[Y]ou have this tremendous advantage of reading something for the first time, which is an experience you never have again with the story. I mean, the first time is something which you cannot ever guess about, you know? That’s the first time. Then you have a reaction to it, and subsequent readings, you know, are more analytical. But, you have to start with a kind of, you know, like falling in love reaction with the material. So then it just becomes, you know, a matter of…almost like a codebreaking, of breaking the thing down into a structure that seems to be still truthful, not losing the, you know, the ideas, or the content, or the feeling of the book. And try to get it into the much more limited time frame of the movie. And the criteria is always is it truthful and is it interesting?

~Stanley Kubrick, being interviewed by Tim Cahill in 1987


This introduction page serves as the shorthand for everything there is to know about what I’ve discovered in dissecting Kubrick’s unparalleled accomplishment, adapting Stephen King’s The Shining.

If you’re using an auto-translation system to read this analysis: I’ve gone to some lengths to explain when something is an English play on words, like how the name of this site is “Eye Scream”, which sounds exactly like “ice cream” in English. There’s a little note pinned to a board (right beneath the POLICE notice) in the film that reads EYE SCREAM…

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…so when Dick Hallorann says, “How’d you like some ice cream, doc?” what he might really be saying is, “How’d you like some eye scream, doc?” Figuring out what “eye scream” is at times feels like the whole point of this analysis. But in doing so, I discovered that there’s many, many little homophonic tricks like this that are way easier to grasp in English. I’ve tried to point this out whenever it happens. If there’s ever something that seems oddly translated, please let me know.

Now, if you only read one page on this site, make it this one, but know that for each of the points you’ll find below there’s a small book’s worth of analysis and data, which you can access here:

I’ve also created:

  • A site map
  • A glossary for a (relatively) quick tutorial on how to understand every nuance in my ocean of terms and findings.
  • A YouTube series explaining the major arguments in short form. I recommend subscribing to my channel now so that you’re notified whenever I post a new chapter, though production’s been delayed by over half a year now, as I’ve been restructuring my original 27-part series in order to make room for several new discoveries (specifically, this one and this one and this one and this one).
  • Update: I’ve spent a good deal of 2021 decoding all of Kubrick’s other films, from Eyes Wide Shut to Lolita. My findings on everything but Eyes Wide Shut (which looks to be the most complex of his films after The Shining) will be presented soon (I hope) in a forthcoming documentary called Mass Mirror. Once that’s available, my written analysis of those films will become visible on this site. Once that’s complete, I’ll begin work on the final doc, focusing exclusively on Eyes Wide Shut, tentatively titled Mourning Creation. If that sounds interesting, again, I would suggest subscribing to the YouTube channel.

Altogether, the site is about 800,000 words long (roughly the length of any two Game of Thrones novels), with hundreds (maybe thousands) of images, and I’ve only made time to do two site-wide edits. The last of those was almost a year ago now, when it was around 500,000 words long, and took over a month to complete. So if you notice any errors (typos, deadlinks, whatever), again, feel free to let me know. My deep gratitude goes out to all of you who have taken the time to help out.

Finally, before we begin, let me say, I realize there’s a war going on in this analysis between the subjective findings and the objective findings. A substantial minority of what you’re going to learn is irrefutable: the 300+ paintings and books and albums I’ve identified are what they are…

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…the final 21 black and white photos do move around the hotel…

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…objects do disappear between shots, do change colour between scenes, and the building does behave in impossible ways, like when room 238 opens behind Danny during his first encounter with room 237.

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But interpreting these phenomena will always be, at least in part, a subjective affair. I might be able to point you to a dozen references the film makes to the moon, but whether you agree with why I think the moon is of significance to King’s and Kubrick’s story will always be up to you. My purpose in starting this project was simply to see for myself how deep Kubrick’s genius for interconnection (and adapting the source material of others) drove. Suffice to say, over the past 2 years of analysis, I’ve satisfied my own curiosity and then some.

You may’ve noticed in the quote at the top of the page Kubrick saying that his criteria for adaptation, for compressing everything there is to be found in the enormity of a novel into the narrow film format was “Is it truthful and it is interesting?” That’s the spirit in which I’m presenting everything I hope you’ll stay to read.

