The Shining 4K UHD should be faithful to the original film

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Dear Warner Bros.,

I am an Italian film scholar, holding a PhD in Music and Performing Arts and working at Sapienza University in Rome. I am writing as a fan and a scholar of the film The Shining.

As many other fans of The Shining, I am displeased with the current video editions of the film. For this reason, last year I made the following video essay, addressing the differences between three home video editions of the film and reflecting on how the film should look and sound in a faithful, accurate edition: https://archive.org/details/ShiningPhilology Some of the issues discussed hereinafter have already been discussed in the video essay.

I saw the new 4K master in Rome last June, which will be released in UHD BD and digital next October, and I think that such master has problems as well. The most relevant one is that it contains the same 5.1 remixed soundtrack that has been used in all the editions of The Shining since 2001. This 5.1 audio has differences from the original soundtrack of the film, which was monophonic. The remix contains errors which have been noticed also by Gordon Stainforth, assistant editor of the film, who worked with director Stanley Kubrick in editing the music. If you wish to insert this 5.1 audio in the UHD BD, you should offer it as a remix, along with the original 1980 mono soundtrack in an uncompressed format. This is the real soundtrack of The Shining, and fans and scholar should have the possibility of hearing it, without noise reduction, derived directly from the original mono master. A famous Italian sound mixer told me that in 1980 he was impressed with The Shining’s soundtrack since it was so loud and detailed although it was an optical mono track without Dolby’s equalization curve which was usual at the time. So even a scan from the optical print would be a joy for fans to rediscover. The same can be said for the dubs, which were approved by Kubrick.

The UHD BD should contain both cuts of the film, so that one could chose the preferred one. Moreover, it would be interesting to include both aspect ratios that were intended for the film, i.e., 1,85:1 and 1,37:1. The 1,78:1 aspect ratio is incorrect.

The old HD master had a bad color timing, which was evident in the tennis ball which turned from yellow to pink in one scene. The new 4K master still has in my opinion a strange color timing. For example, the skin often looks as if the people had jaundice, and the snow in the last sequences of the film looks too much white, instead of having a blue nuance. Overall, this master does not have the same colors that a 35mm print I saw in 2010 had. The color timing should be conformed to the original one, and there should not be digital noise reduction since grain is part of the original 35mm source. Moreover, some – or maybe all – of the original prints for the English market had blu end credits, as a YouTube clip shows (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-FEFGcsSTs while the others have them white. It would be nice to have both options.

The original Warner Bros. logo designed by legendary Saul Bass – the red, black and white moving one – should be inserted as well.

The film was dubbed in different languages, and Kubrick shot the famous typescript scene in different shots using text in different languages to go with the dubs. These alternative shots were never distributed on DVD or BD, but only in VHS and Laserdisc. Also, the titles and intertitles were inserted in the original masters in the same language of the various dubs, and the shot of the photograph in the last sequence was made using different languages. For example, the original Italian master used for cinemas and home video – which I am familiar with – had every single word in the opening and end credits translated; the intertitles were in Italian; the typescript had Italian text on it (the proverb “Il mattino ha l’oro in bocca”), the word Redrum in the mirror was subtitled with MORTE, which is the word the boy says backwards in the dub in the same scene, and the last shot of the photograph had Italian printed text. Since Kubrick put so much effort to do this, i.e., checking the dubs and choosing the translations for the typescript, fans would be exultant to have all this in a single edition, which is quite simple since different audio tracks can be used for the dubs and the multi-angle option can provide the different shots, titles and intertitles in the same video edition.

The film has so many fans, who try to collect 35mm copies of the film in order to preserve it the way Kubrick and his collaborators intended, that I believe that such a product would be welcomed.

 

In sum, the upcoming 4K UHD edition of The Shining should meet the following requirements:

- contain the original monophonic soundtrack, in an uncompressed format;

- contain both cuts of the film (119’ and 144’);

- present the film in both aspect ratios (1,37:1 and 1,85:1), which are both correct, unlike 1,78:1;

- present the film with the original color grading of the 35mm prints, without digital noise reduction;

- contain both blue and white closing credits;

- contain the original Warner Bros. logo designed by Saul Bass;

- contain the original monophonic dubs, along with the alternative shots in different languages and the translated titles and intertitles.

 

Thank you for your attention.

Regards,

Valerio Sbravatti