David Cronenberg Says Stanley Kubrick Didn't Understand Horror And That 'The Shining' Is Not "A Great Film"

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by Kevin Jagernauth
November 4, 2013 10:20 AM
136 Comments
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For whatever reason, Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" has been a bit more scrutinized than usual in 2013. The documentary "Room 237" dredged up all sorts of fanciful, conspiratorial theories about the director's supposedly "true" intentions behind the film, while Stephen King—promoting "Doctor Sleep," the sequel to his horror classic —took another swipe at the 1980 adaptation, calling it "misogynistic" among other things. And now, David Cronenberg has weighed in with his thoughts on Kubrick's chiller, and you might be surprised to learn he's not a fan. 

Speaking with The Toronto Star about the TIFF exhibit "Cronenberg: Evolutions," the director posited that not only are his films more personal than Kubrick, the filmmaker didn't really understand the horror genre at all. “I think I’m a more intimate and personal filmmaker than Kubrick ever was,” Cronenberg shared. “That’s why I find 'The Shining' not to be a great film. I don’t think he understood the (horror) genre. I don’t think he understood what he was doing. There were some striking images in the book and he got that, but I don’t think he really felt it."

The criticism of Kubrick's films being emotionally cold or distant isn't new, but we'd have to say, this might be the first time we've heard someone argue that he was an intentionally populist filmmaker. “In a weird way, although he’s revered as a high-level cinematic artist, I think he was much more commercial-minded and was looking for stuff that would click and that he could get financed," Cronenberg opined. "I think he was very obsessed with that, to an extent that I’m not. Or that Bergman or Fellini were.”

We'd like to live in a world where Kubrick's films are seen as big commercial prospects, but we'll let you all debate that below. As for Cronenberg, his next very non-commercial, satirical movie about Hollywood starring John Cusack, Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, Robert Pattinson, Olivia Williams, and Sarah Gadon is in post and according to the paper it "may" premiere at the Cannes Film Festival next year. 

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136 Comments

  • Bob32 | April 23, 2014 12:54 PMReply

    I'll tell you this. It's the only horror movie I've ever liked. So what does that say?

  • HerrinSchadenfreude | February 24, 2014 2:15 AMReply

    Is this dood being "ironical"? Kubrick understood more about how to scare people than most of the people in this genre all the way up to today. I don't even know where to begin disagreeing with such statements. His awareness of sound placement and quality. His knowledge of what it does to the human psyche to not be sure of what it saw at the limits of vision and what the mind does when it's on overload and presented with the absolutely absurd, such as the completely nonchalant ghosts appearing before Wendy while she's running and looking for Danny. The score, for crying out loud and the musical crescendos and how they extended the sense of dread.

    A master of the genre in my opinion is someone who understands that there is nothing he can put on screen that is worse than what the mind can create given the right suggestion. The Shining is ALL about that. A profound sense of unease created by what's scariest of all - knowing something is not "wrong", but "un-right". Most in the genre still haven't got that figured out.

    Just think about how freaky that scene in the Exorcist was when the priest walked in expecting to see Reagan and instead sees that mockery of his own mother. Every hair on my body stood up. Not cause it was so "scary", but because it was "un-right". Just didn't belong. I think most know what I mean.

  • Cory James | February 1, 2014 2:57 AMReply

    Wow... I just lost an immense amount of respect for Cronenberg... I always liked his films but where in the world does he get off saying this... especially since nobody bloody well asked! Kubrick IS the master of cinema, and will remain that for a long time, if not for ever. I just don't see anyone coming along to claim that crown. PT Anderson gets to wear it, but Stanley still owns it.

  • Jackson Hawley | December 1, 2013 4:48 PMReply

    David Cronenberg doesn't "get" anything. Outside of the great body horror effects, his movies are basically pseudointellectual posturing - much like his idol, Burroughs. Kubrick was someone with a classically "grand" mind, one that saw the bigger picture, but this idea that his movies are cold and impersonal is ridiculous. His movies are FILLED with a strong understanding of human emotion and psychology. His only sin is having to compete with a Hollywood machine that peddles a very easy, digestible, yet ultimately wrongheaded idea of what emotion is and how it operates.

