This is one of the most well-known cult movies from a serious cult director and undoubted auteur. Stanley Kubrick ticks the several definitions of ‘auteur’: he has a recognisable style and set of themes: he is a film-maker who since the 1960s exercised almost complete control over his films: and he is recognised by both critics and many audiences as a distinctive artist. So, it is a real treat that one of his two most-discussed films is screening in its original format of 35mm. Once again, it is the Barnsley Parkway that is bringing this presentation to Yorkshire, (April 2nd and 4th). And the print being screened is the longer US version.

I prefer the earlier Kubrick films to the later, however, there is no doubt that this is a distinctive and impressive work. The drama is an adaptation of a novel by Stephen King. The author was one of those who were critical of Kubrick’s version. Other critics have pointed out ambiguities and lacunae in the plotting. Others have elevated the film to one of those titles that achieve a place in the Sight & Sound decennial poll of critics. And there is a whole cottage industry of people who comment, argue and pontificate on the likely sub-texts. It is worth noting that Kubrick chose the subject because he was looking for a box-office success after the relative failure of Barry Lyndon (1975).

From these varied points of view the film offers a fascinating exploration of story and themes; and undoubtedly it does reflect general aspects of Kubrick’s film works. The factors that make it worth seeing in its original format even if one is not a complete fan are the production values. One aspect of Kubrick’s success and obsessive control, [including an amazing number of takes of many scenes], are the production values.

Foremost among these is the cinematography of John Alcott, who also worked on 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). He was assisted by a second unit who shot some of the exteriors. The bulk of the film was shot at Elstree Studio. Here the sets were by Production Designer Roy Walker and Art Designer Les Tomkins. One of the outstanding sequences is the chase late in the film in the maze. But there is also excellent use of the new technology of the stead i-cam, including an extremely fast interior speed sequence. And the editing by Ray Lovejoy is exemplary.

The film is dominated by Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance; an over-the-top characterisation in what is likely Nicholson’s most full-blooded performance. Shelley Duvall plays the wife Wendy. She suffered at the hands of the director Kubrick and also those of a number of critics; but she is very effective in the film. This is also true of Danny Lloyd as the infant son Danny, ‘Doc’. I liked Joe Turkel as the ghostly bar-tender.

The US version runs for 144 minutes, 25 minutes longer than the version released in Europe. The film was shot on 35mm and with Eastman colour. It seems that there were versions with different aspect ratios but both the US and British versions were in 1.66:1.

Wikipedia has a detailed pages on many aspects of the film.                                                                                                                           *****************************************

In fact the screening offered the European version at 119 minutes and in 1.85:1. The print was in condition though I thought that the Eastmancolor, whilst it had not noticeably faded, was a little muted. There was a sizeable and appreciative audience.