"All you can do is either pose
questions or make truthful observations about human behaviour. The only morality is not to be dishonest.” - Stanley
after its release, Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” continues to baffle, enrage and entrance audiences. Books
have been written, ink has been spilt, websites formed and videos made, all in the hope of untangling the film’s intricate
narrative. Other labyrinthal films – Resnais’ “Last Year In Marienbad”, Erice’s “Spirit
of the Beehive”, Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive” come to mind – have been praised by critics and
embraced by film buffs, but few seem to generate the sheer level of conversation, writing and academic interest as Kubrick’s.
Indeed, over the past few years countless blogs have arisen, ascribing mystical, mathematical, supernatural and conspiratorial
“meanings” to the film. These theories range from the probable to the bizarre to the downright insane, but in
a way they’re all valid readings for a film which, in some ways, invites one to investigate, get lost and possibly lose
one’s mind within its vast network of corridors.
If on the
one hand the internet generation has embraced “The Shining” as a film which can be mapped by careful analysis,
its ambiguities conquered by DVD replays, high-definition screenshots, youtube videos and forum conversation, then on the
other hand, a revived interest in the film has resulted in an abundance of what semiotician Umberto Eco calls “junk
meaning”. This is excess chatter in which viewers ascribe to the film everything from Moon landing hoaxes to
Mayan Apocalypses in the year 2012.
other end of the spectrum we have those who don’t venture into the maze at all, shrugging in boredom or disinterest.
Of course this is another quite valid response, as in many ways “The Shining” is about the act of either “watching”
or “overlooking” “The Shining”. Kubrick invites his audience to “shine”, to navigate his
labyrinth, picking, discarding and drawing conclusions as they sees fit. The entrance and exist to his maze are right
there on the screen, how far one gets is not his concern.
stumbling block for most audience members seems to be the question of whether or not the film’s ghosts are “real”.
These are the same folk who view the monoliths in “2001: A Space Odyssey” as being literal alien teaching
devices, and Dave Bowman’s transcendence at the end of that film to be the result of extra terrestrial intervention.
Which is not to say that ET’s are not present in “2001”, but that one must look beyond the film’s
genre tropes and tune into the more abstract, symbolic themes which Kubrick weaves.
Cook argues in American Horror: The Shining (Literature/Film Quarterly, 12.1, 1984:2-4), “The Shining is less about
ghosts and demonic possession than it is about the murderous system of economic exploitation which has sustained this country
since, like the Overlook Hotel, it was built upon an Indian burial ground that stretched quite literally from ‘sea to
shining sea’. This is a secret that most Americans choose to overlook; the true horror of the shining is the horror
of living in a society which is predicated upon murder and must constantly deny the fact to itself.”
Padraig Henry echoes these sentiments: “The violence used to construct the hotel is wiped clean away by the hotel’s
role as sanitised manifestation of American success. And this is one of the functions of Kubrick’s use of the hotel’s
title (another being the rampant self-denial of its occupants). Kubrick is revealing how white male Americans deny the demons
of their past by hiding them in assorted closets whilst all the time aggressively pursuing success at the expense of others,
usually marginalized groups.”
and Lynn Jeffress, in “The Shining” (Film Quarterly, 34, 1980-81:45-51), conclude that “Torrance makes his
devil’s bargain…and women, children and blacks suffer.”
words, the film is less about ghosts than it is about a character who regresses into a monster partly as a result of the huge
pressures to strive for some notion of “success”, a success which is itself dependent on exploitation and domination.
The power of the shining, as Leibowitz and Jeffress maintain, serves as “a kind of survival skill that helps the oppressed
to defend themselves, the relationships between the child, the black and the woman being the only ones free of the self-serving
motives that govern those in which Jack participates."
at once horror movie, socio-historic critique and psycho-domestic melodrama, “The Shining” thus thoroughly subverts
conventional horror genre expectations. As Harry Bailey writes, “It is “The Shining’s” subversion
of genre, its meta-generic complexity, which allows one to view it as nothing less than an elaborate political and cultural
critique of the stereotypical American nuclear family, as symbolised by the psycho-historical maze of the Overlook. One is,
of course, “permitted” to view “The Shining” as just a horror film, but where, per-chance, is the
supernatural intervention? Only in the viewer’s imagination, a result of his/her pre-empting and pre-attribution of
of this article will consist of a "scene by scene" breakdown of the film, as well as several seperate essays at the end which
will attempt to touch upon the various readings of the film which have been floating around since the 80s. Though primarily
interested in "The Shining" as a work of historical and political critique, this webpage will also use Freud's "Uncanny" and
Jung's writings on "The Shadow" to analyse the film as psychodrama, and Frederic Jameson's "Postmodernism: The Cultural Logic
of Late Capitalism" in an attempt to show that "The Shining" explorers the most characteristic problem of postmodernism
- the dead-endness of postmodern nostalgia - the aesthetic, artistic and cultural moment under whose spell Kubrick began to
fall as cinema moved beyond modernism.
A Guide to The Shining
by Jason Francois
The Opening Shot
Kubrick’s films begin with what I call "primer scenes". These are self contained sequences designed
to brief the audience on the themes and ideas that will be explored in the film that follows. The introductory sequence
of "The Shining" briefs us on 4 important themes:
A return to the past (or rather, an attempt to reassert a particular brand of Colonialism)
The first shot of "The Shining" features
the largest and oldest mirror in the film (water). We see an expansive lake with a near symmetrical reflection of an island
and mountain range. This imperfect symmetry will feature heavily throughout the film, as Kubrick subjects us to an orgy of
visual and aural duality, flawed mirror images, echoes, repetition and parallels, in which characters and objects have doubles,
twins, doppelgangers and alter-egos. Even dialogue is persistently repeated, both person-to-person and scene-to-scene.
the first shot, the camera immediately swoops overhead as it pulls in on Jack’s yellow Volkswagen. These overhead tracking
shots convey the impression of a maze, Kubrick implying that Jack is already trapped ("You’ve always been the caretaker"),
drawn inexorably toward the Hotel.
color yellow (Volkswagen/ball) denotes objects used by the hotel to tempt or lure others. Recent
HD releases of the film contains color errors which render the ball and car pink (amongst other bizzare color changes). Note
also that during this primer scene, Jack passes 2 moving cars and 2 motionless cars, Kubrick introducing us to the theme of
twins or doubles.
Once the Volkswagen comes into view, Kubrick
begins his first and only use of scrolling credits. The credits come from below as the car moves forward, creating a symmetry
of motion. Essentially, Jack is trapped in a current, being pulled toward the Hotel. This dual motion applies later on, as
the film’s narrative simultaneously “shines” both "forward" into the future and "backward" into the past.
This forward/backward double motion is itself necessary when trying to negotiate one’s way out of a maze,
a process in which one must not only search for the centre, but remember past routes if one intends to get out.
Significantly, the labyrinthal road that the
car travels down is called the "Going to the Sun" road, and construction of it began in
1921. Later we will notice that the film itself ends with a photograph taken in 1921.
Legend has it that the Going to the Sun Mountain,
and later its main road, were named after a mystical Indian who ascended the 9,642-foot peak to join the sun
in eternity. The choice of road is no coincidence, as the film begins and ends with both credits and references to the year
1921. What's more, Kubrick's name is nowhere in the final credits, and the film begins with a cast scroll that is typically
located where most films end. So what we have here is a film which folds in on itself like an ouroboros snake, the past and
the present, beginning and end, merging indefinitely, one big cyclical repetition of
journey further and further into the wilderness also highlights the theme of moral regression. Modern man Jack will eventually
regress into a more primal state, adopting a savagery akin to the ape men in "2001: A Space Odyssey".
The music throughout this primer sequence
also has an interesting shift in tone. It goes from plodding and ominous (beating thumps) to the squeals of what sounds
like native Indian women. Audio rhythms like this take place throughout the film. For example, Danny’s
bicycle mimics the sound played during the chase through the maze, and the beating of Jack's tennis ball on the wall echoes
the crashing of an axe through a bathroom door.
Throughout the film, Kubrick uses these themes to suggest that the present is merely an imperfect
reflection of the past. Man (Jack) is trapped in a maze and is doomed to REPEAT his past horrors. Kubrick applies this theme
to both a microcosm (family) and macrocosm (America) as I will later explain.
Throughout the film, Kubrick will also show
us the horrors of at least three generations of history. The film's three caretakers - Delbert, Charles and Jack
- are all interchangeable. They’ve each attempted to murder their families and all represent man at three
specific points in time.
Furthermore, the current father and son
roles of Jack Torrance and Danny Torrance are assumed by another Jack and Danny (Jack Nicholson and Danny
Lloyd) thereby perpetuating the cycle of horror outside the film.
Danny Lloyd's name is itself further fragmented
in the Gold Room scenes which all involve Lloyd the bartenter and a large bottle of Jack Daniels. Note also that
a deleted scene - cut by Kubrick after the film's premiere - featured Danny being given a tennis ball
by Mr Ullman. This act, which occured at the end of the film after Jack's death, hints that Danny will later head back to
the hotel and assume Jack’s role.
what we have here are various generations extending in all possible directions: the past (Delbert and Charles), the future
(Danny), the present (Jack) and outside the film (the real life actors).
Kubrick shows that these generations of men
live in a maze, a cycle whereby they repeat the same horrific actions in much the same way humanity is trapped in a loop, constantly
repeating the same mistakes. Danny, however, unlike his forefathers, retraces his steps and takes a different path. By refusing
to make the same mistakes, Danny escapes and survives, while his father is left frozen in time.
But the irony, of course, is that Jack was not trapped at all. In exactly the same way that we the
audience are literally looking right at our answer, so to is Jack literally holding the solution to his predicament in his
own hands. Trapped in a maze and carrying an axe, he doesn’t think of cutting his way out.
sort of thing has happened before, and it has always been due to human error."- HAL, 2001 A Space Odyssey.
SCENE BY SCENE BREAKDOWN
1. Jack arrives at the Overlook Hotel.
In the background, behind a door signposted “The Gold Room”, two mysterious figures in 1920’s dress stand
2. Jack walks up to the front desk and receives
instructions from the secretary on how to get to Mr Ullman’s office (take a left turn). Already Kubrick is playing with
the notions of the Hotel being a maze, as characters constantly make use of the words “right” and “left”
as if laying out map plans.
Note: The camera motion which tracks Jack
during his first visit to the Hotel Lounge will be reversed during his second visit to the Lounge. Furthermore, whilst the
first visit entailed Jack walking to the secretary and then to Ullman seated in his office, the second visit will be
a reverse shot which tracks Ullman's walk to a seated Jack. Every scene in the film is mirrored like this, the camera and
characters shifting positions appropriately.
3. Jack approaches Mr Ullman's office. To
the left of the office door is an abstract painting, the head of a Native American Indian Chief buried within blocks of colors.
4. Mr Ullman (himself
dressed in American reds, whites and blues, his head ALWAYS blocking an American Eagle behind him) asks Jack if he had trouble
finding the place. Jack replies that he had no trouble at all. As the film progresses we will see that Jack’s problems
arise only when he tries to LEAVE his maze.
5. Jack tells Mr Ullman that the journey
took him 3 and a half hours (210 minutes). The number 21 will appear at regular intervals throughout the film.
6. Kubrick introduces Jack as a writer and a schoolteacher (“to make ends meet" -
another maze reference). Jack reads The New York Book Review (apartment) and PlayGirl magazine (hotel). He’s a man of
contrasts, educated and articulate at the start of the film, but increasingly primitive and incoherent as the film progresses.
There are traces of past Colonial generations in him as well. He’s sexist, misogynistic and racist, referring to his
wife as a “sperm bank” and being repulsed by the notion of "niggers".
7. Wendy is likewise a woman of contrasts. Kubrick introduces her as a modern American woman and goes to
lengths to quickly depict her as educated and liberated. Her introductory scene is awash with reds, whites and blues and she
smokes cigarettes and reads The Catcher in the Rye (note the "mirrored" or "doubled" covers of her book and the fact
that objects behind Wendy and Danny are always paired off in twos - cans, books, tins, bottles etc). But of course she’s
nothing of the sort. She’s a simple housewife (always doing housework), bullied and terrorized by a husband who has
a history of alcoholism and child abuse- yet she doesn’t leave him for fear of being independent.
Note - during this scene, Danny
moves his "Tony finger" 11 times and is introduced drinking milk like Alexander De Large in "A Clockwork Orange".
8. Mr Ullman says the Hotel season
closes on October 30th. This means that the Torrance's move into the Overlook on Halloween Day.
|Cowboys (TV) and Indians (Wendy).
9. Jack calls home. Wendy answers the phone. A Cowboy film is showing to the left of the frame, whilst
Wendy occupies the right of the frame. This is a subliminal reference to Cowboys and Indians, Kubrick implying that Wendy
will assume the role of the tormented native.
10. Danny stands before a bathroom mirror. Kubrick, who with "The Shining" began developing a semiotic
language far beyond that which he utilized in "2001: A Space Odyssey", carefully places several important signifiers here.
Consider these for the time being: a tub of Vaseline beside Danny, the number 42 and a green shower curtain.
11. Whilst speaking in the mirror, Danny moves "Tony" (his finger) up and down six times. The result
is that Tony moves a total of 12 times; six in the mirror and six in real life. The next time Danny moves Tony, he will do
so 21 times.
12. During this bathroom sequence, Danny experiences the film’s first shining. Here the audience
is subjected to two short flash-back/flash-forwards. The first is of an elevator spilling blood, the second of the dead Grady
daughters. Both images will be repeated throughout the film. Both show the aftermath of the film’s two horrors. The
first horror is that of the Grady family murders, the other is of an apparent bloodbath. The elevators themselves hint as
to when this bloodbath occurred. The left elevator is always portrayed as having stopped on floor 1 whilst the elevator on
the right is always portrayed as being stuck on floor 2.
Aside from the frequent doubling of objects, the numbers 1 and 2 feature prominently in the film. Some
(Date on picture)
(Date the "Road to Overlook" began construction)
(mirror image of 21)
237 (2+3+7 = 12)
calling KDK12” (past calling present)
is the 11th letter of the alphabet
elevators, doors etc look like the number 11
thinks he has “two 20’s and two 10’s”
on TV- “Summer of 42” (21 doubled)
on Danny’s shirt- “42” (21 doubled)
the hotel seems stuck in a time warp. It's reliving a cycle of man's historic horrors. In addition to the Grady murders, something
horrific seems to have happened in the years 1921 and 1942 (or perhaps 1821 and 1842?). The torrents of blood squeezing through
the shut elevator doors hint at some past mass killing. But what mass killing? Kubrick provides hints, but intentionally never
spells it out. The lines “we had to fend off Indian attacks” and “built on Indian burial ground” suggest
native Indian genocide, yet the date 1921 suggests the end of World War I (actually referred to at the time as "the war to
end all wars"). Two decades later, and the date 1942 suggests Word War 2- man essentially repeating his mistakes with a second,
more destructive world war.
Authors like Professor Geoffry Cocks, in his book "The Wolf At The Door: Stanley Kubrick, History and the Holocaust",
argue that the film is about the Holocaust, pointing to references like the name of a famous Jew on Jack's baseball bat and
Jack's typewriter being the same brand as used by the Nazis to type up their extermination lists. He also cites images, like
the twin boilers, as being references to "gas chambers".
At any rate, Kubrick’s use of a moving timeline suggests that humanity has not learned its lessons. Man keeps
murdering his family, denying it, and then doing it again. Kubrick suggests that it is this denial ("I have no recollection
of that, sir") coupled with a refusal to confront history (pictures in a book) that keeps man trapped in this maze.
Danny blacks out and a doctor is called. Whilst the doctor examines Danny, Danny rests on a giant BEAR pillow and covers
his crotch protectively. The doctor asks Danny if Tony ever tells him "to do things", at which point Danny
says "I don't want to talk about Tony anymore".
Note: Wendy is in the background whilst the bear pillow is in the foreground. This angle will be reversed during the
famous "bear suit blow job" scene.
14. To the right of the doctor is the Disney figure, Goofy. Goofy is hanging from a string and is dressed exactly as
Wendy is (even down to the oversized brown shoes) on the left of the screen.
15. The doctor says that Danny is fine. She says that he was in a "self induced trance" and that his "black out"
was caused by a form of "auto-hypnosis". On the table before the doctor is a copy of Susan Sontag's "Illness As
Metaphor". "Illness As Metaphor" challenged the "blame the victim" mentality behind the language society often uses to describe
diseases and those who suffer from them. Sontag says that diseases are often perceived to be "expressions" of the
victim and that the victim itself is often perceived to have directly caused its own disease.
In other words, Kubrick is telling us not to trust the film's "surface explantions". Danny's "traumas" throughout
the film, are caused by something or someone external to Danny.
16. Behind the doctor are two books, "The Wish Child" and "The Manipulator". "The Wish Child" is perhaps symbollic
of Danny, "The Manipulator" of Jack and the Hotel. As Wendy smokes, her cigarette resembles an Indian peace pipe.
Note: "The Wish Child" was written by Ina Seidel, author of "Das Labyrinth". "The Wish Child" is about 2 young children
during the Napoleonic Era.
17. During her conversation with the
doctor, Wendy says that Jack hurt Danny’s shoulder “5 months ago, and hasn’t had a drink since”. Later
on, Jack will tell Lloyd that the incident occurred “3 years ago.” Which one is it? It doesn’t matter. Throughout
the film time will be blurred. Violence is timeless. Ullman speaks of Charles Grady’s 1970 family murder, yet the audience
always sees the dead daughters of 1920’s Delbert Grady.
The film's opening shots show Jack's car moving along the left side of the mountain. In the second car sequence, we see the
car and road on the right side of the mountain. Mirrored events like this occur throughout the entire film. Scenes are
thematically repeated, yet we always watch them from different points of view (left/right/forward/back).
Examples: Halloran stands before cans of Calumet Baking powder and is photographed from the right. Later, Jack stands
before Calumet Baking powder and is photographed from the left. Every scene in the film is carefully shot to obey this "mirroring
pattern", the camera carefully alternating stances, Kubrick employing an architectural structure to his camera work that is
dissying in its precision.
But reversals like this occur in other areas as well. Weather reports will jump from sunny to snowy, characters will
enter rooms on the right and exit on the left and several scenes will feature a 180 degree jump cut, essentially flipping
the image around. Even Wendy and Jack's tour of the Hotel will take them through a sequence of rooms "mirrored" precisely
in the film's final showdown (kitchen, maze, quarters, gold ballroom etc).
