The Overlook Hotel was a composite of actual locations and sets. Art director Roy Walker toured the United States, photographing its great lodges for Kubrick, who wanted the hotel to be a character, as real as any made of flesh and blood. He said: “We spent weeks going through his photographs making selections for the different rooms. I wanted the hotel to look authentic rather than like the traditionally spooky movie hotel. The hotel’s labyrinthine layout and huge rooms, I believed, would alone provide an eerie enough atmosphere.”
The front entrance of the hotel was filmed at the Timberline Lodge, near Mount Hood, in Oregon. The facade and entrance to the maze were a gigantic set, shown above, on a back lot at Elstree Studios, outside London. Polystyrene chips were dropped to give the illusion of falling snow, while the snow on the ground was salt, and the fog was oil vaporized by fog machines. The maze in winter was a separate set, and the summer maze was created with real hedges at nearby Radlett Aerodrome.
The Overlook Lobby and Colorado Lounge were patterned after the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park, and Kubrick copied the red lavatory from one at the Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The sprawling interior sets took over all of Elstree Studios, overflowing into nearby warehouses. The intense heat generated by the lighting needed to re-create sunlight through the windows on a snowy day caused the Gold Lounge set to catch fire, and the sound stage and set burned down. Fortunately all the scenes had been completed, and the stage was rebuilt for the next production at Elstree: Steven Spielberg’s “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981).
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