For Every Up……..

Filmmaking is the last refuge of the bi-polar insomniac.

The day before last I lost a location, yesterday I secured one, not the location I’d lost but an important location all the same. Today I’m going to try and secure another location (not the original one I’d lost but equally important) as well as going to see a guy about an alternative location to replace the one lost the day before yesterday……..

I got drunk yesterday after saying I was forever off the booze. It was only to celebrate getting the location……. it is a pub after all.

Next time I’m getting a producer, this is too much.

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…………. You’re wrong Matt, It’s a great picture.

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27 responses to “For Every Up……..

  1. I’m sensing that perhaps a small number of shandies may well have been consumed prior to this post my portly Auteur.

    Oh and no.

    No I’m not.

    In a decade that gave us The Exorcist, The Omen, Dawn of the Dead Amityville and Halloween the movie falls way short of the mark as a horror flick.

    But it also fails as a movie.

    Cold, nonsensical, overly long and populated with characters it’s impossible to like. Kubrick manages to take the work of Stephen King an author that is ALL about creating characters that compel and turns in a work that has none of the sources charm or horror.

    But it’s not about the horror I hear you slur!

    If it’s not about the horror then it must be about the disintegration of a family. However for that to work you have to care about the family in the first place.

    The lack of any chemistry between Nicholson and Duvall is a total disaster and it is impossible to believe these two ever had any spark. What this Wendy ever saw in this Jack is beyond me.

    King gives us a troubled soul, a man trying his best to overcome his shortcomings and put his family back on track, one who is destroyed by the evil of the Overlook. I’ve never been able to watch Kubrick’s disaster without wondering why Nicholson’s Jack even bothered to bring his family with him! He seems to be annoyed they are there from the off and presented with the perfect opportunity to get away from the dead weight he seems to feel they both are for some blissful solitude what does he do? Decides to take them with him!

    Nicholson is awful in almost every scene and degenerates to such a level that his axe wielding performance went on to inspire a generation of wise cracking schlock horror ala Freddie K. You want to see a movie where the main character devolves into madness as a result of the pressures of his environment? Watch Taxi Driver. Why does that work so much better? Because we care about Travis, we do not about Torrance.

    Oh and Martin S can see when he needs to reign it in. Mr Kubrick has never been able to do that. Often to glorious success (Orange & Strangelove for example) but not here. Not at all.

  2. I’ve never read The Shining but am well aware of the diversion Stanley took when converting the source material into screenplay form. I suppose it throws up a seperate argument surrounding the ethics of adapting novels and the respect that should be given to the original work.

    The other side of the coin of course is the very recent example that stuck to the source material like glue but ultimately failed cinematically. I’m talking about WATCHMEN. Now I’ve neither read nor seen it but the tsunami of underwhelmed comment was hard to ignore.

    I agree, It’s not about the horror (I perfectly pronounce!) but Stanley’s version is also not solely about the disintegration of a family, that is merely a biproduct of Jack’s mental freefall. For me, Jack is well on the way to going crazy before they even reach the Overlook which explains the lack of chemistry between him and Duvall, there is no backstory giving us a sense of domestic bliss but, having watched my brother slip into schizophrenia before my very eyes, a change in personality can be rapid and complete. I buy their relationship without too much question at all.

    For me it’s extreme situation (mental illness compounded by writers block) vs extreme place (The Overlook) producing startling unusual performance. Kubrick, especially in his later work was very interested in this. Nicholson and Kubrick knew what they were doing in playing Torrance the way they did and for me, it’s right on the money.

    What you say about Scorsese is right. Just for you, I’ve uploaded a section of Jan Harlan’s documentary STANLEY KUBRICK: A LIFE IN PICTURES where Scorsese himself talks of being unsure of Nicholson’s performance initially, but coming round. As I’ve said to you before though, on repeated viewings you get it…

    THE SHINING is not Kubricks best, that I’ll give you without any argument. But as a piece of standalone cinema, using the source material only as a loose reference, it’s great.

  3. “The other side of the coin of course is the very recent example that stuck to the source material like glue but ultimately failed cinematically. I’m talking about WATCHMEN”

    Dangerous to support your argument with a movie you haven’t seen and a book you haven’t read especially when it’s Watchmen you’re using as an example.

    Zack Schneider is an idiot.

    Now that worked in his favour for his adaptation of 300 because Frank Miller too is fundamentally daft. They are both obsessed with style over substance and came together very well to tell a daft comic book story with little depth but lots of action. I love Miller’s work on Batman but it’s not exactly deep stuff.

    Alan Moore however is nobodies fool and is the opposite of Miller in all regards. I have read as much of his work as I have been able to find and was one of the many who considered Watchmen to be un-filmable. Moore is all about motivation not action. My own reasons for thinking Watchmen was impossible to film are that essentially nothing happens! It has no “plot” as such and very little in the way of action. It’s all about the why not the what. Zack doesn’t know how to do that. Hell even Gilliam didn’t know how to do it and that’s his stock in trade!