Is what I’m saying accurate? And do you find it interesting the way I do?

What I hope you’ll have by the end is about a dozen new ways of looking at film as an art form, at its ability to compress information, and a new or renewed appreciation for the depths of Stanley Kubrick’s storytelling genius.


Did you know the Overlook Hotel’s interior design is heavily modelled after the Ahwahnee Hotel?

And did you know that the word Ahwahnee can derive from the Miwok word meaning “mouth”? Does that mean that, symbolically, as Jack drives up through the “Shining Mountains” (the indigenous name for the “Rockies”) he’s driving straight into the open mouth of some unfathomable predator?

The Torrance family descent into total disintegration isn’t just a literal one, then–they’re also being chewed alive in the teeth of this awesome maze. A bit like the plovers

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…that pick at the meat in the open mouths of crocodiles.

It’s probably no coincidence either that, as the family drives back into this “mouth” together, the cannibalistic Donner party springs into Wendy’s mind. And Danny’s canny enough to mine that train of thought. “You mean, they ate each other up?”

This is far from the film’s last thought regarding origins, mouths, and entryways (it’s not even its first thought on the subject), but it brings me to contemplate what sucked me into these 24 months (and counting) of relentless study.

Like most who saw Room 237, Rodney Ascher’s brilliantly constructed documentary studying the culture of Shining theorists and their proofs, I was intrigued but increasingly skeptical. Several of the speakers made grand claims, and hinted at possessing troves of their own unpublished findings to be made public at some later date. Did these troves arrive? I know Juli Kearns and John Fell Ryan have kept up their sites, but what I saw from idle searching just seemed to expand on what Room 237 had already expertly truncated.

So it was that in September of 2018, five years after seeing Room 237 the first time, a few months after the death of my mother, and a few weeks after moving to a new city, that I found myself with a week alone, and nothing to do but get settled and await the later arrival of my family. In remote isolation, unpacking my film collection, it came to me: why not do my own little Shining study? Sit down, live tweet any curiosities at friends and family, and try not to make a fool of myself.


Then, not half an hour into my second run, I noticed this…

And this…

And this…

And finally this…

And I thought, now hold on. What does the Abbey Road album cover have to do with The Shining? The last time I’d read The Shining was in the mid-90s, a few months after my grandmother died. She had a few King novels in her library, and I ferreted them away, probably because I was hoping to warp my fragile little preteen mind (mission, evidently, accomplished). But why did the Beatles ring a bell?

Turns out, the name The Shining comes from a John Lennon song, We All Shine On. Did Kubrick know that? The question seems stultifyingly naïve to me now, but at the time I wondered why Kubrick would bother with the reference.

Then I noticed this…

At 24:37, 15 seconds before Abbey Road‘s side one would end (side two is largely about why the band broke up), Hallorann arrives and “breaks up” the band.

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This shows a moment from my “phi grid” analysis. Go here to read about what these are. Or you can just use your eyeballs to see how this framing device almost perfectly divides the six figures here.

Then, almost as a joke, I thought, what if Abbey Road is to The Shining what some think Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon is to The Wizard of Oz? In other words, what if you could play Abbey Road in sync with the film to generate additional meanings, extrapolated from synchronicities of sound and context (and historical trivia about the band and the film)? Not only can you, but the album fits perfectly within the boundaries of the film, played three times over, omitting the 20-second-long secret song, Her Majesty.

I’ll spare you the tedium of explaining how studying the film this way led to every other one of my theories, but that’s exactly how it happened. The Abbey Road Shining, or what I call Redrum Road, became the catalyst, the breadcrumb trail, that led to every other of my discoveries. In a sense, Eye Scream became inevitable after that: I couldn’t do a decent analysis of Redrum Road without discovering every other interlocking, interweaving logic contained by Kubrick’s masterpiece.

What are those logics? Well, before we get to that, I should tell you a little about my process.


