“A ghost scrapbook” and “cheap bible”: M/M (Paris) designs new book on The Shining
Published by Taschen and edited by Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich, the Herculean text features rare production ephemera, concept art and hundreds of unseen photographs.
- Liz Gorny
- 19 December 2022
In February 2023, Taschen will launch a new book about The Shining. More specifically, it is publishing a 2198-page, three volume collection gathering unseen production photographs from the Stanley Kubrick Archive, personal collections of cast and crew and rare ephemera to offer a text that, according to Steven Spielberg, will permanently change how the audiences see the film. The project has been in the works for 10 years, with the book’s editor, Academy Award-winning director and The Shining obsessive Lee Unkrich, calling on a designer to get involved eight years ago – M/M (Paris).
The design studio explains that the compendium is made-up of two books: “the ghost of an oversized scrapbook” (more on its ghostly nature later) and “a functional manual of 900 pages”. Content includes research behind designer Saul Bass’ infamous film poster to unseen images on the making of the blood elevator scene. (According to personal assistant to Kubrick Leon Vitali, production used thousands of gallons of “the stuff” to film the scene; a sea of red gore allegedly escaped from the studio into surrounding areas resulting in calls to the police.) The final collection is likely out of most fan’s budgets at £1,500; with only 1,000 numbered copies available.
Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining needed “an attractive editorial strategy” that could display the diverse material, M/M (Paris) states – easier said than done when it comes to Kubrick. “A Kubrick movie is often an archive which documents an obsession,” M/M (Paris) confirms. The studio’s own obsession on the project was to create a “precise” book extending the space of The Shining, without paraphrasing. “The whole creative strategy for us was not so much about designing the adequate graphic component but creating the perfect book space which could propose a new shining vision.”
The typeface, which M/M (Paris) likens to a “logo”, is built around the idea of the labyrinth – a visual nod to Lee Unkrich’s viewpoint that The Shining is all about the labyrinth. It also nods to the presence of patterns throughout the film, with the typeface itself used as a “decorative pattern” over various elements of the publication. When you consider the lasting relevance of Saul Bass’ work on the original Shining poster, M/M (Paris) took the same strategy when it came to the cover, creating a “door to the movie”. Though: “It was crucial that our proposal would not be a pastiche of Saul Bass’ approach,” says M/M (Paris).
The labyrinth is not the only part of the film M/M (Paris) looks to. “While looking at rare stills from The Shinning, we stumbled across a large brown scrapbook that Jack Nicholson became fixated by in the movie. Lee Unkrich explained that this scrapbook was made so that Stanley Kubrick could shoot a scene of Jack Nicholson flicking through the pages, studying it, and slowly understanding the doomed situation of the hotel.” Though the scene never made it to the final edit, the oversized scrapbook is revived in one half of the design of the new compendium. Paris M/M explains: “For a book about an archetypal horror movie, what could be better than a ghost scrapbook becoming real again?”
The corresponding “functional manual”, is more easy to handle: a “soft bound red manual feeling like a cheap bible often found in hotel rooms, such as the one of the movie”, says the studio. The comparison doesn’t end there – at 900 pages, the manual comes close to the average length of most bibles too.
Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is edited by Lee Unkrich, written by J. W. Rinzler and available for pre-order at Taschen.
Taschen: Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, edited by Lee Unkrich, words by J. W. Rinzler (TM & Copyright © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (s22) Courtesy of the Stanley Kubrick Archive)
About the Author
Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, she worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.