  • Alexis | November 21, 2013 12:55 PMReply

    It's a bit rich that Stephen King considers Kubrick's film misogynistic when his novel actually deserves this label more. The annoying maid who first sees the dead woman in the bathtub is referred to as a cunt and a quim (once by the saintly Dick Hallorann himself), and we are supposed to find it hilarious and disgusting when an elderly woman has a passing lustful thought about a bellhop. The dirty old man janitor Watson, however, is supposed to be a lovable old salt. And the Wendy in the book, like many wives and love interests in King's early novels, is a conventionally beautiful woman (there are many references to her legs and ass) who has improbably become involved with an average-looking and troubled man. As for Kubrick's interpretation of Wendy, I didn't it sexist--looks-wise, she matched up well with Nicholson (who is playing an ex-school teacher/struggling novelist, not a tycoon). If she is high strung and nervous throughout much of the film, well, that's what living with a deeply disturbed and abusive man does to you.

  • SAVAS | November 11, 2013 6:29 PMReply

    Cronenberg is right.And his comments doesn't make Kubrick a bad director. But states the fact that this particular film, The Shining, was bad. He was polite to say "not a great film". It was simply bad. King himself said "The real problem is that Kubrick set out to make a horror picture with no apparent understanding of the genre."
    Look at the documentary "Room 237" . Even the continuity errors are considered to be Kubrick's genius.

  • HerrinSchadenfreude | February 24, 2014 2:26 AM

    No, sorry. First of all how many horror films has King made that would mark him as some sort of authority? Books are not movies. And it shows because the version done to King's specs was a joke compared to Kubrick's version and for all intents and purposes is largely forgettable. It's very existence came off more as grudge fulfillment than anything else.

    Second of all, it bears further examination whether you can even classify The Shining as a stock "horror" film. It is as much psychological thriller as it is horror movie and with the way it works on the psyche the only thing that lends itself to horror is the violence.

    The irony of King is that the "horror" elements in his work are its worst trait. He's really poor at it actually. The best of his work is all psychological as well. Salem's Lot, The Langoliers, Sun Dog, The Mist, Insomnia, The Regulators and Desperation, Rose Madder - all weigh on the mind and challenge the limits of what the psyche can take and it's going over that threshold that makes the stories scary. Not the popcorn gore or overt attempts to scare.

    If anything? King hates the King he sees in Kubrick. Just my opinion.

  • Mass | November 9, 2013 2:28 PMReply

    Congratulations, Cronenberg. You've succeeded in making yourself not only misguided, but also egotistical.

  • Andy (again) | November 7, 2013 9:54 AMReply

    An additional thought. Cronenberg may have been talking of "genre" and what in his mind constitutes a "horror" film. That kind of academic analysis in the creative world is sad and pathetic. People who develop or follow "rules" for genres do exercises in mediocrity. In the creative world there are no rules. Structure means nothing - it either works or doesn't. The film world is filled with walking mediocrities who will tell you a script is no good if it has three brads. The industry rule is two brads - top and bottom - you leave the middle hole empty. A creative film maker ignores all the rules he can afford to ignore.

  • Andy Halmay | November 7, 2013 9:39 AMReply

    I haven't seen any of Cronenberg's films so I wont get into a debate on comparatives, but I met him once and found him to be a very genial, gentle and reasonable man. I had started life as a performer and then moved on to Madison Avenue and the life of an entrepreneur and producer. Ironically, when a big deal fell apart, it was a return to performing for a couple of years that got me out of the hole. That would have been 1974 or 75. My agents shipped me up to Montreal to audition for a film. I had no idea who or what. When I arrived someone handed me a script without indicating which part I was to read for and ushered me into an empty room. I began to read the script and found it dreadful. A man came into the room looking for something and I asked him, "Are they really going to try to make a film out of this shit?" He smiled and said, "Oh, yes, this kind of stuff is very popular." A bit later I was ushered into another room where several people and this man were auditioning. They were joined an angry looking, huffing and puffing Ivan Reitman and then I discovered that the man I had met in the first room was Cronenberg. He must have changed because his current statement labels him a fool.

  • Gus Stone | November 7, 2013 3:23 AMReply

    Mr Cronenberg, you not Kubrick nor will you ever be. As simple as that.

  • wzach | November 6, 2013 9:30 PMReply

    I feel cronenberg is entittled tittled to his opinion. Kubrik is a master director as is cronenberg...but not everyone like kubrik films...like some people don't like cronenberg films. His opinions on kubrik won't change how I feel about cronenberg or kubrik. Way to go david for not being afraid to express yourself.

