Back to IndieWire

Stephen King Says Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’ Is “Like A Big, Beautiful Cadillac With No Engine Inside It”

Stephen King Says Stanley Kubrick's 'The Shining' Is "Like A Big, Beautiful Cadillac With No Engine Inside It"

Warner Bros

Over the years, Stephen King has made his dissatisfaction with Stanley Kubrick‘s adaptation of his novel “The Shining” quite clear. He has said Wendy is “one of the most misogynistic characters ever put on film” and has described the director’s film as being “very cold.” Time appears to not have changed his opinion, if the feelings he shares in a new chat with Deadline (conducted a few years ago, but only published now) are any indication. 

“I think ‘The Shining’ is a beautiful film and it looks terrific and as I’ve said before, it’s like a big, beautiful Cadillac with no engine inside it. In that sense, when it opened, a lot of the reviews weren’t very favorable and I was one of those reviewers. I kept my mouth shut at the time, but I didn’t care for it much,” King said.

READ MORE: The Essentials: 5 Great Films Based On Stephen King Novels

“I feel the same because the character of Jack Torrance has no arc in that movie. Absolutely no arc at all,” he continued. “When we first see Jack Nicholson, he’s in the office of Mr. Ullman, the manager of the hotel, and you know, then, he’s crazy as a shit house rat. All he does is get crazier. In the book, he’s a guy who’s struggling with his sanity and finally loses it. To me, that’s a tragedy. In the movie, there’s no tragedy because there’s no real change. The other real difference is at the end of my book the hotel blows up, and at the end of Kubrick’s movie the hotel freezes. That’s a difference. But I met Kubrick and there’s no question he’s a terrifically smart guy. He’s made some of the movies that mean a lot to me, ‘Dr. Strangelove,’ for one and ‘Paths of Glory,’ for another. I think he did some terrific things but, boy, he was a really insular man. In the sense that when you met him, and when you talked to him, he was able to interact in a perfectly normal way but you never felt like he was all the way there. He was inside himself.”

Okay, so King will never soften on “The Shining,” and that’s fine. But certainly the experience must’ve changed his approach because these days, when doing deals for his books, the author says, “I want a dollar, and I want approvals over the screenwriter, the director and the principal cast.” And frankly, he’s one of the few writers who can demand it and get it. However, he also cites “Graveyard Shift” and the “Children Of The Corn” sequels as other King based movies that didn’t work for him.

Beyond that, the conversation with the author is pretty interesting. He says he’d love Lars von Trier to adapt one of this books (“I think he’s the most talented, amazing director in the world”) and Ben Affleck too (he was once attached to “The Stand“). He also says “The Shawshank Redemption” and “Stand By Me” are a couple of his favorite adaptations.

Thoughts? Let us know below and check out that full convo — it’s a good read for King fans.

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: News and tagged ,

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox