The Shining — Quietly Going Insane Together


Hi. I’m Michael. This is Lessons from the Screenplay. No film frightens me like The Shining. Other movies may have moments that make me
jump more, or keep me in more suspense about the characters’ survival, but The Shining
disturbs me. Hypnotizes me. Makes me look over my shoulder, suddenly feeling
like there’s someone—or something in the room with me. Today, I want to look at how co-writers Stanley
Kubrick and Diane Johnson approached writing the film. What they did to set it apart from the conventional
horror films of the time, and figure out what, exactly, is so creepy about The Shining. I should begin by saying I wasn’t able to
read the shooting script of The Shining. The only version available is post-production
screenplay, essentially a transcript of the film. After much Googling and tweeting at Lee Unkrich,
director of Toy Story 3 and caretaker of the website TheOverlookHotel.com, it was confirmed
that the only shooting scripts available are far from where I live. But from my research I’ve learned that the
screenplay was being written during pre-production. Co-writer Diane Johnson said she even toured
the sets to figure out the stagings of scenes for the script. In fact, re-writes happened all the way through
filming. “I quit using my script.” “I just take the ones they type up each day.” This may partly be why it’s so hard to find
an official shooting script, but Kubrick also wasn’t a fan of publishing the screenplays
for his films, stating “A screenplay isn’t meant to be read, it’s to be realized on film.” Regardless, in the case of The Shining, the
words of the script and the design of the film were created together. And luckily there is a lot of documentation
of the writing process. So what was the writing process? According to Johnson, “Stanley’s approach was to think in terms of time segments in relation to the totality of the film.” There ended up being ten segments, each marked
with a title card. In the beginning of the film, the titles refer to the
subjects of each section. But as the film moves on, the time intervals
increase, from a month later, to days of the week, to specific times on the final day at
the Overlook Hotel. The increasing passage of time helps create
momentum and suspense for the audience. We know we’re getting closer to whatever
inevitable horror awaits, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. In an effort to understand why The Shining
affects me in a deep, psychological way, I was on the look-out for differences from other
horror films. One thing that stood out to me was its set-up. It directly indicates the dangers to come
early-on. Rather than giving the audience reasons to
doubt that Jack would ever hurt his family, we’re immediately told that he’s an alcoholic
who has injured Danny before. “My husband just used too much strength
and he injured Danny’s arm.” We’re even told in one of the first scenes
that a previous caretaker went crazy and murdered his family with an axe, the very thing that
Jack will try to do. “Well, you can rest assured, Mr. Ullman,
that’s not going to happen with me.” The film gives us every reason to suspect
and dislike Jack. But what I always find most surprising, is
how early the supernatural elements are revealed and explained. “You know, some places are like people.” “Some shine, and some don’t.” All of this removes a lot of the potential
mystery of the story, because the audience is essentially told what’s going to happen. But the point is that the frightening part
of the story isn’t what is going to happen, it’s how it’s going to happen. From the beginning Kubrick didn’t want to
make a conventional horror film, instead aiming to hold themselves to a higher standard. Johnson said, “It must be plausible, use
no cheap tricks, have no holes in the plot, no failures of motivation . . . it must be
completely scary.” Which brings us to the thing that disturbs
me most about The Shining. It’s creepy. What is the difference between creepiness
and other kinds of fear? In a study published in 2013 by Francis T.
McAndrew and Sara S. Koehnkey, they state: “Creepiness is anxiety aroused by the ambiguity
of whether there is something to fear or not and/or by the ambiguity of the precise nature
of the threat.” An example of this is a popular theory which
argues that masks are disturbing for the same reasons. When someone is wearing a mask, you’re unable
to discern if the person underneath is a threat to you. Their intentions are ambiguous and unknowable. I think this is why I find the two little
girls so frightening. When they appear, they’re at a distance that
makes it difficult to read their faces. “Hello, Danny.” And even when you can they’re completely expressionless. Their presence indicates they want something
from you, but they are perfectly still and their faces betray nothing. That same study on creepiness also offers
the following example: If you’re walking down a dark city street
and you hear something move in an alley to your right, your brain will first respond
as if it is someone or something that intends to do you harm. Even if it ends up being a gust of wind knocking
over a bottle, evolutionarily we’re programmed to assume danger in ambiguous situations. “Hello?” The filmmaking in The Shining activates these
same primal reactions in a few ways. The music is unsettling and unpredictable. At times startling when nothing has happened. And other times unresponsive despite visual
changes. It signals to the audience to constantly be
on guard. It’s the noise we hear down the alley that
makes us assume danger is present. But visually, the hotel is inviting. It’s brightly-lit with seemingly natural light
— not at all a stereotypical horror environment. This adds to the unease. The Overlook hides the horror that resides
beneath it’s exterior. Like it’s wearing a mask. Perhaps my favorite example of creepiness
is when Danny is playing with his toys. After a few moments a ball rolls up to him. And when he looks up to see where it came
from, he sees only an empty hallway. In and of itself a ball being rolled is not
scary, but once again the ambiguity is unsettling. Who rolled it? What do they want? “Mom?” As Danny walks down the hallway he finds the
door to room two-three-seven cracked open, the room he was warned to stay out of. “Stay out, you understand?” “Stay out.” But instead of being dark and foreboding,
it’s luminous and almost welcoming. The clash of these two things — implied
danger yet no obvious threat — creates unease. It’s not clear how one should react. The flip side of this is why The Shining actually
gets less scary for me toward the end. Or rather, it becomes a different kind of
scary. The more the film reveals the boundaries and
intentions of the Overlook Hotel and the spirits who reside there, the less vague the threat. “I fear you will have to deal with this
matter in the harshest possible way, Mr. Torrance.” Once Jack is committed to killing his family,
the proper reaction is clear. “Run and hide!” “Run!” By the end, it’s simply a crazed man with
an axe chasing his family. “Danny!” More suspenseful than creepy. “Danny!” The Shining is a great example of how film
can access and manipulate the psyche of an audience. Kubrick and co-writer Diane Johnson show that
the most powerful kind fear doesn’t come from a monster on the screen, but from within our
own imaginations. Kubrick demonstrates how great filmmaking
can activate our primal fears, while telling a deceptively simple story. After all, as Kubrick described it, ”It’s just the story of one man’s family quietly going insane together. Hey guys! I hope you enjoyed the video. The Shining really does creep me out and I’ve
had trouble sleeping the past couple weeks because I keep picturing the twins standing
at the foot of my bed, watching me. It’s not fun. Thanks to my friend Ryan McDuffie, who
when I asked, “do you have any resources about Kubrick?” gave me all of this. There are many things. There is a great Vsauce video about what makes
things creepy that was a very big resource for me, so a link to that is also in the description. And finally, a hundred thousand subscribers! That’s insane! That’s the population of my home town times
three, at least. So that’s crazy. So thank you to everyone who subscribes, thank
you to everyone who supports me on Patreon. And most of all, thank you for watching.

