In previous films, you have worked within the conventions of specific genres (science-fiction, thriller, war film, etc.). Were you attracted to The Shining because it gave you the opportunity to explore the laws of a new genre in your career?
Stanley Kubrick: About the only law that I think relates to the genre is that you should not try to explain, to find neat explanations for what happens, and that the object of the thing is to produce a sense of the uncanny. Freud in his essay on the uncanny wrote that the sense of the uncanny is the only emotion which is more powerfully expressed in art than in life, which I found very illuminating; it didn’t help writing the screenplay, but I think it’s an interesting insight into the genre. And I read an essay by the great master H.P. Lovecraft where he said that you should never attempt to explain what happens, as long as what happens stimulates people’s imagination, their sense of the uncanny, their sense of anxiety and fear. And as long as it doesn’t, within itself, have any obvious inner contradictions, it is just a matter of, as it were, building on the imagination (imaginary ideas, surprises, etc.), working in this area of feeling. I think also that the ingeniousness of a story like this is something which the audience ultimately enjoy; they obviously wonder as the story goes on what’s going to happen, and there’s a great satisfaction when it’s all over not having been able to have anticipated the major developments of the story, and yet at the end not to feel that you have been fooled or swindled.


Amazing advice from Kubrick (of course) on working within the horror genre.

In previous films, you have worked within the conventions of specific genres (science-fiction, thriller, war film, etc.). Were you attracted to The Shining because it gave you the opportunity to explore the laws of a new genre in your career?

Stanley Kubrick: About the only law that I think relates to the genre is that you should not try to explain, to find neat explanations for what happens, and that the object of the thing is to produce a sense of the uncanny. Freud in his essay on the uncanny wrote that the sense of the uncanny is the only emotion which is more powerfully expressed in art than in life, which I found very illuminating; it didn’t help writing the screenplay, but I think it’s an interesting insight into the genre. And I read an essay by the great master H.P. Lovecraft where he said that you should never attempt to explain what happens, as long as what happens stimulates people’s imagination, their sense of the uncanny, their sense of anxiety and fear. And as long as it doesn’t, within itself, have any obvious inner contradictions, it is just a matter of, as it were, building on the imagination (imaginary ideas, surprises, etc.), working in this area of feeling. I think also that the ingeniousness of a story like this is something which the audience ultimately enjoy; they obviously wonder as the story goes on what’s going to happen, and there’s a great satisfaction when it’s all over not having been able to have anticipated the major developments of the story, and yet at the end not to feel that you have been fooled or swindled.

Amazing advice from Kubrick (of course) on working within the horror genre.

Notes

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    This is why i get so pissed off when people whine about how a movie “doesn’t make sense” or “doesn’t explain anything.”...
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    I love this. Kubrick was a total genius.
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