    As a result we get a movie that looks just like Watchmen and hits all the main “plot” points but has none of the depth or vibrancy of the source material and is, as a result, a shambles.

    The same too can be said of The Shining. King does character better any other popular horror writer (it’s the reason he’s the most successful author of the 20th century) and Kubric does not. His agenda here was entirely different. I have seen the film half a dozen or so times so I don’t buy the whole “you’ll get it after multiple viewing” rubbish. They just don’t fit. As a result the movie is a mess.

    I can never understand why Hollywood takes a source and loves it so much they feel it’s worth the massive investment required to make a major movie but then think they know better than the initial story teller they so enjoyed and remake the film in their own image. If you want to tell a different story then leave the original alone. Give the original creator an “Inspired by” credit and leave the source to someone else so they can tell the original story faithfully.

    This can be seen in Darabont’s work with King, be it the human stories of Shawshank and Green Mile or the bleak horror of The Mist. An end product all the better for the collaborative nature of its parents.

    You want to tell a story about a guy with cabin fever then fine just leave King’s masterpiece alone.

  4. “Dangerous to support your argument with a movie you haven’t seen and a book you haven’t read especially when it’s Watchmen you’re using as an example.”

    It’s not so dangerous when you’re sure of 2 major facts.

    1: The people behind the film made a great effort to represent the source material to the letter. (despite maybe missing the point)

    2: Film and comic fans alike found great dissapointment in the finished article.

    Every review I read and listened to praised it for it’s respect (structurally and aesthetically) to the source material but was scathing in it’s lack of cinematic power. Now, I admitted to not seeing the film but I wasn’t looking to use this as an analytical example in which to further stick up for Stanley.

    Every novel adaptation goes through a certain amount of “restructuring” and Kubrick, being Kubrick saw cinematic possibilities in the book that, although veering severly of King’s beaten path, would result in a compelling picture. It goes back to the proposed argument in my initial reply. What responsibility does the filmmaker have to the author? The very nature of the artist is to communicate an idea on a deeply individual level, this renders being completely honerable to the source virtually impossible.

    Could it not be that case that films are seen as “companions” to the book. Looking at it musically, a good cover version is one which tips it’s hat to the original but, in the best cases, results in something vastly different.

  5. Come now we both know you are not so naive as to believe what is said on a press junket?

    1: The people behind the film made a great effort to represent the source material to the letter. (despite maybe missing the point)

    Oh no they didn’t! They said they made a great effort to represent the source material to the letter but that don’t make it so! What they did was pick out the exciting parts and cast off the subtext. So lots of high kicks and not so much high concept.

    2: Film and comic fans alike found great disappointment in the finished article.

    I refer you back to the answer above!

    Also given we listened to/read reviews from mainly the same sources I’m amazed you didn’t pick that up as ALL the reviews I have come in contact with have rated it as style over substance and missing the depth and subtlety of Moore’s masterwork.

    Every novel adaptation goes through a certain amount of “restructuring”

    Well that’s simply not true! Some are lovingly re-worked from an un-filmable starting point ala “Trainspotting”, “American Psycho” or “Naked Lunch” but others are just abused as a jumping off point from which the original is soon discarded ala “The Shining” or “I am Legend” and have an end result bearing little resemblance and which in my opinion fail as a result. Others are practically the written word up on screen like the aforementioned “Shawshank”.

    Whilst these works are all adapted in some way or another they are not necessarily “restructured”.

  6. I can honestly say I never read a word of the press from the studio. I recall you were excited about seeing it! I also recall speaking to another freind who, based on the trailer, had said it was shaping up to be an adaptation that basically uses the graphic novel as storyboards. To be perfectly honest with you, I wasn’t bothered either way as a good movie is a good movie regardless.

    I did pick up that it was viewed as style over substance, only I worded it slightly different.

    Re-working = restructuring…. essentially. If you are taking a novel and adapting it for the screen, scenes and details are inevitably dropped, dialogue added and subtracted, Structure amended to allow the story to work as a film. I never intended the word “restructuring” to be taken as a negative, it’s merely a necesarry part of novel adaptation….. as you’ve confirmed, kinda.

    The crux of my argument(or should I say point?) is best explained in the last 2 paragraphs of my last retort. It’s the only part you’ve not refered to funnily :). I don’t really care if a director like Stanley Kubrick wants to run wild and interpret the material how he sees fit. Creativity leads to new, surprising work that envokes discussion and debate. That can never be a bad thing.

    There’s nothing to stop someone else going out there and making a word for word, nuance for nuance remake of the book, and it may be great. I still think the world’s a better place for having Kubrick’s version.

  7. “There’s nothing to stop someone else going out there and making a word for word, nuance for nuance remake of the book” – Of course there is! The movie rights are a commodity owned by the studio. Once they are purchased then they exclude anyone else making a movie.

    There is also the problem that once a movie of a book/comic/play is released then that forever becomes entrenched in the public’s consciousness and overrides the initial work in the main. “Bladerunner” is a good example of this. Everyone knows it’s based on PKD’s book “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” but few know how very, very different Scott’s masterpiece is from its source. “Bladerunner” however is such a fine work that any re-make is unlikely. Scott however acknowledges his movie is not the vision of PKD and has the respect to name it differently (much to the studios relief I’m sure).

