Thirty-nine years later, Jack is still not a dull boy.
In a new pristine restoration, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on Friday evening. It was the second straight year that a Kubrick movie landed on the Croisette, following last year when Christopher Nolan brought what he termed an “unrestored” cut of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
This time around, Alfonso Cuaron introduced the film, alongside Kubrick’s daughter, Katharina Kubrick, and Leon Vitali, Kubrick’s longtime assistant. Vitali was himself profiled in the 2017 documentary Filmworker, also a Cannes entry.
“If anybody hasn’t seen it on the screen before, it’s a different experience completely,” Vitali told the crowd. “Don’t worry, you’ll all come out of here alive.”
Cuaron’s presence in Cannes was notable. His film Roma was set to premiere at the French festival last year. But when Netflix and the festival couldn’t agree on distribution terms for the streaming giant’s films, Netflix pulled out of Cannes and Roma headed instead to the Venice Film Festival, where it won the Golden Lion prize.
Cuaron didn’t oversee The Shining restoration. That role went to Steven Spielberg, whose 2018 sci-fi thriller Ready Player One included a lengthy homage to The Shining. But Cuaron lavished praise on The Shining while playfully prodding conspiracy theorists that dig into the film for hidden meanings.
“Actually, tonight, we’re going to watch it backwards, because backwards, we’ll see it with the message Kubrick (intended),” joked Cuaron.
The 2012 documentary Room 237 chronicled some of those theories, including that The Shining is really about the moon landing or about the treatment of Native Americans. Katharina Kubrick used an expletive to describe the guessing games around the 1980 flick.
“This is a seriously cool ghost movie. Don’t believe any of the conspiracy theories because it’s all s---,” she said. “I only said that because I’ve had some champagne.”
Cuaron agreed. “Kubrick would have really gotten a laugh out of all of these conspiracy theories,” said the director. “By all reports, he believed in films not to be explained but to be experienced. A little bit like music, he used to say.”
The Shining restoration will be released on home video Oct. 1.