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January 24, 2013

The Deleted Epilogue of "The Shining"

All copies of the filmed ending were destroyed (well, some say that one copy survived), but this blog now publishes the script for the scene. It was in fact shot, but Kubrick thought better of it and cut it out.

It's a very anti-climactic scene -- by design. Kubrick (the blog tells us) liked Danny and his mom, and wanted a scene at the end to reassure the audience that they were okay and were recovering nicely from their shock. So that's the scene -- they're okay and recovering nicely from their shock.

It's about as interesting as that sounds.

Not a very horror-ish ending. A bit like the very long deflation at the end of Psycho where An Psychiatrist explains to us everything we already pretty much understood about Norman Bates and his Psychological Problems.* Kubrick realized that and cut the scene from all the prints and ordered them destroyed.

I find it interesting that even good directors film these unnecessary scenes-- that they don't realize in the scripting phase they're unnecessary, but only realize it when they see the filmed footage cut together as an unfinished cut. James Cameron filmed a whole unnecessary introduction to Newt's family for Aliens, the family doing some surveying and prospecting work prior to the alien infestation. Apparently his original thinking was that if he doesn't show the audience Newt's family, the audience will not really accept that Newt once had a family.

Only later did he realize the audience was very willing to accept that a little girl must have come from somewhere and thus the family didn't need to be "proven" to have existed to the audience -- Newt could just say she lost her family, and people would be okay with that.

I watch a lot of deleted scenes when I watch DVD's and they almost all are completely unnecessary, often in a "Why would you even think you should film this?" way. But I think that's partly just because I already know the way the movie is "supposed to go" so I'm biased against these Scenes Which Don't Belong. Still, while I (and most other people) would have that bias, there's usually a real pointlessness to deleted scenes. They seem so obviously misconceived it's surprising that anyone, especially solid professionals, spent a few hundred thousand or even a million to film them.

I can't prove this, but I bet you would find a high correlation between mediocre-to-poor movies and a bunch of deleted scenes on the DVD. My theory being, movies with a lot of deleted scenes were never really properly thought out in the scripting phase, and the filmmakers were still trying to "find the story" in the editing bay. Whereas in most movies that really succeed, the story was always present and obvious in the script, and so nothing really needed to be cut for the finished product.

But then, bad movies are always cut down, often to the bone (and often cutting crucial plot-explaining scenes, which is why bad movies tend to make even less sense than they might have), the theory being that if you've got a bad product at least don't keep the audience for too long.

From Lilieks' blog.

* There's a theory that in a detective novel, the murder represents moral chaos, and the detective becomes the agent who restores moral order to the chaos.

But very often -- so often it's almost de rigeur -- horror intentionally leaves the moral order in chaos; the heroes may survive, but it's not the case that It's All Better Now. In fact this dark outlook is one of the defining characteristics of horror -- even if you survive, you're permanently scarred.

So these Everything's Back to Normal Again endings (including the psychiatrist in Psycho, restoring the moral order by rationally explaining Bates' complexes in a reassuring manner -- that which can be named and categorized can be mastered, a lesson we know from Adam) seem out-of-place in horror movies.

What the hell I am yammering about now? Someone please stop me.

Look, sorry. But when you're writing all day, any random thought you have more than five words to say about becomes a post.

If I think more than five words about hawks, then I'm probably going to write a post about hawks.

Anyone know anything about hawks?


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posted by Ace at 02:23 PM

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