Thursday, April 17, 2008

Stanley Kubrick: On Doubling...Some Shine & Some Don't

"Well, you know, Doc, when something happens, you can leave a trace of itself behind. Say like, if someone burns toast. Well, maybe things that happen leave other kinds of traces behind. Not things that anyone can notice, but things that people who "shine" can see. Just like they can see things that haven't happened yet. Well, sometimes they can see things that happened a long time ago. I think a lot of things happened right here in this particular hotel over the years. And not all of 'em was good."

One aspect of Stephen King's novel, "The Shining" which impressed Kubrick was the way the reader was misdirected:

"It seemed to strike an extraordinary balance between the psychological and the supernatural in such a way as to lead you to think that the supernatural would eventually be explained by the psychological: 'Jack must be imagining these things because he's crazy.' This allowed you to suspend your doubt of the supernatural until you were so thoroughly into the story that you could accept it almost without noticing...It's not until Grady, the ghost of the former caretaker who axed to death his family, slides open the bolt of the larder door, allowing Jack to escape, that you are left with no other explanation but the supernatural."

In preparation for writing the script, Kubrick and co-screenwriter, novelist Diane Johnson, read Freud's essay "The Uncanny":

"The theme of the ‘double’ has been very thoroughly treated by Otto Rank (1914). He has gone into the connections which the ‘double’ has with reflections in mirrors, with shadows, with guardian spirits, with the belief in the soul and with the fear of death; but he also lets in a flood of light on the surprising evolution of the idea. For the ‘double’ was originally an insurance against the destruction of the ego, an ‘energetic denial of the power of death’, as Rank says; and probably the ‘immortal’ soul was the first ‘double’ of the body. This invention of doubling as a preservation against extinction has its counterpart in the language of dreams, which is found of representing castration by a doubling or multiplication of a genital symbol. The same desire led the Ancient Egyptians to develop the art of making images of the dead in lasting materials. Such ideas, however, have sprung from the soil of unbounded self-love, from the primary narcissism which dominates the mind of the child and of primitive man. But when this stage has been surmounted, the ‘double’ reverses its aspect. From having been an assurance of immortality, it becomes the uncanny harbinger of death."
-Sigmund Freud (EXERPT: "The Uncanny,"1919)

Of working in this genre, Kubrick said:

"There's something inherently wrong with the human personality. There's an evil side to it. One of the things that horror stories can do is to show us the archetypes of the unconscious: we can see the dark side without having to confront it directly."

Screenwriter Diane Johnson spoke of archetypes:

"A father threatening his child is compelling. It's an archetypal enactment of unconscious rages...the material of this novel is the rage and fear within families."

Dick Hallorann: "Some places are like people: some shine and some don't."

-Stanley Kubrick & Diane Johnson (THE SHINING, 1980. Novel: Stephen King-"The Shining" was the first widely read novel to confront alcoholism and child abuse in baby-boomer families, especially the way alcoholism, a will toward failure in one's work, and abusing one's children are passed down from generation to generation. The heart of the book is not an evil hotel but a pair of father-son relationships: Jack and his father, Jack and his son. This was both daring and insightful for its time, long before "dysfunctional family" was a cliché).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for lighting my mind.