Study Guide

The Shining Production Design

Production Design

New Horrifying Cuts for Horror

We know that it's probably a little insulting to refer to something as "textbook Kubrick," since Stanley Kubrick is considered one of the most unique directors ever to lay hands on a camera.

But if you watch this movie closely, you'll find a few of his common calling cards. For starters, Kubrick loves to have long shots that cover large spaces. This is a fascinating take on horror, since it's the exact opposite of all the quick cuts and claustrophobic spaces that other horror directors use to create suspense.

While traditional horror techniques have the effect of making you feel trapped and closed in, Kubrick's make you feel exposed and out in the open, which is a totally different kind of fear. That's one of the many things that make his production style so effective at creating uneasiness and suspense.

Kubrick also uses something called one-point perspective, a technique that's front and center in The Shining:

"He places the camera so that there is a "horizon" that spans the middle of the screen. He uses the very center of the picture as a point of perspective, with everything else in the shot leading to that singular point. This is not unlike the technique of creating perspective in a painting, where an artist creates a horizon and several lines to draw the viewer's eyes to the center." (Source)

So what's the big deal with this one-point perspective? Well, it not only gives the audience a single point to focus on, but makes the character's perspective of the shot that much more immediate. In The Shining, Kubrick uses this one-point perspective when Danny is riding his Big Wheels down the hotel corridors.

The viewer is immediately afraid for Danny, because we're suddenly put uncomfortably into his perspective. If anything were to appear in front of Danny—say, a pair of completely frightening ghost twins—we'd encounter them from the same perspective as an innocent kiddo.