During the car ride to the Hotel, Danny tells Wendy that he is hungry. Ironically, he and Jack then have a conversation about
cannibalism. “You mean they ate each other up?” Danny asks. “They had to," Jack replies, "in order
Of course, Jack’s casual defence
of the early American settlers foreshadows his own forthcoming brutal acts committed under the guise of civility (his “duty”).
This little tale of "Wagons" and "Donner parties"
also foreshadows Jack falling off the wagon and indulging in ghostly parties. Jack's thinly veiled contempt for his wife (he
subtly mocks her lack of historical/geographical knowledge) is also hinted in this scene, his hatred and feelings of superiority,
of course, bubble to the surface as the film progresses.
Writer Harry Bailey on this scene: "
What's also of interest is the sudden stark contrast between
the Torrance's discussion and allusion to the starving Donner Party, to hunger and cannibalism, and the scenes a few minutes
later (in film grammar terms, a 'setup/payoff') of being introduced to a Chef and shown around an enormous kitchen with vast
quantities of food everywhere, in freezers and pantries. If only the Donner Party had made it to the Overlook and to Chef
Hallorann! Instead we later witness a different kind of party, the Torrance Overlook 'Party' ("Great party, isn't it!?"),
where instead of a material hunger for food, a different kind of spectral hunger prevails.
The scene in the car, though,
is the first indication of Wendy's underlying uncertainties and fears about what lies ahead, about her (correct) apprehensions
about Jack, the scene ending with Wendy looking at Jack, a sudden expression of shock on her face (foreshadowing her looks
of horror and real terror later in the film) after Jack's "See! It's okay, he saw it on the television!". Perhaps Wendy's
fears of going to a remote, isolated place combined with Danny's expression of hunger pangs to immediately conjure up in her
a dread memory of hearing about the Donner Party? This scene isn't so much a critique of television as it is indicative of
Jack's total abandonment of his paternal role in relation to Danny, his indifference to his education and welfare. And remember,
who would remove a six-year-old child from school and all other social contact and isolate him in a remote hotel for six months
(wouldn't this be illegal today? Or maybe Jack informed and reassured the school authorities: "But I'm a school teacher!")?
Jack's supposed to be a school teacher, yet when it comes to his own son, he proves to be the most incompetent and impotent
educator imaginable, the TV and alter-ego 'Tony' providing Danny's 'education' instead.
The other, somewhat minor
or peripheral point, is that Danny and Jack are the only characters we ever see eating in the film. In the shorter 'European'
cut of the movie, Danny is first introduced munching on a sandwich (a sandwich in which, via a cut-away, a giant bite mysteriously
appears), and later eating ice-cream with Hallorann on his first day at the Overlook. And later still, after the Torrances
are first alone in the now-vacated Overlook, Wendy's primary contact with Jack (her efforts to strike up a normal conversation
with him) is via food, via serving him meals: the very first scene is of Wendy bringing Jack his breakfast with his 'sunny
side up' fried eggs, while the next time we see them together it's the infamous "Whenever you see me typing" intimidation
scene, Wendy bringing Jack a snack, Wendy responding to Jack's verbal abuse with the same expression of horror we saw earlier
in the car. Food again. And Wendy with a large kitchen knife. And then Jack locked in the pantry, having helped himself to
some dried food, gets a call from Grady*** ...
(With all that food consumption, it's time for a visit to one of the
Overlook's bathrooms ... )
***The symmetric obverse to the
environment and circumstances of the Donner Party: whereas the Donner Party were in a wide open hostile landscape without
any food, Jack is suffocating, claustrophobically locked up in a little room with so much food he's tripping over it. The
Donner Party resort to cannibalism, Jack's resorts to a spectral madman."
20. The Torrances arrive at the Hotel. Some claim that there are 21 cars parked infront the Hotel now, and that 42
were parked during the earlier introductory sequence.
Note: Ullman will say "good bye girls" to two pairs of twins, possibly foreshadowing the death of the twins in the
1920s and 1970s.
21. An exterior shot of the Overlook Hotel carefully dissolves to an interior shot, such that the triangular rooftop
of the Hotel (tent shaped) seems to morph into the image of a workman's large ladder. We then pan sideward to reveal
Jack sitting on a chair, reading a PlayGirl magazine. Note the way the Hotel's rooftop fades onto this image of a ladder.
It will prove important later on.
22. The magazine Jack reads has articles mentioning incest, taxes, criminals, mazes, souls and spirits on its
front cover. This will be discussed later.
Wendy and Danny arrive at the Hotel and are taken on a quick tour. This sequence provides us with several important bits of
information. Firstly, Kubrick hints that Danny is already able to navigate the maze alone. He’s alone in the gaming
room and is then found “wandering alone outside” by a hotel assistant. From here on, Danny is constantly associated
with "playing", "toys" and "games". Like Dave Bowman, he is a creative artist/warrior.
Secondly, we learn that the hedge maze was constructed independently and is a separate entity to the Hotel. Thirdly,
we learn that Wendy does not object to being indirectly told that her place is in the kitchen, and fourthly, by his glances
at the TWIN female assistants, we learn that Jack isn’t sexually fulfilled by Wendy. From the onsent, he seems to dispise
24. Danny is in the game's room playing darts. There are banks of 24 photos behind him. He then "shines" and sees 2
little girls, dressed in blue dresses. The blue of their dresses becomes the pleasant blue of the walls outside the Torrance's
appartment in the very next shot. In other words, their deaths are literally on the walls of The Overlook. Indeed, if one looks closely at the Overlook Hotel, one will see
that the violence of the past is always re-appropriated as its decor.
25. Wendy and Jack approach their new bedroom. Jack looks at two grown up twins as they walk away, mirroring
Danny's encourter with the twins seconds earlier. Jack and Wendy are given a tour of their new bedroom by Mr Ullman.
Ullman describes the room: "Livingroom, bedroom, bathroom, and a small bedroom for your son."
Jack look's into Danny's room and smiles: "Perfect for a child!"
Note: the painting above Jack's bed resembles the opening shot of the film.
26. Above Danny's bed is a picture of 2 bears. Recall the image of Danny laying down on a bear whilst being examined
by the doctor. These symbols will prove important later on. Note also the phallic shape of the mirror in Jack's room and the
overall architectural layout of the room.
27. Jack and Wendy stand side by side, like a happy couple, in the bathroom and say, "it's very homey." Ironically,
Jack will later try to kill his wife at this exact spot.
The Hotel is a place of contrasts. American flags, stark reds, whites and blues, US eagles, pre-packaged foods, and other
trinkets of Americana, constantly clash with the Navajo Indian artwork, native murals and ornaments. We get the sense of two
civilizations at war, a clashing of cultures symbolised in the final duel between baseball bat (America) and axe (tomahawk).
29. This theme of doubles is itself carried out throughout the film. The narrative leaps forward in pairs
of days (Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday etc) as well in times (8 am, 4 pm etc). There are also 2 pairs of bathrooms. Two associated
with both the Torrance family and images of murder (in their Boulder apartment and their Overlook quarters), and two (the
green and red ones) with Jack’s regression into madness and the hotel’s past. The Overlook Hotel itself breaks
down into two sections, one old and one remodelled (one past and one present). The movie also ends with two frozen images
of Jack - one frozen in death in the hedge maze, the other frozen in time in the photo from 1921. There are also two typewriters.
One white. One Blue. Grady and Charles also mirror present Jack and past Jack (photograph). Heck, there are even two versions
of the film (one cut being 24 [42-reversed] minutes shorter!).
30. Jack and Wendy are taken to the Gold Room. The Gold Room sign states that the spectral house band
that plays there is called "The Unwinding Hours".
Of course, the term "Unwinding Hours" has many associations with what is happening in the film
and to Jack. As Harry Bailey writes: "Jack is literally "unwinding", both relaxing and going crazy, but he is also returning
to the past (or nostalgia) via the "unwinding" of time, pulled back into the hotel's history as well as reflecting on his
own past (his violent assault on Danny, admitting it but then dismissing it all as Danny's fault, deflecting from all his
own past failures by treating his own family with abject contempt and then blaming them for everything) until it overwhelms
The architectural design of the Gold Room is also interesting. Its silouette resembles a Mayan/Aztec pyramid,
the huge chandeliers like glittering Sun Gods. The hotel thus seems to have conquered and encorporated ALL of America. From the
North American Indians (Navajo, Apache, Blackfoot, Iroquois etc) to the Central and South American Indians
(Mayans, Aztecs) to the African Americans brought over in the slave trade, to modern minorities. The hotel crushes
and absorbs these cultures, encorporating their iconography, their languages, their symbols, art and traditions, into
its sanitized concrete walls.
Turned upside down, the Gold Ball room also resembles a Mayan Ball Court (the ceiling becomes the terraced seats),
where ancient games and rituals were performed. Here, in The Overlook, the Hotel will use a Gold Ball (yellow tennis ball) to
"play with" Danny and Jack.
31. We're first introduced to Hallorann in the "Gold Room". He emerges from beneath a ladder, composed
to resemble a Sioux Indian energing from his tipi or tent.
32. A woman brings Danny to the Gold Room. Jack makes a comment about "bombing the universe". This is
perhaps a reference to "2001: A Space Odyssey". Danny is the Star Child, who, in the screenplay for "2001", destroys a ring
of orbiting missile silos. Notice too how Wendy quickly calls Danny to her side, refusing to let the boy stand by
33. Hallorann then gives Wendy and Danny a tour of the maze-like kitchen (“I feel like
I need to leave a trail of breadcrumbs”). He then shows them 2 rooms, the Cold Room and the Store Room. In the Cold
Room we’re shown stacks of meat. These are frozen bodies, slaughtered families, the long forgotten murdered carcasses of
the past. This room mirrors the murkily labelled Gold Room, where the wealthy dead of the past likewise linger frozen.
The trio also don’t exit the Store Room via the door they entered. They enter the room via the right of the hall,
and exit via the left of the hall.
34. They then proceed to the Store Room,
which is filled with preservatives (the fruits of a civilization's victory). Note Danny's jacket, which says "Flyers". Throughout
the film Danny (the starchild) is associated with "rockets", "universes" and "flying". He's also associated with Alex
De Large - a figure of unbridled play - when we first see him drinking milk.
35. Danny shines and we the audience are invited to do so as well, Hallorann
taking up position beside a stack of Calumet baking powder cans, his silhouette perfectly mirroring the image of the
native Indian Chief behind him. Thus Kubrick mirrors one ethnic minority with another: a black Head Chef with the
head of a red Indian Chief. (Throughout the film, Hallorann will often be shot in profile, just like the image on the
36. Jack will later shine at this same location. In both instances, "TekSun" and "Golden Rey"
boxes will be vissible in the background. These brand names allude to the act of "shining" (rays, suns, beams
etc). Connecting the two scenes, you thus have a father "shining" and "accepting the job of killing Halloran" on the
same location his son "shines" and makes the connection between Halloran and those slaughtered by the Hotel in the
past (natives, blacks, whites - anyone who opposes the spread of White Imperialism).
|Halloran continuously shot in profile to resemble Indian Chief
37. Scatman Crothers, the actor who plays Hallorann, famously acted with Jack Nicholson in "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's
Nest", another film which featured a large, wordless Indian. Crothers himself looks like he may be mixed race, both Native
Indian and African American.
During the Store Room sequence, Danny learns that Hallorann can also shine. Shining is a process which allows one to both
look into the past AND foresee the future, essentially allowing Danny and Hallorann to learn from the past and prevent future
In Danny’s case, this means breaking the cycle and learning from his father‘s mistakes. In Hallorann’s
case, this means acting as a sacrificial warning to future generations by dying himself.
39. Both Danny and Jack are warned twice. Their first warning comes from the PRESENT,
their second warning come from the PAST.
from the Present:
Hallorann warns Danny.
Ullman warns Jack.
from the Past:
The Shining warns Danny of Jack.
The Shining (Jack's nightmare) warns Jack of Jack.
father and son fail to heed the warnings of the present, but unlike his father, Danny will later use his shining visions to
prevent his doom. In contrast, Jack succumbs and literally becomes his murderous vision of himself.
ignores first warning.
Danny pays attention to second warning and overcomes the past.
Jack ignores first warning.
Jack ignores second warning and becomes the past.
40. Left alone, Danny and Hallorann have a conversation in the kitchen. Kubrick keeps the shots tight and the
background constantly out of focus, until Danny delivers the line “Is there something bad here?”, upon which a
menacing row of giant knifes appears looming over Danny.
41. Hallorann tells Danny that past horrors leave traces in the present like "burnt toast".
Wendy navigates the maze, pushing the breakfast trolley into the bedroom. In this sequence there are 2 Jacks. One in the mirror
and one on the bed.
Inside the mirror, Jack’s conversation with his wife is sarcastic and almost bitter, but when we jump to a direct
image of Jack he opens up and speaks honestly. Thus, the mirror image represents Jack's nasty, evil aspects. The traits which
he refuses to acknowledge and look at. The red flower by the mirror represents this danger and hostility. Later on, in
the Gold Room bathroom, the color red will feature even more prominently.
This color scheme is reversed with Danny. Danny's first mirror sequence is predominantly shot with green hues.
This harkens to the green schemed bathroom sequence in which Jack meets the rotting female corpse. In Danny's first bathroom
sequence he sees "something bad". In the second bathroom sequence we learn that the "something bad" is his own father. Jack
realises this when he sees himself in the mirror, and frantically backs away from the rotten corpse.
43. Jack throws a yellow tennis ball against a large Indian tapestry. This tapestry has 2 blue figures on it, resembling
the slaughtered Grady girls. The sound the tennis ball makes also resembles the sound Jack's axe will later make when he hacks
down a pair of "twin" doors.
Note: Jack throws the ball 12 times against the wall.
Danny explores the Hotel on his Big Wheel. He encounters the Grady girls. Their line “come play with us forever
and ever” mirrors Jack’s “stay here forever and ever”. Similarly, Danny’s line “it’s
ok, they’re just pictures in a book” mirrors Jack’s “it’s ok, he saw it on tv.”
TV and picture books record images in much the same way the Hotel records horrors from the past. The Hotel then replays
these images forever and ever. The irony is that despite the fact that
we as humans constantly record images, we never learn from them.
45. Television and other electric forms of communication appear throughout the film and are
associated with Wendy, Danny and Hallorann. Jack, in contrast, lives a disconnected life with his typewriter. Wendy, Danny
and Hallorann watch TV (summer of 42/roadrunner), while Hallorann listens to the radio twice and uses the telephone twice.
When Hallorann leaves for the overlook, there’s also talk on the TV of the Martin L. King assassination (rumoured
to be in the original US cut of the film). Hallorann is warned of his death, but still carries on.
|Racist "golliwog" doll rests where Hallorann dies
The tennis ball appears 3 times and is used by the Hotel to “play with” or control the film’s characters.
It appears firstly when Jack repeatedly beats the ball against twin Indian murals (suggesting violence), secondly when the
Hotel uses it to lure Danny to room 237 (where he re-lives his child abuse), and thirdly in the deleted hospital scene, where
the Hotel again uses the ball in an attempts to lure Danny back to the Overlook.
47. All three locations at which Jack smashes the ball are symbollic.
Firstly, when Jack smashes the ball against the wall he is lashing out at the two blue dressed figures
on the Indian tapestry (Grady daughters). Secondly, when he's smashing it on the ground in the Colorado lounge, he's hitting
the EXACT spot where he will later kill Halloran. Note the racist "Golliwog" doll on the floor at this point (deemed derogatory
toward Africans). Thirdly, when he throws it across the corridor, he is hurtling it toward the EXACT spot where Wendy
will later see Halloran's dead body. Fourthly, between Halloran's dead body and Wendy's body are a stack of children's toys,
over which the ball flies. Thus Kubrick links the murdered daughters, Indian genocide, Halloran, Wendy and Danny, all with
this simple tennis ball. This symbolic instrument of violence and Americana (American sport).
Note: A Winnie The Pooh bear rests on the floor as well. Wendy is linked to Winnie The Pooh when Hallorann
says "Now, are you a Winnie or a Freddie?"
48. Whilst Wendy
and Danny are constantly exploring or doing “housework”, Jack seems content to stay within his familiar surroundings,
doing nothing, spinning in hopeless circles. He's regressing and refuses to progress. He's stuck in a comfortable routine
which gets him nowhere and which he can not break free of.
49. Jack spends most of his time at the heart of the Hotel, inside the Colorado lounge, moving in repeated patterns
at the centre of his maze. Kubrick implies that Jack ultimately forgets how to deal with the basic paradoxes (mirrors) of
his nature. Rather than exploring and discovering, making choices and risking success and failure, Jack prefers to sit in
the centre of an enclosed world, looking at his maze from afar but never entering.
50. This repetition
frustrates Jack and so he lashes out at Wendy whenever disturbed. When Wendy asks Jack to take her for a walk Jack refuses
and says that he needs to “spend time writing”. But Jack’s book itself manifests his inability to risk change,
and his preference for the ceaseless repetition of the familiar ("All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy").
Regarding Jack's growing aggitation, writer Harry Bailey says: "Jack
displays what has been termed a 'negative solidarity', a displaced and aggressively enraged sense of injustice. His self-loathing
is committed to the idea that, because he must endure increasingly austere working or living conditions (a menial job, poor
wages, loss of benefits, increasing career precarity, etc, having lost his job as a teacher) then everyone else must too,
making life hell for everyone else. Negative solidarity can be seen as a close relation to the kind of ‘lottery thinking’
that underpins the most pernicious variants of the American Dream. In lottery thinking we get a kind of inverted Rawlsian
anti-justice- rather than considering the likelihood of achieving material success in an unequal society highly unlikely and
therefore preferring a more equal one, instead the psychology of the million-to-one shot prevails. Since Jack will 'inevitably'
be wealthy in the future, this line of thinking runs, he will ensure that the conditions when he becomes wealthy will be as
advantageous to him as possible, even though on a balance of realistic probabilities this course of action will in fact be
likely to be entirely against his own interests. More than lottery thinking, which is inherently (if misguidedly) aspirational
in nature, negative solidarity is actively and aggressively anti-aspirational, utterly negative and destructive in the most
childish fashion, and drives a blatant “race-to-the bottom”. Negative solidarity operates under the invisible,
though clearly contradictory and self-refuting, assumption of reflexive impotence (actively going to extremes to 'prove' that
one is impotent to do anything). Jack then actively endeavours to make life a total misery for everyone else, resorting to
racism, sexism, and child abuse."