    The problem comes with movies like The Shining, Watchmen, Constantine, etc that essentially take a products marketability and credibility but strip away the actual source itself. Moore has for example become so disenchanted with this process he now refuses to allow his name to appear in the credits. This is nothing but cynical marketeering and by attaching the name of a King or Moore to a product it immediately has a cachet and salability that would otherwise be lacking.

    Kubric making a horror movie is interesting, but for the boys in marketing to be able to say that one of the world’s greatest storytellers is to join forces with one of the greatest film makers is marketing gold. And this is my issue.

    “I don’t really care if a director like Stanley Kubrick wants to run wild and interpret the material how he sees fit” – Well that’s easy for you to say, you haven’t crafted the work being pillaged.

    Perhaps had you put your heart and soul into something you were truly proud of and had spent a considerable period of your life crafting, re-working, perfecting then been smooth talked by a studio into signing over the rights for a screen adaptation only then to see an end product that bears no resemblance to your work, to have an interpretation that contradicts your point or strips out that of which you are most proud but must see your name there on the poster forever linking you to this new monster you would feel differently.

    The talent required to craft stories of this caliber is not to be taken lightly, nor should it be disrespected and this is in my opinion what Kubric is guilty of with The Shining and you are with your dismissive comment above.

  8. I think you’re missing my point massively here Mr. Etheridge. I again make reference to my ethics of adaptation argument from earlier. Kubrick would not have chosen to make The Shining had he not had love and respect for the source material, why would he? I myself have huge admiration for writers but the fact is, they’ve poured all that heart, soul, talent and time into a novel, a work that will co-exist beside any movie that happens to be made. It would be flippant of me to say that the author of the original work would not be upset at a horrible movie being made of his or her book but in the case of The Shining this just isn’t so.

    Stanley coming up with a new angle for Torrance’s journey does not dilute the power of King’s novel as a standalone work. If anything, the 2 works alongside each other make for an interesting juxtaposition of ideas that should be celebrated rather than vilified.

    King and Kubrick are artists in different spheres, equal respect should be given to both and, if it is the case the picture can never be made again (my legal knowledge ain’t that great) then this is a great example of how adaptations can WORK by spawning a film with a close relationship to the source, but not a direct copy.

    And interpretation, not adaptation.

    Now it takes a great director to pull this off. In most cases, just transferring the book onto film is the best way to go. We are talking about Kubrick here though. Not infallible by any means but an undeniable great of cinema.

  9. “Kubrick would not have chosen to make The Shining had he not had love and respect for the source material, why would he?” – How on earth can you say that? On what basis do you make such a comment? Can you quote Mr Kubric accordingly?

    There are many reasons to make a move like The Shining and have not special love or respect for the novel. To use it as a jumping off point and as a marketing tool to name but two.

    Hollywood history is littered with tales of woe from writers who were promised input to the film only to find themselves banned from sets and fired from projects. They are often seen as a means to an end and treated appallingly. And this is why so many writer/directors choose to make their own stories as they know only too well what will happen if they entrust their characters to a studio.

    “It would be flippant of me to say that the author of the original work would not be upset at a horrible movie being made of his or her book but in the case of The Shining this just isn’t so.” – Indeed it is flippant and it is only your opinion that The Shining is not a “horrible movie” Stephen King would disagree. So much so that he bought back the rights and made his own version of the movie. Is that movie as revered as Kubric’s? Of course not it was made for TV on a TV budget with a TV director, but that is not the point.

    If Kubric wanted to only use a kernel of King’s idea as the basis for a different tale then that is perfectly fine. Give King an “Inspired by novel The Shining” credit, change the names of the characters and call the movie something else. I mean Kubric changed just about everything else so why not? If you want to tell a different story why continue to hide behind the original authors name?

    You feel the movie is worthy in its own right, although cinema audiences disagreed (it was only much later the film grew into a classic) and that to me is further evidence that the name was kept purely to get bums on seats. At the time King was at his absolute peak in terms of popularity and was a license to print money lets not forget. Movies had been made of Carrie, Cujo, Firestarter, etc all to great returns. His books were best sellers before they were even released thanks to pre-orders and that was no small feat in those days. The decision to keep the name of the book and of the author was clearly purely cynical.

    Adaptation and re-interpretation is one thing. I admit there has been great success in this and have said so in reference to my aforementioned “Bladerunner” & “Trainspotting” but these have been done so lovingly and respectfully and this is not the same thing at all.

    This was a cynical ploy that only gains credibility because such a well thought of Director has made the film. Let’s not forget however that Hollywood has abused HUNDREDS of writers similarly to produce work that is unarguably poor and this is a disgrace that the industry should address.

    You make reference to cover versions of music in an earlier post but even in this area of re-interpretation the permission of the original artist must be sought in order for such recordings to be made commercially available and this permission is sought on the strength of an end product and not as with the film industry on the owning of rights. In essence a writer has to sell his story and then owns no part of it unlike the musician who still has control.

