Younger audiences might know “The Shining” as the film that inspired one of the best “South Park” episodes of all time, but Stanley Kubrick’s haunting masterpiece is still shit-your-pants scary 35 years after its release, and there’s a lot more to its effectiveness than creepy English twin toddlers and the grossest indoor tidal wave in history. Let’s say you finally gave in to the hype and rented “The Shining” on a streaming service, or better yet, bought the Blu-ray from a brick-and-mortar video store. After a quick trip to the bathroom in order to change your underbritches, maybe you want to go online to find out more about the film, because you can’t stop thinking about it.
You want to know how this delicious bit of insanity was captured on celluloid, what other filmmakers and experts think about it, what the answers are behind the many bits of symbolism that’s scattered all around the film, and most importantly, what the hell the shot of a man in a dog suit giving head to the Ask Jeeves mascot was all about? Yet you don’t have time to dig into the many, many, many, many articles turning every single frame of “The Shining” inside out. And it’s definitely too early to dig into the deepest of deep cuts like Rodney Ascher’s equally fascinating and frustrating documentary “Room 237,” about people with WAY too much time on their hands coming up with insanely convoluted readings of the film. You need a compact visual guide that takes you through its making while giving you insight into its themes and symbolism.
That’s where Gary Leva’s 2007 half-hour documentary “View from The Overlook” comes in. Released as a special feature on the 2 DVD Special Edition release of “The Shining,” this featurette has been a part of every physical home video version of the film ever since, and now it can be viewed for free on Vimeo, posted by the director himself. What makes “View from The Overlook” stand out amongst other making-of documentaries is that it manages to effectively cram in many aspects of the production into a relatively short runtime.
The featurette begins with famous directors like Sydney Pollack and William Friedkin singing the film’s praises, moves onto various parts of the production and then interviews from the cast and crew succinctly summarize Kubrick’s vision for the film, and ends on a brief but satisfying reading of the horror classic’s themes. Check out the documentary below.