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A shining example

A classic opening sequence and a conspiracy theory

Image courtesy of Art of the Title

The opening sequence

Stanley Kubrick's The Shining is one of the best horror movies ever made. It has everything - a chilling Stephen King storyline, an astonishing location, spellbinding acting, horrific visual effects and...

...a "Beetle!" moment in the dramatic opening sequence - a swooping helicopter shot of the Torrance family heading unwittingly to the nightmare ahead - in a bright yellow Beetle.

It could be claimed that (apart from 'Herbie') this yellow Beetle is possibly the most famous in film history, playing a pivotal part in setting the scene for the dramatic events that follow. Its tiny size set against the vast and foreboding Glacier National Park landscape gives the 3 main characters a sense of vulnerability and isolation.

In the days before drones, this was no easy sequence to produce. Here's an article by Jeff Blyth, the helicopter cameraman who filmed it.

The conspiracy theory

In the original Stephen King novel, the Torrance family car is a red Beetle, not yellow as in the film. There are some wild theories out there about Kubrick's change of colour for the car. One involves the Nazis and the Apollo programme, and another referencing the notorious serial killer Ted Bundy, but let's not go there. There was apparently a clash between the director and King about the film adaption, with the author unhappy at many of the changes Kubrick made. Later on in the film we do see a red Beetle, crushed in an accident on the snowy road leading to the hotel. The theory goes that this represented Kubrick telling King that this was his story, not the writer's.

Here's the red Beetle accident sequence.


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