Cronenberg: Kubrick’s “Shining” Ain’t Horror

Filmmakers are (mostly) human beings, and like human beings their reaction to widely regarded cinematic classics will vary from film to film.

Case in point is legendary Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg. Cronenberg became famous for his work in the ‘body horror’ genre from the satirically gory like “The Fly” and “Videodrome,” to the psychologically disturbing like “Dead Ringers”.

In 1983 he also took a shot at a Stephen King adaptation, “The Dead Zone,” which is generally well regarded. Yet critics are far more enamored with another King adaptation made three years earlier – Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining”.

Speaking with The Toronto Star recently about the “Cronenberg: Evolutions” exhibit, the filmmaker talked about “The Shining” and how Kubrick’s work compared to his. The comments might surprise you:

“I think I’m a more intimate and personal filmmaker than Kubrick ever was. That’s why I find ‘The Shining’ not to be a great film. I don’t think he understood the (horror) genre. I don’t think he understood what he was doing. There were some striking images in the book and he got that, but I don’t think he really felt it.

In a weird way, although he’s revered as a high-level cinematic artist, I think he was much more commercial-minded and was looking for stuff that would click and that he could get financed. I think he was very obsessed with that, to an extent that I’m not. Or that Bergman or Fellini were.”

Cronenberg himself has gone more mainstream in recent years, steering away from his out there genre efforts in favor of straight forward drama with a dark edge like “A History of Violence,” “Eastern Promises” and “A Dangerous Method”. His next film is the Hollywood satire “Map to the Stars” which is currently in post-production.