Discover the “Lost” Final Scene of The Shining, Which Kubrick Personally Had Recalled and Destroyed

When we think of Stan­ley Kubrick, we can’t help but think of per­fec­tion­ism, a qual­i­ty he brought even to the mak­ing of what he called a “ghost film” — a genre for which he seemed to have lit­tle respect — with 1980’s The Shin­ing. So much did he want to get his adap­ta­tion (or rather, near-total reimag­i­na­tion) of Stephen King’s nov­el of the haunt­ed Over­look Hotel just right that he actu­al­ly had the first set of released prints recalled and destroyed because he did­n’t think he’d quite nailed the end­ing: specif­i­cal­ly, he want­ed to remove just one short scene from it, one which came imme­di­ate­ly before the haunt­ing final pho­to­graph of the Over­look’s 1921 Fourth of July Ball.

“There was a big length prob­lem with Warn­er Bros,” said screen­writer Diane John­son in an inter­view with Enter­tain­ment Week­ly’s James Hib­berd. “The film was too long and peo­ple said it had to be short­ened.” The two min­utes Kubrick cut from the end­ing con­sti­tut­ed what Hib­berd describes as a hos­pi­tal scene in which “the hotel man­ag­er, Ull­man (Bar­ry Nel­son), vis­its Wendy and Dan­ny after their ordeal and explains that no super­nat­ur­al evi­dence was found to sup­port their claims of what tran­spired,” not even the frozen body of Jack Nichol­son’s crazed Jack Tor­rance. “Just when the audi­ence begins to ques­tion every­thing they’ve seen, Ull­man omi­nous­ly gives Dan­ny the same ball that was rolled to him from an unseen force out­side Room 237.”

“In oth­er words,” said John­son in an expla­na­tion of the scene’s point, “all of this real­ly hap­pened, and the mag­ic events were actu­al. It was just a lit­tle twist. It was easy to jet­ti­son.” Roger Ebert, in a 2006 essay on the film, also thought “Kubrick was wise to remove that epi­logue,” though for a dif­fer­ent rea­son: “It pulled one rug too many out from under the sto­ry. At some lev­el, it is nec­es­sary for us to believe the three mem­bers of the Tor­rance fam­i­ly are actu­al­ly res­i­dents in the hotel dur­ing that win­ter, what­ev­er hap­pens or what­ev­er they think hap­pens.” Whether or not you think it should have been left in, we can sure­ly all agree that Kubrick did well to depart from King’s orig­i­nal end­ing, which had the Over­look explode in a ball of flame, tak­ing Jack with it, as the rest of the fam­i­ly escaped to safe­ty. Some­times what works on the page just does­n’t work on the screen.

The video above fea­tures the screen­play for the delet­ed orig­i­nal end­ing of The Shin­ing.

via Kot­tke

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Mak­ing of Stan­ley Kubrick’s The Shin­ing (As Told by Those Who Helped Him Make It)

Go Inside the First 30 Min­utes of Kubrick’s The Shin­ing with This 360º Vir­tu­al Real­i­ty Video

The Scores That Elec­tron­ic Music Pio­neer Wendy Car­los Com­posed for Stan­ley Kubrick’s A Clock­work Orange and The Shin­ing

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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