“Few adaptations have been as deliberately unfaithful to its source material as Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 masterwork of Stephen King’s 1977 novel, ‘The Shining.’” So begins CineFix’s new “What’s the Difference” video, which breaks down the deviations of the film version of “The Shining” from King’s original novel. Yet, as the video’s narrators Michael Truly and Casey Redmon claim, “Most [people] consider the 1980 Kubrick film quintessential, not in spite of its differences, but because of them.” So what are the differences?
The duo highlights how, right off the bat, the film detours from the book in something as rudimentary as the protagonist’s name. King’s hotel warden is named John Daniel Torrance, yet Jack Nicholson famously portrayed Jack Torrance in the horror classic. Furthermore — and though it might seem a small change — in the book, the Overlook Hotel’s season runs May 15 through September 30, whereas in the movie, the season ends (coincidentally) on October 30, meaning Torrance’s job begins on Halloween.
A larger shift occurs with Danny’s first vision. In King’s setup, Danny sees just about everything, from red rum to the snowstorm to his dad hefting a mallet. In the movie, he sees a lot less (namely, blood and the dead twins, an element of the vision not included in the book). Similarly, in the book, Danny can clearly see Tony, his spectral guide. However, in the movie, Tony memorably manifests himself through Danny’s pointer finger.
That’s not to say that Kubrick completely eschews all that King established. Jack as a writer and a recovering alcoholic are both in there. The woman in the tub appears in both, too. The same for The Shining — Danny’s and Dick Hallorann’s shared mental ability. However, all these elements, in addition to many others not listed here, all occur differently in the movie than they were originally introduced in the book. Truly and Redmon break down the differences fascinatingly and what’s more, as they claim, the changes Kubrick introduced don’t feel like they detract from the original novel. Kubrick’s vision remains both true and inspired enough that the film is a robust and dedicated adaptation, which at the same time stands strongly on its own because of its differences.
Watch the full “What’s the Difference” below.