Another day, another hot take from Ridley Scott. The Napoleon director hasn’t exactly been holding back while promoting his newest film, and now, according to Softonic, he’s directing his vitriol at another legendary director: Stanley Kubrick.
It turns out Ridley Scott is not a fan of Kubrick’s 1980 Stephen King adaptation, The Shining and…he’s kind of got a point.
The Shining Book Was Better
While doing press for Napoleon recently, Ridley Scott offered his honest opinion of what some people consider the greatest horror movie of all time.
“I sincerely believe the book was better,” said Scott, echoing a phrase said by bibliophiles everywhere at least once in their lives. Scott went on to say that “Stanley,” got the Overlook wrong as well as making the film too bright.
Too Bright And Modern
“Stanley deliberately chose to go very bright, very modern. And I thought, why?” said Ridley Scott, describing Kubrick’s inexplicable decision to take a haunted house story and make it devoid of any dark corners or menacing shadows.
The Alien director described the hotel in the book version of The Shining as “darker and gloomier,” while bringing up King’s use of the Overlook’s boiler room as a monster in and of itself—something Stanley Kubrick cut out completely.
Not The Only One
Ridley Scott is not the only one who didn’t like the movie. Stephen King himself made no bones about how much he hated Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining when it came out.
It was the author’s lack of respect for the film that led him to produce a TV miniseries version of The Shining in 1997.
This version, while closer to the source material, has its own problems, not the least of which is some seriously janky ’90s CGI.
While most movie nerds would clutch their pearls at the idea of criticizing the late great Stanley Kubrick, the truth is Ridley Scott isn’t wrong.
Before anyone comes at us with torches and pitchforks, let us explain. No one is saying that The Shining isn’t a good movie, it’s just not a good adaptation.
Basic Story Is The Same
The basic story of The Shining is the same across all adaptations. Jack Torrence, an alcoholic writer, takes a job as caretaker of an isolated mountain hotel for the winter.
He, his wife, and—it turns out—psychic son are stuck, alone in the hotel, as Jack goes crazy and tries to murder them both. The differences come in the execution.
Stephen King’s Statement
In the original 1977 novel that Ridley Scott loves so much, Jack is slowly driven crazy by a malevolent force haunting the Overlook Hotel.
The force manifests itself through the ghosts of those who have died in the hotel and—more importantly—Jack’s abusive father, who speaks to his son through one of the hotel’s radios.
The book is King’s statement on alcoholism and abusive parenting, none of which comes across in the movie.
No Slow Descent
Stanley Kubrick did away with Jack’s slow descent into madness by casting Jack Nicholson, who at the time was incapable of looking anything other than batsh*t crazy any time he was on screen.
On top of that, Kubrick stripped a lot of the supernatural elements from the story and made it more psychological. Perhaps the biggest change is Jack’s redemption at the end of the novel when he briefly regains control of his faculties enough to help his son Danny escape before the hotel explodes.
Not As Scary
The movie features no explosion and no redemption for Nicholson’s Jack Torrence whatsoever. The film is also, much like Ridley Scott stated, not as scary as the book.
But hey, it gave us the legendary “Heeeeere’s Johnny!” scene, so there is that.