Is there room for 2 interpretations of "The Shining" ? Absolutely, and this mini-series which originally ran on ABC over 3 nights stays true to the more earthbound struggles of the Torrence family, as faltering writer Jack battles alcoholism and abusive behaviour, while his wife and son are the ultimate victims of his drunken rage.
Mick Garris is arguably the most successful interpreter of Stephen King's work - "Sleepwalkers," "The Stand" and "Quicksilver Highway" are the biggies - and the director explicitly details in the disc's lengthy commentary track the tough challenges in filming King's nightmarish visions stories, and working in the commercial-dependent world of television. 'TV giveth, and TV taketh away,' is King's mantra, who astutely compares the pros and cons of the theatrical and TV worlds with acidic candor. Anything more than 100 minutes is considered a "fanny buster," according to the veteran author, and though films offer greater latitude with language, sex, and gore, TV gives filmmakers more time to go deeper into a novel, and retain a greater array of measured nuances that make a man's journey into madness more believable. Stanley Kubrick's film still packs a punch, but the Garris mini-series is a lot more humanistic.
"The Shining" was also one of the first TV productions to port digital effects over from the feature film domain (hence the excellent topiary garden from Hell), and several crew members appear on the track, including visual effects designer Boyd Shermis (Disc 1), makeup artist Bill Corso (Disc 2), and cinematographer Shelly Johnson (Disc 2).
Actor Steven Webber ("Am I Shining yet?") recalls his audition, and his ultimately successful choice in playing an average guy, while the competition wrestled with Jack Nicholson's more flamboyant legacy from the Kubrick film. Garris' wife Cynthia also appears on Discs 2 and 3, and describes being a decomposing corpse in the chilling bathroom sequence. Editor Patrick McMahon makes a brief appearance on Disc 2, and producer Mark Carliner contributes some production background for the $21 million mini-series that was shot primarily on location in Denver , Colorado .
Amid the production anecdotes, the most touching material comes from King - everyone on the track calls him "Steve" - who digs into his past about the novel's genesis, and mining his own alcohol addiction for the novel's central issue. Through running 4.5 hours, "The Shining" commentary offers some solid information, and shows how a disc can benefit from a well-edited track using engaging artists.
Divided into three 90 minute parts, the middle section ended up being shorn of 20 minutes - mostly for pacing and to make room for commercial breaks (which King acidly discusses in relation to structuring scenes for bathroom breaks and chip refills) - and there's a hefty deleted scene gallery on Disc 3, with full screen versions of 11 scenes. The optional director commentary runs through most of the scenes, including the last segment - an unedited, disintegrating King, from a deleted ballroom sequence.
Warner Bros.' transfer is quite nice, offering a clean image with the films mix of subdued tones and bursts of colourful horror, and the surround mix shows off Nicholas Pike's superb score.
© 2003 Mark R. Hasan