, despite its praise, left out vital parts of King's novel. King has made it clear that he was disappointed with the film's outcome and he was given the chance to redeem it in 1996 when ABC Networks gave him the opportunity to write his own screenplay and choose his own director for a three-part mini-series to be shown in 1997 (Esquire 22). Although it has been less acclaimed, the mini-series version stays true to the novel. Since Kubrick made mistakes in casting, relationship portrayal, and simple plot changes in his adaptation, the movie is less effective than the novel and eliminates the bona fide horror in what was a classic work of literature, thus making the mini-series a better overall film.The story of The Shining told of a child, Danny Torrance, who had the power to read people's minds and to see into both the past and the future. The boy's father, Jack, was a recovering alcoholic who was in dire need of money after his recent firing. When Jack is given the opportunity to take a position as the caretaker of a prestigious hotel for the winter, he does not even think twice and packs up the family for a nice, cozy winter in a desolate inn. What he does not realize is that there are stronger powers than his own in this hotel and that this might not be the right place for a former drunk who has had problems controlling his temper. What ensues is one of the most horrifying tales ever put down on paper and "the true definition of horror," as stated by an reviewer (Amazon).Despite the fact that many feel Kubrick was only adding to the film with his changes, his version was only 146 minutes long. The mini-series, however, was 273 minutes and managed to include everything in the novel, therefore Kubrick obviously subtracted from the movie. Given that Kubrick had to compensate for time constraints, Jack Torrance is viewed as a lunatic from the very beginning of the film. Stephen King's response to the film, "The central problem with Kubrick's version, of course, is that Jack Torrance is unsympathetic," (Wright) clearly illustrates King's disapproval. Despite his façade, it is clear that Nicholson was not meant to play the role of a man slowly going mad. After all, he is...

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