You know that a film is a lasting classic when it can sustain another entire film being made about it. Be it "Citizen Kane," "Psycho" or "Apocalypse Now," many of the great movies have themselves been the subject of films (sometimes successfully, sometimes less so), and the latest to get the treatment is Stanley Kubrick's classic horror "The Shining," with the release this Friday of documentary "Room 237."
Something of a disappointment on release, with mixed reviews (including multiple Golden Raspberry nominations), and middling box-office, almost immediately "The Shining" was reappraised and cemented its place not just as one of the greatest horror films ever made, but one of Kubrick's finest moments -- even if author Stephen King wasn't himself won over. And furthermore, it's become the subject of all kinds of theories and conspiracies over the years, which serve as the subject of Rodney Ascher's "Room 237," which was one of the highlights of our time at Cannes last year (read our review here)
So with "Room 237" (named, of course, after the most terrifying room in the Overlook Hotel) finally opening this Friday, and Stephen King's sequel novel "Doctor Sleep" being published later in the year, it seemed like a good idea to put together a little brief on Kubrick's movie. So below, you'll find 23.7 facts (well, rounded up to 24) about the subject of "Room 237," "The Shining." Read on below, and feel free to add your own trivia, anecdotes, stories and theories in the comments section below.
1. Having completed "Barry Lyndon," Kubrick was struggling to find another project. He had a stack of books he would look through for ideas and his assistant recalls hearing thumps for hours on some days as Stanley picked up a book, read it for about a minute, and then threw it at the wall. When she noticed that the thumps had stopped she went into to check on him and found him reading "The Shining."
2. Stephen King said the title was inspired by John Lennon's “Instant Karma” which features the line "We all shine on.”
3. King says that, while Jack Nicholson was always Kubrick's first choice for the part (King always felt they needed more of an everyman), Robert De Niro, Robin Williams and Harrison Ford were also considered.
4. All the interiors were specially built on a soundstage in London, England. The Timberline Lodge, which was used for the exterior shots, requested that they not use the room 217, as it is in the book, fearing that nobody would want to stay there. Kubrick changed the script to use the non-existent room number 237
5. Because of the intense heat generated from the lighting used to recreate window sunlight, the lounge set caught fire and burnt down. That part of the Elstree studios was eventually rebuilt with a higher ceiling and ended up being used by Steven Spielberg for the snake-filled tomb in "Raiders of the Lost Ark."
6. The 1997 miniseries remake (which King approved of) was filmed at the historic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, which is the hotel Stephen King stayed in, out-of-season before he was inspired to write The Shining. He stayed in Room 217 of the virtually empty hotel.
7. One of the actors arrived on set with a chess set, intending to play during the breaks. Kubrick was an avid chess player who used to hustle chess games for money. On an already delayed shoot, he suspended filming and played chess for hours instead. He won every game.
8. Garrett Brown, the inventor of the Steadicam, operated the famous Steadicam shots in the film himself. "The Shining" was only the seventh film to use the technique, after "Bound For Glory," "Marathon Man," "Rocky," "Exorcist II: The Heretic," "The Buddy Holly Story," "Rocky II" and "Fame."
9. Kubrick had the cast watch David Lynch’s "Eraserhead" multiple times to get them in the frame of mind he wanted.
10. Kubrick took more than 60 takes of the scene where the camera simply slowly zooms in on Scatman Crothers in his bedroom. 70 year-old Crothers became so exasperated with Kubrick's compulsive style that he broke down and cried, prompting Jack Nicholson to swear he’d never work with Kubrick again.