Check out the absolutely fascinating article by Forrest Wickman on Slate Magazine:
One of the first times I realized that classic movies may have “lost” or “alternate” scenes (my younger -more naive!- mind, I suppose, probably thought classic films were created “as is”!) was back in 1984 while watching, for the first time, Giorgio Moroder’s take/restoration of Metropolis. The opening credits, in fact, noted that the full film was some forty minutes longer when it premiered, and that those scenes were likely lost forever (it turned out they weren’t, but that’s another story for another time).
Regardless, my imagination -and interest- in what may still exist out there regarding “classic” films was piqued. I learned of about many films that featured alternate ideas discarded in the editing or, perhaps, were “toned down” for images that were too sexual or violent. One of the more fascinating “lost” sequences, to my mind, was giant spider pit from the original King Kong.
Fast forward to…yesterday, when found this article concerning the “lost” or rather “alternate” ending of Stanley Kubrick’s magnificent 1980 film The Shining. I had heard about this previously (the changes to the ending were done by Mr. Kubrick after press screenings of the film but just before general release) yet was fascinated by the article nonetheless. The link above gives you the full article and I highly recommend you check it out. However, in the interests of brevity, let me cut and paste what was written regarding the film’s “original” ending:
After we leave Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) frozen in the hedge maze, we cut to a hospital where Overlook manager Stuart Ullman (Barry Nelson) is visiting a recovering Wendy Torrance (Shelley Duvall) along with her son Danny (Danny Lloyd). After some pleasantries that are oddly casual for those recovering from an axe murder, Ullman tells Wendy that investigators searching the hotel “didn’t find the slightest evidence of anything at all out of the ordinary,” and that, amid the trauma, she must have simply been hallucinating. After inviting Wendy and Danny to leave to come stay with him in Los Angeles, he begins to leave, but remembers that he forgot to give something to Danny, and throws him a yellow ball.
Basically, what this ending suggests is that the Hotel Manager was a part of the events experienced by Torrances. I think its an interesting element to add to the film but by grounding it that way it somehow, to my mind, diminishes the conclusion. Why? Because what we have in The Shining now is a film that can be interpreted in many ways.
For example, one could posit than the obvious ghost story presented in the film is mere symbolism, and that what the various characters witness/experience is them succumbing to a nervous breakdown. Clearly Jack is the one who goes completely over the edge, but there is the possibility that his son and, later, Wendy may be reaching their mental breaking points as well versus seeing “ghosts”.
The “cut” ending, however, throws that possibility out completely and ties us down to the certainty that the Torrances were indeed haunted by the ghosts of the Hotel and that, further, the manager knows about them. He set the Torrances up. He knew what they would go through. He’s…evil.
While I think that’s all good and well and I can understand people preferring such an ending, I happen to like the more ambiguous ending as presented in the theatrical release.
Regardless of all that, I’d absolutely love to see the alternative/cut ending. Perhaps one day…