Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining might have left critics scratching their heads when it first came out, but it has since come to be recognized as a horror masterpiece. The film is both stylistically distinctive – those long tracking shots, the one-point perspective, that completely amazing carpeting – and narratively open-ended. Kubrick freights the movie with lots of signifiers without clearly pointing out what they signify: Like why is there Native American imagery throughout the film? Why is Jack Nicholson writing his masterpiece on a German typewriter? And, for that matter, why is he reading a Playgirl magazine while waiting for his job interview? The multivalence of The Shining inspired a whole feature-length documentary about the meaning of the movie called Room 237, where various theorists talk through their interpretations. Is it possible that the movie is both about the horrors of the Holocaust and about the staging of the Apollo 11 moon landing?
So perhaps it isn’t surprising that The Shining has been the fodder for filmmakers to impose their own meaning on the flick. A couple recent video pieces have reimagined the movie as shot by two of the reigning auteurs of cinema – Wes Anderson and David Lynch.
Wes Anderson is, of course, the filmmaker of such twee, formally exacting works as The Royal Tenenbaums, Moonrise Kingdom and, most recently, The Grand Budapest Hotel. Filmmaker Steve Ramsden creates a quick and witty mash up of The Overlook Hotel and the Grand Budapest. The video raises all sorts of questions. How, for example, would The Shining have been different with an officious concierge with a pencil mustache? You can see Wes Anderson’s The Shining above.
Of the two filmmakers, David Lynch is thematically closer to Kubrick. Both have made violent, controversial movies that plumb the murky depths of the masculine mind. Both have made innovative films that play on multiple levels. And both made movies that completely freaked me out as a teenager. Kubrick was even a big fan of Lynch. In his book Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity, Lynch recalls meeting Kubrick, and Kubrick telling the young filmmaker that Eraserhead was his favorite movie. If that doesn’t provide you with a lifetime’s worth of validation, I don’t know what will.
Richard Verina crams every single Lynchian quirk into his eight-minute video – from creepy red curtains to dream-like superimpositions to really interesting light fixtures. Sure, the piece might be a minute or two too long but for hardcore fans this piece is a hoot. Verina even manages to work in references to Lynch’s bête noir, Dune. You can see Blue Shining above.
Stanley Kubrick’s Annotated Copy of Stephen King’s The Shining
Saul Bass’ Rejected Poster Concepts for The Shining (and His Pretty Excellent Signature)
Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veeptopus, featuring pictures of vice presidents with octopuses on their heads. The Veeptopus store is here.
This is a really clever mash-up of the Grand Budapest Hotel and The Shining! Weirdly, the color schemes work really well together. However, I think the Shining is just too inherently disturbing to work as a quirky comedy drama. The David Lynch mashup probably works better.