The Shining appears in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this single-sided, dual-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Across the board, the transfer looked terrific.
Sharpness appeared consistently solid. No significant instances of softness materialized, as the movie almost always seemed crisp and well-defined. I noticed no jagged edges, moiré effects or edge enhancement, and source flaws remained very minor. Other than a speck or two, I detected no instances of print defects.
Colors seemed accurate and solid within the film’s design parameters. The Shining favored a rather brownish tone, so most of the hues appeared to be fairly subdued. However, I thought they were fairly clear and distinct, and I saw no bleeding, noise or other concerns related to them. Black levels were similarly fine, as they appeared deep and rich throughout the movie. Shadow detail was appropriately heavy but not excessively thick, something that was no mean feat in this dark film; it contained many dimly-lit scenes, and these looked quite smooth and visible. Ultimately, I was quite impressed with the transfer for The Shining.
Also strong was the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack for the film. The Shining was remixed from the original monaural track, and the results were quite positive. The soundfield itself largely remained true to its single-channel origins. Much of the audio stayed anchored to the center speaker, but the mix expanded to the sides during a number of occasions. The sides and surrounds offered solid ambient sounds, and the score spread very nicely to all five channels. It was that additional breadth that added the most to the track, as the creepy aspects of the music became even more effective when they cropped up from all around me. Some effects also came from the rear, with heartbeat sounds and a landing plane being the most significant examples.
Audio quality generally seemed fine. Speech appeared a little flat and dated at times, but for the most part I felt dialogue appeared to be fairly natural and distinct, with no problems related to edginess or intelligibility. Effects were similarly clear and reasonably accurate. They provided decent depth when appropriate, as the jet noises and the beating heart both featured positive low-end response.
During the other remixed Kubrick soundtracks, music displayed the most significant improvements from the old mono mixes, and the same was true for The Shining. The score seemed nicely robust and lively, as the eerie music came across as bright and clear. Bass response appeared pretty deep and rich, and the dynamic range as a whole was very fine. Some parts of the music showed modest hiss at times, but otherwise, I thought this was a well-reproduced and engaging soundtrack.
How did the picture and audio of this 2007 edition compare to those of the 2001 version? I thought both presented identical 5.1 soundtracks, but the visuals differed. The 2007 version provided the first-ever presentation of Shining in its original theatrical aspect ratio; apparently at Kubrick’s request, the prior renditions were fullframe affairs. Some may view the new widescreen picture as a violation of Kubrick’s wishes, but I get the feeling his edict was really meant to reflect a period with smaller TVs and lesser resolution. I believe that if Kubrick now know how common large sets and hi-rez material has become, he’d be A-OK with the letterboxing.
Though the 2001 DVD looked very good, the 2007 remaster seemed just a little better. In addition to the theatrical aspect ratio, it boasted a bit tighter definition and clarity. It wasn’t a major improvement, but it seemed a smidgen stronger. (For comparisons to the original 1999 DVD, please consult the 2001 review.)
This two-DVD special edition of The Shining packs a mix of supplements. On DVD One, we find the film’s trailer as well as an audio commentary with Steadicam inventor/operator Garrett Brown and historian John Baxter. Both recorded separate running, screen-specific discussion edited together into one piece. Brown mostly looks at production elements. He tells us a lot about the camerawork, of course, but he also digs into sets, locations, cast, working with Kubrick, and other aspects of the shoot. Baxter fleshes out some of the same topics as well as more Kubrick-related notes and some interpretation of the effort.
Both sides work fine, but Brown’s comments offer the most insight. He gives us a fine feel for what it was like to work on the production as he presents details from the set. Overall, the two men combine to create a useful and informative chat.
Over on DVD Two, we open with a new documentary called View from the Overlook: Crafting The Shining. In this 30-minute and 15-second program, we hear from Baxter, Brown, Stanley Kubrick: The Complete Films author Paul Duncan, screenwriter Diane Johnson, executive producer Jan Harlan, production designer Roy Walker, The Complete Kubrick author David Hughes, costume designer Milena Canonero, makeup artist Barbara Daly, actor Jack Nicholson, former Warner Bros. executive John Calley, Movies Grow Up 1940-1980 author Charles Champlin, and filmmakers Sydney Pollack, William Friedkin, Ernest Dickerson, Caleb Deschanel, Hugh Hudson and Steven Spielberg. The show looks at how Kubrick came to the project and the adaptation of the novel, locations, set design, and camerawork, costumes, Kubrick’s work with the actors, and reactions to the film.