51. The term "playing" also has a double meaning.
Danny wants friends to play with. The twins want to play with Danny. Danny is told to play with his toys. Wendy and
Danny play in the maze. Jack plays with a tennis ball. The tennis ball beats against a pair of twins on the wall. The
ball rolls to Danny whilst Danny plays. Danny enters room 237. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Jack and Danny
play murderous games in the maze. Grady's girls were playing with matches. Danny was playing with Jack's papers before he
broke his arm...
It is the Caretaker's duty to dispose of all those who seek to play. Playing is burning down the hotel with matches
("can I get my fire engine?"). Playing is exploring and chartering the hedgemaze. Playing is mapping the Hotel in a Big Wheel.
Playing is the unbridled creative play of the Star Child. It's the boundless freedom of Alex (Clockwork Orange). Playing,
in short, is against the wishes of the House, which seeks total obedience.
Notice that as soon as Danny arrives at the Hotel, he's already "found wondering alone". He's off in the games room,
playing, solitary and without duty or care.
So the meaning of "playing" is two fold. On one hand, it represents the playful, rebellious spirit of those who shun
duty and disobey the House. Secondly, it's the Hotel tapping into Jack's unconscious primal desires. Jack is jealous that
others may play whilst he is constrained to Duty (how dare you play whilst I have to work?), and so the Hotel unleases Jack
to play murderous games.
In short, the Hotel deliberately mismanges Jack's resentment. It directs Jack's anger away from itself and onto the
One can abstract this idea and apply it to the real world. For a simple example, consider Nazi Germany (The House),
blaming the poverty and frustrations of her people (Jack), on Jews (Danny) and outcasts (homosexuals, gypsies etc). The
caretakers of the country are thus made to commit genocide and horrors (holocaust) out of nothing more than national duty
and personal animosity. A sense that the Other (Danny/Wendy/Jews) is responsible for their own misfortunes (the inability
to ever really be worthy of The Gold Room/The American Dream)
52. When Wendy and Danny explore the hedge maze, they both repeat the line “the loser gets to keep America clean."
The line relates to the American Indians (the loser in the war
for America) who ironically are now more concerned with keeping America clean than their white victors. The line is possibly
also a reference to a series of near-racist "weeping or crying indian" advertisements which ran on TV durng the
70s, in which a Native American Indian shed tears as he urged Americans to keep their land clean and free from pollution.
The line also has a double meaning. Later, when Jack "loses" to Danny in the hedgemaze, he dies and becomes
a spectral caretaker, forever keeping the Overlook (America) clean.
53. Wendy and Danny make 12 "turns" in the maze. When Wendy and Danny reach the centre of the maze, Kubrick
cuts to a shot of Jack looming over a model of the maze, looking down at his family like a giant. This cut encapsulates Jack's delusionary power over his family at the very moment his son has
mastered the maze, a mastery which will allow him to elude his father at the end.
|Boogey Mom's gonna getcha!
|Victims of the Steadicam
|Danny on his Big Wheel resembles Wendy's dress
54. Wendy is in the kitchen opening a large tin. As always, she is identified by blues, whites and reds.
Only later in the film do Danny and Wendy reject this color scheme.
55. The television next to Wendy makes reference to a 24 year old missing woman. The television
news reporter speaks also of "mirrored weather patterns" (snow on one side, sunshine on the other).
56. Danny is on his Big Wheel. He rides up to room 237 and tries the door. It is locked. Later, this
sequence will be repeated with the camera on the opposite end of the corridor, this time with the door open.
57. Jack is typing in the Colorado lounge. Wendy walks up to him - again with the red, white and blue
color scheme - and offers to make him something to eat. Jack swears at her and tells her to stop bothering him.
We get the impression that Wendy sincerely loves Jack, but that this love is complicated because
Jack has a history of abusing her, not just physically, but abusing her with his constant put-downs and hostile body
language which conveys the impression that he considers her to be a worthless person. Faced with a situation like this,
a person like Wendy, if they love their partner, has to keep their distance emotionally for reasons of self preservation.
58. Wendy and Danny play in the snow. Jack is upstairs in the Colorado lounge, gazing menacingly out
the window. He's beginning to look rather feral, with his crazy eyes and growing beard. It is at this moment that he first
seems to shine, receiving some unspoken message from the Hotel.
59. Wendy uses the radio to communicate with outsiders, thereby completing her task of transcending her
maze. Later on, Danny will transcend his maze by contacting Hallorann (“an outside party“).
Significantly, it is at this point that she stops wearing the "red, white and blue" color scheme, adopting
now a more earth tone palette.
60. Tough guy Danny (again in red, whites and blues) continues to ride his Big Wheel, exploring
the Overlook like an intrepid adventurer. Our bite sized hero is stopped in his tracks, however, when he is confronted by
the Grady twins. "Come play with us, forever and ever and ever," they chant, before Danny covers his eyes.
just like pictures in a book," Tony comforts Danny, Danny wiggling his finger 21 times. Earlier, when we first met Tony, Danny
wiggled him 12 times (six in the mirror, six in the bathroom).
61. As the film
progresses, we will witness various spectral images and ghostly visions. Jack's "ghosts" - which he seems to conjure
up himself - are representative of everything he desires: The American Dream (Gold Room), alcohol (Lloyd), beautiful
women (woman in 237), riches, fame etc. He feels entitled to wealth and riches, and dreams of reasserting a particular brand
of 1920's America, a nostalgic image which he hopes to "connect to" or "preserve". The final shot of the film is thus Jack's
ultimate fantasy: being sucked into this romantic image of America where he's the centre of attention and women
know their place.
other words, Jack's "ghosts" are what Jung called The Shadow, Jack's darkest aspects which he projects but refuses to
acknowledge as being part of himself. Similarly, Wendy will be assaulted by
repressed memories in the form of various pop-up ghosts, whilst Danny is haunted by both the Shadows of his father and of
the Overlook Hotel.
Jung's Shadow will be explored later in greater detail.
Suffice to say, the spectral visions of Wendy and Danny represent the "dark undersides" of the "seductive ghosts" which
Jack flirts with. IE- The riches of the Overlook are appealing, but the bloodshed that purchased these riches are revolting.
Likewise, the taste of alcohol is pleasing, but it often leads to unhinged violence.
Note- Jack’s alcohol demon (Jack Daniels) is a composite of father and son (Jack and Danny). The
film will go on to show that Danny has a seductive longing for both his son (Danny) and alcohol (Jack Daniels).
62. Danny and Wendy watch "The Summer of 42" on television.
Some points about "The Summer of 42"
a. It has the number 42 in the title. The importance of these numbers will be explained in another article (see Freud's
The film is about a boy becoming sexualy active and attaining manhood.
The film is about a boy being seduced by an older woman.
The film is about discovering pictures in a book and becoming "wiser".
e. The "Summer of 42" mirrors the "Winter of 21" at the end of the film.
How "The Summer of 42" relates to "The Shining"
a. The number 42 fits in with the idea of repeated numerical patterns (12,21,42) and mirrors the "winter of 21" shown
in the final photo.
Some have suggested that the hotel learns from the film how to seduce both Danny and Jack. For example, Danny watches the
film on TV and in the very next scene is seduced in the bathroom. (rocket sweater=erection?)
c. On the TV screen, a woman (Jennifer O'Neill) is just beginning to seduce a kid, which he will later describe as
his crossover point into manhood. Jack will soon be seduced by an older woman in room 237, and it will be his crossover point,
as in the next scene he turns against Wendy and Danny.
The scene highlights the Oedipal issues within the family. Danny is affectionate toward his mother, but considers his father
to be an adversary.
e. The scene highlights Wendy's domesticated role (she is there to serve and tend to the boy and his dad), as
it involves a woman taking care of and preparing food for a boy in a kitchen.
f. The boy in the film becomes "wiser" when he finds a secret book of pictures. Danny becomes "wiser" when he learns
to use his shining to help himself.
g. The film is about the improper sexual relationship between a boy and an older person. Room 237 is symbolic of a
traumatic past incident in the Torrance family's life. An incident of abuse. Could Danny's abuse have been sexual? There
are faint paedophilic overtones in The Shining, but these topics shall be explored in a different article.
|CLICK picture to MAGNIFY
|CLICK picture to MAGNIFY
Danny tiptoes into the family room. He is wearing a Mickey Mouse sweater. We first saw Mickey Mouse when Danny had
his visions in Boulder, Colorado. Note that this shot is photographed from the "inside" of the room. This shot will later
be "mirrored" and shot from the "outside" when Jack and Danny enter Room 237.
A whip-pan reveals Jack sitting on the edge of his bed. This whip-pan will be repeated later when Jack sees the old hag in
the mirror of room 237.
image is mirrored to a pair of trousers and an oddly shaped mirror to his left. This mirror - shaped like a phallus
- is the same shape as the markings on the bathroom floor of Room 237.
Danny sits on Jack's lap and they have a conversation. During this conversation, Danny has a red stripe on his shirt,
exactly where his neck will be bruised and bloodshot later on. Jack strokes Danny's "bruise" tenderly, removing his hands
from it only once he starts his "crazy face" routine.
67. Danny spends the first half of their conversation staring
into the mirror off screen, and then the second half of the conversation looking directly into Jack's eyes. He's comparing
his father's evil reflection with his real life image, looking for some kind of validation or disproof. "You wouldn't hurt
mommy and me, wouldcha?" Danny asks, trying to dispel the horror he sees in the mirror. But though Jack protests his innocence,
Kubrick cuts to a wide shot which reveals the exposed bathroom/toilet behind the couple.
68. This "love scene" between
Jack and Danny will be repeated later on when Jack and Danny vist Room 237. During the surreal Room 237 experience, the mirror
in the Torrance's appartment (which reflect's Jack's bed) will take the form of a large "mirror pattern" or "bed"
on the floor of Room 237's bathroom. Similarly, the curtains and bedroom of Danny's room, will become the curtains and bathtub
of Room 237. Finally, Jack and Danny's embrace will take the form of Jack and the woman embracing. But as we see when Jack
looks into the bathroom mirror, this embrace is not beautiful or affectionate, but vile and horrific.
the "love scene" between Jack and Danny in the Torrance's appartment is "repeated" as the nightmarish (surrealist/psychadelic)
sequence in Room 237. By contrasting these two scenes, and forcing both the audience and Jack to face these buried traumas, Kubrick
reveals the underlying horror festering beneath the seemingly tranquil family surface.
70. The following sequence is the most
important. Here, Kubrick essentially shows us Danny learning and Jack denying/forgetting. Enticed by temptation (“you
have no business going in there”) or perhaps his brave need to face his traumas directly, Danny steps
into room 237 where he suffers an unseen horror. This unseen horror is simultaneously mirrored with Jack’s unseen nightmare.
Jack has a nightmare in which he kills his family like Charles Grady (an attempt to remove all trace evidence of his guilt?),
Danny goes into room 237 where he relives his past child-abuse. So both father and son assume past roles and step into a horrific
situation of the past. They re-live past events which we the audience (in the present) are unable to see, but which we the
audience will soon observe in the future.
Why does Kubrick keep us blind and not show these two scenes? Because both father and son are likewise blind. Both
father and son are faced with two horrors: Room 237 and the Grady nightmare. Danny was repeatedly warned not to go into room
237, yet he still went in. But unlike his father, Danny confronts his trauma and learns from the past. He subsequently
uses his “shining” (foresight) to prevent his and Wendy’s death.
Like Danny, Jack has been twice
warned. But in contrast, Jack lives the horror of Room 237 but then STILL promptly denies it (“there was nothing there”).
His refusal to admit the past, opens him up to be exploited by the Hotel. Suddenly the bar is stocked with beer, he has money
in his pocket, he gets his orders from Delbert and the line between Jack and Charles Grady begins to blur.
71. Before Danny enters room 237, he is shown sitting on the floor playing with toy cars. The Hotel throws him a ball
and he stands up. We see the number 11 on his shirt. Danny takes 11 visible steps toward Room 237.
72. Wendy hears Jack screaming. She runs to her husband. A long tracking shot followers her. Some writers insist
that she takes 42 steps to him. It seems that these numbers (11, 12, 21, 24, 42) appear whenever shinings or horrors
occur. These numbers will be explored fully in another article.
73. Danny walks toward Room 237's open door (this scene is itself a reflection of the previous Room 237 corridor scene
- note the location of Kubrick's camera). Danny then says "Mom", upon which a picture of an Indian woman appears on the left
of the screen. This figure (resembling Wendy with her twin ponytails) is symbolic of "Mom". Kubrick then cuts to a point-of-view
shot. Danny says "Mom" again, upon which the audience sees the picture again, this time directly infront of room 237.
The picture (Mom) is moving and watching as Danny enters the room. Thus, Kubrick seems to be saying that Wendy was
a witness to the abusive acts that went on in room 237. She sees the abuse happen, but remains in denial. Her husband
is a good man, she says to herself, it was just a simple accident. She refuses to admit that there is anything wrong
with her marriage. She refuses to admit that mankind is capable of commiting horrors.
|The picture of Wendy FOLLOWS and WATCHES Danny as he enters room 237
74. After the nightmare, Jack breaks down and falls beneath the table. Kubrick uses the diagonal framing
of the table to suggest Jack’s instability. When a bruised Danny walks in (his Apollo T-shirt torn), Wendy stops consoling
her husband and then accuses Jack of injuring her son.
75. Throughout the film, Danny wears the symbolic colors RED, BLUE and WHITE. In this scene, though,
the color RED is omitted from Danny's clothing. However the hotel puts RED on Danny by applying the large RED BRUISE on his
neck and by associating him with the bright red room 237 key. The hotel thus completes Danny's color scheme. You want to be
part of America (red white blue), then accept the bloodshed.
Once Danny learns this, he rejects the RED-BLUE-WHITE color scheme outright and begins to wear more earth-toned
Jack gets upset and seeks solace in alcohol. He heads down a corridor which leads to the Gold Room. This corridor is lined
on the left, at regular intervals, with mirrors. As Jack walks down the corridor, he mumbles a line exactly when passing each
First mirror: Who? Me?
Mirror: Fuck you.
Mirror: Animal growl followed by outward slashing of his hands.
Jack, now aware of his mirror personality, hates his true reflection.
77. Jack sits down at the bar. Opposite him are yet more mirrors. He can't stand
to look at himself and so he buries his face in his hands. Suddenly, the accusative mirrors before him are covered by
stacks of booze. Liquid denial, the bottles of alcohol (red rum) symbollically and literally cover up his pain, preventing
Jack from facing himself.
78. Despite knowing what alcohol led him to do in the past (broke Danny’s arm), Jack sits at the
bar and says he’d “give his soul for a beer.” Of course the bartender then pops up and they have their famous
conversation before a half-blocked mirror.
During this conversation Jack mentions “White Man’s Burden”, a poem by Rudyard Kipling
which spoke of the virtues of Imperialism. It was the European white man’s burden, or duty, the poem says, to conquer
native savages and aborigines, for they did not have European language, education, writing, medicine, or religion.
rationalized that it was noble to conquer these brutes - for their own good - and thus justified imperialism, colonialism,
and the subsequent slaughter of indigenous people. In this same vein, Jack views it as his “duty” to “correct”
his wife and child. This civic “It’s just business” attitude is carried on in "Full Metal Jacket".
speaks of using too much force on Danny at precisely the moment Wendy runs into the room and speaks of a "crazy woman" harming
Danny. The implication is that, in the past, Jack abused Danny and then, in a violent rage, accused his wife of being "crazy"
("Are you out of your fucking mind?") when she confronted him. Now that Danny has been hurt again, Wendy's reponse is
to likewise place the blame on a "crazy woman", on her own failings, her own shortcomings as a mother. Not only is she in
denial, but she is so traumatized that she internalizes the blame and blames herself. This is exactly the sort of "victim
blaming" that Susan Sontag's "Illness As Metaphor" speaks about. Indeed, the term "blaming the victim" was itself born of
William Ryan's book of the same title, in which he critiqued the near-racist book "The Negro Family", which attempted to divert
the responsibility of poverty from social structural factors to the behaviors and cultural patterns of the poor.
rushes to the Gold Room and tells Jack of a woman in Room 237 who strangled Danny. "Are you out of your fucking mind!?" he
yells, despite having just been talking to himself.
Hallorann is watching TV. The news anchor speaks of contrasting weather patterns and of people going missing. Hallorann shines
and has a horrific vision. The pictures on Hallorann's wall, one of which is a woman who assumes a pose similar to the woman
in Room 237, hints that Hallorann is seeing the repressed horror of Room 237.
82. Like Danny, Jack enters Room 237, Kubrick using a POV (point-of-view) shot to link both scenes.
83. The Room 237 apartment features the same architectural layout as the Torrance's Room 3 apartment.
But with its garish colors, purple furniture and penis shaped patterns on the carpet, this is a surreal, nightmarish
re-imagining of the Torrance family abuse.
84. Jack enters the green bathroom. Here, Kubrick begins to link various signifiers. We recall the green
bathroom in which Danny first shines. The phallic shape on the floor is also identical to the mirror in which Danny watched
Jack embrace him on the bed. The shower curtains also mirror the curtains that block Danny's room from Jack's bed. The whip-pan
which reveals the rotting corpse is also the whip-pan which reveals Jack sitting on the bed.
85. Jack sees a beautiful woman and embraces her, but when he looks into the mirror (into the past and
into himself) he sees his true ugly self (he abused Danny). Jack pushes the corpse away, and then promptly runs out of Room
237, locking the doors to this traumatic memory and throwing away the key.
Note: Kubrick mirrors shots of Jack backing away from the old hag with shots of the old hag walking toward
Jack. Both Jack and the old hag have their arms outstretched like zombies. They are one and the same. This kind of "zombie
imagery" is continued (deconstructed, undermined, parodied etc) when Jack "creeps" toward Wendy on the steps, arms
outstretched and when Wendy chases Danny toward the maze, arms outstretched.
86. What Kubrick's done is thus given us two "love scenes" between father and son. One on a bed
to the side of a mirror, and one literally inside the mirror, symbolized by the pattern on the floor. Note that even the camera
angles used to shoot both these scenes are "mirrored", both scenes shot from "mirrored" or "reversed" angles.