  • Robert | November 6, 2013 6:06 PMReply

    Cronenberg - I stopped taking you seriously this very moment.

  • JD | November 6, 2013 5:29 PMReply

    I mostly watch The Shining for Jack Nicholson's facial expressions, I think they're hilarious.

  • Jonathan | November 6, 2013 4:57 PMReply

    Cronenberg makes weird films. Kubrick less so. Anyway who cares what Cronenberg thinks.

  • Leon V | November 6, 2013 7:06 AMReply

    Kubrick was an uncomproming auteur. He had commercial instincts, and luckily his vision and the taste of the audience mostly clicked. Twenty years ago, Cronenberg was much the same. Then his (or his audiences´) interest drifted and he started branching out, becoming a very capable, workmanlike director - rather detached from a vision or aesthetic signature. A curious thing, to happen to an artist. THE SHINING was cold, detached, but it worked perfectly for the material. Kubrick saw the match and nailed it.

  • geotwin | November 6, 2013 5:27 AMReply

    Every time Kubrick made a film he closed down a particular genre for a period of time for all the other directors. No one ever had enough courage to release a movie of the same genre righ after Kubrick. This speaks for itself.

  • AML | November 6, 2013 1:27 AMReply

    The main thing I enjoy about the film version of 'The Shining' is how transfixed I become every time I watch it. Everything about this film works for me. It's eeriness, the weirdness, the history of the hotel, the dream sequences, the 'shining' ability itself, the old woman in the tub, the ugly twins, the maze, the isolation, the son's strangeness, the awkward and somewhat simple wife, the loser husband who goes crazy, the bartender, and the friendly black guy who shouldn't have died all come together to create this totally odd, yet engrossing tale. I wouldn't call it a horror film, but it is a classic (for me) nonetheless. As for Cronenberg, well, his work has never really appealed to me personally (outside of the two films he and Viggo Mortenson made together a few years back) but, I feel he's entitled to his opinion either way. Interesting comments.

  • Jessie | November 5, 2013 10:26 PMReply

    Sorry... The Shining was perfection in its distance. It is a feast for the intuitive.

  • The Monolith | November 5, 2013 5:30 PMReply

    When Cronenberg creates anything close to A Clockwork Orange, then he can criticise Kubrick as re "horror" or filmmaking in general. Just as all chef's are not equals, so it is for filmmakers. Kubrick's work was the height of contemporary cuisine, like a delicious meal that excites the senses and satisfies on a deep level. Whereas Cronenberg's work was a baloney sandwich.

  • Joseph | April 6, 2014 3:04 PM

    HA HA HA, or is this meant to be serious? Considering that Cronenberg has very definitely made several films, in fact as many masterpieces if not more, as Kubrick himself. Proof?

    -The Brood
    -Videodrome
    -The Fly
    -The Dead Zone
    -Crash
    -A History of Violence
    -Eastern Promises

    and then you have the NEAR masterpieces;

    -Scanners
    -Spider
    -Naked Lunch
    -Cosmopolis (Yeah, I'm in the minority, however 10 years from now this film will definitely be reevaluated)

    Kubrick Masterpieces;
    -Paths of Glory
    -Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
    -2001: A Space Odyssey (A monumental achievement; no doubt.)
    -A Clockwork Orange
    -The Shining
    -Eyes Wide Shut

    Therefore, my summation is this: Both directors are widely considered two of the greatest in the history of cinema, therefore they are equals and in many ways just as impactful. Most of Cronenberg's ideas have been cribbed or blatantly lifted for both horror and science fiction over the years, as well as Kubrick's. Both of these directors are versatile, challenging, and more importantly- great.

  • 3-D Bob | November 6, 2013 3:21 AM

    Thank you, a perfect summation and analogy. That this primadonna has the audacity to compare his weak body of "work" to that of a brilliant innovator of the stature of Kubrick diminishes his credibility to a point of non-existence. A buffoon..

  • BR | November 5, 2013 4:00 PMReply

    I really enjoyed The Shining in spite of it not being like the novel. It was disturbing. Creepy. Quiet. I like its eeriness. As for the misogyny. I mean, I'm not sure I get that accusation. It's a story - his interpretation - and he chose to depict a certain kind of woman. It wasn't enough for me to be offended and I am a woman. Anyhoo, I remember digging some of Cronenberg. Neither director is a favorite, so I'll just appreciate what I can.

