TV & FILM
brian-mcgee - July 9, 2018
While not without its problems, Ready Player One was a fairly enjoyable adaptation of a much better book, but the best book adaptations should always play like two hour commercials for the book, anyway. Whether you loved or hated the film, though, you have to admit that the sequence set within the world of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining was the highlight of the film.
Director Steven Spielberg recently spoke with Entertainment Weekly about the scene's inception, its personal meaning, and how the whole thing was created. Book purists may remember that the film worlds they entered in the book were WarGames and Blade Runner, but Spielberg felt that The Shining worked better within the context of his film, mostly because of his personal connection to it...
“It was nostalgic for me because I first met Stanley Kubrick on the set that I depict in Ready Player One,” Spielberg tells EW.
“The main living area with the grand fireplace in the Overlook is where I first encountered Stanley in 1979 when I went to look at the soundstages. They were about to build the sets for Raiders of the Lost Ark in Elstree Studios,” Spielberg says. “When I found out Stanley had completed a set and was planning his shots, I asked if I could meet him.”
He then gave some insight into Kubrick's creative process...
“The set was exactly the way it is in the movie, all finished. They weren’t shooting yet,” Spielberg says. “Stanley had a model of the set on a table where the typewriter is, and he was using a Nikon camera with an inverted periscope lens, actually taking still photographs with tiny stick figures. He was prospecting for shots.
"I looked at that and I said, ‘You’ve got the whole set and you’re looking for shots on a small quarter-inch of the scale tabletop model?’” Spielberg recalls. “And Stanley said, ‘Yeah, what’s wrong with that?’”
All of that context is great for fans of Kubrick and The Shining, but how did they actually, you know, re-create the movie?
“It’s a combination of set construction and digital set construction,” Spielberg says. “So we built the elevators and we built the hallway leading up to the elevators, but the main living area of the Overlook with the fireplace is digital.”
Production designer Adam Stockhausen then elaborated further on the process...
“It was determined by the needs of the visual-effects people. Whenever we have our characters walking around, Aech and Parzival and Art3mis, there’s no need for any real-life scenery. In fact, it would just get in the way because it would block the infrared cameras that were trying to record the performance of the actors.”
Those needs reverse when the movie includes shots of real human beings.
“When we were filming the girls in the hallway going to the elevator, and when we were filming the woman who was stepping out of the bath, we had the real bathtub and real shower curtain, and we matched the elevator doors just for those pieces,” Stockhausen says. “We had a real background behind an actor so you wouldn’t get that green-screen effect.”
Well, it looked amazing and was undeniably the best scene in the entire film. You can watch the first four minutes or so of the sequence in the video above. Ready Player One hits DVD & Blu-ray two weeks from tomorrow, July 24.