87. By linking Wendy to the "crazy woman" and Danny to the "beautiful woman", the Room 237 sequence thus
places out like an event which symbolically involves the entire Torrance family. Jack embraces Danny, abuses him, is confronted
by Wendy (whom he admonishes for being deranged and crazy), looks into the mirror and then sees that it is he who is really
On another level, the imagery in this scene is ripe for a Freudian reading. A Freudian would
say, for example, that the struggle that takes place in room 237 is between Eros (the life instinct) and Thanatos (the
death instinct). Eros is epitomised by sex, sex give us vitality, fortifies our sense of being alive and banishes the dread
of our own mortality. However when Jack looks in the mirror and sees the decaying form of the old woman the fortress of his
Eros is breached and overrun by his Thanatos. Again according to Freud, the aggressiveness impulse represents a fusion
which saves an organism form the innate self destructive tendency of the death instinct by extroverting it as a desire to
kill, thus after Jack meets his Thanatos in room 237, the only recourse he has then is to murder, in order that he may still
|Note the pattern on the bathroom floor
88. Hallorann dials 10 numbers, walks 12 paces, puts down his phone and looks concerned.
89. Jack returns to Wendy and dismisses the incident in Room 237. Turning his back to a mirror (and
himself) he denies seeing anything.
Jack looks in mirror and sees ugliness
Jack turns back to mirror and says he saw nothing
90. "What about those bruises on his neck?” Wendy says, “Somebody did that to him?" Searching
for someone to blame and unable to look at her husband, Wendy accepts Jack's offer that Danny abused himself.
91. In a marvellously horrific speech, Jack blames Wendy for "fucking up his life" and "holding him back".
Before storming out of the room, Jack looks directly into the camera and into Danny's room.
92. Jack walks aimlessly throughout the Hotel, until he sees balloons and confetti strewn across one
of the corridors. Tired of "shovelling driveways" and working in "car washes", he begins to fantasize that he is a member
of "all the best people". From here on, Jack will always be dressed entirely in Reds, Whites and Blues.
93. Hallorann calls the rescue service. He takes 12 steps when speaking. The officer on duty tells him
to call back in 20 minutes.
Jack walks up to the Gold Room, pleased to see a huge party in progress. He blocks out his horrible life and dips his toes
in the high life. This is the American Dream, the riches, fame and power that Jack always desired. Jack laps up the attention,
the wealth, the money, all his drinks on the house. This is Jack's vision of himself as a successful writer and he loves it.
95. Like Doctor Bill crashing the masked party in "Eyes Wide Shut", Jack is out of his league
but nevertheless makes an attempt to fit in. "Of course, l intended to change my jacket...before the fish and goose soiree,"
he says, trying to sound sophisticated.
96. The band plays Al Bowlly's "Midnight The Stars And You", and just as the song's lyrics state, Jack has surrendered completely
to the lavish beauty around him.
97. Earlier Jack had no money in his pocket. Now he has money but the bartender won't take it. Too important to pay,
he’s living this little fantasy to the fullest.
98. A woman walks across the screen, a red hand print
on her back. A butler swerves to avoid hitting the woman and collides with Jack. Alcohol is spilt all over Jack's clothes.
Perhaps the red hand print is the Hotel's way of pushing the butler into Jack. IE
- one caretaker is pushed into another, the duo merged by alcohol (advocaat) which leaves a messy (bloody) stain.
Regardless, it's Grady's line - "You're the important one, sir" - that's the key. In this fantasy,
it is less the access to alcohol than it is the recognition, status and priviledge of being amongst the social elite, that
99. Jack is then taken to the bathroom by Delbert Grady. It is important to note that Charles and Delbert
are two separate people. Charles killed his wife and family in 1970. Delbert, however, exists in the 1920s. Charles is the
mirror image of Delbert, and Jack is a mirror image of Charles. The bathroom sequence is thus a sort of three way conversation,
Charles existing in the mirror behind the butler. Kubrick signifies the merging of all three by breaking the 180 degree
camera rule at key times.
Writer Padraig Henry on Charles and Delbert: "Charles Grady was the name of one of the previous caretakers
at The Overlook, whereas Delbert Grady is the GHOST or spectre of Charles Grady. Kubrick is distinguishing between the ontological
status of a (past) human being and a spectre: if Charles and Delbert were 'the same person', then there would be NO DIFFERENCE
between a human being and a ghost (or, for instance, no difference between listening to a live concert and a recording of
that concert; attending a play and watching a filmed recording of that play; reading a historical account and witnessing the
later recorded event; between a painting and what it supposedly depicts, etc). A spectre like Delbert Grady or Lloyd occupies
the 'space' between being and nothingness, between the metaphysics of presence and the metaphysics of absence, that of the
UNDEAD, neither physically alive on the one hand nor totally departed or dead on the other. A recording...a return of the
repressed ... a spectral presence. Just like the photograph of Jack Torrance at the end of The Shining. A 'recording', a fleeting
snapshot, a spectre of a moment from/in the past. This is what haunts us..."
Jack looks into the mirror and sees Grady's horrible reflection. Seeing this, he accuses Grady of murder. Grady remains pleasant
and confused, however, stating that he has no "recollection" of any of this.
Of course, Al Bowlly's "It's All Forgotten Now" begins to play on the soundtrack precisely at the moment
Grady states he has no "recollection". Kubrick has it slurred down, fading in and out, as if played on the winding down gramophone
of memory. The song's place in the film indicates that what is forgotten may also be preserved through the mechanism of repression.
"I have no recollection of that," Grady says, before admitting to "correcting" his family. He has no
recollection of murder, only of "correction".
101. Why doesn’t Jack encounter Charles outside of the mirror? Because Delbert represents the start
of this cycle of murder. He has a British accent, embodying the British colonists who succeeded the American founding fathers.
Delbert then relates how he “corrected” (Kubrick frequently portrays humans as having errors that need to be fixed
- “What is your major malfunction soldier!”) his wife and daughters.
102. Grady recalls that he “corrected” his daughters and when his wife
tried to prevent him from doing his “duty”, he “corrected” her as well. All this talk of “correction”
and “duty” relates back to the White Man’s Burden, which uses burden and duty as euphemisms for conquest,
murder and genocide. Murder is referred to as “duty” or “correction”, human beings essentially hiding
brutal acts under a fašade of civility.
One only has to think of the current "war on terrorists" and the justification that the US
is bringing "democracy" and "freedom", to see these concepts working in the world today. Man constantly demotes
his enemy ("these aren't humans, they are terrorists!") in order to justify his own violent acts.
Likewise, the British Empire propagated the notion that Africans weren’t humans but an entirely
different subspecies, all in an attempt to justify their mistreatment and enslavement. Time and time again, man has degraded
and re-categorised the Other: "Those aren't humans, those are commie bastards! We're allowed to kill them! Those aren't
Americans, those are immoral infidels! We are allowed to kill them!"
Once you turn the Other into something completely unlike yourself (an animal, a savage, an infidel
etc), you are free to convince others to kill or harm him. And this violence is always done under the guise of civility, duty
or righteousness. Democracy, freedom, correction, pacification, god's will, collateral damage, smart bombs, neutralizing etc,
are all violent or military terms which are created in order to minimize emotional responses.
103. Grady tells Jack that Danny is a "wilful" boy who has a "great talent" and is attempting
to use this "great talent" against Jack's "will". Jack, less interested in killing Hallorann, whom Grady says has been
called, seems more interested in reducing Danny's "will" and reinstating his own. Reinstating his own "will" to do as he pleases.
"It's his mother," Jack says, always shifting the blame, "she's interferes." But what exactly does Wendy do that is such an
104. Wendy is in her room. She hears Danny screaming. "Danny wake up!" she says, but Danny remains unresponsive.
It's Tony who answers: "Danny's not here, Mrs Torrance. Danny's gone away."
105. Jack unplugs the radio, cutting the hotel off from outside civilization. KDK1 has been cut off from
KDK12, Jack increasingly wishing to "disconnect" from the Electric age and return to the Literate Age of typewriters and ink.
Note: this scene resembles the disconnection of HAL in "2001: A Space Odyssey".
106. Dick Hallorann makes another futile phone call, and takes another 12 steps.
107. Hallorann hops on board a plane and races - very slowly - to the rescue. An air-hostess states
that the plane will arrive at 8:20.
108. Jack is typing frantically away at his typewriter. This shot fades to a shot of Dick's plane landing. From here
on, the sound of "typewriters" being violently tapped will feature prominently on the soundtrack.
109. Hallorann uses an airport telephone. This is his 4th and final phone call (2 pairs). Significantly, whilst several
white characters were unable to provide help, Hallorann finally receives assistance when reaching out to Larry Durkin, a fellow
110. A cartoon plays on the television behind Larry. Throughout the film, numerous references to cartoons
appear, man's violent nature assimilated by media/culture and reflected back as entertainment for kids. Note the 3 little
pigs on the poster behind Larry.
111. A box (by Larry's glove), and the rectangular sign behind it, rotate upside down midway in Larry's conversation
with Hallorann. The result is that the blue surface which faced us, becomes completely red when Hallorann mentions the Torrance's
being "completely unreliable assholes". This is a baffling detail by Kubrick and I've yet to see any plausible readings of
this moment. Interesting too is that Tony Burton is a boxer (who himself appeared in all six Rocky films), and here he
is with a mysterious rotating box.
112. Hallorann drives his rental car. Note the squashed Volkswagen beetle which Halloran passes whilst
driving down the snowy road.
|Halloran passes a "squashed" Volkswagen Beetle on the way back to the Hotel
113. Danny and Wendy watch "The Roadrunner Show" on TV. Some claim that the Roadrunner character "beeps" 42 times whilst
the word "beep" is said 21 times by the singers of the song. During this scene, Danny is wearing a brown coat that resembles
"bear fur". Note that when we're first introduced to Danny, "The Roadrunner Show" also played in the background.
The RoadRunner Song playing on Danny's TV:
running down the road all day.
RoadRunner, even the coyote can't make him change his ways.
coyote's after you.
RoadRunner, If he catches you, you're through.
114. Wendy prowls the Hotel with a baseball bat. She stumbles
across Jack’s manuscript and is shocked to see that Jack has spent all his time typing variations of the phrase "All
Work And No Play Makes Jack A Dull Boy" countless times.
115. We see Wendy flip through 24 of Jack's pages.
116. Jack literally "steps out of the photographs" and appears behind Wendy. She turns and screams. Later,
Grady will step "out of the past" behind Wendy in a similar fashion. She also once again turns and screams.
117. Jack is back in his domain, at the centre of his maze. He finds Wendy in the Colorado Lounge looming
over his manuscript. While Jack is awash with American reds, whites and blues, Wendy is increasingly made to resemble an Indian
squaw. She’s taken off the yellow jacket with Indian stylings, but her long black hair is now worn down. She wears animal
skin slippers and boots, and earth tone clothes which feature native symbols. Her "look" is now identical to the
picture of a native indian woman featured on the left of the screen when Danny walks down the corridor to room 237.
118. Wendy and Jack begin to argue. He mentions his "contract" which he has "signed" and agreed to "uphold".
This is symbolic of the American Declaration of Independence.
Note: when Jack asks Wendy what it is that she would like to talk about, she says "she forgot". Also,
Jack says "Wendy, my treasure, light of my life," which are the first words of Nabokov's "Lolita".
119. When attacked by Jack, Wendy proceeds to slowly LURE him out of his maze. She BACKTRACKS (just
as her son will do) across the Colorado lounge and leads him up the stairs, further and further AWAY from the centre. As Jack
approaches the top, his verbal abuse gets desperate (give me the bat Wendy!). Jack is being drawn OUT of his domain and grows
increasingly weaker. Like the mythical Minotaur (a myth which Kubrick says he based the film on), Jack lingers at the top
of the stairs, leaning forward as if unable to go further. Unable to leave his maze.
120. While Wendy's strength is her ability to explore her surroundings, Jack's is his failure to grow.
He is stagnated. Wendy hits him where and when he's at his weakest.
121. Some believe Wendy swings her bat 42 times. She actually swings it 41 times and once when first
startled by Jack.
122. Wendy has two choices; she can lock Jack away in either the Cold Room or the Store Room.
She can freeze him (death) or preserve him (life). She opts for the later, thereby temporarily putting off the inevitable.
123. Wendy fumbles with the latch 21 times. Throughout the film, actions will be drawn out to fit a 12,
21, 24, 42 rhythm. I suspect there is some mirroring pattern between incidents which feature "12s" and "21" and incidents
which feature "24s" and "42s", some sort of thematic link, but this theory has not been investigated.
124. "Let me out of here and I'll forget the whole goddamned thing! It will be just like nothing ever
happened!" Jack yells, again agreeing to forget what happened.
125. When Jack first says, "Open the door! Let me out of here!" a Frosted Flakes cereal box appears
behind Wendy, its mascot, Tony the Tiger, featured prominently on its front surface. Does this imply that Danny opened the
door for his father?
126. Jack, becoming increasingly mad, shows signs of childlike regression. "Jack is a dull boy",
“my head hurts real bad”. “I need a doctor” (Danny’s nickname is Doc) and he sits cross-legged
like a child, eating oreos and milk.
127. Jack makes "typing motions" on the door with his fingers, whilst on the soundtrack the music resembles
the sound of typewriters chattering. Some have suggested the film becomes a sort of meta-horror film, the audience watching
Jack's demented novel draw to a conclusion as Jack frantically types away in real life.
128. Jack wakes up on a bag of Salt. The Hotel preserves him. Note that after Wendy and Jack have
their violent encounter in the Colorado Lounge, both Wendy and Jack promptly go to sleep, both trying to "block" the traumatic
129. Grady taunts Jack in the food locker. “I see you can hardly have taken
care of the business we discussed.” Again, the civility of “business” is used to mask horror. American government
referred to the stealing of Indian lands as “relocation”. Nazis referred to the extermination of a race as a “solution”
and “cleansing”. Humans can come up with all sorts of flattering euphemisms to hide vile acts.
It is interesting to note that when Grady mentions "business" 5 Calumet baking powder cans pop into view.
When we first saw a Calumet can it was linked to Hallorann. Here it is linked to "taking care of business".
So Kubrick is saying that Jack has to take care of Hallorann. He has to kill him. But why 5 cans? The
number 5, if anything, possibly represents the 5 muders that the caretakers complete: Hallorann, the twins,
Grady and Grady's wife.
130. Another important detail in this scene is the stack of "GOLDEN REY" boxes behind Jack. Earlier in
the film, when Danny stands in the same location and SHINES (he sees Hallorann talking about ice-cream), there are a stacks
of TEK SUN boxes behind Danny. The words "Golden Ray" and "Tek Sun" allude to sunshine or shining rays. Thus both Jack
and Danny shine in this precise spot. Jack shines and learns he has to kill Hallorann, Danny shines and learns Hallorann will
die like the Indian Chief on the can behind him.
131. Grady opens the pantry door on the condition that Jack "takes care of business" in the "harshest
manner possible". "You give your word?" Grady asks. Jack nods: "I give you my word."
Earlier, when Jack yelled for the door to be opened, we saw a picture of Tony the tiger. Could Tony/Danny
have opened the door because Jack "gave his word" not to harm anyone?
Meanwhile, Hallorann must navigate his own personal maze. His long and difficult journey to the hotel involves many complicated
paths and changes in landscape. In one scene, while driving the snowcat, his coat’s bulky hood takes on the silhouette
of the Indian chief shown earlier.
1. Tries to make contact with the hotel by phone.
Tries to have the Forest service make contact with the hotel by radio.
Flies to Denver.
Lands at Denver.
Rents a car.
Drives to Boulder.
Tricks a friend in order to borrow a snowcat.
8. Drives the showcat to the Hotel.
During these scenes Kubrick always shoots Hallorann in profile, linking us back to that store room image
of a native Indian silhouette.
133. Like a scene out of "2001: A Space Odyssey", Hallorann's snowcat glides slowly through the night,
its lights puncturing the cold darkness.
134. The warnings lights on top of the snowcat flash 42 times before Kubrick fades to an interior shot
of the vehicle. The wipers then slash 12 times, before Kubrick fades to a POV shot in which the wipers slash once during the
fade and then another 12 times.
Note- Hallorann pulls some amazingly interesting facial expressions during this scene.
135. Danny writes "REDRUM" on the bathroom door. Wendy wakes up and sees the word reflected in the bedroom
mirror. This "mirror" is the very same mirror that "witnessed" Jack and Danny on the bed and Jack "hugging" the woman in Room
136. Wendy hugs her son protectively, echoing the aforementioned hugs.
137. Wendy sees "redrum" reflected in the mirror as “murder”. The camera then zooms in quickly
so that the mirror becomes the entire screen. Suddenly we’re in the mirror image. We’re in the reflected past
where Jack mirrors the horrors of both Charles and Delbert Grady.
until this point, Jack has been two people: the present man with choices, and the past man who made the wrong choice. But
now we’re in the mirror and there is no more symmetry. Jack is all bad and is about to complete the "business"
of killing his family with an axe (the word labyrinth originally meant ‘house of the double axe’).
138. Wendy was sleeping. Could Danny have gone downstairs and set free Jack?
139. Jack hacks down two doors, just as Grady hacked down two twins decades ago.
140. Jack yells "Wendy, I'm home!" ("Honey, I'm home!") at the first door and "Here's Johnny!" at
the second door. These are all references to TV talk shows and TV sitcoms, the film critiquing the idealized suburban sitcom
families of post-World War 2 America. Framed by the door like a TV set, many authors (Nelson, Ciment) cite Jack's head as
being representative of the intrusion of the TV into the family home. Like all the newsreports that litter
the film, Jack's attempted murder of his family is "just news". We the audience have been desensitized to these horrors, TV
conditioning us into accepting Jack's rampage ("It's okay, he say it on the television") as a perfectly "normal"
part of modern society.
142. Jack hacks at the bathroom door 12 times.
143. Hallorann arrives in the snowcat. The lights on the snowcat flash 12 times.
144. Hallorann takes 21 steps to the front door of the Overlook.
145. Jack takes 24 steps with his axe.
146. Jack kills Hallorann. Thematically, the cycle of violence is then closed. Delbert kills the black man (elevators of blood) and becomes
Charles. Charles kills his family and becomes Jack. Jack then tries to kill his family, but is interrupted by the death of
a black man. Thus Danny prevents the past from reoccurring, albeit only the one generation he is mirrored with.
|Batter up! America's two favourite sports, baseball and murder
147. While Jack and Danny each battle their way through their
own mazes during the film's climax, Wendy navigates her way through a maze of her own horrors. In one scene she sees a man
in a bear suit engaging in oral sex with a man in a tuxedo.
