‘The Shining’ is one of the greatest horror films ever made. Stanley Kubrick is the man behind the movie, though it is based on the work of the master of horror himself, Stephen King. Right from the start, a lot of things work in the film that serves to send chills down our spine, be it Jack Torrance’s gradual descent into madness, or the ominous twins who constantly urge Jack’s son to come and play with them. However, from start to finish, all the spooky and supernatural elements of the movie play out within the Overlook Hotel. Right from the beginning, the story establishes it as a space for horror, and the chilling isolation only serves to accentuate the fear throughout.
In fact, the Overlook Hotel also makes a comeback in ‘Doctor Sleep‘, the recently released sequel to ‘The Shining’. The hotel remains just as ominous, still serving as a hunting (also haunting) ground for inexplicable and intangible forces. Naturally, people who loved the movie might be wondering whether the Overlook Hotel actually exists, or if ‘The Shining’ was filmed somewhere else. We have got you covered, as we bring you the true story of the haunted Overlook Hotel, and where ‘The Shining’ was actually filmed.
You might want to reacquaint yourself with the story of ‘The Shining’ before we jump into the details of the filming locations. Basically, Jack, his wife, and son go to the Overlook Hotel. They have to stay on as the winter caretakers. Jack plans to use this opportunity to get some writing done. However, the isolation, writer’s block, as well as the supernatural elements of the hotel start to get to him. Soon he devolves into a madman, putting his entire family at risk.
Exteriors: Timberline Lodge, Oregon
Firstly, when the Overlook Hotel appeared in Stephen King’s work, the writer had a very specific hotel in mind. He based it on The Stanley Hotel, which is located in Estes, Colorado. Built by Freelan Oscar Stanley, the owner of the Stanley Steamer company, in 1909, it is a historic Colonial Revival hotel. King stayed there with his wife and was immediately intrigued by the remoteness of the hotel as well as its mysterious vibe. In fact, there are rumors that the Stanley Hotel is haunted. You can even book a paranormal tour of the hotel, though they warn you that the ghosts are not on the hotel’s payroll and might not be making an appearance during tours!
Naturally, when Kubrick was making his movie, the Stanley Hotel was an option for the director. However, he found what he was looking for at the Timberline Lodge in Oregon. Built in 1938, the hotel stands at an elevation of 6000 ft. on Mt. Hood. However, Kubrick only used the exteriors of the hotel to establish shots for how Overlook Hotel would look from the outside.
Interiors: Elstree Studios, Hertfordshire, England
When it came to the interiors, Kubrick had a very different location in mind. The director wanted it to look like the Ahwahnee Hotel, which is located in the Yosemite National Park in California. It is a sprawling stone building, which is located at the base of the Yosemite Valley. It opened in 1927. The mixture of wood, stone, and glass, that marks the interiors of the Overlook Hotel, is inspired by the Ahwahnee and is a good example of the architectural style known as the National Park Service rustic, which gives a real outdoorsy feel. Notably, The Stanley Hotel or Ahwahnee Hotel themselves not feature Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’ at all.
Although influenced by two hotels, it is important to note that most of the movie was shot on set. Kubrick ensured that the interiors of the Overlook Hotel were designed to specifications at the Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire, England. At that time, it was one of the largest sets to be ever built in the studio. You might also remember the maze at the end of ‘The Shining’. It is where Jack chases the family in a heart-thumping sequence. Unfortunately, the maze is not part of the actual exterior portion of the Timberline Lodge either. Kubrick had the maze designed at the old MGM Borehamwood Studios, which is down the road from the Elstree Studios.
Aerial: Going-to-the-Sun Road, Montana
While that covers the most important bit about the shooting location, you might also be wondering about the helicopter shots taken during the opening moments of the movie, when we see Torrance driving to the Overlook Hotel. Well, they were taken on Going-to-the-Sun Road, which runs along the Western shore of Saint Mary Lake, located in Glacier National Park, Montana. Film buffs might be fascinated by the fact that some of the footage from these shots were later added to Ridley Scott’s ‘Blade Runner‘ to provide the alternate ‘happy ending’.
That covers the shooting locations of ‘The Shining’, and while the Overlook Hotel itself does not exist, the hotel that inspired the original work is definitely haunted. In fact, King was battling alcoholism when he stayed at the hotel and had a nightmare about supernatural forces. This inspired him to come up with ‘The Shining’, which Kubrick brought to life on screen. Thus, one of the greatest works of horror was born.
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