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How ‘A Shining Example’ Goes Deeper than Stanley Kubrick

by smbpapon22P

The Big Picture

  • Director Clarke Wolfe’s short film, A Shining Example, pays homage to Stanley Kubrick’s classic horror film while exploring new themes of motherhood and toxic family dynamics.
  • The film draws inspiration from Kubrick’s visual style and delves into the emotional journey of the main character, Aiden, who is a mother and television writer on the verge of a breakdown.
  • Wolfe’s film also references Stephen King’s novel, including key elements like the croquet mallet used in the climactic scene, and successfully blends both versions of the story while adding her own unique vision.

There are few great horror films with quite the level of universal recognition and influence as Stanley Kubrick‘s The Shining. Though it’s famously despised by the original novel’s author Stephen King, the adaptation still holds a special place in the hearts of many viewers including first-time director Clarke Wolfe. The Collider alumni made her directorial debut with A Shining Example, a short film inspired by Kubrick’s classic that explores new themes like motherhood and toxic family dynamics through a similar lens. Wolfe makes sure to tie it all back to Kubrick, but there are a few places where she went even further than the Oscar winner.

Collider’s Perri Nemiroff spoke with Wolfe at Fantastic Fest 2023 where she divulged the connections between her film and Kubrick’s and how she tried to bring more emotion into her project with her main character Aiden. Much of the film’s look, the director says, can be attributed to the 1980 horror masterpiece and how Kubrick tackles visions, but the big difference is how Aiden is explored compared to Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson). Instead of a writer slowly being driven mad and violent as she tries to overcome her writer’s block at the shady Overlook Hotel, Aiden is a mother and television writer whose big break also threatens to unravel her. After putting her writing career on hold for her daughter, she finally has the chance to return to the television franchise that put her on the map, but the tight deadline and her toxic family dynamic with her feckless husband (Andy Cohen) leave her at a breaking point.

A Shining Example promises to really explore Aiden’s thought process and feelings toward her family and work before getting emotional as she breaks down:

“Yes. It was great. We found a lot of that in post. But in terms of the visions and getting inside Aiden’s head, a lot of that is through visual style. And of course, we replicated a lot, you know, a throwback to Stanley Kubrick’s imagery, which you will see when you see the short, and so on. So we knew that that was going to be a part of it. We were directly nodding at Stanley Kubrick’s film and the way he lets you inside of what’s going on. But then, of course, I think that there are moments that are more emotional, that hopefully you go a little deeper with Aiden versus maybe Jack.”

‘A Shining Example’ Is a Love Letter to Kubrick and King

Shelley Duvall in 'The Shining'

There’s a lot of love in how Wolfe pays homage to Kubrick with A Shining Example even as she shares her own unique vision. It’s not just about the film, however. Wolfe also references King’s beloved novel, including the croquet mallet that Jack wields instead of his axe in the film’s iconic climax. She gave a lot of credit to production designer Alora Cholette and V/H/S/99 editor Thom Newell for helping to bring everything together on screen in a way that honors both versions of the tale.

A Shining Example stars Wolfe as Aiden alongside Cohen, Marnie McKendry, and co-writer Dylan Guerra. The film made its world premiere at Fantastic Fest which ran from September 21 through 28. Check out the full interview with Wolfe below:

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