148. This scene recalls several signifiers throughout the film. Recall:
the tub of Vaseline, Danny covering his crotch protectively whilst resting on the bear pillow, the bear pictures above Danny's
bed, the stool and mirror near Danny's bed, the eyes of the elevator which mirror the eyes of the bear. Also recall the image
standing on a stool whilst being framed by a doorway, a shot which mirrors the bear performing fellatio whilst also being framed
by a doorway.
So whilst the first scene with the bear and the doctor was all
about introducing the audience to Danny's abuse (and then denying it by resorting to explanations of "auto hypnosis"), this
scene reintroduces the bear symbol again and forces us to confront the sexual and abusive traumas that Wendy has blocked
out of her mind.
The subliminal message here is that Wendy discovered
some sort of sexual abuse between Jack and Danny, perhaps witnessing one perform fellatio on the other. Lines like "she
interferes", "I'm right behind you Danny!", "I'm cumming!", "It's like I go to sleep and he shows me things, but when I wake
up I can't remember everything", "Tony is the little boy who lives in my mouth", "Tony told me never to tell anyone", "Is
Tony one of your animals?", "Does Tony ever tell you to do things"? all have a sexual dimension.
Note: Wendy says "Danny" before seeing the bear-suited man performing
On another level, the primal symbol of the bear suit shows how the elite perceive those below them. The "help" are mere animals,
who sit on their "toes" and "knees" (Tony), dutifully tending to their masters. The caretakers are unsophisticated and barbaric,
whilst the elite, dressed in their suits and tuxedos, are far more cultured and civilized.
Also note that in the final hospital scene, deleted from all
versions of the film, Ullman vists Wendy in the hospital whilst wearing a large bear fur coat. So we have 3 bears. Danny laying
on a bear and covering his crotch, bear engaging in fellatio (orders of the house) and Ullman dressed as a bear.
150. But the fact that it is Wendy who witnesses this scene -
and it's the first horror which she sees - implies that it is primarily her own personal horror. Throughout the film, Wendy
merely exists to do chores, tend to her child and satisfy the old sperm back. This is her duty: cook, clean and fuck.
But in this scene, Wendy's existence as Woman is finally
rendered useless. With this homosexual act, her last duty as "sexual partner" has been cast aside. Man pleasing man
without woman. Her purpose and worth as "woman" is being called into question, now that her role as protector and provider
for her child has been thoroughly destroyed.
|CLICK picture to MAGNIFY
|CLICK picture to MAGNIFY
151. Danny races outside and Jack gives chase. Jack hesitates
before stepping out of the Hotel. He pauses and flips on the lights, uncertain and scared of venturing outside.
152. Jack’s lust to kill results in a regression from human
to something akin to a wild beast. Jack’s facial hair grows longer, he loses all human speech and he limps hunched over-
unable to walk upright like a human. By the end of the film, Jack resembles the ape-men of 2001, his axe gripped like the
ape’s femur-bone weapon.
Danny and Jack navigate the hedge maze. The son/present is being chased by the father/past ("I’m right behind you Danny!").
But Danny retraces his steps (an old Indian trick) and takes a different path, leaving his father lost to die in the
154. Wendy sees Halloran's dead body (exactly where Jack smashed the ball). She then hears a voice and turns to see
a spectral figure. With his glass of alcohol and a cut on his head, the spectral figure resembles Jack (Wendy cracked
Jack's skull) and is perhaps the other Grady caretaker. Regardless, this scene mirrors an earlier scene where Wendy stumbles
across Jack's work and was surprised to find Jack behind her.
scene- Wendy find's Jack's work (typewriter)
scene- Wendy find's Jack's work (murder)
scene- Jack steps out of the past (photographs) and surprises Wendy.
scene- Grady steps out of the past and surprises Wendy.
and Jack are themselves linked by the bloody red wounds on their heads.
Jack's line perhaps links back to the earlier
Donner party conversation. Jack is about to freeze to death, much like the Donner party did. The Donners were headed to San
Francisco and Donner Pass is relatively close (less than a 3 hour drive from) the City.
he dies Jack yells “San Francisco here I come" (place DVD subtitles on for assistance).
The the song Jack is singing is "California, Here I Come",
which was written for the 1921 Broadway musical Bombo, starring Al Jolson. Jolson also recorded the song in 1924. So yet again,
21s and 24s pop up.
In early Warner Bros Cartoons, the song was often played during
the hasty departure of a character, Kubrick perhaps linking Jack to the "RoadRunner" character of old cartoons. More importantly,
though, the lyrics "California here I come, right back where I started from" highlights the cyclical nature of the film and the
notion of continual repetition. The first line of the song: "When the wintry winds are blowing and the snow is starting
in to fall, then my eyes turn west-ward, knowing that's the place I love the best of all" of course also conjures up the general
tone of Jack's wintery demise.
155b. If you put "closed captioning" on (different from subtitles),
it reveals that Jack says "Help me!" and "Help...please...." several times during the maze sequence.
Some say Jack's "gibberish" at the end of the film (before
he dies in the maze) can also be played backwards on tape to reveal the words "Help Me!".
Wendy's visions "expand" as she continues through her maze. First she sees the "bear suit" vision and confronts the trauma
of her son being abused by her husband AND of her husband being abused (he's a lapdog to the hotel) by the Overlook and
its social structures. Her next few visions show that Wendy has begun to face horrors on a much vaster scale: the elevators
of blood, of Halloran dead and the skeletons in the Colorado lounge show her confronting the genocidal past of the Overlook.
Whilst early in the film she chirped happily about "all the best people" and the "beauty of the Hotel", here she reels in
157. Jack collapses in the snow, surrounded by darkness, a single light illuminating him from behind. The shot conveys
a sad sort of lonliness.
158. The final scene of the movie is a zoom-in on a picture of Jack in his "past life" at the Overlook Hotel. On another
level, the picture represents Jack's fantasy - attainment of which is wholly improbably unless one resorts to supernatural explanations
- in which a lowly man and talentless writer achieves the American Dream and all the wealth and riches this entails.
The caption at the bottom of the picture
reads: "Overlook Hotel, July 4th ball, 1921". July
4th is the official demarcation of the birth of America as a country. A country built on horrors people often overlook.
The picture also has a subtle political message. Kubrick peels back the cultural and sociological layers of civilisation
(see contrast between the two frozen images of Jack) that function to anaesthetise our senses and shows us the beast that
resides Minotaur-like within all of us. The Shining tells us that human beings are blind to their true natures but scratch
the surface (i.e. remove the civilising and social constraints) and those natures re-assert themselves with a vengeance.
Thus the film itself can be seen as a critique of the very cultural and social institutions of government that seek to mask
impulses of power and conflict on which civilisation itself was built upon and by which it continues to function today.
159. Jack's pose at the end of the film is similar to the "Baphomet Pose" on The Devil's Tarot Card.
The Devil's Tarot Card is derived from
Elivas Levi's image of Baphomet. The devil is the card of self bondage to an idea or belief which is preventing a person from
growing or being healthy. It can also be a warning to somone who is restrained and/or dispassionate and who never allows him
or herself to be rash or wild or ambitious, which is yet another form of enslavement.
Though many decks portray a stereotypical Satan figure for this card, it is more accurately represented by our bondage
to material things rather than by any evil persona. It also represents an addiction to fulfulling our earthy base desires.
Should the Devil represent a person, it will most likely be one of money and power, one who is persusive, aggressive and controlling.
160. In interviews, Kubrick said the final shot of the film "hints" at reincarnation, but "hinting" at something
and "being" something are two entirely different things. It seems, rather, that the shot portrays Jack's deepest fantasy,
his desperate desire to latch on to some comfortably nostalgic vision of glorious days gone by. What the film does is
undermine this fantasy image of White Imperialism (and the Roaring Twenties) and show the mechanisms of repression
which are needed for this seductive image to persist.
161. It's important to note that the film ends on TWO frozen images. Jack FROZEN in the snow and jack FROZEN in
the picture. Whilst the first image shows Jack as a barbaric, regressed animal, the second portrays his fantasy image of himself,
that of Jack as a cultivated, wealthy man. They are not images, however, but flip-sides to the same person, the same
ideology. One cannot survive without the other. The lowly caretaker cannot tend to his duties without the fantastic possibility of one day fully achieving
the American Dream, and the suited caretakers (“all the best people”) can’t “take care” of their
national/political/corporate duties without relying on lapdog servants like Jack
The idea of having both men "frozen" (photo/snow) also heightens the notion that
they can't break free of their personal mazes. While the Baby at the end of "2001" implies growth, the frozen men at the end
of "The Shining" imply an inability to progress. They're trapped, frozen in place, doomed to a history of repetition.
|CHAIRS TO THE LEFT, GOLD ROOM SIGN TO THE RIGHT...
|CHAIRS TO THE RIGHT, GOLD ROOM SIGN TO THE LEFT...
|CHAIRS COVERED, GOLD ROOM SIGN BACK TO THE RIGHT...
162 In the final shot of the film, the chairs have moved to the opposite side of the bank of photographs.
BEGINING OF FILM: Chairs on left, Gold
Room sign on right.
MIDDLE OF FILM: Mirror image. Chairs
on right, Gold Room sign on left.
END OF FILM: Return to initial image.
Chairs back on left, Gold Room sign back on right. Chairs now covered up.
This simple sequence highlights the themes of the film.
Left to right to left, repeating the same sequence and finally covering it up.
163. The credits roll. Mysteriously, Kubrick's name is
no where in the final credits. ALL his post "Strangelove" films end with a "directed by Stanley Kubrick" on the first credit
card, but NOT "The Shining". The implication is that the film is not over, that it begins immediately again with the
credit scroll at the start of the movie, the 1921 picture morphing into "The Going To The Sun Road", construction of which
began in 1921, Jack forever trapped in the Overlook's grip, determined to be the Golden King (Golden Rey boxes feature prominently
in the film. "Rey" is Spanish for "King") of the Hotel, dancing the dance of the Gods with "all the best people".
164. I resist a "supernatural" reading of the film with literal "ghosts" and literal "reincarnations". But on one level,
doesn't The Overlook depend on "reincarnation"? To survive, it must continually resurrect a certain image of itself, a certain
murderous underside which perpetuates its continual existence. "Full Metal Jacket" deals implicitly with this, the military
resurrecting "Cowboys and Indians" mythology so that the grunts can go forth and conquer land in the noble guise of freedom
and democracy. The Overlook and everything it represents - Colonialism, capitalism, white imperialism, corruption and
exploitation on a grand scale - is locked in a cycle of reincarnation, plucking lies out from its past so
that it may seduce those who would so readily murder for a dance in the Gold Room.
165. As the credits roll, Kubrick
simultaneously encourages us to remember while acknowledging that we won’t. The lyrics from the film’s closing
song (“I've known all my whole life through, I'll be remembering you whatever else I do") contrasts with the sound-effect
of people vacating a theatre, as Kubrick finally mirrors The Shining’s lost audience with the characters at the Overlook
SOUND EFFECT: People leaving
You refuse to see and refuse to remember.
you latch onto what the film is really conveying during each scene, the film takes on a very powerful dimension. No horror
movie that I am aware of has the incredible level of depth that this film has. In refusing to rely on any of the cinematic
shock effects currently in vogue, Kubrick has made a film that gets more frightening every time you see it.
Furthermore, the act of
structuring the film as a breadcrumb peppered maze, actually enforces the message being preached. Here we have a film in
which all the horrors are largely unseen because the audience itself is blind. Only audiences who shine, who trawl the Overlooks
corridors, prowling the "pictures in the book" and making the necessary connections, are able to escape the maze.
Couple that with the further irony that this was Kubrick’s most profitable film and you have a very dark joke on your
|Close up of Jack's January 1978 issue
What's Jack reading?
necrophilia, racism, genoicde, cannibalism, incest and infidelity are all themes that reside in the deepest recesses of The
But what's most interesting is that, instead of holy matrimony
between Wendy and Jack, Kubrick instead gives us the love between man and his most depraved perversions. At no point does Jack show even the faintest hint of love or passion for Wendy. She annoys
him. She disgusts him. He has utter contempt for her, blaming her for "interfereing" and "holding his career back". Indeed,
Wendy seems to do nothing but remind Jack of his own failures as a man, writer and father.
Within the walls
of the Overlook Hotel, we witness embraced corpses, caretakers making love to animal suited men, traces of incest and sexual
abuse and Jack trading passing glances with young hotel attendants. Everything but his family seems to satisfy Jack.
In this perverse environment, Jack becomes a symbol for every conceivable form of abuse, sexual or otherwise. He abuses his
wife, he abuses his son, he abuses himself, he abuses the Other.
This abuse is systematically
denied and buried beneath a labyrinth of lies, and only comes to light when Wendy confronts the bitter truth. She looks down
at her husband’s work and comes to a moment of personal realisation. Her husband is a monster. Wendy can no longer live
Kubrick uses “books”
to introduce both Wendy and Jack. Wendy sits smoking whilst reading “The Catcher in the Rye” (a tale of innocence
lost) and strikes us a modern, liberated and independent woman. But eventually this facade is eroded, as Kubrick finally
presents her as a fearful housewife and timid caretaker of her husband.
introduces Jack as a literary and well-spoken man. He’s an academic. A professor type who seeks solitude and time to
write. However this fašade is quickly shattered. He leers at women, reads a 1978 issue of Playgirl and is abusive toward his
son. And like Wendy’s double sided “Catcher in the Rye” book, Jack’s magazine reveals much about his
|Poor screencap of Jack's magazine
The magazine, carefully
chosen by Kubrick, states the following points on the front cover:
The Selling Of (Starsky & Hutch's) David Soul
Incest: Why Parents
Sleep With their Children
New 7-Day Wonder
Do you communicate in bed?
How Your Tax
Dollars Give New Identities To Convicted Criminals
How to avoid a dead end affair
of David Soul” refers to Jack selling his soul for another glass of whisky, or rather, the act of willfully deluding
oneself is akin to selling one's soul for peace of mind. But Jack's relationship with the Hotel is itself an exploitative transaction. The
Hotel may keep Jack all liquored up, but only if Jack obediently does the bidding of the house.
The incest article
touches upon the film's paedophilic undertones.
The "How your tax dollars give new identities to criminals"
article perhaps relates to the different identities of all the Hotel's caretakers. Caretakers who we pay for and who
do the state sanctioned biddings of government/corporate criminals.
Finally, the “Do
you communicate in bed” article is possibly an ironic reference to Wendy and Jack’s marriage (though Danny and
Hallorann shine and "communicate" with one another whilst in beds), while the “How to avoid a dead end” fits in
with the film’s maze motifs.
|Blueprints for the hedgemaze
FORM AND CONTENT
“Only a few film directors posess a conceptual talent – that is, a talent to crystallize
every film they make into a cinematic concept.” – Alexander Walker
“The Shining” continues Kubrick’s trend of merging form and content. On one hand, with “The Shining” he's telling the simple story of the novel (a man losing his
mind in a haunted house), but from "2001: A Space Odyssey" onwards (though one can argue “The Killing” obeys
these rules as well) he further insisted that the narrative structure of the film mimic the themes of the story being told.
if "Full Metal Jacket" is about building up and breaking down men, the narrative itself will likewise follow this trend, falling
apart in the second act and later reassembling itself in the third. If "A.I" is about contrasting the fantasy of a robot (I
want to be real) with the reality of others (he is not real) then Kubrick insists that the film likewise contrast a fairy
tale fantasy with a sci-fi reality. Similarly, if "The Shining" is a story about characters trapped in a maze, psychological
or otherwise, the narrative itself will mimic a maze, weaving in and out, going down paths and ending suddenly when blocked.
All Kubrick films reflect their themes in the way their narratives unfold, until film language is transcended and form literally
of course, it’s not just the narrative structure of “The Shining” which mimics a maze. The very look of
the film is swathed with maze imagery. Labyrinths within labyrinths, “The Shining’s” audience is invited
to wander Kubrick’s network of corridors and hedgerows, the viewer asked to – like little Danny Torrance –
develop the talent of “shining” if they intend to carve their way out.
The film's cinematic tapestry is also awash with doubles, mirrored patterns, symmetries and reflections,
be they visual, sonic or numerical (12, 21, 24, 42 etc). This suggests a grand cycle of repetition, but also, perhaps the
"mirrors" in Kubrick's film has to do with the fact that the human body's bilateral symmetry hides a functionally asymmetrical brain and a "soul" with many warring dualisms.
DOES JACK SHINE?
Both Hallorann and Danny "shine" events from the past, interacting with these
images/personages in a conscious, even critical sense. They understand that these events are somehow other than "normal" life,
and that these events ought not be happening under normal circumstances. The existence of these "visions" force
them to expand their understanding of what is real and possible in the world.
But Jack never does this in any conscious manner. Even when conversing with Grady
or Lloyd, and when challenging Grady about his murdered family, Jack does not question the existence of the people he's talking
to, or recognize any distance between them and "normal" life. It is Jack's sympathy with the “overlook agenda"
that suggests to me that he doesn't shine at all. He may even be conjuring up these fanciful visions himself. The exact
process of seduction/enlistment of Jack (how one characterizes his progression within the film depends upon how one reads
the notion of the supernatural) proceeds to the point where he is violently acting on all of his fears, resentments and angers,
and is hopelessly deluded about the context of his actions.
Of course, this is a choice. Jack has a number of moments where he blatantly
refuses to take responsibility for his actions. The scene in room 237 is the crux of these moments, perhaps the last moment
where Jack can really acknowledge what is happening to him, and to his desires, and how this stands in relation to his ostensible
feelings of love for his family. He goes to the room to confront what is going on, and because he cannot acknowledge
his complicity in those goings-on, he cannot speak honestly to his wife about what he saw and what has happened. By not making
this choice to speak, he opens himself finally to the transformation we see - all the while stoking the fires of resentment.
Ultimately, I don't think it matters if the ghosts are "real" (i.e. supernatural) or if
they are psychological projections, nor do I see anything gained by parts of the film being interpreted as "dream sequences".
