Posted on Friday, October 19th, 2012 by Russ Fischer
Here’s a good bit of trivia appropriate for Halloween: as some people may know, Stanley Kubrick did not create the photo seen at the very end of The Shining. Given the general attention to detail lavished by the director upon his projects, one would assume that the photo was crafted expressly for the film. But the photo was, for the most part, actually a picture from 1923, with Jack Nicholson‘s head added.
A page of a photo retouching book published in 1985 now reveals the original image, before Nicholson was comped in, and on the left side of the image above you can see the original, unknown man who became the stand-in for Nicholson’s afterlife image.
This comes from The Overlook Hotel, the Shining-enthusiast site overseen by Pixar director Lee Unkrich. (He tweeted that link, alerting the world to his good find.)
Here’s the page from the book The Complete Airbrush and Photo-Retouching Manual, written by the person responsible for creating the comped image seen at the end of The Shining.
As Unkrich notes, the original photos of Nicholson are available in the Stanley Kubrick Archive in London; as the comparison between the images shows, only Nicholson’s head, collar and tie were added to the original picture. (The anonymous man over whom Nicholson was pasted was also moved down, to give him more separation from the crowd.)
There’s also this detail, which repeat viewers have likely already noticed:
Interestingly, close examination of images from the film reveals that two different photo-composites were used: one for the long tracking shot which pushes down the hall towards the photo, and a different one for the extreme close-up. Nicholson’s composited head rotates from one photo to the next, and his shoulder shifts, partially obscuring the woman holding the cigarette behind him.