Comments 100

  • Stanley Kubrick was such an asshole. But he did make great films.

  • Hi Michael

  • My fiance used to work at the hotel the lay out is based on. it made it that much scarier

  • This is a decent review, but if you know the actual book (which most Stephen King fans do and should) this review is terribly incorrect.

  • True story. Its been months when i watched when one day i was driving i really heard someone whispered ‘redrum’ i know its my mind playing tricks on me but i really got goosebumps. Thats how scary it was for me.

  • While he's talking about creepyness, my brother just stood on top of one of the lower layers of our bookshelf. He just swung there for a long while, despite hearing me calling him. (Yep I stopped the video for a while. Cuz we're told to never stand on top of that precious bookshelf.) He didn't stop or make any signs of hearing me. (He also started to murmur stuff that I can't comprehend) That really spooked the shit out of me..
    So I called for my grandma.. (I did not dare to walk towards my bro)
    Good thing he stopped..

  • can you make one on hereditary??

  • French fries and ketchup.

  • The Shining vs Psycho

  • I really don't know what sets The Shining apart from other horror movies. It's different it simply is. Is it Jack Nicholson or The Overlook Hotel, god knows.

  • I know you work on screenplays but I would love to see your analysis of the music and the writing and or the edit of the movie and how those two things can modify our view of the movie.