  • Jeina | November 6, 2013 4:20 AM

    I think accusations of misogyny are easily thrown around by people rather unqualified to make these accusations. I honestly don't think that Kubrick really liked Shelly Duvall, but that's not misogyny, that's disliking one person. And, it's Kubrick. He was hard on a lot of people.
    I love his work. I'm a woman, and I don't see that his work is sexist.

  • Zach | November 5, 2013 1:05 PMReply

    Meh. I just know that I could easily write a thesis on any Kubrick movie at any time because of how accessible his films are to analysis, whereas Cronenberg's work would take a lot more work and could probably be more fun.

  • BTD | November 5, 2013 2:18 PM

    Yes! Cronenberg is a spiritual father to exactly that kind of person! Spot on! Thank you for illustrating my poi-

    Oh shit, wait... You're serious, aren't you...?

  • Lance | November 5, 2013 11:59 AMReply

    I have to agree with Cronenberg, the film is a poor horror film, at least compared to "true" horror films. But that's simply because "The Shining" is *not* a horror film, and was never meant to be one. It's a spoof and satire of a classic horror film, from the first scene to the last.

    When I first saw the film in a large theater, the seats were all full. Kubrick's marketing campaign began six months earlier, with ads saying nothing more than "Coming this June, the greatest epic horror movie in the history of motion pictures!" That was clue #1. Already aware of how little Kubrick liked to publicize his films before they were released, and even keeping the sets closed and the press far away, I already suspected he was putting us on. The man who gave us "Dr. Strangelove," one the the world's greatest war satires, had something up his sleeve again.

    I remember sitting in that crowded giant-screen theater and being the only person who laughed out loud during a number of scenes - and not just the "Here's Johnny" one. Every scene, from the first to the last, was loaded with so many cliches from scary movies past, and with the in-your-face storyline and music force-feeding our fears, how could I not.

    In hindsight, the only thing amazing about the movie is that to this day I don't recall anyone else even speculating about whether Kubrick was again putting us on. Even Stephen King doesn't get it. But hey, most people who saw "Borat" for the first time didn't get the satire either, same with many of the Coen Brothers' films. People often leave confused, not sure what the hell they just saw. Such is the subtlety of good satire.

  • Mediafiend | November 5, 2013 8:25 PM

    The Shining bored me in theaters when I was 12, and has bored me upon every subsequent viewing. Try as I have, I just can't understand the love for this particular Kubrick. I much prefer A Clockwork Orange or Full Metal Jacket. Those scared me, The Shining...Yawn. Different strokes and all that I guess.

  • BTD | November 5, 2013 11:54 AMReply

    Kubrick, you poor, poor dear. You just didn't "understand" horror. Horror isn't about existential dread and ambiguous encounters with demons real and / or imagined... It's about incessant gore-drenched sexual imagery and / or Jeff Goldblum melting a guy's hand with vomit...

    I suspected it when he bitched about Nolan last year, and now this confirms it: David Cronenberg is an asshurt sour grapes vintner. He's the spiritual father of every faux-intellectual contrarian hipster prick film studies major. He could give Armond White lessons in this shit.

    I anxiously await his inevitable "You know who else isn't all that great" smears on Hitchcock, Lang, and Murnau.

  • Nexus | November 5, 2013 9:56 AMReply

    If the Naked Lunch ( his only view able film in my opinion ), is "Horror", he missed a bit himself.

  • SAVAS | November 11, 2013 3:00 PM

    Brood (1979) was a horror movie not the Naked Lunch. He has a lot of view able films if you ask me.

  • Leonard Pollack | November 5, 2013 9:20 AMReply

    I always found Kubrick, however interesting, Way overrated. His films for the most part are badly acted , void of any sensuality, cold but beautifully mounted.I always preferred the work of Ken Russell. I prefer his rollercoaster rides as opposed to Kubricks slow pacing.

  • hiyfd | November 5, 2013 1:02 PM

    Have you ever seen any movie or read any book in your life? You belong in these kind of comment posts.