  10. ““Kubrick would not have chosen to make The Shining had he not had love and respect for the source material, why would he?” – How on earth can you say that? On what basis do you make such a comment? Can you quote Mr Kubric accordingly?”

    In an interview with Michel Ciment, Kubrick is quoted: “The manuscript of the novel was sent to me by John Calley, of Warner Bros. I thought it was one of the most ingenious and exciting stories of the genre I had read. It seemed to strike an extraordinary balance between the psychological and the supernatural in such a way as to lead you to think that the supernatural would eventually be explained by the psychological: “Jack must be imagining these things because he’s crazy”. This allowed you to suspend your doubt of the supernatural until you were so thoroughly into the story that you could accept it almost without noticing.”

    “I mean Kubric changed just about everything else so why not? If you want to tell a different story why continue to hide behind the original authors name?”

    I’ve found many examples of the film’s marketing posters etc.(from its original release) proclaiming the fact it’s a Stanley Kubrick film, in some instances it was released as “Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining” in all cases, on all posters there is no configuration that has “Steven King’s” above the title, unlike Firestarter, a film you cite as superior.

    What is amazing here is you suggest that Kubrick was somehow riding on King’s coat-tails. Barry Lyndon asside, Kubrick had been smacking them out of the park his entire career. Before Lyndon his run was DR STRANGELOVE, 2001 and A CLOCKWORK ORANGE and you talk about King being at the top of his game!! I don’t think a man who made only 12 (released) features in his career and was famously obsessive about his work would approach source material as a mere “Jumping off point or marketing tool”… Yes he needed a hit after Lyndon but I think to offer those two as primary motivations is insulting to Kubrick as an artist.

    I also like how your post includes the lines:

    “it is only your opinion that The Shining is not a “horrible movie””

    and

    “You feel the movie is worthy in its own right, although cinema audiences disagreed (it was only much later the film grew into a classic)”

    Even I don’t have the power to bestow the honour of “classic” on a film. There must be more opinion out there that reflects mine surely.

    But I will agree with you on a few points Matt. I agree that the studio were salivating of the marketing possibilities of such a connection. I agree that writers are shafted and it’s a disgusting thing. I really don’t, as I’ve said before, think King was shafted here however.

    I found the following interview with King that says it all:

    ” What was your final view regarding Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining?

    I get asked that question a lot, you wouldn’t believe; and my feelings about it are fairly complex; suffice it to say that on the whole my feeling for the film has grown as time has gone by. I think that every viewing rewards a little bit more, which is a sign in any book of film that there’s something more going on than simple film-making, putting the camera here…that somebody was thinking. That’s one of the things that I appreciate.

    It’s obvious that even from the conversations that I had with him in pre-production, that Stanley Kubrick was thinking very deeply about what he was doing. From a plotting level, I don’t think the film works very well, and in terms of execution I think some of the choices that he made about where to set his cameras and how to shoot certain scenes were amazingly bad. And I know that it must sound…not just pretentious but downright…almost arrogant for me to say that because he’s a great film-maker and I’ve never even…you know, yelled ‘cut’ at the end of a scene or anything. And it is pretentious, it is arrogant, and yet from the standpoint of film-goer…any film-goer who’s seen enough films turns into a film critic, even if it’s only in their own mind.”

  11. “The manuscript of the novel was sent to me by John Calley……” – I read that on Wiki too but whilst it shows he thought it was a great idea (to which I attest) it doesn’t explain why he turned down the opportunity to work with King on the adaptation and refused any form of collaboration. I think that is clearly because he had his own ideas and wanted King out of the way. Now this is fair enough if you are to distance yourself from the initial work but not if you are to keep it close.

    “unlike Firestarter, a film you cite as superior.” – Now that’s just hilarious! I didn’t say it was superior just that it had done good business and made any work by King all the more bankable back then. I don’t particularly like it to be honest, nor do I like Carrie as a film. Cujo works well though IMO.

    “What is amazing here is you suggest that Kubrick was somehow riding on King’s coat-tails.” – Didn’t say that either young man. I said it was a MARKETING TOOL. I don’t think Stanley K gave much of a stuff about marketing, nor about box office returns. Nor about the fact he was nominated for a Razzie for Worst Director for the flick. The studio however do and it is there my ire is focused as I think I have made reasonably clear.

    “I also like how your post includes the lines: “it is only your opinion that The Shining is not a “horrible movie”” and “You feel the movie is worthy in its own right, although cinema audiences disagreed (it was only much later the film grew into a classic)” Even I don’t have the power to bestow the honour of “classic” on a film. There must be more opinion out there that reflects mine surely.” – An overwhelming opinion I’m sure. I merely meant to point out that your opinion is just that, yours, and my position is that King’s was different and it is my heartfelt belief that the creating artists’ voice should carry the most weight.

