Monday, December 14, 2015

Page 124: Overlook Hotel

Although Stephen King’s famous novel The Shining was inspired by his stay at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, the author states plainly on the recto of the dedication page, “Some of the most beautiful  resort hotels in the world are located in Colorado, but the hotel in these pages is based on none of them. The Overlook and the people associated with it exist wholly within the author’s imagination.”

Similarly, Kubrick’s equally famous movie adaptation was mostly filmed on soundstages, not in any real hotel. Elements were inspired by other hotels. Exterior shots in the film were of the Timberline Lodge near Portland, Oregon, but the inside of the lodge looks nothing at all like the fancy resort shown in the movie. In an ironic bit of life imitating art, the Stanley Hotel announced just a few months ago that they were adding a hedge maze as an homage to The Shining.

The Timberline Lodge (above) was used by Stanley Kubrick for exterior shots
of the Overlook Hotel in The Shining. [Photo © Richard Kaczynski.]
Nevertheless, this fictional hotel has secured a very real place in our popular imagination. On the Internet, one can find all kinds of Overlook merchandise to buy: t-shirts, mugs, barware, posters, etc.

Because the Overlook Hotel is such an important part of pop culture—and because it was conveniently located between Devils Tower and New Mexico—I wanted to pay tribute to this fictional place. In so doing, however, I wanted to clearly credit the place to Stephen King’s novel, and its visual aspect to Stanley Kubrick. By doing so, that made its becoming real in The Billionth Monkey more striking. But I also wanted to emphasize (humorously) that the hotel’s transition into reality in the 2010s involved some interesting changes from what we’re familiar with in the 1970s. I only hope that Stephen King—if he ever reads this short scene in the book—takes it as the lighthearted tribute that it was intended to be.

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