  • Maus | November 5, 2013 8:19 AMReply

    This article doesn't surprise me, since Cronenberg and Kubrick are polar opposites when it comes to filmmaking (at least that's my belief). Not a fan of Cronenberg's work; i've always found it rather ponderous, cluttered, and messy, with plenty of gratuitous gore. He would fail to understand the Kubrick style of horror - that yes, cold, understated, slowly building crescendo of unnerving images that make dread pool in your stomach. But King's statement i agree with entirely. Sitting here, at this moment, i cannot think of one film in which Kubrick showcased a strong, positive female character. He took the quietly resourceful and courageous Wendy from King's novel and turned her into a whiny, annoying nag; even making Shelley Duval do all that snuffling to make her less likeable. In Clockwork Orange, all the women were receptacles and objects - either rape victims, murder victims, doormats like Alec's mother, or even furniture, as in the Korova Milkbar where the beginning of the film is set. In Full Metal Jacket, all the female characters are prostitutes or victims. The list goes on....

  • sheryl | November 5, 2013 6:40 AMReply

    one only has to watch king's version of the shining to realize what poor taste he has in films--not wild about cronenberg, either.

  • MORGAN YAM | November 5, 2013 6:12 AMReply

    Not a huge Cronenberg fan, but THE DEAD ZONE is a much better movie than THE SHINING

  • Western Eyes | November 4, 2013 11:38 PMReply

    Cronenberg understands ridiculous uses of gore, not horror. E.g. Videodrome and the Fly.

  • Brian | November 4, 2013 10:33 PMReply

    If Cronenberg bashed Kubrick's 2001, I'm be right there with him. I can't back him on The Shining. Kubrick nailed it.

  • David | November 5, 2013 11:18 AM

    If you thought Kubrick "nailed it," then you, obviously, didn't read or understand King's great novel! THE SHINING is a terrible film adaption. Although, I think it is just OK as a stand-alone movie, it is far from being a great film. I, also, doubt that he(Kubrick) ever meant anything to be "underlyingly mysterious" in THE SHINING. The acting was horrible on top of it all. Stephen King's mini-series, THE SHINING, is more true to his novel and IS a better film- overall.

  • Haley | November 5, 2013 3:01 AM

    While I agree that I enjoyed Kubrick's adaptation of The Shining, he most definitely did not "nail it."
    The movie is nothing like the book. They are two entirely different stories. He does no justice for the characters and paints them in a very cold, impersonal light.
    I do have a great appreciation for Kubrick's film, however he certainly missed the mark.

  • Funnyb | November 4, 2013 10:31 PMReply

    After reading The Shining SEVERAL times, one of my favorite King novels, I have to agree that the film adaptation completely sucked. None of the actors came even close to the character description. There were only a couple of "close but no cigar" scenes that resembled the novel. If Kubrick was not trying to do a horror movie then he should not have chosen a horror novel to make into a movie. Butchering someone else's work to the point that they creator has to negatively comment on it never means a good thing.

  • MIKE | December 15, 2013 7:32 PM

    the book is the book and the movie is the movie. they are two entirely different and separate visions. the fact that the movie is unlike the book doesn't matter in the slightest bit.

  • lonnie | November 4, 2013 11:32 PM

    you make it sound like a good thing?!?!

    How is not intending for an adaption to resemble what it is adapting a good thing in any way shape or form in any universe?

  • adksj | November 4, 2013 11:22 PM

    He didn't intend on making the movie just like the novel. The name does throw people off but he purposely changed the novel to make a different type of horror film. The type of horror he wanted to convey still subtly showed the horrors humans are capable of. In the present and the past.

  • Ras The Exhorter | November 4, 2013 8:54 PMReply

    Having never been a fan of Cronenberg's work (even the potentially cool shit like eXistenZ could have been realized with a lot more emotional potency and done better with a more visionary director), he's certainly entitled to his opinion, but he read the movie wrong; it's not so much a horror film (consider its contemporaries) as much as an exploration of the implosion of a nuclear family (horrific in its own right) with supernatural overtones. He wasn't trying to do an extension of King's book, he was using King's story and framework to explore his own ideas.

    The late John Calley would have told Cronenberg that Kubrick sort of had carte blanche when it came to his choice of projects, otherwise who would have greenlit Barry Lyndon (which is a singular film that is overly maligned and explores Kubrick's favorite things of man's inhumanity toward others and social climbing almost at an unparalleled level).

