Stephen King says that the Doctor Sleep movie finally redeems Stanley Kubrick's The Shining in his eyes. In the years since its 1980 release, Kubrick's adaptation of the King novel has become a beloved horror film. But The Shining isn't just considered one of the greatest horror movies of all time; it's also considered to be a masterpiece of cinema in any genre. However, the movie does have one famous detractor: the author himself. King has famously criticized the adaptation of his novel repeatedly over the years, even as its reputation among cinema lovers has grown stronger.
King had numerous problems with Kubrick's adaptation, including the casting of Jack Nicholson and the portrayal of the Torrance family. Many authors take issue with movie adaptations of their work, but there usually isn't such a wide gulf between fan feelings and author reactions. However, King has been much more positive about the recent adaptation of The Shining sequel Doctor Sleep. Horror writer and director Mike Flanagan adapted the novel in a movie of the same name, which hits theaters on November 8. Doctor Sleep follows the adult Danny Torrance (played by Ewan McGregor) from the original novel and film; however, it also explores themes such as trauma and alcoholism. So far, Doctor Sleep has received very positive reviews from movie critics.
When Flanagan began working on the adaptation to Doctor Sleep, he quickly realized that it would be impossible to make a sequel to The Shining that didn't pay direct homage to Kubrick's original film. Many scenes from that movie have become iconic horror movie sequences, and with Doctor Sleep's characters returning to the legendary Overlook Hotel, Flanagan had to contend with The Shining's visual legacy. Flanagan told EW that he explained his reasoning to King as the movie first went into production. Likewise, King told EW that the screenplay for Doctor Sleep helped redeem Kubrick's adaptation of The Shining in his eyes. King said that Flanagan managed to "seamlessly" blend the Doctor Sleep movie to Kubrick's vision of The Shining.
I read the script to this one very, very carefully...Mike Flanagan, I’ve enjoyed all his movies, and I’ve worked with him before on Gerald’s Game. So, I read the script very, very carefully and I said to myself, ‘Everything that I ever disliked about the Kubrick version of The Shining is redeemed for me here...I don’t want to get into a big argument about how great the Shining film is that Kubrick did or my feelings about it. All I can say is, Mike took my material, he created a terrific story, people who have seen this movie flip for it, and I flipped for it, too.
While King may never feel the same way about The Shining as its many, many fans do, it's possible that his feelings have softened through the process of adapting Doctor Sleep for the big screen. King has seen dozens of his novels and short stories adapted for film and television throughout his career. In addition to classics like Pet Sematary, Carrie, Cujo, and Firestarter, 2019 has seen three major adaptations of King's work. Before Doctor Sleep, It Chapter 2 and In The Tall Grass were released. Of course, with nearly 40 years between the release of The Shining and its sequel, none of those films has been as highly anticipated as Doctor Sleep.
No matter what King thinks about The Shining, its reputation among film lovers will endure. And as one of the most successful authors in the world, King's legacy is equally strong. With Doctor Sleep getting such a positive early buzz, including from the author himself, King fans have yet another reason to adore this living horror icon.
- Doctor Sleep (2019) release date: Nov 08, 2019