Biggest Lie About The Shining Officially Debunked

Biggest Lie About The Shining Officially Debunked
Image credit: Legion-Media

According to Hollywood legend, the most frightening figure on the set of The Shining wasn't Jack Nicholson as the unhinged Jack Torrence – but director Stanley Kubrick.

Kubrick's reportedly "abusive" style of filmmaking is best represented by the time he forced lead actress Shelley Duvall to do 127 takes of the same scene. But on both accounts, the rumors might be just short of the truth.

On top of his innovative style of cinematography, the late Kubrick was renowned in part due to his intense attention to detail. At times, this made him an overdemanding perfectionist. According to the public eye, he was a cold, calculating director who treated his actors less like humans and more like props for his films.

The "127 takes" scene appears midway through the movie when Duvall's Wendy backpedals up a staircase as the menacing Jack trudges toward her. "I'm not gonna hurt you," he chillingly mutters.

Biggest Lie About The Shining Officially Debunked - image 1

The legend is so pervasive in popular culture, it's even listed in the Guinness Book of World Records – though their count is almost 150. But is the rumor true? Not according to Lee Unkrich, recent author of a 2,200-page book dedicated to the movie.

Unkrich, a 25-year veteran of Pixar and director of Toy Stoy 3, spent 12 years researching every facet of the film to give the most in-depth look into The Shining we've ever seen. He reportedly first fell in love with the film at 12 years old, after buying the movie tie-in of Stephen King 's source novel.

According to Unkrich's research, the 127 takes rumor is "completely not true." Unkrich says that the rumor was reported by a crew member who wasn't on set for that particular shot (according to Guinness' reports, Steadicam operator Garrett Brown).

His contention was that some of the cast and crew use "rehearsals" and "takes" interchangeably. In his dedication to detail, Kubrick was notorious for his constant rehearsals.

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So while they may have rehearsed the shot well over a hundred times, there were far fewer than 127 official takes.

More importantly, Unkrich shot down the idea that he was abusive toward Duvall, messing with her psyche to get her in character. In talking directly to Duvall, Unkrich discovered that she had nothing but great things to say about her Shining director.

"She loved him," he said. "She thinks he got a great performance out of her."

It just goes to show you, sometimes all it takes to reveal the truth is one dedicated fan and twelve years of intensive research.