Manchester based artist RocknRollBitch recalls her memories of ‘The Shining’, and explains how the Overlook Hotel is one of its lead roles.
As a young teenager I was drawn to horror films and immersed myself in books by Stephen King and James Herbert. I guess it’s what kids were into then and there were some brilliant horror movies out in the early to mid eighties.
‘The Shining’ was released when I was nine years old, so I missed it the first time round. However, it soon became a cult movie among my peers. It was a horror film that felt like no other before it. A combination of brilliant casting, breathtaking acting and striking set design made this film feel different to other horrors at the time.
“brilliant casting, breathtaking acting and striking set design made ‘The Shining’ feel different to any other horror”
I’ve read stories about how intense it was to be part of the production of this film. Being in production myself these stories make me wince! Whatever Kubrick did to get those performances, the visual effect is haunting. Shelley Duvall looks as if she’s having a nervous breakdown – and I think pretty much did. Unfair on her but brilliant by Kubrick! And Jack Nicholson is just terrifying. You can feel the tension on set seep though the screen. The under-the-skin shivers remained with you long past bed time!
But most of all the lasting memory from this film is a feeling. It isn’t one moment that stands out but a build up of tension coming from the design of the hotel itself. The cinematography captures the claustrophobic space of the set. The vastness of the hotel with its labyrinth of corridors is accentuated by the use of steadicam to hold lengthy uncomfortable shots highlighting the depth of the set design.
“people like myself became immersed in the imagery and intensity of how a set can become a performance in its own right”
I just remember feeling asphyxiated by the colour red, and that carpet… It’s terrifying in itself. The repetition and the vastness that seemed to shroud the young cast adding weight and fear into a young boys premonitions. This is what drew me to design a poster based on this. It’s instantly recognisable as ‘The Shining’ and in itself is a fabulous piece of design.
And for these reasons I feel it still resonates with people like myself who become immersed in the imagery and intensity of how a set can become a performance in its own right. In The Shining the hotel is one of the leading roles and it’s this I feel sets it apart from other films and will capture the imagination of many generations to come.