    Also, Kubrick's films has a cultural icon status the Cronenberg can only dream about; that last waste of time and money, Cosmopolis, should have him in movie jail for the next decade. Cronenberg's work, for what he's saying, is perhaps too personal, hence the reason why it misses the mark much more often than not with the public. Sure, he has a POV and loves to explore violence on the human form, but his films are photographed for shit and the production design is hampered by lack of budget, which is a result of his inability to create material to generates lots of money.

    I'm not a Kubrick-can-do-no-wrong fan, but his work is singular and his range is beyond impressive (when it Cronenberg going to successfully reach into other genres?)

  • David | November 5, 2013 11:30 AM

    Wow, how long did it take for you to come up with what to write and how to say it? Kubrick totally missed the mark. He was not a horror movie director and DID NOT understand what it truly was he wanted to create. It's nothing but a hack-job at best with bad acting to boot. This film was a box office flop in it's world premier.

  • Justin | November 4, 2013 8:54 PMReply

    Cronenberg has just made a fool of himself. He couldn't be more wrong about SK. #Fail #Hack

  • Walter | November 7, 2013 2:15 AM

    Best laugh I had today: David saying Stephen King's The Shining is a better film than Kubrick's. Shirley, you can't be serious. Let's put Maximum Overdrive up for an Oscar. too.

  • David | November 5, 2013 11:32 AM

    WRONG!!! You people need to stop trying to make something of a film that just ISN'T.

  • Miles Jackson the IVVVVX | November 4, 2013 8:50 PMReply

    Why Scatman Crothers got to die like that. Always the black man, always the black man (shaking head). Kubrick hadto give into the friendly black man who has some godly higher powers stereotype. He was all noble and shiiit and had 'the shining'. Shoulda be played by Morgan Freeman in the 2000s. That was some dumb shiiiit. Can I get someone to admit that much? More importantly, way his death scene was cut and edited it looked like Scatman was some sacrificial offering because noone wanted the little kid or duvall to get hurt. Kubrick's outlooks be coming out if you look at Scatman.

  • Terry | November 5, 2013 12:05 PM

    I know! So bad.

  • Haley | November 5, 2013 3:08 AM

    I always hated that part. It's pointless. Halloran doesn't even die in the book. There's a million things Kubrick changed from the original story, but that's probably the scene that pisses me of the most.

  • Haley | November 5, 2013 3:07 AM

    I always hated that part. It's pointless. Halloran doesn't even die in the book. There's a million things Kubrick changed from the original story, but that's probably the scene that pisses me of the most.

  • Chel E. Duval | November 4, 2013 8:19 PMReply

    Kubrick suxxx.

  • MS | November 4, 2013 7:39 PMReply

    Jesus. The way most of the commenters on this article are talking about Kubrick, it's less appreciation than full on religious hero worship. No filmmaker, no artist, is a sacred cow beyond criticism. And EVERYONE has the right to criticize or look askance upon Kubrick's films. I say that as a fan.

  • Jason Torrey | November 4, 2013 8:25 PM

    I agree with that statement even though my post was similar to others. I just love Kubrick films, there's just something about them that grabs me and pulls me in. I cannot say the same for Cronenberg, but I will redact my statement saying he doesn't have the right to criticize Kubrick's movies, everyone has a right to express their opinion.

  • smmahan | November 4, 2013 7:51 PM

    Great comment.

  • Jason Torrey | November 4, 2013 7:34 PMReply

    I have almost all of Kubrick's films in my dvd collection, I have ZERO Cronenberg movies despite having seen a fair amount. I used to own The Dead Zone, but sold it. I have never parted with a Kubrick movie, in fact, I upgraded them from VHS to DVD and I intend on getting all of them on Blu-ray. Cronenberg does not have the material under his belt to say even one bad thing about Kubrick's body of work. You don't see M. Night Shyamalan criticizing Coen Brother's films!

  • Joe | November 4, 2013 7:30 PMReply

    What a douchebag. Firing upward weakly from his own mediocrity at Kubrick in the stratosphere of filmmaking.

  • Blown Away | November 4, 2013 7:20 PMReply

    I am a huge fan of Cronenberg. Videodrome is incredible. But! Talking down about Stanley Kubrick??? Are you serious David??? What were you thinking!

