Next year marks the 35th anniversary of Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of “The Shining” which of course means that writers across the internet are only months away from publishing retrospectives, oral histories and so forth regarding the film that popularized the phrase “redrum.” In the meantime, we’ll have to be satisfied with learning exactly how the iconic 1980 horror film got its very creepy poster.
In addition to his infamously fastidious approach to filmmaking, Kubrick exerted control over the promotional materials of his films as well. For ‘The Shining,’ Kubrick handpicked Saul Bass, the genius graphic designer behind many of the most famous and greatest title sequences in cinema history, to create a poster along the lines of his previous iconic work. Thanks to Open Culture (via DesignBuddy), we can now see the back-and-forth process (communicated through handwritten notes) between Bass and the ever-demanding Kubrick —he frequently complained about the size and typeface of the film’s title— that led to the startling yellow one-sheet that grabbed audiences’ attention.
For a filmmaker often criticized for a chilly and distant manner, the notes indicate that Kubrick cared very much about his audience, insofar as the marketing was concerned, by rejecting poster ideas that would have confused the moviegoing public. It’s a fascinating look into how Kubrick thought his films would (and should) be perceived. Check out the concepts below, followed by the final version.