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BTS Clip Of The Shining Shows How That Freezer Scene Really Came To Life

Part of what makes Stanley Kubrick's 1980 horror classic "The Shining" such an eerie venture is the film's array of unconventional and unnerving cinematography choices. One of the most memorable, a low angle that looks straight up at Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) as he bangs on the pantry door that Wendy (Shelley Duvall) locked on him, took a creative yet simple approach to its execution.

In a behind-the-scenes clip posted by Historic Vids on Twitter, Kubrick can be seen figuring out how he wants to frame the scene. Initially going for a medium shot, the "Lolita" director then slides onto the ground, directly under Nicholson's feet, pointing his viewfinder up at the actor to test the idea. "Well, that's not bad," Kubrick remarks, later giving Nicholson further direction. The clip concludes with Kubrick and cinematographer John Alcott during the shooting of the actual sequence, where they managed to barely squeeze themselves, the camera, and the light underneath the chaotic performer. In its simplicity, the shot communicates Jack's frighteningly intimidating presence, even in his tight situation.

The brief freezer shot is only one of many unique visuals in "The Shining" that still sticks in the minds of audiences today. But whereas the iconic moment was relatively easy to pull off, the same can't be said for much of the film's laborious production.

Stanley Kubrick's perfectionism is literally record-breaking

From the groundbreaking visual effects of "2001: A Space Odyssey" to the finely crafted cinematography of "Barry Lyndon," Stanley Kubrick was a filmmaker who always aimed to push the bar to its very limit. This was no exception with his cinematic adaptation of Stephen King's "The Shining," which saw the director at quite possibly his most meticulous — for better or worse.

The film's production was significantly extended thanks to Kubrick's detailed direction. Shooting days were prolonged by the many takes Kubrick required of his actors before being satisfied. The film made extensive use of the Steadicam. This stabilization device allows for smooth tracking shots previously utilized in films like "Rocky" and "Marathon Man," with more complex setups, making for a new landmark in horror cinematography. 

Two scenes, one where Dick Hallorann (Scatman Crothers) and Danny Torrance (Danny Lloyd) are discussing what the "shining" is and another where Jack Torrance slowly comes up the stairs to attack Wendy, hold the Guinness World Record for most retakes for a scene with dialogue. As a result, the production pushed many of the actors to their limit, with Shelley Duvall, in particular, being so stressed that her hair began falling out.

Kubrick may have gone extreme for "The Shining," but the director's ultra-perfectionist nature has possibly helped the horror film stay under our skin for so long.