  • for me the shining is really the only film that succeeds in creating a sense of isolation. while you watch this movie, you feel like you're alone in a big hotel in the middle nowhere, in the middle of a harsh winter.

  • and to think theres only one onscreen kill in the movie,

  • Nicholson nailed it

  • It is strange how the film gives us reasons to dislike Jack yet, when I watched it with classmates, everyone seemed to dislike Danny and Wendy more.

  • Hereditary is creepy

  • Please complete your captions! Several lines are omitted.

  • The book was so much better though, not to mention so much creepier.

  • "100 Thousand Subscribers) Yeah, it's a MILLION NOW, BUDDY BOY!

  • the shining was truly a piece of art

  • @everyone saying it's a great movie bc it felt incomplete are pretentious. It felt incomplete bc it IS INCOMPLETE

  • I’m going slightly mad
    It finally happened, happened
    I’m slightly mad!

  • The book is better. Good movie thougg

  • Great video!

  • It was creepy !

  • i have never had any fear while watching this movie

  • Its funny how certain movies can really get under a person's skin more than others.
    I love The Shining but have never thought it was scary at all.
    But y'know what movie scares the crap outta me? A Nightmare On Elm Street.
    Most people laugh at me for it.

  • Sense of unease and unsettling strangeness are related to the Freud's concept of the Uncanny. https://stephenonfilms.wordpress.com/2017/02/17/the-shining-2017-update-freuds-uncanny-and-the-concept-of-scare/

  • I wonder if some people are immune to creepy? Everyone in the comments seem to either be super creeped out or totally unaffected. I personally thought it was a pretty chill movie until Jack went crazy. Like yeah, creepy stuff happened, but I didnt feel anxious, I just recognized that something creepy was happening. Jack going mad DID scare me, though. I like watching horror movies though, so maybe the unknown doesnt scare me anymore. Its interesting that everyone has a different opinion on this movie tho!

  • The script for 2001 is like an old Live TV script with all the dialog and narrative on the left half of the page and the right half of the page is the camera angles he wants to use for each shot.

  • 9:14 that joker laugh though. No wonder he was picked. They saw this and that laugh and figured yup that man can go insane and sound funny doing it at the same time.

  • I do enjoy the analysis of horror movies and the thoughts behind it. Can you go over and dissect the mental changes and the metal process of the characters in Hereditary? the movie was amazing and the shock factor made the rest of the movie impossible to predict. The ideas of instability, insanity, and metal illness in that move are amazing. and putting a demon in there made it that much more strange to watch. It would be interesting to see how you would go though it and explain the writers process.

  • The Shining is the perfect horror movie. i honestly can’t get enough of it. the great acting, the suspense, the music, and how it gets into your head. the fact that you can tell what’s going to happen, creeps some people out. the little details that are constantly in ever scene also add to the creepy ness. the beginning is when it’s the most suspenseful and creepy, because perfectly normal things are happening but the music gets your adrenaline running like somethings going to happen. but as you get to the end of the movie, you realize what’s going to happen, so it gets more exciting. i don’t know if any of this made complete sense, but i’m just a hardcore shining fan sharing my idea.

  • 8:58 The look of an abused.😥😥😥😥
    Poor Shelley.

  • The Shining needed less drunk man and more haunted Hotel built on ancient Indian burial ground

  • it is possible to use the term that freud uses "uncanny" for this film for the usage of repetition and other things that makes you call it creepy

  • I freaked my mom out after watching this movie. I had only seen the TV edited version because I was only about 8 years old. Anyway, I was doing the kids voice and the finger scrunch thing. Everything I said was in that voice with the finger scrunch thing. Finally my mom said "Bretton stop that!" I replied "Bretton isn't here anymore Mrs. Ferguson". Totally freaked her out.

  • The Shining is not really scary, I think it's more thought provoking. But I know it's a horror film since the black guy always dies lol

  • I remember seeing the shining as a kid back in the 80s, I rewatched as a teen in the 90s and WOW! Still my favorite film today. Its so dark and causes so much confusion from the layout of the hotel to its characters within the hotel, the ultimate scare fest that keeps you totally entwined with the story and hotel itself.
    Stanley Kubrick truly was a cinema master and by far my most favorite movie maker. He allows your own imagination to play havoc on the viewer. An awesome film although taken away from the Stephen Kings novel, which was also brilliant, but none-the-less the film is almost a totally different entity in itself and Shelly and Jack were perfect for their roles. Just brilliant from every angle and a master piece of a story adaptation, although King was quite right in his annoyance of the changes made to his story, still, its a classic and both the novel and film will be favorites of mine forever more.

