Making The Shining

“Making The Shining” isn’t your run-of-the-mill “making of” flick.


Look who directed it?

It’s Vivian Kubrick—Stanley’s daughter.

Imagine being 17 and shadowing your legendary director dad on “The Shining” set.

Camera in hand, Vivian does just that, capturing eerie, behind-the-scenes moments.

Talk about an all access backstage pass!

That’s why I it’s the #1 “Making of” doc in my list of 12 Best ‘Making of’ Documentaries.

Trailer for “Making The Shining”

I recommend you skip the trailer (3 min) and instead dive right into the doc (video embed and links below).

The doc’s first 3 minutes are much better than the trailer.

Watch “Making The Shining”

You can watch “Making The Shining” on:


  • My Rating: 96/100
  • IMDB Rating: 7.6/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes Ratings: na

Review of “Making The Shining”

The making of The Shining is nearly as scary and disturbing as the movie itself.

Vivian must have charmed dear old dad into letting her tail him with her handycam, capturing all The Overlook Hotel’s creepy shenanigans.

From blood gushing elevators to crazy ol’ Jack Nicholson’s unhinged axe-wielding, seems Viv caught it all on tape.

The doc focuses on the main characters:

  • Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson)
  • Wendy Torrance (Shelley Duvall)
  • Danny (Danny Lloyd)
  • Hallorann the Caretaker (Scatman Crothers)

It opens with Jack Nicholson in his dressing room.

This 6 minutes is the best “making of” a movie footage I’ve ever seen.

First, Jack is finishing up a private phone call about food.

Then, he’s brushing his teeth so he doesn’t have “a faceful of lamb cutlets”.

Jack tells Vivian:

“You’ll have to excuse me now as I’m about to take a piss.”

Then, Jack walks downstairs to the set lighting up a cigarette.

He’s ultra-cool as only Jack can be.

Jack is walking to the big scene in which he’ll be axing down the door to get to Shelley Duvall.

To get pumped up for that scene, Jack jumps up and down and starts to get into character.

He says something under his breath like:

“Axe murderer….kill…” as he grabs a real axe off the bed.

He’s about to start the scene.

The doc is great in that it shows this type of scene prep and then goes right into the scene itself.

Now, the real movie cameras are rolling.

Jack is knocking on the door of the bathroom to get to Shelley Duvall.

“Come out, come out, wherever you are.”

“Little pigs, little pigs, let me come in. Not by the hair on your chinny chin chin. Then I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house in.”

Fun Fact: Jack improved the 3 Little Pigs line AND the “Here’s Johnny” line (the latter is not in the doc).

Then he starts axing the door down as Shelley Duvall freaks out.

In the doc, they don’t show the “Here’s Johnny”

Next, they show the scene of Danny running down the hall.

They show an emotional Scatman Crothers, in tears, as he talks about how grateful he is for working with the team.

They show Jack and Shelly practicing their lines.

And Stanley gets the killer shot of a locked up Jack from the floor below Jack as he’s talking to Shelly through the door.

There’s also cool footage of the crew prepping for the “blood elevator” scene.

Great quote from Jack between scenes:

“The average celebrity meets in one year the amount of people the average person meets their entire life.”

— Jack Nicholson

Shelly Duvall also has a great quote on the extra attention Jack gets around the set:

“I did get jealous sometimes…I like attention [too]”

–Shelley Duvall

Another great line from Jack:

“I want to be out of control as an actor. I want [the dirextor] to have the control. Otherwise it’s going to become predictably my work. And that’s not fun.”

— Jack Nicholson

Did Kubrick bully Shelley Duvall?

There’s controversy that Stanley Kubrick bullyed Shelley while making the Shining (see the BBC interview here) including making her do 127 takes of one scene.

There’s no argument that Kubrick pushed Duvall super-hard.

In the doc (and the BBC interview), Shelley says she’s learned more from Kubrick during this one year of filming The Shining” than all other years of films.

My take: Shelley likely hated it in the short-term — but loved the end product masterpiece that “The Shining” is.

Angelica Houston (dating Nicholson at the time) says Shelley, while feeling “tortured”, “carried the movie on her back”.

Fun facts (not in the doc): Shelley was dating Ringo Starr during the making of the Shinining. And The Shining owns the Guinness record for the most retakes for a scene (148!). It’s the scene where Scatman and Danny discuss the ability to “shine.

Stanley edited “Making of Shining”…to look more angry?

A little more controversy.

In “Kubrick: An Odyssey”, the authors report that Stanley helped edit Vivian’s doc and kept in scenes that showed him angry and deleted scenes where he’s overly nice.

“He [Stanley] took over the editing of Vivian’s film, trimmiing it to a concise thirty minutes and choosing those moments that show him as a focused no-nonsense, at times angry director. He removed many of the sequences of him being warm and friendly…”

Kubrick: An Odyssey

Either way, “Making of Shining” is awesome.

And so is Stanley!

Thanks for reading!

Rob Kelly, Chief Maniac, Daily Doc