    King was not alone here either. Anthony Burgess was equally unhappy with Mr Kubrick’s work on Orange too. Umberto Ecco (Name of the Rose) even refused to let him adapt his work for fear of poor treatment at his hands (although he did regret this later I think) so King wasn’t just being sensitive. Clarke seemed to get along just fine with Stanley though but then I guess The Sentinel may not have been as personal a tale as King’s was. King is on record as saying it was a reaction to his own trouble with dinking and how this caused him to treat his family.

    I’m glad you like the movie and get a lot out of it but I’m with Stephen K. “There’s a lot to like about it. But it’s a great big beautiful Cadillac with no motor inside, you can sit in it and you can enjoy the smell of the leather upholstery – the only thing you can’t do is drive it anywhere. So I would do every thing different. The real problem is that Kubrick set out to make a horror picture with no apparent understanding of the genre. Everything about it screams that from beginning to end, from plot decision to the final scene”

    Not to say I don’t like Kubrick at all, I love 2001, Strangelove and F.M.J. but I’m not one of the chorus here who think this is yet another masterpiece.

  12. It’s late so I’ll say only this…… For now.

    I don’t, in any way shape or form think this film is a masterpiece. It’s engaging, and I never tire of seeing it, but it’s slightly behind quite a few Kubrick films in my list.

    It is………………… A great movie though.

    I’ll deal with the rest tomorow.

  13. “It is………………… A great movie though.” – I’m sure you mean “in your opinion it’s a great movie”. I assume you still welcome differing opinion?

    I kid of course although interestingly in my reading last night I found that perhaps Mr Kubrick would disagree.

    In what seems to me to be unprecedented he went back and re-cut the movie post release during it’s theatrical run not once but twice! In the first instance changing the end of the movie and having the studio demand that cinema projectionists cut their versions the same way and to ensure this was done to send the removed scenes back to the studio. He then went back again still not happy prior to the British release and took out another 20 mins. I wonder if in his own private thoughts he ever really got the end product he wanted. Having read a list of the changes some seem very odd decisions (the removal of the “Thursday” title card for example) .

  14. I read an article that basically said the same thing. I love the title cards, especially the TUESDAY one which gives you a bit of a fright after an innocent stroll with Wendy and Danny through the maze. The sound design on the picture is fantastic.

    Ok…..

    I experienced the film 3 times (yes, 3 times) yesterday. Once watching it all the way through, once listening to it as I went about my daily business and again going through my favourite scenes and watching the making of documentary made by his daughter.

    IN MY OPINION it is a great picture, this is an opinion shared by many and it appears on the AFI’s 100 years of movies list. The film has been given a tough ride and this is in no small part down to the treatment of King’s novel but time has been kind to both popular opinion and, in the case of King, his view on the whole experience has softened.

    I am, being a fan of cinema and the many arguments it springs, VERY welcoming of differing opinion. How boring would it be if everybody liked the same thing?

    I’m not in the least surprised that Kubrick recut the movie several times, filmmakers are rarely to never completely happy with their work. Woody Allen (I’m not trying to start ANOTHER fight here :)) thinks only 2 of his films are any good (easy now!) and was well known for reshooting scenes months after the picture had wrapped.

    Are we at a position where we can agree to forever disagree?

  15. “Are we at a position where we can agree to forever disagree?” – Well yes & no.

    “Yes” because I honestly have no interest in changing your mind (not suggesting my rhetoric actually could) your opinion is yours and without it I would have nothing to rail against. And again “Yes” as this is your house and if you wish to call a close to the argument then I am happy to do so.

    However, it is a long working day and a bit of passionate discourse helps that along immensely and I do feel that there are areas in which our opinions can be changed. I am willing to admit that despite my initial misgivings the film does have some aesthetic greatness. On reflection the river of blood is indeed visually stunning and as you say the sound editing is phenomenal. But I’m not yet ready to concede that Kubrick has any love for the source nor that he is beyond using it as a jumping off point or marketing tool.

    He was a filmmaker of high regard (and rightly so) but still needed to attract funding for his projects. It was 1980 and cash wasn’t exactly easy to come by then as now. He would have needed to peak the interest of the studio in order to secure his funding for what was bound to be a lengthy and expensive shoot. The producers would have to have a saleable vehicle to attach to any project.

    Nor is it insulting to suggest this is the case. Mr Kubrick was a very clever man and there are plenty of reasons to think he would read the book and think to himself “hmm that gives me an idea!” or “Intriguing, I can do something with this” and that is what I mean by a jumping off point. He kept what he liked and discarded what he did not.

    He certainly had previous in this regard as he did the same with Orange and Lolita and the authors of these works had their fair share of battles with him as a result all attempting to recover the rights and ensure more faithful versions could be made. Nabokov was quiet during his lifetime but his son was VERY vocal in support of the remake of Lolita as a result of his father’s misgivings. Burgess tried for years to gain back the rights but Kubrick wouldn’t allow it, even denying him permission for a stage play. King however was the only one with the financial clout and power to do so.

    It seems to me he just didn’t care. He loved his movies to such an extent that he didn’t care who’s toes needed to be stepped on or feelings needed to be hurt to ensure he had the end result he desired. Now some would call that driven (and many do) I however feel it is disrespectful.