None of this really changes the literal reality of the film, which while itself consistently trades on subjective experience,
shows us a number of literal scenes of interaction, which have an impact on the actions of our main characters. The
film presents Lloyd and particularly Grady as active elements in Jack's decline. They interact with him in a complex manner,
but the only important part of the complexity is Jack's moment-by-moment complicity in the agenda they represent. I
do not believe for a moment that the overlook agenda mitigates Jack's responsibility for what he becomes. Jack is not
"doomed" (this is equally an important point of divergence between King and Kubrick's sensibilities), the hotel doesn’t
seduce him, rather it is he who seeks solace in the warmth of its maze, be it a manifestation of something supernatural
THE SHINING AND MEANING
One aspect of Danny's ability to shine is that it involves a form of communication
between him and his alter-ego Tony, "the little boy who lives in his mouth." It is Tony who gives Danny horrific visions
before they even get to the hotel. If Tony is an analogue for anyone, it is the film director who is giving us visions
in exactly the same way.
Shining involves sights and sounds and feelings, but I would like to concentrate
on the visionary aspect. As has often been pointed out the film is full of images: Danny's vision, Native Indian painting,
photographs, tapestries, maps, models, clothing etc. Everywhere there are images. There are also lots of reflections, both
real and ghostly, in mirrors and reflective surfaces. Danny reassures himself that these "visions" and "reflections" are just
like pictures and can't hurt him, but the film itself is not so reassuring in that regard. In fact, the film seems to be asking
us to shine beyond the merely surface level of any image.
Let us take two images, the first and last in the film. The first is the famous
aerial shot. What we see first is an island in a mountain lake surrounded by still water, with its surface giving us a mirror
image. This is a very deliberate image, establishing right at the beginning the cluster of themes around reflecting surfaces
and mirror images, ie doubling. But on the level of content, what can we say about the first shot? There seems to be not a
trace of man's existence in it. This is virgin territory. Perhaps what we are seeing right at the very beginning is an eagle's
eye view of his territory untouched by culture. It is this stunningly beautiful, but eerie image that the film is going
to tell us something about.
In contrast, the last image has culture written all over it. It is a dolly
shot which moves deliberately towards a wall in a hotel dotted with photographs. It concentrates on a group of 21, finally
coming to rest (via a couple of dissolves) on the middle photograph (dated 1921) of a party celebrating the great anniversary
of American Independence. In the photograph is an image of a man who looks remarkably similar, if not identical, to
the man whose (declining) fortunes we have been following with the same deliberation in the previous 120-140 minutes. I
put in that caveat, because although we have been subjected to many doubles throughout the film, we should have learnt not
to treat them as identical. The sisters who Danny shines might look similar, we might even think of them as twins,
but they are not. Look closely: one is older than the other.
We are told in a lengthy expository interview scene near the beginning that a
previous caretaker of the Overlook, called Charles Grady, went mad and killed wife and children around 1970. So naturally,
when we see Jack having a conversation with a ghost called Grady, we assume it is the same Mr. Grady. But it isn't.
The ghost's name is Delbert and is of 1920s vintage, whereas the 1970 Grady was called Charles. Even still, armed with
that knowledge the cleverest of us might continue to believe the two are the same - or, at least, one the ghost of the other.
But they aren't the same. We are told that one murdered his family and are led associate the sinister overtones
of the ghosts euphemistically needing "to correct" his family, with the images Danny shines at another time in the 1950's
style corridor of the (not identical, but similar) girls axed to death.
The film is asking us all the time to make these associations, but we have to
be careful. To go back to the other major metaphor of the maze. A notable feature of a maze is that it is full
of dead ends, or false leads. In so far as the film is structured as a cinematic maze, then we should take that as a warning
against making any glib associations.
Let us take the now famous example of how Jack escapes from the locked and bolted
door of the food store. Kubrick leads us to believe that it is the ghost Grady who lets him out by. He shows us
a conversation between Jack and the ghost, but we don't see the ghost. We do quite clearly hear him speak, and we hear
him unlatch and unbolt the door, but in a 'hollywood' sense there is something unsatisfactory about this, because Hollywood
narrative always involves a lot of redundancy. You are usually told what is going to happen, what is happening, and
what has happened all along the way so no one is in any doubt about what is happening. The major redundancy is that
of what I call the "filmed script," or Kubrick calls filmed theatre, where the visuals merely show us what the dialogue has
already told us. So, here in this movie above all others, Kubrick has pursued a diametrically opposite technique. Removing
a lot of the redundancy, and using ellipses in technique to leave lacunae in the film text. I think that he was simply
being accurate in describing his film, when he said you couldn't really take apart and examine an uncanny/supernatural tale
too closely. If you did, it wouldn't make any sense. And, I think that is true of The Shining.
But that does not mean that Kubrick is not being very precise in what he is saying
or doing in The Shining. From where I am coming from, The Shining is, above all, about the generation of meaning. How
is meaning generated? Here, I am an old-fashioned Saussurian Levi-Straussian structuralist. Meaning is generated quite
simply in noting similarities and differences in similarities and differences. I would have said identities and differences,
but it should be clear from the above that I do not think that that is Kubrick's approach. The Shining, it has been
well established, is full of similarities and differences.
Because of ellipses Kubrick is giving us hints of meanings, leaving it up to
us to make the connections between things. He is inviting us to do so in his maze of a movie. He is inviting us
to "shine." Ultimately that is what it is: working things out. In Danny's case, sometimes by visions, while at other
times by sheer practical cleverness, as at the end in the maze.
Jack, by contrast, suppresses his shining, being blinded by his "contract with
America" of all things, his contract with the Overlook Hotel. In the end, it is his stupidity that gets him. He is stupid,
in the way that Barry Lyndon was, but that does not mean they are without their saving graces. Certainly Kubrick sees
something tragic in both of them. They are trapped. Literally in Jack's case, where the maze becomes the ultimate
location for the playing out of the Oedipal struggle.
Kubrick seems to be warning us, Americans, yes, but beyond them to Western civilization
as a whole, and telling us there is something terribly wrong with it, and suggesting what that might be. He sees at
the heart of Western civilization, of America, of the family, of the individual something, perhaps, inevitable. A certain
inescapable and murderous violence. What else can we say about it?
A certain sexual violence? The Shining is no different from any other Kubrick
film in having sexuality as a main theme in the film. In The Shining how is this manifest? Kubrick signposts this
quite clearly in the scene where Jack embraces the naked young woman who has just emerged from behind the shower curtain and who quickly is transformed (with a swish pan to the mirror) into an old hag.
The event is troubling to Jack. Elsewhere in the film we see quite clearly
that Jack has no respect for his wife. And, we are also led towards that way of thinking. Which is yet another false
lead, for Wendy turns out to be far more resourceful than her husband. Intimations from other scenes, particularly the ghost
Grady talking about the need to "correct" his wife and children, imply that America as a concept has been built up on a model
of patriarchy that includes quite a deal of misogyny. Deep in the western man's soul is a conflict between (surprise, surprise)
fear and desire of women (Kubrick is nothing if not consistent). The most blatant image of this fear of woman is the
blood (genocide yes, but also associated with menstruation) pouring out of the elevator. Who finally gets to see, or
rather shine that? Wendy does, naturally after witnessing an odd male sexual encounter a few moments before.
Jack is right to be afraid. He gets killed as Jocasta/Wendy and Oedipus/Danny
go off at the end of the movie in the snowcat to live happily ever after - until Danny will be on the receiving end
of a similar Oedipal struggle himself, I suppose. This repetition is inevitable. The final photograph, this trace
of 1921, suggests that. Or, does it? Kubrick takes a very grim view of man and what he has made of the world. But, he
is not without hope. He has said we can only build a civilisation that might work if we take into account man's fallibilities.
In The Shining, he uses the metaphor of shining (a verb) as a way of dealing with the metaphor of the maze (a noun). In
other words he is asking of us an imaginative response in our journey through life. For that is what those two metaphors
finally mean. It was Jack's tragedy that, although he could shine his wife and son in the middle of the maze, he couldn't
follow them there because he was so wrapped up in his duties to his employers.
Finally, I would like to discuss the issue of sexuality. The Shining seems to
take quite seriously Freud's notion of the Oedipal conflict (which is self-perpetuating) and relates it very clearly to white/western
patriarchal society. That is the reason, in the end, that it is Wendy who sees the elevator of blood. The sheer
mass of blood is an indication of the violence that is felt against women and minorities as a whole, within this particular
society. Like most people she has up till now being unaware of it. And, note that this comes after she has been
metaphorically raped by Jack in their apartment bathroom. It thus seems that Kubrick views the human animal has having
two great and related problems: violence and (how we handle) sexuality. The heart of the film maze that is The Shining
is room 237, and that has all to do with sexuality, or rather men's apprehension (even a little boy) when faced by woman (Freud
and Lacan would say it is the fear of castration). It is the fear that is the other side of desire.
The second point is to elaborate on the suggestion I have already made: to consider
that The Overlook Hotel is like an objectification of the unconscious of a civilization (ours) which operates like a dream
in Freud's interpretation of them. Where causality is not linked to TIME, and where the main mechanisms are condensation and
displacement (or metaphor and metonymy). Where the film/hotel can be analysed in a process analogous both to psychoanalysis,
and finding your way out of a maze, I think if it can be considered like this it makes the real/unreal ghosts discussion
a little superfluous. Arguments about The Shining being a real ghost story only
holds true at a primary narrative level. But, unless the discussion can go beyond that, it isn't saying very much.
Finally, I think the metaphor of shining needs to be explored in more detail.
Specifically, its reflexive connections on the art of film-making and as a form of resistance against the wanton “meaninglessness” of post-modern art. (Again, I have suggested that
the stand-in in the film for the director is Tony who "shows Danny things.") And, related to this is the status of the
image, and particularly photographs in the film's thematics. It is no accident that the movie ends with a photograph
AND an old phonograph recording. They are the perfect example of reality "leaving traces of themselves behind," that
Hallorann talks of to Danny when explaining shining. They let us all shine the past. Together, as a combination
of 'light-writing' and 'sound-writing,' they constitute what film is, and ask us to read them ("r-e-d-r-u-m"), and inquire
into their and its meaning.
there can be no doubt that man is, on the whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants to be. Everyone carries a Shadow,
and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.” – Dr. Carl
“The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made
conscious, it happens outside as fate. That is to say, when the individual remains undivided and does not become conscious
of his inner opposite, the world must perforce act out the conflict and be torn into opposing halves.” – Dr. Carl
all attempts at denial and obfuscation there is an unconscious factor, a black sun, which is responsible for the surprisingly
common phenomenon of masculine split-mindedness, when the right hand mustn't know what the left is doing.” - Dr. Carl Jung
Shadow, a psychological term introduced by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, represents everything in us that is unconscious,
repressed, undeveloped and denied. Jung believed that these rejected aspects may be “dark” as well as “light”,
having both positive and negative facets, and that a confrontation with the Shadow was necessary for self-awareness. Jung
also speaks of the Shadow in conjunction with what he called “projection and denial”. Projection is an unconscious
psychological mechanism in which we project onto other people parts of ourselves that we disown or deny. But we will usually
not identify with this projected quality or characteristic.
It’s them, we think, it is not us.
During the production of “The Shining” Kubrick mentioned several
texts: Bruno Bettelheim’s “The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance Of Fairytales”, Diane Johnson’s
“The Shadow Knows” (Johnson would also collaborate on “The Shining’s” screenplay) and Freud’s
writings on “The Uncanny”. What’s interesting is that all these texts essentially approach horror stories
from the perspective that the “evils” within them are merely projections of our own evil selves. That though the
monsters of fables and fairytales inhabit our collective memories as supernatural beings, their actual existence resides in
the ordinary, the banal, the everyday. They are projections of our unconscious; an unconscious that we refuse to confront
and so disassociate ourselfs from by relegating these "evils" to the realm of the supernatural.
On a literal level, the ghosts in “The Shining” are
just that: ghosts. But on another level, they are all projections, representative of Jack’s darkest desires. Lloyd represents
alcohol, Grady represents Jack’s desire to get rid of his family, the beautiful woman in 237 represents a new, more
glamorous wife and the Gold Room represents the riches, wealth and respect Jack deems himself worthy of. These projections
are Jack’s Shadows, the darkness which he both wants but denies wanting.
The Overlook Hotel is similarly in possession of a giant Shadow.
The elevators of blood, the dead Grady girls, Hallorann’s body, the numerous photographs, trinkets and artefacts which
adorn its walls and halls, represent the dark underside of White Imperialism, a dark underside which the Overlook's very
wealth and power depends upon, but which it cannot ever admit to possessing.
But what’s most interesting is that whilst Wendy and Danny
are repulsed by the various visions they see, Jack is entirely comfortable around his
Shadow projections. And this is unique in ghost movies, for rather than run away from the ghostly apparitions, Jack wants
to merge with them. Jack wants to reassert both his Shadow (his desire for wealth, a better family, success, The American
Dream etc) and the shadow of the Overlook Hotel. He wants to restore a nostalgic version of the past, of a sort of unified
patriarchy, where he is “all the best people” and he has the power to subjugate those below him.
The world Jack seeks to re-establish, or retreat too, thus
represents the last days of the American leisure class. The days when the ruling class led an aggressive and unapologetic
public existence, projecting an image of privilege and guiltless enjoyment in full view of the other social classes (compare
this to Ullman, a bland figure of corporate power and boardroom politics).
And this nostalgic image is exactly what the Overlook depends on. The Overlook depends on continuously "reincarnating” or “projecting”
a certain sanitized image of itself. An image in which anyone - even a hack writer like Jack - can attain the American Dream
and share the wealth and power that the Overlook commands. "Full Metal Jacket" deals implicitly with this,
the military resurrecting "Cowboys and Indians" mythology so that the grunts can go forth and conquer land in the noble guise
of freedom and democracy. The Overlook and everything it represents - Colonialism, capitalism, white imperialism, corruption
and exploitation on a grand scale - is thus locked in a cycle of reincarnation, plucking "noble lies" out from its past so
that it may seduce others into doing its bidding. What the film thus does is undermine this Dream and display the system of
exploitation and violence that fuels it.
world Jack wishes to reassert no longer exists, or rather, no longer exists in quite the same form. Imperialism is now the primary function of capitalism in the third
world. The “Wendys”, “Dannys” and “Halloranns” of today are in impoverished “third
world” countries at the peripheries of capitalism, the divisions of labour that exists between workers and managers
now also existing between entire nations, the world divided between the core and its peripheries, capitalism’s wealth
and resources flowing from the outer extremities to the centre, forever being accumulated in the vast Gold Rooms of The
According to Myth and History,
sometime between the 14th and 17th Century BC, King Minos of Crete asked the Artisan Daedalus to plan a Labyrinth in which
to contain a creature known as the Minotaur, born of a bull mating with his Queen, Pasiphae (Greek for “wide shining”).
The Minotaur was a monstrous
white bull, who periodically laid waste to the people and buildings of Crete. In order to hide the shame and scandal of his
Queen and to stop the violence of the Minotaur, King Minos had Artisan Daedalus construct a huge dungeon in the form of a
giant square maze. In this maze would be dropped, every nine years, virgin boys and girls from the enemy city of Athens. In
other words, the sacrificial blood of the enemy was to keep Crete safe from its own monster and to distract the Cretan populace
from the bestial affairs of its leaders.
The Minoan population, already suffering genocidal catastrophe from
colonization and volcanic upheaval, agreed to the King’s plans, and so began a cycle in which a number of virgin boys
and girls were placed in the Labyrinth and offered as a sacrifice to the violent Minotaur. The people of Crete didn’t
care, though. The virgins were born of the enemy, and the suffering of their foes was a small price to pay for a lifetime
of peace and prosperity.
One year, young Prince Theseus of Athens, the neighbouring city
which was frequently attacked and plundered by King Minos, smuggled himself into the labyrinth, disguising himself as one
of the offerings to the Minotaur. Theseus was furious that Athens had to continually send young virgins to the Minotaur as
a sacrifice, and so was determined to slay the beast himself. Seeing the brave Theseus, the King’s daughter immediately
fell in love, and slipped him a ball of thread so that he may escape the Labyrinth. Of course, the myth then ends with Prince
Theseus killing the Minotaur and escaping by using the ball of thread.
This is just a brief summary of the story, but if one were to study
it in detail, one would find an allegory suggestive of incest, denial, concealment, dysfunctional families and the mishandling
Kubrick – who named one of his production companies “Minotaur
Productions”, who has Danny wear a shirt with a reference to a Greek God (Appolo) and who spoke often with writer Diane
Johnson about the Minotaur Myth – thus seems to have based “The Shining” loosely on this tale, only here,
Danny becomes the young Prince Theseus, who must end the cycle of blood sacrifices to the various Minotaurs of the Overlook.
Kubrick seemed fond of basing his films partially on old Myths, his films
always operate on a series of levels. Consider “2001: A Space Odyssey” which uses Homer’s Odyssey, Nietzsche’s
“Thus Spake Zarathustra” as well as Clarke’s “Sentinel”. Likewise, “The Shining”
seems based on King’s book, The Minotaur Myth and the psychoanalytic writings of Jung and Freud. “AI” similarly
continues this trend, borrowing from “Dante’s Inferno”, Aldiss’ “Supertoys Last All Summer”
and the Bible’s Garden of Eden myth. In each case, there seems to be 3 matrixes or operating texts: one the novel, one
the myth and one the science.
French philosopher Michel Foucault articulated the characteristic
of the maze very well in his 1962 essay ‘Such a Cruel Knowledge’. "To enter the gates of the maze,” Foucault
said, “is to enter a theatre of Dionysian castration, is to undergo a paradoxical initiation not to a lost secret but
to all the sufferings of which man has never lost the memory - the oldest cruelties in the world."
The maze, then, was a place
of mad passion and emotion, all the world’s cruelties simultaneously contained and hidden within the labyrinth’s
man from other animals is that he guards his dead,” the Spanish philosopher Miguel Unamuno said. “And from
what does he so futily protect them? The wretched consciousness shrinks from its own annihilation!”
This flight from death, according
to Norman O. Brown, is what creates historical time, by generating an instinctual fixation on the repressed past, thus setting
in motion a forward moving dialectic, a Hegelian paradox in which history is what man does with death. This is interesting
with regards to the Overlook itself - a hotel built on an Indian graveyard - its builders attempting a form of transcendence
of the most brutish kind, a flight from death built on human remains.
But no individual can escape
their own history and Jack cannot escape the terrible history of the Overlook. The weight of its repressed past overwhelms
him; the blood pours out of the hotel elevator, everything is drowned, everything is tainted.
