Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’ is often ranked as one of the top ten best horror movies of all time. Despite the fact that Stephen King, writer of the book, was not all that impressed with Kubrick’s interpretation, the movie is widely recognised as a cinematic masterpiece.
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The ending of the movie, as I’m sure you remember, is pretty damn bleak, showing Jack Nicholson’s character also named Jack frozen in the snow, before cutting to the ambiguous group image taken at the Overlook Hotel.
However, executive producer Jan Harlan and screenwriter Diane Johnson, who worked on the script with Kubrick, revealed in a new interview with Entertainment Weekly that there were several other endings that the film nearly had, and they’re all pretty damn bleak.
They initially describe how Kubrick was not a fan of the book’s ending, which saw the hotel burned to the ground with Jack still inside. Instead, Kubrick wanted to focus on Jack’s son Danny’s fear of his father:
Danny’s relationship with his father was the thing that most interested Kubrick. He was emotionally involved with the point of view of a little boy who is afraid of his father.
I remember Kubrick saying that visually he could imagine a small yellow chalk outline on the floor like that they put around the bodies of victims. And Kubrick liked that image.
But he was too tender-hearted for that ending and thought it would be too terrible to do…
Another option was related to Hallorann, who also had the rare ‘Shining’ ability. In this ending, Jack is killed by his wife Wendy, but when Hallorann finally gets to the hotel to save the family, he is possessed and takes Jack’s place:
That’s right. We always had the powers of the hotel in mind. So the hotel would have been warping Hallorann’s mind for quite a long time.
It was an attractive idea that Hallorann is good [throughout the film], then he gets there and is possessed by the hotel into a monster surrogate for Jack.
The idea of Hallorann taking Jack’s place is definitely an interesting one, as it plays on the idea that the hotel has a terrifying power of its own. But I still think that the ending they went with was the most effective. That eerie image of Jack set frozen in the snow will forever be etched into our memories and then of course, the group shot right at the end has opened the movie up to a whole host of fan theories.