    Oh and I’m not yet ready to forgive you for the frankly libellous suggestion that I rate Firestarter either!

  16. There’s a famous story told by Kubrick’s secretary that tells of the period post Barry Lyndon. Stanley locked himself in an office with massive piles of books looking for his next project. He would go through each one and only read the first three pages. If that initial snippet didn’t grab him he would throw the book against the wall with a hearty THUD. The constant banging went on from inside the room for months until one day the thudding stopped. Thinking something was wrong, his secretary burst into the room to check everything was ok….. He was sitting reading The Shining.

    As you correctly say, he had previous in his earlier treatments of novels but there’s one thing I can’t back him up on. The filmmaker interpreting a work, as I’ve stated previously, is free to be creative in his vision of the work, even if that mean veering significantly off the beaten track. In the case of The Shining, and I’m about to read it, there is just enough detail that mirrors the book to keep the title and reference the author.

    What I don’t agree with, and what I’m finding out with further research, is Kubrick’s tendancy to block any other adaptations of the source which would give a wider breadth of interpretations. This takes the shine (excuse the pun) of his approach to adaptation, but this is still an approach I back without question.

    As for the marketability point. A man that takes 5 years to make a picture, regardless of his genuius, is going to have to satisfy the studio that it will fly when released, that fact cannot be denied. I don’t believe however that this was the sole driving factor. In a business of compromises he found material that the felt could both satisfy his creative and artistic needs while giving the money men something they can sell. This is the perpetual conflict of professional filmmaking.

    I’m not looking to give anything up. Can you agree then, that if Kubrick didn’t have this totalitarian attitude to the source material and allowed others to possibly make more “honerable” versions, that his take on The Shining wouldn’t irk you so much?

    And you love Firestarter…… Admit it.

  17. “And you love Firestarter…… Admit it.” – You know to be fair I think I’ve only seen it once on the Sci-Fi channel on a weekend afternoon so no doubt cut to buggery to fit the pre-watershed timeslot so I may well love it if I actually give it due diligence.

    But back to the point:

    “Can you agree then, that if Kubrick didn’t have this totalitarian attitude to the source material and allowed others to possibly make more “honourable” versions, that his take on The Shining wouldn’t irk you so much?” – You know I don’t think it would make any difference.

    I guess we are coming from the two polar opposites of creative expression that causes the movie industry so much grief. You believe (I think I’m correct in saying) that a filmmaker has total creative freedom and owes no-one be they studio, actors or writers any loyalty. That their loyalty is too their art and nothing should compromise this.

    I however feel if you are entrusted with another artists work you should be a caretaker of this gift and should treat it with the utmost respect. Anything less is disrespectful.

    I think this is best illustrated by a tale of writerley woe surrounding one of my favourite movies, not a classic (but one I’m hugely fond of), The Crow. Now given this is pretty much a B-Movie rather than a “Classic for the Ages” maybe this will give a different view.

    Alex Proyas film takes some huge liberties with the source material and given the original is “only a comic” and the film is “only an Action Flick” maybe this doesn’t matter. However James O’Barr wrote The Crow as part of the healing process he was going through after his girlfriend was killed by a drunk driver. This made the story hugely personal to himself and something of which he was very proud. He allowed the rights to go and now has a franchise that is frankly awful based on his characters. To me this cannot be right!

    Yes O’Barr should have gotten himself a better lawyer/agent to protect his work but there should in my opinion be a duty of care within the industry to protect artists on both ends of the project.

  18. “I guess we are coming from the two polar opposites of creative expression that causes the movie industry so much grief. You believe (I think I’m correct in saying) that a filmmaker has total creative freedom and owes no-one be they studio, actors or writers any loyalty. That their loyalty is too their art and nothing should compromise this.”

    You’re partly right here Matt, we are coming from polar opposite angles but I don’t think it’s correct to say I think the filmmaker has free reign to stamp over everyone involved to realise their “vision”.

    The Studio should have input, but faith.

    The Actor (in my opinion, this is the way I personally work) is someone who should be collaborated with at every stage during shooting. The better the actor feels about how involved he or she is, the more engaged they are with the material, the more risk they will take in their performance because they’re not scared to make mistakes. Kubrick, of course, wasn’t from this school of thought. Shelley Duvall had a terrible time on that picture but Kubricks later pictures all had a deliberate disengagement from character.

    The writer / director relationship is the most complex of all….. As I think we’ve touched on in this discussion! King and Kibrick had long discussions during pre production, this I think (where possible if the writer’s still alive) is essential. This is where a writer can be let into the filmmakers mind and can maybe come round to the fact that his or her work work will, in all likelyhood, be altered in some way. Hopefully, through this engagement, the writer will have faith that something new and exciting can be made of the original idea. Of course, agreement will not always be possible but that initial involvement should always happen out of sheer respect…. again, only my opinion.

    Stephen King’s story was also very personal I understand due to his alcoholism, Kubricks decision to do what he always did and strip the story back to it’s bare components would not have sat well with someone so emotionally invested in that particular work. There was always going to be a clash.

