Kubrick’s film adaptation of
diverges from Stephen King’s source material, but the movie is still considered a horror classic.
- The book provides more depth and complexity to characters like Jack Torrance and Wendy Torrance, making them more multifaceted compared to their film counterparts.
- Various details in the movie, such as the identity of the haunted room, differ from the book, providing unique elements to each version.
The Shining is one of the best-known adaptations of Stephen King’s work, but Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film is quite different from the book it’s based on. Although Kubrick kept the characters and premise of King’s source material, the director made a number of changes to the smaller details. Many of these came to define the movie — so much so that readers may be surprised to learn they aren’t in the book.
Kubrick’s take on the Torrance family’s stay at the Overlook hotel diverges so much from the source material that King has expressed how much he hates The Shining movie. The film is widely regarded as a horror classic, and it’s fared well with critics and general audiences since its release. That would suggest that Kubrick’s changes didn’t destroy the story for everyone. However, these differences from The Shining movie make the book worth reading, even for those who have already watched the film adaptation.
11 The Overlook Hotel Is More Of An Entity
Both versions of The Shining take place at the Overlook Hotel, but the setting has more of a presence in King’s book. The source material paints the Overlook as a character in its own right, making it clear from the beginning that the location is haunted. Kubrick’s movie also portrays the Overlook as a terrifying place to stay, but it leaves the supernatural elements of the hotel up to viewer interpretation. The Shining movie makes it seem as though the horrors could be happening in Jack’s mind. The book makes it very clear that they aren’t.
10 Jack Torrance Is Portrayed With More Nuance
Jack Torrance feels the effects of the Overlook the most in The Shining, and the haunted hotel eventually drives him mad. Jack grapples with alcoholism throughout the story, and he’s often abusive to his wife and son. This escalates in both versions of The Shining, but the book portrays Jack with more nuance. The novel digs into his own history with abuse, and it paints his addiction with more compassion. Rather than making Jack a one-note villain, King writes him as a deeply flawed man whose faults are made worse by the Overlook’s darkness.
9 Wendy Is A Way Better Character
When it comes to the main characters, The Shining book does a much better job of making them multifaceted. It’s not just Jack who receives a greater level of depth in King’s writing. Wendy Torrance is also a better character in King’s source material. Wendy’s book counterpart is much less passive than Shelley Duvall’s iteration of her. The Shining movie removes all of Wendy’s self-confidence and makes her seem like a hysterical pushover.
8 Room 237 Is Actually Room 217
The entirety of the Overlook Hotel is haunted in The Shining, but one room calls to Danny and Jack over the course of the story. In The Shining book, this is Room 217. However, The Shining movie changes this detail, making it Room 237. This change was made at the request of the Timberline Lodge, where the movie was filmed. According to the Timberline Lodge’s website, “Kubrick was asked not to depict Room 217 (featured in the book) in The Shining, because future guests at the lodge might be afraid to stay there.“
7 The Grady Twins Don’t Exist
One of the images most associated with The Shining movie is that of the Grady twins, the two girls who appear in the hallway of the Overlook Hotel. These characters are a creation of Kubrick’s. They aren’t actually featured in King’s book. This is a somewhat comical twist given how closely tied they are to most viewers’ memories of The Shining.
6 There’s No Hedge Maze
One of the most famous scenes from The Shining sees Jack chasing Danny through the Overlook Hotel’s hedge maze. This doesn’t happen in King’s book, as the hedge maze is a movie-only addition. To be fair, it draws from the giant hedge animals that are present in the source material. These topiary creatures move around in the book, further increasing the Torrances’ sense that they’re going mad.
5 Jack Wields A Different Weapon
Jack pursues his family members and Overlook employee Dick Hallorann with an ax in the movie version of The Shining. In the book, he wields a different weapon: a mallet. It’s a minor change made in The Shining‘s jump from the page to the screen. However, given how iconic the image of Jack with his ax is, it’s one that movie-only fans might not anticipate.
4 2 Of Jack’s Iconic Lines Are Movie Additions
Speaking of iconic moments from Jack Torrance, two of the character’s most well-known lines from Kubrick’s film aren’t featured in King’s book. The first, which he shouts while chasing Wendy with his ax, is the spoken line “Here’s Johnny!” Most fans of the movie can quote this automatically, but Jack never actually says this in the source material. He also doesn’t write the words “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” over and over — though it is a creepy and clever addition given the emphasis on his writing career.
3 Hallorann Is Still Alive
One of the biggest changes The Shining movie makes to the book involves the fate of Hallorann. In Kubrick’s iteration of the story, Hallorrann arrives at the Overlook to save the Torrances, only to find Jack waiting with his ax. Hallorann dies in the film adaptation, but he’s very much alive at the end of King’s novel. In fact, he even appears in the sequel, Doctor Sleep, which reveals he’s maintained a relationship with Danny over the years.
2 Danny’s Abilities Play A Bigger Role
Hallorann’s paternal relationship with Danny stems from their shared ability to see “the shining.” The movie doesn’t pay much attention to Danny’s unique powers, mentioning them and moving on to focus on other plot points. However, The Shining book makes a bigger deal out of Danny’s abilities and his imaginary friend, Tony. The book even reveals that Danny’s imaginary friend is his future self, who’s trying to warn him about what will unfold at the Overlook.
1 Jack’s Death Is More Dramatic
The ending of The Shining movie sees Jack freezing to death while chasing Danny in the hedge maze. The character’s demise in the book is more dramatic, and it offers some redemption for King’s lead. In The Shining book, Jack perishes after forgetting to dump the Overlook’s boiler. That’s one of his duties while staying at the hotel, and his negligence leads the place to explode. To his credit, Jack tells Wendy and Danny to get out beforehand — an act that humanizes him, even if it doesn’t make up for his actions throughout the story.
Source: Timberline Lodge
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