  • I absolutely love this movie, because it delves into the human psyche, thank gives us a pic of the curtain at what we are truly capable of giving the right set of circumstances. I’ve suffered from mental illness most of my life, but mostly depression and anxiety, but there have been times, especially since most of my life has been a goddamn nightmare of months of hospitalizations and 37 brutal operations that has removed over 95% of my entire gastrointestinal tract thanks to Crohn’s disease and intestinal cancer. I can truly relate to how easy it is to lose control of one’s mind, and while in that state how easy it is to do things you would never ever normally do. It raises an incredibly interesting and sometimes frightening topic, are you capable of murder? The short answer is yes, every single one of us are more than capable of murder given the right set of circumstances, this also shows what severe isolation from the rest of the world can do to your mind. Don’t think you’re capable Of such violent acts? Think again, every single human being on this planet is more than capable of committing absolutely horrific acts of violence, but again, only in certain situations, but it is possible, and that’s the message I want to get out. I’m currently 50 years old, I started my journey of hospitalizations and surgeries at the age of 20, and Wayback then there was no social media or any technology for that matter, that left me totally isolated from the outside world, to the point where I started to literally lose my mind, and I’m not ashamed or embarrassed, because I know for a fact it can happen to anyone. I’m a very strong-willed and strong-minded person. I have an IQ of 147 for chrissake, but that still doesn’t mean I’m not vulnerable to the horrors of what the human mind is capable of, again, under the right set of circumstances. I believe that is why movies like this are so popular, because aside from giving us a good scare which we all enjoy, it also forces us to look at the big picture, so that we ask ourselves, am I actually capable of doing this, and by all means you are, you can deny it all you want, but every single human being on earth is susceptible to psychological trauma, which can and will lead to all sorts of horrific acts of violence, sadly it’s one of the downfalls of being human, you’re at the same time it’s one of our strengths, as it’s a self defense of mechanism that keeps us safe from harm.

  • 4:55 This is why the horror genre works.

  • I got an ad about directing before this lol

  • Love your channel so much.

  • During the ball rolling scene when Danny gets up the carpet pattern is backwards. More disorientation. The tv series i likes more for the gradual change of Jack, more in line with the book tho there’s no crazier face than Jack Nicholson.

  • I have just found your content, and I am really enjoying it. Thank you. If you liked The Shining (I love it), you should check out Netflix Haunting of Hill House – it is even better (and, again, I LOVE The Shining).

  • Exorcist please!

  • Nice introspective on it man..very helpful!

  • What an excellent video. Well edited and straight to the point. I've seen The Shining over 50 times probably but I always seem to find new things to learn about it. Thank you. This was extremely interesting for me to watch, especially as an aspiring screenwriter.

  • "it's only a movie" as Mr. Hitchcock famously said. stop trying to analyze it into something it is not.

  • 5:03
    I have a sirous question. What the f that bear was doing

  • It's so different from the book though

  • "The shinning" is said to be in the same universe as "it". Danny has the same gift as the group from "it" as well and Jack is said to be possessed by "it" himself

  • I was waiting for your interpretation of the closing scene

  • Why am I watching this at midnight

  • I thought the shinning was boring, not scary. Maybe I’m just a simpleton.

  • I am so intrigued by this movie but too scared to see it😂 the scariest movie I’ve seen was coraline

  • scariest and most uncomfortable thing is the rampant pedophilia and incest suggested throughout

  • The thing is as a boy I watched it 8 or 10 times and it didn’t seem that scary, I was fascinated by the hotel itself, and fascinated with jack. Don’t know why but I can’t stop watching it. This movie actually seems scarier now than it did to me then.

  • Did Lionel Messi play Danny ?

  • I hope Hollywood will not make a remake of this one. However, I’d love to have Dr Sleep made into a movie. And I need a novel centered on Abra Stone.