As with the programs of this sort for the other new Kubrick DVDs, “Crafting” isn’t a great examination of the movie’s creation, but it works fairly well. It goes through enough basics to satisfy and shed some light on the flick. There’s still a little too much generic praise, but the show usually satisfies.
Next comes The Visions of Stanley Kubrick. The 17-minute and five-second piece features Nicholson, Pollack, Spielberg, Deschanel, Baxter, Walker, Brown, Duncan, Friedkin, Calley, Dickerson, Daly, Hudson, Canonero, Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange author Stuart McDougal, and filmmakers George Lucas and Janusz Kaminski. As implied by the title, this one looks at the visual style of Shining. It also discusses similar aspects of other Kubrick works. The show extends the themes of “Crafting”, as it throws out a bit too much praise but includes enough depth to succeed.
Also found on the 2001 release, we get a fine 34-minute and 55-second documentary made by his Kubrick’s daughter Vivian. She had her own camera and shot lots of material on the set, and the result was The Making of The Shining, a terrifically compelling little program.
Even if Kubrick weren’t such a private man, this glimpse behind the scenes would still be fascinating. Since we’ve seen so little of his working style and life, the show takes on added significance. However, the emphasis wasn’t really on Kubrick, as Vivian spends more time with the actors than with dear old Dad. Nicholson comes across exactly as you’d imagine; he’s just as charming, funny and wicked as one might expect him to be.
On the other hand, Duvall had a terrible time during the shoot, and it shows; she seems like a neurotic fussbudget in her scenes. Frankly, that might not really be fair to Duvall as a whole, especially since she had a tough role. Many of her segments required her to be hysterical, and when that’s combined with Kubrick’s rough treatment of her, it’s no wonder she became such a mess.
While the program provides some solid interview clips - it’s especially fascinating to hear Jack talk about his craft - its real claim to fame comes from the excellent shots from the set. We see a little of Kubrick as he works with the actors, including the infamous bit during which he strongly berates Duvall. We also watch Nicholson as he psychs himself up for the famous door-chopping sequence. Overall, this documentary is so good that it’s almost worth the price of the DVD on its own. My only complaint about it is that it’s not longer; I’d love to see an extended version of this wonderful piece.
“The Making of The Shining” can be viewed with or without an audio commentary from Vivian Kubrick. She presents a very chatty and charming personality as she adds a lot of fun information about the film. At times she seems to be unsure of what to say, but those moments quickly pass and she usually has something interesting and compelling to state. I really enjoyed Vivian’s short discussion of her experiences during The Shining.
Finally, we get a featurette called Wendy Carlos, Composer. It fills seven minutes and 30 seconds with comments from Carlos. She tells us a little about her work and lets us hear some outtakes from Clockwork Orange. It’s a decent little piece.
Despite some nostalgic fondness for The Shining, it currently does not stand as one of my favorite Kubrick films. The movie has its moments and can generate the appropriate scares at times, but overall, I thought it lacked the flair and drama I expect from Kubrick. The DVD offers excellent picture as well as very good audio and extras.
Should fans who own the 2001 release of The Shining give this special edition a “double-dip”? Yes, I think so. It doesn’t necessarily improve the quality of the film’s picture, but it does give us the film in its correct aspect ratio for the first time. It also adds some good extras. This ends up as a fine DVD.
Note that this special edition of The Shining appears on its own or also as part of a six-feature set called “Warner Home Video Directors Series: Stanley Kubrick”. In addition to Shining, this package includes new special editions of Full Metal Jacket, 2001, A Clockwork Orange and Eyes Wide Shut. It also provides a documentary entitled Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures. This package retails for about $80, which makes it a good deal if you want all the movies.
To rate this film visit the New Stanley Kubrick Collection review of THE SHINING