  • David | November 5, 2013 11:42 AM

    David was not putting down Kubrick's body of work. Kubrick was a very good director whose films are quite different from anybody else's. He was simply saying that Kubrick was not familiar with the workings of the horror film and the way he used it in his telling of THE SHINING. I'm sure David appreciates Kubrick's work overall. Surely, you can appreciate that...

  • Me | November 4, 2013 7:15 PMReply

    David Cronenberg... what a twat!

  • walter | November 7, 2013 2:23 AM

    So those who consider Kubrick's The Shining to be one of the greatest horror movies ever made just don't "know" horror? The one and only flaw in that movie is that we never get to see Jack Torrance's good side. I'll still take it over that miniseries with the guy from Wings and the second most annoying child actor in history (right behind that kid from the Star Wars prequel). Along with forcing humor with the Grady and Manager characters. And especially Jack saving his family and coming back as a ghost to see his son graduate. So much wrong with that abomination.

  • Killer Shrew | November 4, 2013 6:55 PMReply

    Cronenberg states regarding Kubrick's The Shining: "...the filmmaker [Kubrick] didn't really understand the horror genre..."

    Um... I don't think Cronenberg really understands Kubrick... Kubrick wasn't trying to make "a horror film" ... at least not a horror film as is traditionally understood... Quite frankly, a "Kubrick Film" is a genre in itself. Furthermore, while I realize that "Room 237" has some outlandish and silly claims in it, Kubrick's "The Shining" does hold some incredibly powerful symbolism and underlying meaning to it (which I won't get into here)... it's not just there to try and scare you with its surface story like a standard horror film... the changes from the book that are in it (both additions and deletions) were intentionally made to tell a symbolic story underneath its seemingly standard horror story...

    It's a mistake to overly compare King's "The Shining" to Kubrick's "The Shining"... they are two very different animals... I love both of them but pretty much independent of each other...

  • tristan eldritch | November 4, 2013 6:47 PMReply

    What's the deal with the anti-spamming policy around here? Tired to post a comment with no links or nothing and it wouldn't print.

  • Gemini Saga | November 4, 2013 6:33 PMReply

    Again, with this useless ‘Novel versus Adaptation’ debate. I thought that it's been clear long ago that Kubrick's movie is more than just an adaptation of a great horror novel.

    I don't think that a genius like Kubrick would be interested in being in the shadow of King's art. He transcended that, whether you believe in the theories in Room 237 or not, and whether he understood the Horror genre is irrelevant; Kubrick's The Shining is still unique and a masterpiece.

  • David | November 5, 2013 11:45 AM

    Yes, his version is unique but, FAR from being a "masterpiece."

  • AA'Nation | November 4, 2013 6:28 PMReply

    I just wonder if DC ever expressed this opinion about SK and THE SHINING, in particular, while SK was still alive...

  • Robert H. Gwinn | November 4, 2013 5:59 PMReply

    First of all I respect both Kubrick and Cronenberg as film makers. I must also say that if Kubrick's SHINING had been a stand alone film completely independent from source material prior to the screenplay, I might think it was a masterpiece. That said, it wasn't. While visually striking and creepy enough, it's failed to capture the spirit of King's novel at all. It is an awkward film that never really delivers on the haunted aspect of the hotel. If it were a story simply about a man going stir crazy locked up with his family all winter, it worked wonderfully, but it isn't. I love almost all of Kubrick's films, I consider myself a fan of his work, but Lolita, A Clockwork Orange, and Dr. Straingelove are much better films. My opinion. As for people who can think of no better response than to get personally offended on Kubrick's behalf and start slinging insults at Mr. Cronenberg (Who is right by the way) pull it together and make rational arguments or shut up.

  • Boone. | November 6, 2013 8:29 PM

    Well spoken Robert.
    In my opinion Stephen King 's novel is much more creepier.
    There 's stuff in the book that wasn 't in the movie.
    I think that what made '' The Shining '' what it is , what it is considered to be today is Jack Nicholson 's performance.

    Everyone :

    Show Mr. Cronenberg some respect !!
    He is not just '' a director ''.
    He is David Cronenberg !!
    The director who gave us '' Videodrome '' , '' A History of Violence '' , '' The Fly '' , '' Existenz '' and who delivered an Excellent performance in '' Clive Barker 's Nightbreed '' as '' Dr. Phillip Decker ''.

