Stanley Kubrick, outré auteur and conspicuous perfectionist. Stephen King, prolific doyen of digestible suspense. Both are deservedly lionized for their respective bodies of work, but they’re not entirely compatible. Even though Kubrick loved The Shining, he still noted several “weak” plot points and when the two masters united around the story for the 1980 film adaptation, he had a bit of a different vision. Today, Kubrick’s original treatment of the film was revived and it’s well worth your time.
The general arc of the 81-page treatment, which you can read below ( head to Cinephilia and Beyond for a full interview with Kubrick) is roughly the same. Pretty normal dude gets job as winter caretaker of the Overlook, brings family, talks to Dick Halloran, gets cabin fever, goes insane. There were some finer details, though, that Kubrick took issue with. “With The Shining, the problem was to extract the essential plot and to re-invent the sections of the story that were weak,” he said in the C&B interview.
Some of the scenes he included in the first draft were ones omitted from the King novel itself, like a flashback of Jack breaking a former student’s arm to foreshadow his rage. Others were entirely fabricated from the brilliant minds of Kubrick and screenplay co-author, Diane Johnson. In one, for instance, the hotel possesses Halloran and turns him evil.
I admittedly haven’t yet read all 81 pages—I’m not a machine—but Birth. Movies. Death. did, and many thanks to them for resurrecting this treasure. The interview itself is worth your time alone. Check it out here, and let us know what you think of Kubrick’s original vision in the comments below.
Image: Warner Bros.