“It’s a ghost film” The Shining at 35 Celebration

The Crew of the Shining Reunite at Elstree Studios for the 35th Anniversary of the Release of the Shining

The Crew of the Shining Reunite at Elstree Studios for the 35th Anniversary of the Release of the Shining

Someone once said that some places are like people: some shine and some don’t. Well, the beautifully refurbished Odyssey Cinema in St. Albans definitely shone when it was the venue for the 35th anniversary reunion gathering for the cast and crew of The Shining on the 25th May.  Cinetropolis were asked along to cover the proceedings and so we entered the maze and wanted to stay forever and ever.

We mostly get asked to say the line” Lisa and Louise Burns (The Grady Twins) said almost in unison. “That’s the last thing I was going to ask you as I imagine you have to do that a lot” I said, taking the moral high ground – they seemed impressed.

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JR: “What do you remember most about making the film?

L & L: “I remember the crew, and Garrett Brown. Our mother wouldn’t let us have a donut each, but all the crew got one each with a coffee. Our mother used to make us share a donut. Garrett used to always   go around the back and come round to give us the second donut”

JR: “Quite right, you shouldn’t have one between you!

L & L : They are fattening – now I’m down to one donut a year. I vividly remember that, when I met him again today he said he remembered that too

JR: “How old where you when you made the film?

L & L: “We were ten and had our eleventh birthday on set

JR: “When you see the film now and you see yourselves in that horrible moment, what is it like?

L & L: “It doesn’t seem horrible. To me it’s not a very horrible movie because we know how it was made. I think when you know how things are made it doesn’t seem horrible. Bear in mind we saw segments only of it being made

JR: “So when you were much older and you saw how it all fell into place, how was that? Did you realise what you were a part of?

L & L: “No. It wasn’t a big thing for years. It’s got very, very big since, though. A lot of Kubrick movies have, except for Barry Lyndon – because of all those candles. I think in that movie you can see that he was a photographer first and a cinematographer afterwards”

JR: “Yes, absolutely – like in A Clockwork Orange where he used a lot of florescent room lights to light the scenes

L & L : “Yes, true. That and Lolita gave him a reputation in this country. That’s where our parents knew him from, Lolita. He wasn’t afraid to do difficult areas

JR: “What was Kubrick like to work with? As child actors?

L & L: “He was a really nice guy. Very nice to children – very much a family man.We had heard people say he was a cranky director and quite hard working, but we didn’t find him gruelling at all

And with that they were gone.

What’s the name of the site?” Asked Garrett Brown, inventor of the Steadicam and a giant of cinema in more ways than one (I am six feet tall and Garrett Brown made me feel like a dwarf), “Cinetropolis” I said, “Metropolis, but with Cine at the front“. “Good name, I like it” (A good start)

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JR: “Obviously a lot of people know you for this film principally because of Steadicam becoming a thing

GB: “Yes, this was auspicious for Steadicam. We’d showed it off for Rocky and two or three other things, but this was my tenth I think

JR: “This one sticks in people’s minds because of the maze sequence

GB: “This made it clear that the machine was useful

JR: “Absolutely, the maze sequences, not just the chase, but the earlier exploration of the house too, it’s just unbelievable, and obviously Steadicam is a huge part of cinema now

GB: “When you do something that is, let’s say, you know, immodestly regarded as art at some point, often when you are doing it you’re not doing it as a product of an intellectual exercise, it’s a gut thing. It’s only later, when you have all these years to think about it how marvellous it was, and what it was we were really doing.  I said something this morning that resonates with me about The Shining and that is that the smoothness of it was unearthly and it suited Stanley’s purposes, any form of wheels would have had some chatter, but this thing had almost supernatural smoothness and what has finally occurred to me over the years is in a way it was not only an objective storytelling shots, they were weirdly the hotels point of view”

JR: “Yes, the hotel is definitely a character in the film

GB: “The hotel’s eye view are these great magisterial tracking shots, I like that actually

JR: So how does it feel to have everyone back together after 35 years?

GB: “Great fun. I like these people enormously. There are a few notable ones who are not here, obviously Stanley, June Randall the continuity person who was very dear to me, and obviously John Alcott (cinematographer). To see this number of us still standing upright and still being reasonably witty. It’s really joyful. In this business you come together in a crew, and then on the next one there are maybe ninety new ones, they all shuffle themselves like cards and you almost never get back and see the whole collection

JR: “Finally, do you think Kubrick would have come this evening, had he have still been around?

GB: “No, I don’t think he attended things like this, but he would have been pleased that it was here

Garrett Brown then walked away, steady as a rock, to stand titan-like over some other normal sized man.

I’m pinching myself as I get to be here with all these folks” Lee Unkrich (Director of Toy Story 3 and über Shining fan) said, excitedly. “I had nothing to do with making the film, but I’m a huge fan and I have been for thirty five years now. I saw it when I was twelve, when it came out, and I have just been obsessed with it ever since. It was the film that inspired me to make movies myself. I am doing a book on the making of The Shining right now, which is how I got to meet all these people so I am grateful I can give something back. The film has meant a lot to me for a lot of different reasons in my career and otherwise. I’ve been trying to channel my obsession into something healthy by doing this book”

JR: “Have you seen Room 237? (a film that examines the many strange conspiracies surrounding The Shining)”

LU: “Yes

JR: “Is there any truth in it?