    Cinema ia a dicipline of self expression, we both agree on that. Kubrick was a highly individual, visually pioneering credit to the art of film. I do not agree, as I’ve said, with many other examples of source butchering by hacks who have one eye on getting funding for their next 7 figure pay packet. Kubrick was not to make another picture for 7 years, then a further 12 before his final film. I think The Shining is a unique case that should be viewed as such.

  19. A well reasoned post, however it further entrenches my view point and to be honest makes my blood boil. Putting Kubrick aside for a moment….

    I think I need to simplify things further and boil my feelings down to their basest points. It is to my mind a question of ownership I guess.

    Who owns the characters and story?

    Is it the originator? The individual who made the intellectual leap to actually create the world of the story from nothing but a blank page? The person who poured over the context, metaphor and the ideals of the tale, who invested these ciphers with back-story, with emotion, with their motivations and goals?

    Or is it any bugger who fancies a go at it?

    For me if you, as a Director, choose to tell my, as a Writers, tale then you are doing just that. You are telling MY story and should treat it accordingly.

    If you wish to tell a story that is similar to mine, or is inspired by mine then feel free to credit me as inspiration, slip me a fee for the favour I have done in sparking your idea then feel free to do as you see fit.

    However have the respect to put suitable distance between your tale and mine.

    If however you wish to keep my characters or title or plot, etc then treat it with due care and remember at all times that you are working with something that doesn’t belong to you but belongs to me. Seek my council on interpretation and defer to my input of context and character. If you’re not willing to do that then TELL ANOTHER STORY as it is clear you don’t really want to tell mine.

  20. I need to keep this short as I’m just on my way out but I’ll leave you with this one point and come back to it later. If a director is morally obliged to completely stick to the original material, where, (within the material) beyond obtining performance, lighting and moving the camera, does his capacity for individual artistic expression come from?

    The director is then merely a journeyman pumping out a pre determined blue print.

    I’m sure authors LOVE the concept of their books being made into films. King was apparently very pleased to hear Kubrick had chosen the novel. There has to be a middle ground though. The novel will always exist, there should be room to move. Could it be a fear of being overshadowed by the cinematic version?

  21. Are you suggesting that there is not enough room within your own noted confines (obtaining performance, lighting and moving the camera) plus the obvious missing elements you have not listed for example sound design, music, art direction, etc to stretch a Director?

    Perhaps you should ask a few stage directors how they manage to retain Shakespeare’s plots and characters faithfully yet reinterpret again and again and again in new and interesting ways (just a thought).

    Even radically different interpretations like for example Baz Luhrmann’s version “Romeo + Juliet” manages to change the setting but retain the core of the originals intent and as a result produces a fine film.
    He also has the care and respect to differentiate his work by using the “+” rather than the “and”. Not a big thing true but a respectful nod if you will to show his work is not exactly that of the creators.

    “The director is then merely a journeyman pumping out a pre-determined blue print.” – I guess that all depends on the quality of the Director. The aforementioned Frank Darabont seems to do an excellent job with King’s work as many others do with other Writers. I think you are being deliberately precious or perhaps just not appreciating the difference between working on an “original” screenplay and an “adapted” screenplay.

    “I’m sure authors LOVE the concept of their books being made into films.” – Well of course they do! What they don’t like is Director’s and Studio’s cutting the heart and soul out of their work.

    Essentially what I am saying is it is an entirely different thing to adapt a book for the screen than it is to bring an original screenplay to life.

    With an original screenplay you have liberty to do as you see fit. Change what you feel requires changing, keep what works. This is because the very act of writing an ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY, I feel, puts the Writer in a very different position than that of someone trying to adapt an existing work.

    I think that should you write something with the intent of making it into a movie you enter into an agreement that the movie making process will have an impact on your work. That Producers, Directors, Actors, et al will all have their own ideas and that this is to be expected, allowed for and even encouraged.

    However when you as a Director chose to take on an Authors work no such agreement exists. In fact the relationship flips and you, the actors and producers all agree to put the original work first.

    “Could it be a fear of being overshadowed by the cinematic version?” – Yes, indeed. Very funny!

  22. Get a room you two 😉

    I’m sorry but I might lower the tone slightly here, Stu. As per our discussion on Friday, neither of us have witnessed the gem that is Karate Kid IV (The Next Karate Kid). Luckily I have sourced a boxset that will fill us in (not only on this but the first 3 parts as well). All for under £8.

    I reckon we should both get the set and get back to each other and also write in-depth reports and criticism blog-style.

    http://www.play.com/DVD/DVD/4-/735270/The-Karate-Kid-1-2-3-amp-4-Box-Set/Product.html#

  23. “With an original screenplay you have liberty to do as you see fit. Change what you feel requires changing, keep what works. This is because the very act of writing an ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY, I feel, puts the Writer in a very different position than that of someone trying to adapt an existing work.”

