Honouring Stanley Kubrick’s THE SHINING: A Conversation with Work & Play Director Matt Wells
The Shining was a signature role for Jack Nicholson whose character was recently selected by AFI as one of their 50 Greatest Villains. He plays Jack Torrance, who becomes the off-season caretaker of the isolated Overlook Hotel. Has he been to this hotel before or not? The answer lies within an entangled ‘ghostly time warp of madness and murder.’There his insanity peaks, terrorizing his young son and wife (Shelley Duvall).
Based on the bestseller by Stephen King, a definite classic in waiting.
The unique filmmaker Stanley Kubrick, an existential and optimistic individual, also manages to create here an optimistic movie, in the sense it is a story about ghosts, and anything that echoes an after life is in itself optimistic. Kubrick in his balletic way does not wish us to take a shot of reality inside our heads but instead a photograph of that photograph of reality.Although the steadicam was first used in the opening sequences of Halloween, Kubrick in The Shining takes it that bit further, as he smoothly glides the voyeur through the hallways of the Overlook Hotel, and its treacherous maze. Garrett Brown invented the steadicam in 1974, and Kubrick got him to operate the one in the film. Brown says: “(it was) where I really learned to control the damn thing!”
Park Circus re-releases Stanley Kubrick’s THE SHINING, screening it in over 100 cinemas. Accompanying it is the short film ‘Work & Play: A Short Film about The Shining,’ directed by Matt Wells, who was good enough to be interviewed by The Fan Carpet’s Tremayne Miller ahead of the re-release.
What were the objectives behind making the short film?
The Shining is one of those films, you don’t just like it, it gets under your skin and stays with you after you’ve seen it and it’s a reaction that you often hear about the movie. It has such an interesting effect on people, with the movie returning to cinemas, I wanted to find out why that was.
Were there any other members of the Cast or Crew you would have liked to have interviewed, and if so who and why did this not occur?
No, I got to talk to and film interviews with a lot of great people to help make the documentary, Dan Lloyd who played Danny, Lisa and Louise Burns who played the Grady twins, Garrett Brown who was instrumental in achieving the film’s look and Diane Johnson who co-wrote the script, among others.
Were there aspects about ‘The Shining’ – in the run-up to the making, the production itself or post-production you weren’t aware of?
Yes, because Kubrick kept everything from the film, from drafts of the script, to prop research, to advert designs, they’re all stored at the Stanley Kubrick Archive in London, which not many people have seen. When you get down there and start looking through everything, you get a clearer picture of how the film came together, it’s a treasure trove and plenty of it.
What do you think it is about Kubrick’s film that makes it a timeless Classic?
Conducting interviews with his collaborators and looking through the archive, I came to believe that partly it’s about the mechanics of the film itself, right down to the nuts and bolts of Kubrick’s filmmaking process. More fundamentally though, I think it’s the way that the film plays on our thoughts and fears.
What is your interpretation of the story, for example, one might say that it relates to a writer’s mind, and it gradually creeping more and more towards insanity?
Kubrick may have known exactly what he was doing and what it was about when he made the film but 37 years later, I’m still trying to figure it out. Though, isn’t that the beauty of The Shining?
The Shining will remain forever on my Top List of favourite films, and seeing it again only reiterated that.
THE SHINING is in cinemas across the UK on 31 October 2017 accompanied by short film ‘Work & Play: A Short Film about The Shining’ (Director Matt Wells)