  • David | November 5, 2013 11:48 AM

    Well said, Robert! Well said.

  • Elder Yautija | November 5, 2013 5:17 AM

    You know why you must say all this stuff you talk, which does not make an ounce of sense? Because you, like another zillion morons in the world, cannot accept the fact that Kubrick just used the novel (which by the way was probably great in the eighties, but hasn't aged well in my opinion, unlike the movie) as a starting point (basically names, location and basic plot) to make his own movie about a haunting that doesn't just happen within the walls, but within one man, and it stretches through time and space like a wormhole.
    Now, if you like being nostalgic, go ahead, be my guest and re-read that King novel another dozen times. Let the Overlook blow up and think that that's a better finale than Kubrick's. If I want a silly haunted mansion story, I'll go for the Amityville Horror. Only difference between the two is that Shining has better developed characters, and King's style outshines Anson's by miles. They're all the same, and The Shining is no exception.
    Kubrick's version of The Shining? One of a kind. You can't compare it to any other movie, not even those who tried to imitate it and failed. And you want it to be faithful to the novel? Would you explain to me why on earth it should? ù
    I personally think King talks the shit he talks about Kubrick's film because he cannot take the fact that it's an improvement on his own work. And believe me, many think so.
    Cronenberg's motives could be, let's see... frustration, fear of being remembered for the last few stinkers he made, senility... to Mr. Cronenberg I would like to say that, unlike himself, Kubrick rarely needed to put top actors in his movies to make people go see them.

  • CE | November 4, 2013 6:05 PM

    So you think the cinematography and the way Kubrick shot the hotel wasn't haunted enough?

  • Doug | November 4, 2013 5:56 PMReply

    There is a spirituality to Kubrick's films- a nod to something greater than all of us- that is far more powerful than intimacy.

  • Samantha | November 7, 2013 11:15 AM

    I couldn't agree more, Doug! Well put and well said!

  • John Coffman | November 4, 2013 5:53 PMReply

    Cronenberg would NOT know narrative if he stumbled over it. My humble opinion.

  • John Coffman | November 4, 2013 5:52 PMReply

    Above everything else, Kubrick was a story-teller. It may seem an odd choice to cast Shelly Duval as Jack Nicholson's wife, but she was there to play the anti-heroine. It's not misogyny. It irony in the context of fiction. Cronenberg would know narrative if he stumbled over it.

  • Marc Schenker | November 4, 2013 5:47 PMReply

    There wasn't an intelligent person who saw that movie that didn't walk out disappointed. Kubrick's take on "horror" maybe have more "paranormal." Or something else entirely. You can't be scarred of something you don't understand.

  • Thom | November 4, 2013 5:26 PMReply

    Cronenberg muddies his argument by getting defensive.

    First, he is right. Kubrick probably didn't understand horror or suspense. That's a fairly good topic to debate. "The Shining" is a great, horror classic that Kurbrick didn't really get. In the end, he made a great movie, but it isn't a great scary movie. The only scares are the cheap "jump" scares. It has images and moments and performances that are breathtakingly superb, but it is not a scary horror movie.

    Next, his Kubrick's films weren't very personal, but this isn't a big sin and gets into Cronenberg being defensive for no good reason. It's an easy attack - one made before - and only makes Cronenberg look insecure.

    Finally, Kubrick was not an idiot when it came to making movies. He created great works of art around popular source material. People were out of their mind with excitement when the trailer for The Shining came out because the book was very popular. However, he took that and made something different out of them - something not expected, and in some cases not really wanted. So, it may be fair to say he was attune to what was popular, he certainly shouldn't be confused with a populist filmmaker.

    On a side note, however, as bitchy as Cronenberg might be, he's not nearly as bitchy as Kevin, the blog writer. The man who made Videodrome, Scanners, Rabid, The Dead Zone, The Brood, Dead Ringers, The Fly (1986), Naked Lunch, A History of Violence and Eastern Promises deserves a little more respect, especially around the topic of horror filmmaking.

  • Alan B | November 4, 2013 5:24 PMReply

    Yes, but what does Cronenberg think of the 3D cinematography in 'The Shining'? After all, he read an article about the film and doesn't have to see the film in order to criticize it and it's the reporters' fault for quoting him out of context blah, blah, blah ...

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