Ed here: I've mentioned Stephen Gallagher several times over the years. To me he's one of the most original, compelling writers of our time. His books, stories, screenplays and television work are as finely wrought and darkly moving as only real literature can be. He's a bestseller in the UK and while many of his books have been published here he's never been promoted well enough to give him the wider audience he deserves. And it's no surprise that his website is packed with a whole lot of cool stuff, too. Here's an older piece that's well worth the read.
King, Kubrick and the most expensive f**k-off note in history by Stephen Gallagher.
I've watched Channel Five's airing of the miniseries based on THE SHINING, and a very thought-provoking experience it's been. With Stephen King as screenwriter and executive producer, it comes a full eighteen years after Stanley Kubrick's feature adaptation of the novel. King disliked the earlier adaptation, and used to say so. He can't say so any more because in order to get hold of the remake rights he had to undertake not to.
I love THE SHINING. I think it's the definitive haunted-place book and it would have been my favourite King novel if he hadn't gone on and written THE DEAD ZONE. The night I finished reading it for the first time - actually at around two o'clock in the morning - I had to walk around the house putting all the lights on. The next day I started it again, something that I'd rarely done with a book before and never since.
When Kubrick's feature adaptation came out in 1980 my feelings about it were mixed, and continue to change over time. I probably like it better now than I used to. On a first viewing I remember my reaction being a big disappointment that he simply hadn't managed to get it, and that what we had before us was a magnificent toolkit for a SHINING movie but not the movie itself. Now I suppose it's merged with the book in my mind, and I find myself supplying the missing elements to make it work. It has an intellectual elegance, and it's made with enormous craft and skill. As cinema, it's still state-of-the-art nearly two decades later. All it lacks is the narrative integrity that sets THE SHINING apart as material and made it worth tackling in the first place.
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