With The Shining, the protagonist lost her hair and went crazy


Shining is one of Stanley Kubrick’s most famous films and will air this evening on Italia 1 at 21.20, in its extended version. The film is based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name: the controversy between writer and director has become legendary.

Stephen King he hated the film version of his story and told his version of the facts about the making of the film, accusing Kubrick of calling him at any time of day or night to ask for clarification. However, besides the hatred between the two authors, Shining he also became famous for his protagonist Shelley Duvall, which came out destroyed by processing.

Shining, the plot

Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) is a writer who is hired as the guardian of the Overlook Hotel for the winter season. During this period, in fact, the luxury hotel remains isolated from the rest of the world due to the heavy snowfalls, which make it almost unreachable. With the need for a job and a salary, Jack agrees to move with his son Danny and wife Wendy to the Overlook Hotel.

Everything seems to be going according to expectations for the Torrance family, until there‘Overlook Hotel it does not begin to turn into a sinister place, full of frightening corners behind which horror can be hidden. An evil presence begins to take hold of Jack Torrance, turning him into a homicidal madman from whom Wendy tries to escape to keep little Danny safe who, for his part, is not a normal child. It has, in fact, a strange power that is called shimmer, lo shining precisely.

Shelley Duvall’s terrible experience

It is well known the maniacality with which Stanley Kubrick he dealt with the making of his films. Each of his productions was lengthened in time precisely because of the director’s decision to repeat the scenes to the end, waiting for the so-called “perfect shot”. Shining – just like Clockwork Orange or Eyes Wide Shut – it makes no difference. The director kept every aspect of the process under control and to achieve the result he had in mind, as he recalls, prompted actress Shelley Duvall to perform the same scene 124 times. Scenes, those of Duvall, which brought with them a strong load of anxiety and tension that the actress had to channel and re-propose with each new take.

The experience of filming, as told in the documentary Making The Shining, led the actress to lose her hair and face a real one nervous breakdown. A condition made possible also by the isolation in which Stanley Kubrick “closed” his protagonists for over thirteen months of filming. Just to bring back the feeling of the claustrophobia of the Overlook Hotel and the loneliness of the character of Wendy, who has no escape from her crazy husband, Stanely Kubrick made sure that the two Hollywood actors remained as far away from relationships with others as possible. actors or with members of the technical cast.


The processing of Shining it was, for Shelley Duvall, a real one nightmare, as she herself tells in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. In it he says: “Kubrick didn’t print anything before I did at least 35 stage reps. Thirty-five scenes where I had to run, cry and carry a baby. It was very tough. It was all hard work, from the first take to the end.”

Then it continues: “Sometimes I had to hear sad songs from a Walkman. Or think of something really sad that happened to me in my life or how deeply I miss my family and friends. But after a while your body rebels, start saying: stop doing this to me, I don’t want to cry every day. And I woke up on Monday, very early, and I realized that I had to cry all day because that was the way it was planned … this thought was enough to make me cry. I kept repeating myself: I can’t, I can’t, I can’t. Yet I did. I don’t know how, but I did it. ”

The making of the film left long aftermath on Shelley Duvall who, as he explains The Courier, in the mid-90s he decided to withdraw from the scene and disappear. Only years later, in 2016, did he decide to reappear on television, taking part in an episode of the well-known Dr. Phil show, where he admitted to suffering from a mental disease. During the 2021 interview with the The Hollywood Reporter, Shelley Duvall in fact did not always appear very present to herself. He said, for example, that Robin Williams was still alive – when he committed suicide in 2014 – or that his mother had just died from Covid.

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