Warner Bros in early discussion to make a prequel to 'The Shining'
It’s being reported that Warner Bros is very early discussions about doing a prequel to the 1980 Stanley Kubrick directed version of Stephen King’s classic 1977 chiller, The Shining. The story, reportedly, will focus on prior events, before Jack Torrance and his family arrived at the Overlook Hotel. The studio has hired writer-producer Laeta Kalogridis (Shutter Island) and her partners Bradley Fischer and James Vanderbilt to craft a new take on what many call the scariest movie ever made.
The Shining is one of those films that creates a web of debate for many reasons. For long-time King fans, the novel remains a pinnacle of the authors early work. For others, it’s a bloated tale that takes way too long to get going. The same can be said of the film.
When Kubrick began working on the project, he jettisoned a lot of the metaphorical aspects of the novel; the basic frame work is there, but the rest were dropped. So what we are left with is the most basic plot point: the story of a man who becomes possessed by ghosts within a summer villa in Colorado. But the themes of the story, the disintegration of the family and the dangers of alcoholism, were excised from the script.
Stephen King himself has been quoted as saying that although Kubrick made a film with memorable imagery, it was not a good adaptation of his novel and is the only adaptation of his novels that he could “remember hating.” He felt the casting of Nicholson was wrong, mostly due to the actor’s Oscar winning role in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which King sensed would forever typecast him as a crazy guy. And King felt you needed a reason for Jack Torrance to do what he did, and by putting Nicholson in the film, and jettisoning all that establishing stuff from the beginning of the film, you know Jack Torrance is already probably a bit crazy from frame one. King felt you needed an everyman type of actor, one that the audience could identify with before he goes off the deep end.
But questions remain about what Kubrick as actually adapting these days, as fans and critics alike are seeing the film in a different light. Film critic Roger Ebert, who panned the film in 1980, now concludes that: “Kubrick is telling a story with ghosts (the two girls, the former caretaker and a bartender), but it isn’t a “ghost story,” because the ghosts may not be present in any sense at all except as visions experienced by Jack or Danny.” Meanwhile critic James Berardinelli notes that “King would have us believe that the hotel is haunted. Kubrick is less definitive in the interpretations he offers.” He dubbed the film a failure as a ghost story, but brilliant as a study of “madness and the unreliable narrator.” And then there is Steve Biodrowski, a former editor of the print magazine Cinefantastique, whose review of the film is one of the few to go into detailed comparison with the novel: “Widely reviled by Stephen King fans for abandoning much of the book (King himself said his feelings balanced out to zero), Stanley Kubrick’s film version, upon re-examination, reveals that he took the same course he had often used in the past when adapting novels to the screen (such as Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita): he stripped away the back story and exposition, distilling the results down to the basic narrative line, with the characters thus rendered in a more archetypal form. The result is a brilliant, ambitious attempt to shoot a horror film without the Gothic trappings of shadows and cobwebs so often associated with the genre.
So, over the last 32 years, film critics like Ebert, seem to have changed their tune, often citing it as one the best horror films of all time, while others see it more a psychological thriller where the tricks are played more on the audience than on the film itself. This perception is reinforced viewing The Shining in tandem with the 2012 documentary Room 237, which examines the film from a different perspective, offering some clues and hidden meanings in what Kubrick was attempting to do (I was totally unaware of the spatial issues the film has, which does seem to proffer the idea that all of this could be in the mind of Jack, Wendy or Danny).
Still, King got some redemption when ABC Television remade the novel in 1997. He was able to shepherd the production, writing the screenplay (which was helmed by Mick Garris, a long-time collaborator of King’s). He got his casting of the sympathetic Jack (played by Steven Weber) and made Wendy (Rebecca De Mornay) more in keeping with the novel.
As noted earlier, Warners is just in early discussion and has green-lighted nothing. As for Stephen King himself, the author is releasing a sequel to The Shining on January 15, 2013 which will detail the life of Danny Torrance as middle aged man haunted by his past. The tale of Doctor Sleep is about a tribe of people called The True Knot, who travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and as tween Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortals, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death. Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. But he finally finds himself settled in a New Hampshire town, working in the AA community that sustains him with a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.” Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival.