‘The Shining’ Ending Explained

Producers reveal why Stephen King's book ending was changed for the film adaptation

The Shining, one of the Stephen King’s bestselling novels and the film that has had a huge impact in pop culture, finally has the ending explained.

In an interview with EW, producers Jan Harlan and Diane Johnson explain the steps that were taken in making the film, and the decisions made by director Stanley Kubrick to create the final ending.

In the novel, The Shining ends with the death of Jack, as well as the hotel that goes up in flames due to an aging boiler.

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Johnson says that Kubrik thought the ending of everything blowing up was too “cliché,” and wanted something “that would be metaphorically and visually more interesting” and so the ending was discussed and changed constantly throughout production.

Focusing mainly on the powers of the hotel, one ending discussed was having Hallorann become possessed by the hotel when he arrived there, a plot twist for the audience who would not be expecting the good guy to turn bad.

Another ending that was considered was the death of son Danny, but then it was finally decided to have Hallorann be killed, as Kubrik said it was a horror film and at least one person should die, but couldn’t bring himself to kill Danny.

Kubrik also liked the idea of the maze, and decided to incorporate it into the ending of the film where Jack is chasing Danny with an axe.

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With Jack freezing to death, and the hotel still in one piece, Kubrik said this ending would haunt the audience, as well as an ending with the photo of Jack in the photo at a July 4 ball in 1921.

There were also some deleted scenes that didn’t make the cut in the final film, one revolving around the scrapbook Jack finds and uses to help write his book, and a scene in the hospital with Danny and Wendy where Ullman, the manager of the Overlook Hotel, hands Danny the same ball that was rolled to him from Room 237.

After the final cut of the film was made, Kubrik made sure to have all the unused footage permanently destroyed, knowing he would never make a re-cut, and didn’t want anyone else to reassemble the film later on.