Foucault called the Minotaur ''the very near and yet also the absolutely
alien - the emblem of the unity of the human and the inhuman.'' The human and the inhuman. Dwell on that, and then note
that all the imagery of ‘the Shining’ is suggestive of Labyrinths, the longs mountainous roads that lead to the
Overlook, the corridors of the hotel and finally the maze itself, its as if we are being drawn deeper and deeper into a mystery
and yet at its heart what do we find? A demon? Something unknowable and alien to us? No, we find an insane man stalking his
child. The evil beings that inhabit our collective memories - Satan, the Minotaur, etc - are just projections of our evil
selves and they exist precisely because we refuse to confront them.
If “The Shining’s” maze represents
the evil nature of mankind, simultaneously repressed and contained, then the film – itself a maze – allows its
audience to explore their collective guilt and ponder the disturbing implication of who we are and what evils we may be capable
But Jack isn’t privy
to this form of careful self-examination. When Jack Torrance is trapped in the maze he promptly takes on the characteristics
of the Minotaur, thus any specificity attached to his murderous actions is removed of context, and exists instead in the universal
space of myth. Yes he has always been in the hotel, but moreover he and his deeds also resides in the collective conscious
of humankind. Symbolically the maze transcends physical time and space, and the roar of Torrence’s rage echoes
down its myriad pathways to connect right back to the origins of rage itself.
"2001" and The Shining are thus thematically similar, in that they
both explore thematically the origins of evil. The events of the Dawn of Man sequence in "2001" seem to depict a scientifically
orthodox view prevalent in the 1960s, that human beings are the only animal that has violent tendencies towards members of
their own species. In “2001” the violent tendency of humankind was accounted for as the result of alien intervention,
in other words, Christian doctrine is reversed and original sin was bequeathed by the gods.
The Shining on the other hand
seeks, not to speculate upon the origins of evil, but rather to attempt to show it in its archetypal form.
Ultimately, the message of ‘the Shining’ is that there
is salvation in intelligence, and in seeing things as they really are. If evil is to be transcended, it must first be acknowledged
as part of us, something that is woven into the fabric of our being, and not as some projected Other.
In many ways, with "The Shining" Kubrick carries on the Marshall McLuhan themes that first popped up
in "2001: A Space Odyssey" (Kubrick mentioned McLuhan during interviews prior to 2001's release). So on one level, this is
a war between pre-literate, literate and post-literate cultures. Of oral cultures (native Indians/African slaves), print cultures
(Jack) and electronic cultures (Wendy/Danny). It's the reactionary spirit of literate Man rebelling against post literate
reality by retreating to an earlier time. IE - horror as horror of modernity....of the electric age.
important to remember that we had all kinds of factors affecting American cinema in the 60s and 70s. Vietnam, feminism, African
American civil rights movement, Watergate, the pill, hippies, drugs, women's rights, the dismantling of the Empires, porn,
gay rights, the sexual revolution etc. People believed they could change things. You had political film-makers like Costa
Gavras and Pontecorvo believing that their films could influence audiences/voters/politics.
You had a huge revolution in documentary cinema, guys like Emile de Antonio and Wiseman sticking their cameras in every festering
nook and cranny. You had the age of whistleblowers, protests, picketers, embedded journalists and shock revelations like the
My Lai Massacre. It was felt that the media could illuminate truths and liberate people from exploitation and injustice. That
films could set people free. There was hope, man!
of course, disillusionment crept in. Things changed, but only enough to get people to shut up. Grassroots news-outlets were
bought out, big corporations took over the media, films got more expensive, civil rights led to a level playing field, equality
leading to less conflicts, less outrage for cinema to milk. Everyone was free, but free to do what? Free to use cinema for
what it had always been used for by the masses: a kind of self-medicating drug.
So it was
back to business. Back to wish-fulfilment cinema, only now films like “Godfather” and “Jaws” had led
to violence becoming the ultimate cinematic cumshot, modern special effects allowing us to “remake” or “correct”
narratives of the past with “shocking” effects and “new” technical wizardry. Set-piece cinema was
the norm and continuous titillation the raison d’etre of most films.
there are always “challenging” films being made, but the resistance was dwindling. The British film industry in
the 80s had collapsed due to economic reasons and has never recovered. European cinema lost its esoteric prestige and couldn't
get major distribution. Who needed Bergman when Woody Allen was releasing some Bergman pastiche every year?
also different in the 80s was the huge sums of money drawn by blockbusters, the huge levels of advertising and the sheer number
of screens these films played on. Guys like Spielberg, Lucas and Zemeckis had 6 of the 10 top grossing films of the 80s, and
though “alternative” films were still being made, they no longer commanded the kind of attention that similar
fare did in the previous decade.
things would evolve to the point where the “establishment”, like James Cameron and, heck, even Al Gore, would
be making supposedly “anti-establishment” and “confrontational films”. There was now no meaningful
distinction between in and out, so you’d have the traumas of The Holocaust and the Palestinian/Israeli conflict being
cosily placated by the guy who made “Hook”, or the guy who bashed the US government in “Salvador”,
mourning the fall of the World Trade Centre and apologising for Bush in “WTC” and “W”. Anti-establishment
cinema was now by the establishment. Everything was a product, homogenous, which led to Godard basically giving up on cinema
(again) in “Our Music”, saying that western cinema was impotent.
Which, of course, is why everyone is currently turning to Asian and Middle Eastern cinema, where volatile social issues are
confronted on screen, rather than avoided.
problem is that artists in wealthy Western countries (Nietzsche's Last Man) have all their needs catered for, and so
they really have nothing to say, other than mourn the existential ennui of living in Sangri La (which Antonioni, Bergman,
Wenders did better so many years ago, though films like “Elephant” pop up now and then which approach things from
a neat new angle) or attempt to map the workings and problems of global capitalism (which “The Wire” tries to
do), a task too difficult and vast for most film-makers. And since the Sundance and Indie circuits – which typically
focussed on small, human stories - have become so formulaic (the director of indie
hit “George Washington” going mainstream and directs “Pineapple fricking Express”!), you’re
thus left with thousands of films which are about nothing more than other films. (Bela Tarr: “All stories have been
resolved, all that is left is time.”)
is the post-modern aesthetic, having begun in the 70s with the movie-brat directors, all of whom were virtually raised
on TV and film. Today we’re so “removed” from any ground zero reality that the primary influence on artists
is, as Cronenberg often rants, a “copy” of a “copy” of a “copy”. Indeed, nowadays you
can now chop up your favourite film, edit it and “remake” a new version of it, uploading it to youtube as a showcase
for your artistic talent. The end result of all this is probably some bioengineer in the future copy and pasting genes, limbs
and skin so that some parent in the year 2240 can have some aesthetically perfect (or whacky – individuality wins points!)
cyber-baby, the distance between art and audience collapsing completely.
is, there’s now no meaning beyond the surface, everything idea cut, copied, pasted and sold innumerable times, but readily
digested because, in this age of image-overload, we’re increasingly losing the ability to put anything in any meaningful
French philosopher Jean Baudrillard writes of the three historical orders of appearance,
where images and signs change their relationships to reality in western culture. He calls these the 1st, 2nd and 3rd order
The 1st order simulacra, according to Baudrillard, took place between the Renaissance and Industrial Revolution.
This was the counterfeit period, where signs reflected and then perverted a basic reality, art essentially imitating life.
The 2nd order simulacra took place during the Industrial age. This was a period of mass reproduction, signs mass-produced
and beginning to signify themselves as symbols of money and power. They now marked the absence of a basic reality and gradually
began to bear less relation to their origins. The 3rd order simulacra is our current phase. Signs now bear no relationship
to any reality. Reality has disintegrated, signs now having no meaning whatsoever due to a liquidation of referentials.
thus posits a world where capitalism has run rampant, and where any concept of the real, or of meaning, or of history, has
been eroded. His postmodern world is that of mass communication, mass media, and the mass proliferation, across all boundaries,
of signs. Baudrillard's formulation of postmodernism, in its extreme conclusion, thus entails the eventual disintegration
of the Saussurean concept of the sign, leaving a world completely divorced from the real and containing only infinitely recursive
in 1980, Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” marks the point when the director returned to the present (for
his next 3 films), the point when he slowed down completely in his making of films, the point where his films became more
reflexive and formally complex and the point where his particular brand of modernism began to react against the aesthetic
and cultural moment under whose spell he fell as American cinema moved into post-modernism (highlighted by the "coming of
age" of such movie-brat directors as Scorsese, Lucas, Leone, Spielberg, De Palma etc).
to Fredric Jameson’s influential analysis of postmodernity (Jameson would write extensively on The Shining), “Our
entire contemporary social system has little by little begun to lose its capacity to retain its own past, has begun to live
in a perpetual present and in a perpetual change that obliterates traditions of the kind which all earlier social formations
had had in one way or another to preserve.”
the power and reach of Enlightenment thought had trapped the postindustrial world in a perpetual present through the reification
of human relations and productive processes of every kind. “No society has ever been so standardized as this one,”
he says, “and the stream of human, society and historical temporality has never flowed quite so homogeneously.”
In other words, in this time of stable instability, everything submits to the perpetual change of fashion and media image,
with the result that nothing can really change any longer.
looks to the past because the present lacks “both forms and content”, “energetic artists” forced to
cannibalise the museum and wear the masks of extinct mannerisms with the result that the “blank parody” of pastiche
(art confected from the remains of previous works) is the most characteristic postmodern art form.
postmodernism is inherently nostalgic, because it is always motored by twin desires, that of remembering the past and that
of making it live again in the present. Such re-enactment is usually marked by a strong sense of loss, as the present becomes
an era evoked or represented primarily by absence. By nostalgically (always an act of wish-fulfilment) returning to an
era of vanished plenitude, postmodern films thus solve the problem of projecting “the illusion that things happen”.
(which, incidentally, is why such modernist works like “The Wire”, “Eyes Wide Shut”, “Miami
Vice” etc often end with nothing resolved, the narratives still in flux)
Shining” eschews postmodernisms reverentially retrospective turn and instead deconstructs the movement’s nostalgic
impulse. Indeed, the fundamental generic fact about "The Shining" is that it is a “ghost story”- an encounter
between those who are living (present) and those who are dead (past) but somehow continue to exist. In other words, ghost
stories treat the “impossible” presence of the past in the here and how.
Shining”, however, suggests that one postmodern solution to the wish-fulfilling function of film narrative is both the
rejection (rather than the projection) of an illusory moment of wholeness and the refusal to offer compensation of any kind.
“The Shining” underscores the dead-endedness of postmodern nostalgia and the triviality of life in late capitalism.
The emptiness of the present (the triviality of Jack's existence contrasted with his desire to achieve the American Dream) leads
only to a destructive past characterized by ontological impossibility, Jack occupying the no-space between the two periods
in which he no longer exists—the present (in which desire has no purchase) and a bygone era (where life is, improbably,
nothing but an endless party).
rambling manuscript itself typifies an art in crisis, speaking incoherently and endlessly. His failure to say anything, and
his compulsion to go on “producing” aptly evoking current cinema. In such an aesthetic realm, where art has “deconstructed
its entire universe”, the only form of production that remains is “playing with the pieces”. The challenge
for artists thus becomes – as it does for Jack in the film – how to project the illusion that things still happen,
that events exist, that there are still stories to tell, in a situation in which the uniqueness and irrevocability of private
destinies and of individuality itself seem to have evaporated.
Jameson says about Jack’s novel: “The text in question is however very explicitly a text about work: it is a kind
of zero point around which the film organizes itself, a kind of ultimate and empty auto-referential statement about the impossibility
of cultural or literary production. If you believe that such production must always presuppose the sustaining existence, behind
it, of a community (whether identified or not, whether conscious of itself or on the contrary about to achieve such consciousness
by means of the very cultural expression which testifies, ex post facto, to its having been there in the first place), then
it is clear why "Jack" has nothing to say: even the family unit of which he is a part has been reduced to a kind of stark
isolation, the coexistence of three random individuals who henceforth represent nothing beyond themselves, and those very
relations with each other thus called (violently) in question. Meanwhile, whatever possibility this particular family might
have had, in the social space of the city, of developing some collective solidarity with other people of similar marginalized
circumstances is henceforth itself foreclosed by the absolute isolation of the great hotel in winter. Only the telepathic
fellowship of the child, as it strikes a link with the motif of the black community, offers some fantasmatic figure or larger
social relation ships. It is however precisely in such a situation that the drive towards community, the longing for collectivity,
the envy of other, achieved collectivities, emerges with all force of a return of the repressed: and this is finally, I think,
what The Shining is all about. Where to search for this "knowable community," to which, even excluded, the fantasy of
collective relations might attach itself? It is surely not to be found in the managerial bureaucracy of the hotel itself,
as multinational and standardized as a bedroom community or a motel chain; nor can it any longer take seriously the departing
vacationers of the current holiday season, on their way home to their own privatized dwelling places. It only has one direction
to go, into the past; and this is the moment at which Kubrick's rewriting of his novelistic original takes on its power as
an articulated and intelligible symbolic act.”
thus no surprise that the film ends on an "image of an image", the post modern aesthetic rendered pure. Jack is not only frozen
in real life, stuck in a dead wasteland, but he's always alive-as-dead in the fantasy image, a simulation (of the past in
which all his desires are met) that can never really be actualised.
The Shining is packed with references to haunted houses, ghost ships, three little pigs (Jack speaks
of little pigs, but there is also a picture of 3 pigs in Durkin’s garage), big bad wolves, devils, vampires, werewolves,
zombies, ghosts and countless other horror tropes. And yet all these references are trivialized or treated in the most banal
of fashions. Combine this with Kubrick’s shooting style - which revokes conventional shock tactics - and you have a
film which seeks to undermine our conventional understanding of horror and amplify instead the horror of the Self.
This is a direct contrast to most horror films, which – be it the wave of horror films which followed
9/11 (War of the Worlds, Cloverfield etc), the atomic bombing of Japan or the Cold War (Godzilla, Them!, The Thing etc) –
treated their various monsters, aliens and villains as stand-ins for some foreign Other. Kubrick thus seems to be saying that
most horror films only serve to misdirect our anxieties away from the horrors within one’s own home, family and country.
The film also seems to be saying that television, media and horror films, desensitise us to horrors,
such that we began to take these acts as the norm. Consider Jack’s leering face, framed by a door such that he resembles
a television set, as he lets loose a series of television catchphrases (“Here’s Johnny!”, “Wendy,
I’m home!”) before attempting to chop his family up into little pieces. On one hand we’re terrified,
but on the other, “It’s okay, we saw it on the television.” The cartoons Danny watches and the news reports
that litter the film, also serve to remind us that violence is always all around us, in one form or another, yet we choose
to accept it as being a fairly normal part of our lives. Something – not to be safely confronted through the medium
of fiction - but to be repackaged in such a form (decontextualised completely, treated as fantasy/entertainment) that
no longer implicates us in any direct way.
Another interesting way to look at the film is as a sort of meta-horror film in which a writer and a horror story addict
go to a hotel, learn about its past and write a novel/film about its history. The sound of frantic typewriters will pop up
during key scenes and during the film’s making of documentary, Kubrick is seen using a typewriter similar to Jack.
TECHNOLOGY AND ISOLATION
"I attribute the
social and psychological problems of modern society to the fact that society requires people to live under conditions radically
different from those under which the human race evolved ..." --THE UNABOMBER
In Civilization and Its Discontents, Freud lamented
the tension between crude animal impulses and the dictates of society. Society, he said, tells us to cooperate with one another,
indeed, even to "love thy neighbor as thyself"; yet by our nature, we are tempted to exploit our neighbour, "to humiliate
him, to cause him pain, to torture and to kill him. Homo homini lupus
[Man is a wolf to man]."
Freud, and various thinkers since, saw "civilization" as an oppressive force that thwarts basic animal urges such as
lust and aggression, transmuting them into psychopathology. But evolutionary psychology suggests that a larger threat to mental
health may be the way civilization thwarts civility. There is a kinder, gentler side of human nature, and it seems increasingly
to be a victim of repression.
Much of this trouble, as the Unabomber argues, stems from technology. Suburbs are largely
products of the automobile. (In the forthcoming book The Lost City, Alan Ehrenhalt notes the irony of Henry Ford, in his 60s,
building a replica of his hometown--gravel roads, gas lamps--to recapture the "saner and sweeter idea of life" he had helped
destroy.) And in a thousand little ways--from the telephone to the refrigerator to ready-made microwavable meals-technology
has eroded the bonds of neighborly interdependence. Among the Aranda Aborigines of Australia, the anthropologist George Peter
Murdock noted early this century, it was common for a woman to breast-feed her neighbor's child while the neighbor gathered
food. Today in America it's no longer common for a neighbor to borrow a cup of sugar.
Of course, intensive interdependence also has its downside. The good news for
our ancestors was that collectively fending off starvation or saber-toothed tigers forged bonds of a depth moderners can barely
imagine. The bad news was that the tigers and the starvation sometimes won. Technology is not without its rewards.
Perhaps the ultimate in isolating technologies is television, especially when
linked to a VCR and a coaxial cable. Harvard professor Robert Putnam, in a recent and much noted essay titled "Bowling Alone,"
takes the demise of bowling leagues as a metaphor for the larger trend of asocial entertainment. "Electronic technology enables
individual tastes to be satisfied more fully," he concedes, but at the cost of the social gratification "associated with more
primitive forms of entertainment." When you're watching TV 28 hours a week--as the average American does--that's a lot of
bonding you're not out doing.
One reason the sinews of community are so hard
to restore is that they are at odds with free markets. Capitalism not only spews out cars, TVs and other antisocial technologies;
it also sorts people into little vocational boxes and scatters the boxes far and wide. Economic opportunity is what drew farm
boys into cities, and it has been fragmenting families ever since. There is thus a tension within conservative ideology between
laissez-faire economics and family values, as various people have noted. (The Unabomber complains that conservatives "whine
about the decay of traditional values," yet "enthusiastically support technological progress and economic growth.")
|The deleted hospital scene.
DELETED SCENES AND
There were three versions of “The Shining”:
Original uncut US version - running time 146 mins approx.
Current US version - running time 144 mins approx.
Current International version - running time 119 mins approx.
The differences between the three versions are detailed below:
1. After the first scene with Wendy and Danny Torrance in their Boulder apartment,
the film cuts back to Jack being interviewed at the Overlook Hotel. The initial stage of this conversation has been cut. Jack
is introduced to the other hotel official, Bill Watson, as a schoolteacher. He protests that he was formerly a teacher but
is now a writer; that teaching is only a way of "making ends meet". He claims he is looking for a change. The manager, Ullman,
explains that the Overlook is closed every winter from the end of October to the following May, because of the prohibitive
cost of keeping the road to the Sidewinder pass open. He comments that the hotel site was chosen for its seclusion and beauty.