LU: “No, but I think it’s an interesting film. I know the guys that made it and I think they did a great job chronicling the depths of obsession that people can have in over analysing and trying to find meaning in a film

JR: “Yes, also that obsession begets obsession as now people are really looking for things that aren’t there

LU: “The interesting thing is that Stanley encoded things into this film. It’s not all baloney. I know from pouring through his papers and notes. He worked with Diane (Johnson – co-writer) analysing Freud. Freud wrote a lot about the uncanny and what makes people feel a sense of uncanny and being unsettled and feeling frightened. Stanley encoded a lot of that into the film with choices that he made – number play and hidden things. I know a lot of that is real. I think that people have looked at those things and assumed because those are there, that everything must mean something. They have ascribed meanings to a lot of things that were there because someone forgot to put a chair back after lunch one day”

JR: “Well that is the thing that people pick out the most, because Kubrick was such a stickler for continuity particularly. There are a lot of continuity errors in The Shining

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LU: “I don’t know that he was such a stickler for continuity. Film making can be messy and it can be hard to keep track of everything. He was also making films in a different time, we live in an era where everything can be fast forwarded and freeze framed. When Stanley was making his movies you would see them once in the cinema to experience it. Now there is a level of scrutiny. If you look at any film you will find continuity errors. It’s not because people weren’t doing their jobs, it’s because at the end of the day it’s just not important. If you look at Scorsese’s movies, they are a mess continuity wise, but he doesn’t care, he’s just looking for raw performances 

JR: “That’s because he faked the Moon landings…”

LU: (Smiles politely at my crappy joke)

JR: “In all seriousness, though, if Kubrick did fake the Moon landings, I doubt he would announce he had done it via continuity errors

LU: “No

JR: “So obviously you come from a Pixar background and The Shining is your favourite film, is there anything Shining related you have plugged into any of your work?

LU: “Oh a lot, yea. I put a lot of things into Toy Story 3. A garbage truck has the licence plate RM 237, there’s a tissue box at the daycare centre that has the Overlook Hotel carpeting, there’s a security camera watching the toys that says OVERLOOK 2000 on the side – we have to make this stuff up as you can’t buy it in a store. It’s fun to throw inside jokes in here and there

Lee Unkrich then left me and my rubbish jokes and I was presented with Jan Harlan, Kubrick’s executive producer.

JH: “Stanley was absolutely right in insisting, when he chose to make the film, that he would change the book completely. Stephen King was happy that Stanley was going to make the film, but afterwards was not so happy that he changed the story, but with Stanley it was essential that nothing should make sense and that it should still be interesting. I think he succeeded completely“.

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JR: “Absolutely. Stephen King famously made it again for TV and it wasn’t so good”

JH: “If you make a horror film don’t pretend it is realistic. There are many questions about The Shining. How come? I don’t know

JR: “Yes. That’s the beauty of it. Too often with films now they want to show you everything AND then make another film about what happened before it too

JH: “They want it to make sense

JR: “Yes, no one cares, we all just like the mystery

JH: “Yes. A guy at the beginning goes and gets a job. Later on we learn he has always had that job. At the end he is dead and we see picture of him in 1921. How come he was there in 1921? Stanley had a wonderful guideline: Never try to explain anything you don’t understand yourself – wonderful. Of course you also have the big interior rooms and then this little wooden hotel, how come? It’s a ghost film. Stanley always said,’it doesn’t matter, it’s a ghost film’ and I think it’s wonderful

Jan then left to join the others for the Q&A on stage before the film was screened. A lovely moment followed soon after, Danny Lloyd appeared via video to wish everyone well and dispel a few online myths about himself, but did provide and update that he was a teacher in Kentucky and a father to three. His son then rode out of the video on a big wheel, which got a massive laugh. I bet even Tony enjoyed that one.

Then the film was screened. It was the US cut with an extra twenty minutes which I had never seen before. As joyous experience as I have had at the cinema for a long time. Having never seen The Shining on the big screen it did remind me that they really don’t make them like this anymore, and I mean Kubrick just as much as the film itself. Incredible.

After the film concluded, the full cast and crew in attendance were brought onto the stage for a well deserved round of applause.

The Crew of the Shining Reunite at Elstree Studios for the 35th Anniversary of the Release of the Shining

The Crew of the Shining Reunite at Elstree Studios for the 35th Anniversary of the Release of the Shining

 

We like you, The Shining. We always liked you. You were always the best of them. Best goddamned movie from Timbuktu to Portland, Maine. Or Portland, Oregon, for that matter.

Happy 35th Birthday from all at Cinetropolis.

 

Originally posted 2015-05-27 21:46:20. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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