The Shining: 5 questions answered after Kubrick

The mysteries of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining,
continue long after first viewing.  Many questions are answered years later in the ABC mini-series.  We choose 5 questions, in no particular order.  Here is how mini-series answers some questions and how the novel differs from Kubrick’s vision.

#1: Did Jack have the Shining?

Kubrick’s The Shining made explicit that Danny and Dick Hallorann had special telepathic and clairvoyant powers.  However, Jack Torrance had similar experiences.  After falling into deep trances, the spirits materialized and held discussions with him.  Could Jack also have a little bit of the Shining, exploited by the Overlook’s spirits?  The mini-series’ Wendy answered that question early.

“What Danny has didn’t come from outer space, maybe I got a little of it too.  Maybe we both do.” – Wendy Torrance.

#2: Was Jack drinking real liquor?

Was it all in Jack’s head?  Was the liquor merely a metaphor of losing self-control?  Or did the Overlook spirits conjure up bottles of bourbon complete with trademarked labels?  The spoon-fed explanation (yes, the liquor was real) stole our imagination the possible powers of the Overlook as emotional puppet masters.

“It’s not possible.  There’s no liquor up here.” – Wendy.
“There is now.” – Danny.

#3: Where did the newspapers come from?

Seen but barely mentioned is Jack’s newspaper clippings of the Overlook.  In Kubrick’s The Shining, we see them on Jack’s desk.  He makes a single mention of it when he sees the vision of Delbert Grady.  In the mini-series, Jack stumbles on them in the boiler room.  Like the feature film, the book is brought upstairs and Jack’s writing project makes an unexpected turn.

“Mr. Grady, you were the caretaker here.  I recognize you.  I saw your picture in the newspapers.” – Jack Torrance.

#4: How did the Overlook help Jack escape the freezer?

In both the feature film and the mini-series, we never see the freezer door open freeing Jack.  In Kubrick’s The Shining, Jack has a long conversation with Grady and we only hear the door unlocking.  The mini-series, with a rare example, was more mysterious without even an audio clue of his escape.  Up until now, the ghosts of the Overlook were limited to visions with imaginary performances that instantly vanished (as witnessed when Wendy walks into the lounge on Jack).   It’s not a matter of who opened the door, but how?  The mini-series showed the spirit’s slow progression from projections evolving into material form able to move objects.

“Just give me one more chance to prove it, Mr. Grady.” – Jack Torrance.

#5: Where did the key to Room 237/217 come from?

In Kubrick’s The Shining, the key to room 237 appears and unlocks the door without explanation.  The door left ajar, the room waits for Danny, who we do not see, approach and enter.  The mini-series tells the story differently.  It puts the blame solely on Danny’s defiant curiosity.  At the gross disapproval of his father and Stuart Ullman, Danny has something to prove to himself and the imaginary phantoms of the Overlook.  The key doesn’t just appear, he steals it.

“You’re not supposed to go into any of the guest rooms!” – Jack Torrance.


Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining
Stephen King’s The Shining TV mini-series


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