LAWSON: 'The Shining' Prequel Is the Problem with Prequels

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Strange things are happening with The Shining.  Thus the strange picture!  What do ya'all think of it?

Richard Lawson at the Atlantic summed up my own feelings toward the plans to make a Prequel to The Shining.

Responding to news that Glen Mazzara of The Walking Dead is set to write the script for The Overlook Hotel, Lawson writes:

What's worse: The unnecessary sequel? The unnecessary remake? May I submit that in fact the unnecessary prequel does the job of both, simultaneously adding to a story that didn't need adding to, just as a sequel does, and managing to oddly reinvent the world of the original, just like a bad remake would. Look no further for an example than the ultimate terrible prequels, Star Wars I-III, which were not only bad movies in their own right but, boy, did they do a number on the original trilogy. A bad prequel can wreak a lot of havoc. And so when we hear news that the whispered-about prequel to The Shining is chugging along, with Warner Bros. hiring a writer, it bears taking a moment to yell: No
YES!  That summed it up well.  I did not enjoy the Star Wars prequels at all.  I watched a documentary called "The People v. George Lucas" in which some fans said Lucas had ruined their lives.  Well, the prequels neither ruined my life nor made me love the originals any less. And, in my opinion -- they got better.  That is, until Darth Vader cried, "nooooooo!"  Really, Darth, really.

Lawson gives us an important reminder.  The prequel to The Shining will be a prequel to the Kubrick version of the film, not the King story.  Kinda sad, because as I pointed out earlier, King's own prequel in "Before the play" was quite good.  Kubrick's story was all together another story -- like something that happened in a parallel universe.

Lawson suggested, "So this prequel would exist more in Kubrick's world than in King's, though the prequel material would theoretically be based on a prologue written by King that was eventually cut from the book."  I'm not so sure of that.  The only reason to say it's based on the Kubrick film is to say that they are going in a whole new direction.  The only real back story that the Kubrick film offered was the idea that Jack had "always" been the caretaker.  Certainly not an idea King had worked with at all.

Of course The Shining had everyone scratching their heads at points -- but I wonder if we really want answers. Lawson again sums it up well, saying, "While something of an interesting thought experiment — why is Jack Torrance in that photo from 1921? — I'm not sure we really need a whole movie based on the idea of the pre-Shining hotel."  That's right!

The full story is at


  1. As a bonafide Garris fan, I've nonetheless taken an interest in the devotion shown to the Kubrick film.

    If I had to take a guess, I'd say the liking for the film has more to do with Kubrick's technique more than it has to do with story, character or performance, hence the existence of docs like Room 237 (which only adds up to 12, not 19!) and which is really an examination of technique as opposed to story.

    I will say this, Lawson has written a great article, and I you're a lone voice crying in the wilderness, it's nice to have company.

    Now if ya'll excuse me, I've got to prepare my Danny Lives! sandwich board for Times Square.


  2. Neither the book nor the movie needs a prequel nor sequel. Just let the great work of each medium stand on its own!

  3. I don't want a prequel unless it's a King prequel. I mean it's his story I want to know what he thinks.

  4. I totally agree, My Anxious Life ! I would take a prequel if it came from King. It's his work, his property.

    1. "It's his work, his property."

      I agree King should get compensation for his work, even for Sleep, I also hope he finds some way to block Warners, 'cause the way the studio system works, property means nothing, especially in the hands of studio lawyers; a walking irony if I ever saw one.