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Making 'The Shining' (1980)

NOTE: This commentary is only on the remastered version of "The Shining." The original release included this documentary, but without a commentary track.

Commentaries on this disc:

Commentary 1: Director Vivian Kubrick Rating:7.6/10 (12 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by reidca on June 8th, 2008:Find all reviews by reidca
Vivian Kubrick talks about how this project was initiated when her father requested she produce a documentary that Warner Bros. could broadcast on tv. She clearly learnt a great deal about filmmaking and speaks highly of many of the crew including steadicam operator Garrett Brown. Although she lacks some confidence with the commentary, she does a good job of directing the viewer through the footage: explaining how James Mason came to be on the set, sympathising with Shelley Duvall over her clashes with the director and pointing out various people in the background such as her mother, cinematographer John Alcott, Danny Lloyd's trainer Leon Vatale and Vivian's own cameo in the ballroom sequence. Surprisingly, she comments very little on her own father. She does speak several times about the restoration work on both the feature film (damage that was only repaired in 2003) and the documentary (swearing that was previously beeped for BBC airings were restored where possible and some Wendy Carlos music at the end was originally only providced on mono cassette, but has been digitally transferred for this newer version).
Reviewed by Jay Olie Espy on March 20th, 2009:Find all reviews by Jay Olie Espy
First and foremost Vivian Kubrick tells us that she was 17 years old when she shot this documentary after spending a year in the film's art department. She says jokingly her father asked her to do this project so he can “keep an eye on her.”

Kubrick’s commentary points out her experience shooting the documentary—from her camera’s model to shooting at whatever she felt her eye would naturally gravitate to (like Jack Nicholson unzipping his pants) to the fact that she was able to capture so many candid shots of Nicholson because her young age lowered his guard. If Kubrick isn’t talking about her direct experience shooting the doc, then it’s about her and the crew’s experience on set and other behind the scenes anecdotes, such as Scatman Crother’s ability to recite “every lyric of every song made in the 20th century,” but yet having the inability to recall his lines. Those times when the documentary featured the movie-making aspect of THE SHINING, she’d chime in with production notes. The commentary is very screen specific.

At the recording of this commentary, Vivian Kubrick is 40 or 41 although her voice still sounds like it’s 17. Her memory is still very lucid. That said, it seems like you can trust her when she reveals and finally lays to rest the debate as to who, or what team, typed out all those pages of “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.” I agree that Vivian Kubrick “comments very little about her own father,” although Kubrick does point out that the scene where elder Kubrick is directing Shelly Duvall is an instance rarely captured on film. However I would say that Kubrick's commentary is more candid and casual.

Vote: 8/10
Reviewed by Agressor on October 25th, 2015:Find all reviews by Agressor
An alright commentary that could've been much better if director Vivian Kubrick had been more prepared. She starts of very tentatively and sounds rather nervous and unsure of herself, and she even says "what should I Talk about now?" at one point!

She finds her footing eventually though and brings home the game successfully, having revealed a slew of interesting behind-the-scenes facts and anecdotes, and her feelings on them.

It irks me though, especially with the limited runtime of this documentary, that she takes her time getting comfortable in her role as a commentator. It makes the commentary barely recommendable (but it IS recommendable).
Reviewed by grimjack on June 5th, 2021:Find all reviews by grimjack
First off, all the above reviews are spot on to the point I am wondering why I am bothering to type this. (But I almost cannot believe even three people have listened to this or knew the commentary existed.)

As you would expect from Kubricks daughter, she enjoys talking about cameras, camera technology, and things like lenses. She also talks about how she was often just wandering the set hoping to catch something interesting, and her eyes were often drawn to the things a persons natural eyes might be drawn towards.

Commentaries on documentaries tend to mostly tell stories about things that are going on in the film, as the doc itself sometimes just ends up showing a bunch of clips, and closeups of talking heads. And this is a good example of all that.

One neat tidbit... Jack Nicholson had trained as a fireman, so they had to build reinforced doors for him to hack through because he was too good at it. Another is she crashed into a police car rushing to the set when she heard there had been a fire, and so did not get there in time to shoot the damage.

She talks about having made it 23 years earlier, and gives the feeling she has not seen the doc in a while, and maybe never in full. She seems to be remembering it as it went along.