  • Good job.
    I've always liked how when Danny first sees the girls in the game room they don't disappear they simply turn and walk away. Are they real or ghosts? Either way they are very comfortable here.

  • Thank you for talking about Diane Johnson. I think in every video I’ve ever watched about this film, theres hardly ever credit given to her.

  • This is exactly what happens when you have geniuses like Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick creating the story, and actors like Jack Nicholson playing in it! Amazing movie!

  • Thank you, now i have the perfect prank.

  • You know, maybe watching it younger did something. I love Kubrick, and I can appreciate The Shining, but I just didn’t care for it or find it scary. I feel like I tend to agree with overwhelming consensus on most things but this movie I just didn’t like and I don’t know why. It makes me go back and watch it occasionally to “get it”.

  • exorcist is more of an epic horror film

  • That black and white photo of an empty street at 5:44 looks a lot like the streets you find in a neighborhood called “Liberdade” in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. The region is mostly known for its large amount of Japanese descendants, as well as other Asian cultural influences (hence the peculiar shaped street lights). Anyways, those streets are indeed pretty creepy at late night and I don’t recommend you to walk alone for too long in some of its inner alleys (although the worst it can happen is you getting mugged, instead of possessed by some sort of evil spirit).

  • This is great
    Thank you

  • AAAAAH this video is so hard to watch i keep looking over my shoulder

  • Same, gurl. Nothing scares me like The Shining.

  • redrum 🌝

  • In the bank rolling scene when Danny gets up the floor changes slightly. It’s design goes backwards as to say that something is wrong or out of place but the viewer doesn’t know what.

  • I was gonna recommend the vsauce video in the comments. So happy you mentioned it now!

  • Part of the scariness is from Kubrick copying John Carpenter's use of Panaglide in Halloween.

  • There is a difference between being scared and being startled. The shining is scary. Modern horror like, The Conjuring films, are startling due to the jump scares.

  • This channel is gold.

  • What you missed is that, if you listen to the soundtrack it gets unnerving longer into the film until it goes full out.

  • I love that the music in "The Writing Process" chapter is a nod to Freak on a Leash

  • If I ever take up filmmaking or directing I'll make sure to comeback here for advice

  • Everyone praises Kubrick.. but what about Stephen king?

  • I saw this clip now im jack torrence.

  • Hey kids that's a typewriter.

  • 5:00 – 5:10 Thank goodness I don't watch much horror. It's 2am and that segment alone's got me rattled

  • If you are more insane than the insane person they are afraid.

  • Sometimes you just want to be truly horrified
    Rewatching The Shinging (again) might then be just the thing to do

  • The music. Easy.

  • it also affected me in psychological way.. wasted my fucking time in this nonsense movie right after watching this theatrical video.. now in need of a psychiatrist..

  • Who else is looking through the comments because they’re scared?

  • To think that Shelly Deval actually went insane.

  • Caugh moon landing

  • Ghosts and the supernatural cant hold a candle to truest horrors which are the most earthly and human. Such as somebody descending into insanity or the act of cannibalism as mentioned in the beginning of the film during the family car ride.

  • It get gradually more creepy and disturbing as the plot develops and these segments are brilliant and original. But at the end it's just another ax murderer movie. The acting is great, but I'm sorry I find the last segment disappointing. If I want an ax murder I don't need Kubrick.

  • cant even watch this video without having nightmares, great tho and the movie too. jack Nicholson scares the crap out of me

  • Here's…, Jack Torence!

  • i never really watched your videos all the way to then end, so when i saw your face i was surprised. based on your voice, i imagined you to be a slightly chubby white guy with glasses. but now that i know how you look like, your videos have become more intimate and personal feeling 🙂

  • All Work And No Play Makes Jack a dullboy

    That was the most unsettling part of the movie for me. It's madness on paper that scared me the most.

  • Wait… I was supposed to dislike Jack?

  • dein dummes gequartsche hättest du aus diesen video rauslassen sollen

  • sometimes i rub my asshole then touch my hair

  • i can agree 100 percent NO MOVIE ever gave me this feeling i had from shining u really scared what happens next. its a master piece… the camerea handling and the music and the whole atmosphere is just scary!! perfect! is there any movie close to the shinging? i never found one?!? why cant they make movies like this again …

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