2. When Danny, in the Boulder apartment, first 'sees' the Grady twins, he blacks
out. His subsequent examination by a doctor (Anne Jackson) has been cut. He reveals that just before his black-out he was
talking to the 'friend', Tony, who lives in his mouth and tells him things. The doctor subsequently tries to reassure Wendy
that nothing is wrong with Danny. Wendy reveals that they moved from Vermont, where Jack was a schoolteacher, and that Danny
first started talking to Tony after an accident in which Jack dislocated the boy's shoulder in a drunken fit of temper. Jack
swore never to touch alcohol again. As the film now stands, Jack's drinking problem has to be assumed, and the incident with
Danny is not mentioned until halfway through.
3. During their tour of the Overlook with Ullman, Jack and Wendy are introduced
to the Colorado Lounge. The rest of this sequence has been cut. Wendy asks if the Indian designs are authentic, and UlIman
comments that they are based on Navajo and Apache motifs. He then talks of the hotel's "illustrious past": as a stopping place
for the jet set, for four presidents, lots of movie stars and "all the best people".
4. The beginning of the scene where Ullman shows Jack and Wendy the hotel grounds
has been cut. He indicates "our famous hedge maze" and warns them not to go in unless they have an hour to spare to find their
5. Back inside the hotel, a good deal of material has been cut leading up to
Dick Hallorann's first appearance. Ullman shows off "The Gold Room" (where Jack will later repair for a drink from the phantom
barman Lloyd). When Wendy comments that "we could really have a good party in this room", Ullman reveals that all the liquor
has been removed from the premises for the winter in order to reduce the insurance. Jack states, "We don't drink". Hallorann
is then introduced, and Jack, being overweeningly polite as in his earlier interview, introduces his wife as "Winifred", apparently
her full name. [On the question of names, one might note that the previous caretaker, Grady, is first referred to as Charles,
but in his later scene with Jack, refers to himself as Delbert.] The secretary, Susie, then appears, having found Danny outside
the games room. Jack asks him if he got tired of "bombing the universe". UlIman then leaves with Jack, and Hallorann is left
to show Wendy the kitchen. Hallorann asks if she is "a Winnie or a Freddie" and she tells him that she's known as Wendy.
6. Part of Danny's conversation alone with Hallorann has been cut. Danny asks
if he is scared of the Overlook, and he replies that he isn't but that "some places are like people, some shine and some don't.
I guess you could say the Overlook Hotel here has something about it that's like shining".
7. The end of the Torrances' first scene in the hotel, when Wendy brings Jack
his breakfast, has been cut. Jack comments that he has never been as happy or comfortable anywhere as in the Overlook. Wendy reveals that she thought the place was "kinda scarey" when they first arrived. Jack
replies that he fell in love with it straight away; that when he came for his interview, he felt he had been there before
and he knew what was going to be around every corner.
8. Immediately after the scene in which Wendy and Danny explore the maze, a sequence
has been cut in which Wendy is seen working in the kitchen while a TV announcer talks of a search in the mountains for a missing
woman, and of a snow-storm that is predicted to be moving in on Colorado.
9. Following the scene in which Jack banishes Wendy from the lounge while he
is working, the title THURSDAY has been deleted.
10. After the scene in which Danny is confronted by the Grady twins, and they
invite him to come play with them for ever and ever, a scene has been cut in which Wendy and Danny are watching what seems
to be a soap-opera on television. Danny then asks to go to his room to get his fire-engine.
11. Some dialogue has been cut from the middle of the scene in which Jack first
goes to the Gold Room and is served a drink by Lloyd. He toasts, "Here's to five miserable months on the wagon and all the
irreparable harm that it's caused me". When Lloyd asks him how things are, he comments that they could be a whole lot better,
that he is having "a little problem with the old sperm bank upstairs" (referring to Wendy). Lloyd comments, "Women! Can't
live with 'em. Can't live without 'em !" Jack agrees. Apart from the reference again to Jack's problem with alcohol, the drinking-buddy
bonhomie and casual misogyny of the dialogue defines the banality of the evil that is overtaking (or always inherent in) Jack.
12. After the bathroom dialogue in which Jack is told by Grady that he will have
to 'correct' his family, a sequence has been cut in which Wendy is seen crying and talking to herself. She muses about the
possibility of getting down the mountain in the snowcat, and of calling the Forest Rangers so that they can start searching
for them. "If Jack won't come with us, we'll just have to tell him that we are going by ourselves". She then hears Danny calling
out "red rum" over and over, but when she tries to talk to him, she is only 'answered' by Tony, who tells her that Danny can't
hear her. "Danny's gone away, Mrs. Torrance".
13. A scene has been cut in which Dick Hallorann again tries to get through to
the Overlook by calling the Ranger station. They tell him that they've tried to get through several times by radio but there
been no answer. They offer to try again later. (This follows the scene, which has been slightly trimmed, in which
Jack deliberately sabotages the radio.)
14. Immediately after (13), and before the shot of Hallorann's plane in flight,
the title 8AM has been deleted.
15. This is followed by a shot of Hallorann inside the plane. The following material
has been cut: Hallorann asks a stewardess what time they are due to land in Denver; she tells him 8.20 and he checks his watch.
Jack is seen typing in the lounge of the Overlook. Hallorann's plane lands at the airport. Larry Durkin (Tony Burton), a garage
owner, answers his phone and talks to Hallorann, who asks for a snowcat to get up to the Overlook. Durkin tells him that the
mountain roads are completely blocked, and Hallorann justifies the urgency of his request: "We've got a very serious problem
with the people who are taking care of the place. They've turned out to be completely unreliable assholes. Ullman phoned me
last night, and I'm supposed to go up there and find out if they have to be replaced". Hallorann estimates that it will take
him five hours to drive up from the airport to collect the car. This is followed by the sequence as it now stands in the film
of Hallorann driving through the blizzard in the snowcat, with the voice-over of radio announcers chatting about the deteriorating
conditions. Some people recall radio announcers mentioning Martin Luther King's assassination.
16. The beginning of the scene in which Wendy finds Jack's type-written pages
covered with "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" has been cut. She and Danny are watching television; she looks at
her watch and then tells Danny that she is going to talk to his father for a few minutes and that he should stay there and
watch the cartoons. She picks up the baseball bat before leaving. The removal of all the sequences of the Torrances watching
television has now curtailed what would seem to be a significant motif in the film, to do with popular culture and communication.
17. In the final stages, when Jack is pursuing Danny through the maze and Wendy
is being confronted by some of the Overlook spooks, a few shots have been removed of a tableau in which skeletons are sitting
at a table with a champagne bottle and glasses.
18. Very soon after the film's American release, a coda to Wendy and Danny's
escape (which followed the shot of Jack frozen in the maze) was removed. This showed Wendy being visited in hospital by Ullman
(who wears a large brown coat), and his complimenting her on having survived. Ullman states that Jack's body was not found,
that he must have suffered from cabin fever, and tells Wendy that her visions were simply dreams. In one hospital bed
we see the "ghost" from the hotel who says "Great part isn't it?". Ullman then walks down a corridor and sees Danny playing
on the floor. He smiles and tosses the ball to Danny who catches it after it bounces.
The original release of "The Shining" included a brief scene of Ullman visiting Danny
and Wendy in hospital, where he assures Wendy that searchers have found no evidence of the supernatural events she had witnessed,
and tries to convince her that her experiences were in her mind. It appeared between the final shot of Jack frozen in the
maze and the long track shot closing in on the 4th of July photo. This scene was cut from the film days after its first release
(when it was only playing in a small number of theatres—this was typical of release patterns of the day, as opposed
to today's "wide releases" that require thousands of prints); the cuts were made by hand from those prints, presumably by
projectionists at the theatres, as well as from the internegatives that all subsequent prints were made from.
Shelley Duvall: "He cut out the final sequence of the film
after several days in the theatres. I think he was wrong, because the scene explains some things that are obscure for the
public, like the importance of the yellow ball and the role of the hotel manager in the plot. Wendy is in the hospital with
her son. The manager visits her, apologizes for what happened, and invites her to live with him. She doesn't say yes or no.
Then he goes into the hallway of the hospital, passes in front of Danny, who is playing on the ground with some toys. When
he gets near the exit, he stops and says, 'I almost forgot, I have something for you.' And he pulls from his pocket the yellow
ball that the twins had thrown at Danny. It bounces twice (we spent a whole day filming so it would bounce the right way),
Danny catches it, looks at it, then lifts his eyes towards the hotel manager, stupefied, realizing that throughout the story
he was aware of the mystery of the hotel. There was a Hitchcockian side to this resolution, and you know that Kubrick was
crazy about Hitchcock."
"The Shining" opened, was released, May 23, 1980 in New York and Los Angeles with the hospital scene, which was there until
Monday, May 26. It opened on about 50 or more screens in these two cities on May 23, and with the hospital scene. I saw the
film eight times on opening weekend at Mann's Chinese Theatre in LA. The scene was there all eight times. Next weekend I saw
it and it was gone. The film was platform released, to get word of mouth going, and opened across the rest of America on (Friday)
June 13th. These were prints made without the scene, prints in New York and LA has physical cuts which one can see as they
go by. That ending was in about twentyfive prints that opened May 23, 1980 in NY and LA, and it was cut out after the opening
Here's what I remember about the hospital visit. After the shot of Jack frozen in the
maze, cut to Ullman moving through a white hallway. The camera back tracks via steadicam keeping Ullman perfectly centered
in a medium shot. He's wearing a large, in fact really large, fur coat (absurdly huge, brown fur, like a bear), and carrying
some ugly dark roses for Wendy. He looks lost, turns a corner or two, and sees a uniformed guard sitting next to an open door.
He walks up to the guard and says something like "how's he doing?" and the guard motions him in saying "fine." Danny is in
the center of a large room playing with some toys. Ullman enters and says something to him that seemed inappropriate. I don't
think Danny answered or even acknowledged Ullman. Then he leaves quickly and heads down the hall into the next room and there's
Wendy in a white room, in a white bed, in a white gown. Ullman at first is kind and sympathetic, presenting the flowers to
Wendy, who looks worse than ever with matted black stringy hair and wide black eyes in sharp contrast to the bright room.
Ullman says something along the lines of "you'll be fine," and Wendy asks what was found in the hotel. Ullman makes patronizing,
and again inappropriate remarks about Wendy imagining the things she saw in the hotel. He implies that the proper thing to
do is to keep this talk quiet, so as to not further damage the reputation of the hotel. Cut to the tracking shot towards the
photos, which was so silent and disconcerting at that point. The hospital scene had an odd resonance with the scene in "Lolita"
(in the hospital) where Lo tries to convince Humbert he's imagining things (reversing the positions from TS).
My notes on the cut scenes also indicate Hallorann talking to Larry at Durkins' Garage.
This must have been very short as my memory of it is very amorphous; Larry said something about being carefull and closed
the sno-cat door. I'm not sure of this, though.
email@example.com: "I do remember one detail which fits with your musings. Ullman,
in his casual, patronizing manner, goes to great lengths to convince Wendy that EVERYTHING she saw at the hotel that final
night was merely hallucination. He cites the police in this judgement, saying they'd remarked that such visions could easily
appear to someone as stressed as she had been. It seems to me that by talking AT Wendy, instead of listening (as a truly concerned
person would do), Ullman continues to serve the hotel's interests, by presenting a front of denial to the world, the same
denial that made him laugh when he talked about Grady. Some remember the tracking shot to the photos on the wall at the
end of The Shining as being "twice as long" before the film was trimmed. Funny, I don't have any recollection of that at all,
sir. I maintain that the tracking shot to the photos is the same in either version, music too.
Mark Ervin: "Yet I do have the memory that this tracking shot
began at about the spot where Hallorann was axed, whereas now it starts roughly where Jack first approached the reception
firstname.lastname@example.org: "Okay. Other than that, I do recall the hospital sequence exactly as you described it, except I would add that
Danny was catatonic, looking just as he did when he told Wendy that "Danny's gone away, Mrs. Torrance." He sure looked gone
in that hospital. I honestly don't remember the musical cues being as you describe, but if they were, then they'd have been
most effective. I like the idea of the disorienting silence before the "Midnight" theme began."
Mark Ervin: "You're right. Danny was totally motionless
and not playing with the toys he's sitting in the middle of. I'm confident he didn't acknowledge Ullman, but whether he had
the frown typical of his "Tony mode" I can't say. He had previously broken out of it when he wakes up Wendy repeating "Redrum!
Redrum!." The last we see (current version) of Danny he's himself when he runs out of the maze and up to Wendy at the sno-cat."
"The excised scene occurred directly after the shot of Jack on ice. The scene is set in a hospital. Danny is recovering, and
Barry Nelson explains to Shelley Duvall that people simply can't take the isolation, and that's why Jacko went wacko. From
now on, we're told, the Overlook will be completely shut down during winter. I seem to recall that he also made some smug
comment about the how Shelley must have been hallucinating toward the end. Nelson's smarmy CSICOP-ian rationale for all that
we had seen evinced more than a few chuckles from the audience. (I saw the film at the Chinese in Hollywood, on opening day.)
Presumably, unwanted laughter led to the snippage."
Werz Mungle: "I only saw it once on the first day of release
and my memory of it is in conflict with reports from other quarters. They claim Barry Nelson rolls Jack's tennis ball towards
Danny, or that he at least hands it to him. I have no memory of this as a major detail. As I remember it, Ullman comes down
the hospital corridor and finds Danny playing with a nurse at her station and then proceeds into Wendy's room where she is
in bed recovering. Ullman then tells Wendy that the police went to the hotel and were not able to find any evidence of the
supernatural occurrences she described and they have dismissed her story and Jack's behavior as a case of cabin fever. Dissolve
back to the Overlook hallway and the stationary camera starts a slow dolly into the photo of Jack on the wall."
Rique (email@example.com): "After the closeup of jack frozen in the maze there
was a slow dissolve to the interior of a hospital corridor, the camera preceeding Ullman as he walked to the nurse's station
where he finds Danny, who seems just fine now and is playing a game with one of the nurses. Ullman proceeds to a hospital
room where he finds Wendy in bed recouperating from her experience. I think he brought her flowers. Ullman explains to her
that the police went up to the Overlook and did indeed find Jack and Halloran dead, but they did not find any evidence of
the other weird goings on in the hotel: blood from the elevator, skeletons in the lobby, ghosts, etc. Ullman dismisses her
"hallucinations" and explains Jack's murderous behavior as the result of them having experienced cabin fever. Wendy can't
believe it. Then there was another slow dissolve to a static shot of the Overlook lobby. As the dissolve ended the camera
then began to slowly move toward the far wall and into the closeup of the photo as the film ends now."
Klaatu@webtv.net: "Basically, as far as I can recall, it goes from the shot
of the frozen Jack, to Stuart Ullman walking down a hospital corridor carrying flowers. He then goes into a room where Wendy
is lying on a hospital bed, gives her the flowers and tells her how sorry he is in that Stuart Ullman kind of way. i.e. "
I just can't believe it happened here...chck...BUT it did." He then goes in and sees Danny but I can't remember what he say's
to him. It then cuts to the moving in shot of the photograph which ends the film."
1980 TV Spot for
above weblinks feature a TV Spot for “The Shining” (first link begins at 6:07) which contains minor footage not
found in either cut of the film. Some screenshots, courtesy Evan Volm, can be found below:
http://img216.imageshack.us/i/vlcsnap2009071313h01m17.png/ http://img218.imageshack.us/i/vlcsnap2009071312h48m17.png/ http://img216.imageshack.us/i/vlcsnap2009071312h35m40.png/ http://img221.imageshack.us/i/vlcsnap2009071312h51m07.png/ http://img218.imageshack.us/i/vlcsnap2009071312h51m35.png/
interesting, though, is the brief shot of Wendy running up the stairs in the TV SPOT (pictured above). It seems to have been
composed so that Wendy’s “clawed hand” resembles the famous shadow in Murnau’s “Nosferatu”.
AMK user M. Jones
weighs in on this scene:
“Yes, it's a different
shot. The ceiling is visible in the TV spot and not in the US (longer) cut I have here on my machine. I thought at first
the final cut might have been a cropped version of the moment we see in the TV spot but after watching it a couple of times
I can see the camera angle is also different. I believe this shot was the one that took 100+ takes to get right. He
had plenty of footage to use in a TV ad! I also agree
this moment in the TV spot looks like “Nosferatu”. It made me check the copy I had here because I was sure
I would have spotted it before. I think perhaps in a last minute rush to deliver a TV ad for the UK he used trims he
had available perhaps because it was quicker. I have to say it is quite exceptional to see unused pieces like this with a
Kubrick film. I have seen stills from unused footage but never moving images.”
user Harry Bailey comments on the same brief footage:
“As M Jones reports, it's totally different in the final cut.
This is really interesting and revealing, and it confirms those arguments that have maintained the kind of effect Kubrick
was ultimately trying to achieve in the final film: this shot must have been a very early take of Wendy running up the stairs,
because it's the kind of classically expressionistic Gothic shot which is nowhere to be seen in the finished film. Kubrick,
at some point in the production/shoot, must have decided to abandon the traditional Gothic-noir expressionistic horror aesthetic
and choose instead a HYPER-NATURALISTIC Gothic, because the final film completely dispenses with classic noir lighting; indeed,
it's as if he replaces all shadows (I've never really paid too much attention to this before, but do you notice how the film
is almost completely devoid of shadow, especially of the cliche expressionistic variety, settling instead for brilliant, high-intensity
luminous lighting, even in the night scenes?) in the film with direct mirroring instead. And this change transpires to be
one of the totally original features of the film's aesthetic strategy: horror in broad (second-hand/simulated) daylight...”
user MP on this matter:
points. I wouldn't be surprised if Kubrick abandoned a more expressionistic aesthetic. He began shooting Full Metal Jacket
on 16mm black and white film stock before abandoning that approach as well.”
“It's unusual that
he even considered a docu-drama 16mm monochrome filming approach for FMJ (though the film precedent for that would have been
Pontecorvo's Battle For Algiers, as it was for Dr Strangelove's battle scenes all those years ago) seeing as he continued
with, eventually settled for The Shining's shining-lighting approach both for FMJ and EWS, the latter also choosing mirroring
and intense lighting over contrast and shadowing, except for the seedy-like 16mm B/W Bill POV fantasies of Alice copulating
with the Sailor that are repeated in progression some six times throughout the film."