    I can’t agree here Matt. My tutor at college tells of a horrific experience he had with a script he had made into a short tv film. They basically ripped the guts out of it and, like you say Kubrick did with Kings work, completely missed the point of the piece. He cartainly doesn’t tell the story with an air of acceptance!

    Now here’s the interesting thing.

    You’re saying the screenplay writer is obliged to give up his work and lay it at the mercy of the filmmakers. This artist (for they are) may have poured months, years, whatever, into this creation and it could be the most personal, precious thing they had ever produced, just like the novelist…. But because it’s only a screenplay it’s ok to modify it without consideration?

    How can that be?

    And consider this. The novelist has a tangible work in the public realm that is always their own, regardless of the “quality” of the adaptation. The screenplay writer has nothing but the end product. I think the original screenplay writer has more to be pissed about to be honest.

    I agree with your point about Baz Luhrmann, it’s an incredible piece of work. All I’m saying is, that if the director is of the standing of Kubrick, artistic licence should be allowed. It can never be an exact science.

  24. Mike…..

    Lovely idea. There’s not enough Karate Kid on this here blog.

    It wasn’t adapted from a novel was it? 🙂

  25. “All I’m saying is, that if the director is of the standing of Kubrick, artistic licence should be allowed. It can never be an exact science.” – Kubrick, Schmubrick! Disrespect is disrespect.

    i don’t think directors have te right to gut a screenplay either I think all writers work should be respected and you directors should do what you do best and ensure the catering arrives on time. Leave the creative stuff to writers, art directors, DoP’s and actors.

    What is your there for again? 😉

    I kid of course.

    However I do think that if I as a writer wish to write a film then an element of cration by commitee is inevitable. It should still be colaborative but I go into the project with my “eyes wide open” (see what I did there).

    But if you wish to take my book from the shelf and put it on the screen then no agreement to cration by commitee exists and therefore a different duty of care exists.

    essentially if I write for you then I must allow you to be creative. However if you wish to adapt from me then you need to be repectful of the work you wish to work with.

    I re-watched “I an Legend” last night and can’t fo rthe life of me work out why they kept the title. A completely different story with zero relation to the initial work. At least “The Omega Man” changed the name.

  26. Looking back over the last 25 posts I can see we’re missing a major point that is shielded by an exception.

    I’ll quote you:

    “If you wish to tell a story that is similar to mine, or is inspired by mine then feel free to credit me as inspiration, slip me a fee for the favour I have done in sparking your idea then feel free to do as you see fit.”

    In 99.9% of cases with 99.9% of directors I completely agree with you. I agree that a writers work should be given due respect with the heart of the original story remaining intact.

    Stanley Kubrick is the exception.

    The Shining is no less Stephen King’s work now than it was when he typed the last letter on the manuscript. The only difference is, it now has a weird younger brother that follows it around everywhere.

    It’d be interesting to find out how many people over the years have read The Shining as a direct result of seeing the film. As you’ve said, King didn’t need Kubrick for promotion but, by naming the film after the book, the retrospective respect for Kubricks cinematic vision will have lead film fans to the source material.

    I don’t mention this in any kind of financial context. It’s the coming together of 2 art forms which, as I’ve said several times, interests me most. I can give you a practical example actually.

    I made an experimental film at the end of last year and having gone into the project with a clear idea of what I wanted on screen (it’s what we directors do you see :)) decided to deviate from the plan and direct only the filming of the footage. I then handed the material to an editor with a one sentence note of intention. I didn’t want to see the film again until it was finished.

    The result was something completely different to what I’d expected construction wise, but also in tone. What was interesting though was I could see my idea in there, but, of course, as the idea is only in my head, I’m the only one who knows what I originaly meant.

    It’s on a far smaller scale, granted, but putting my work in the hands of another created an interesting alternative to what I had thought the piece should say.

    The point of this anecdote?

    The only people who should interpret with no input are geniuses and film students.

  27. “Stanley Kubrick is the exception.” – No, no he’s not.

    If Mr K was to enter into an agreement with the novelist that he was to reinterpret the original work in such a way then fine. But he cannot do so without the compliance of the writer.

    The fact that you feel he is a genius a popular belief but a subjective one (I disagree, I think he is cold and distant but is interesting none the less) and is irrelevant it gives him no increased status over anyone else.

    Given King had not given such permission then Stanley K was out of order.

    Your excellent example of your relationship with your Editor only serves to back me up. You were the initiator of the agreement and thus happy with the outcome. It was an experiment you were actively involved in.

    Had you, however, given the editor a very specific brief and he chose to ignore it as he felt he knew better than you what you were trying to say then you would feel very differently and rightly so. I think fisty-cuffs may even play their part if it was so close to a deadline you were unable to change prior to submission to your peers. You would be stuck with something you want no part of an in no position to change it. An “Alan Smithee” moment if you will.

    And this is the point I think you are stubbornly missing. There MUST be consensus between the creator and the Director in these instances. If there is then hey run wild. Set my Edinburgh based novel on Mars if you see fit. But if we do not have consensus then tell the initial story or move on. There are as many tales to be told as there are grains of sand on the beach after all why ruin mine for your own selfish ends?

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