The love of my life, the Scully to my Mulder (who has only recently begun to relax her arch skepticism in favour of my mountains of evidence), insisted that if this were to work, I would need some ground rules. Once Redrum Road hooked me, my first rule became that I wouldn’t look into anyone else’s Shining theories. I rewatched Room 237 as a refresher, and decided I not only didn’t want to reproduce any theory from that film (something that became unavoidable for the accurate ones), but that I didn’t want to let any other online theories impact my work. Room 237 had done enough to define my perception. I didn’t need any other voices clouding my potential findings.

Now, I’m not a scholar or a scientist. If there’s a way these things are meant to be done, I don’t know them. But after I had about a hundred pages of notes, it became clear that sorting them by subject was the only way to keep from repeating myself. And what I noticed, scanning over the hundreds of little points, is that, as dynamic as they’d seemed in my mind, there was a fairly narrow range of recurring symbols: animals and clocks and rugs and magazines and weapons and paintings and absurdities and so on. So I started off thinking the film was only about 1) Animals, 2) Life and Death, 3) Form and Sense (the hotel), and 4) Media. In other words, reality (animals and our awareness of our own mortality) and fantasy (art as a means of making sense out of chaos).

Then it struck me how each of these had a shadow twin:

  • All the “animals” were causing me to overlook the representation of humans and our culture (easy to overlook, since every movie ever is about humans and our culture).
  • All the stuff about life and death as moral issues was blinding me to the frank subtext regarding life and death as base consequences of time, and its rhythms.
  • Out of all the bits about physical structure (form) and our perception of that structure (sense) came the realization that some of these forms were looping/symmetrical (cycles) while some of them were about building up/increment (progress).
  • And for the galleries-worth of art in the film, some of my notes weren’t about art that was actually in the film, but only being alluded to (winks), like the seeming reference to the Beatles, or to…well, we’ll get to that.

Eventually I realized that these categories were aspects of continuums tracing back to life itself, and forward into dozens of the film’s components. (You don’t need to study the graphic below – the site doesn’t make much use of these spectrums as a guide to the various analyses – I’m just including it as a reference for anyone curious about how I sorted my original body of notes.)

In case you don’t know “the tao”, I’ve been a Taoist for most of my life, so for me “the tao” very, very loosely refers to the duality of nature (light/dark, up/down, left/right). I’m not suggesting that the duality of nature and our perception of that duality (“cognizance”) is definitely all there is to reality, but I’m just saying these are the two categories that best describe (for me) the next split. So “cognizance” is the common factor between animals (who think and feel) and their nature, and humans (who think and feel) and our nature or culture. And the duality of existence (the tao), is the best common factor between the issue of life and death as facts of reality (like is creation always a good thing and destruction always a bad thing?), and the more objective rhythms of life and death (like what are time and space made up of, and how do we know?).

The Shining is not, as some have suggested, a receptacle for everything that ever was in the history of time (for instance, it’s way more about Julius Caesar than it is about any other Caesar, or any other Caesar-esque figure in history). But I think it’s because of these spectrums (the Shining Tree of Life, as I call it) that it can seem that way.

Once you notice the high volume of references to the animal kingdom and to human history you get to thinking, is he trying to say everything about everything? But no, The Shining is not Noah’s Ark and it is not Wikipedia. Though it may have a lot to say about, well, both.

My last major guiding principle was that no theory could sound more ludicrous than the faked moon landing theory (even its creator, Jay Weidner, to his credit, has since walked it back to ‘Kubrick had something to do with the moon landing’ (quotation marks mine)–which, when you consider that NASA’s nickname for the 2001: A Space Odyssey filmset was “NASA east“, seems like a safe bet), so I would open my mind up to any possibility, so long as there was sufficient evidence.

In fact, I would say now that certain of my findings will seriously test your skepticism (to the point where “faked the moon landing” might start to seem like the lesser of two intellectual feats), but as I covered in my intro documentary, you can be skeptical about whether Kubrick intended any of this…but ask yourself this: if I were to make an identical version of The Shining, and then confess to everything you’re about to learn about, wouldn’t the only question that remains then be how good a job I’d done at burying all these patterns? Well, there is something to be said for that. Which is that I still have around 30 art pieces left to properly identify (not counting the ones at I6, G4, and D5)…

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…so, insomuch as the ones that have been ID’d have a big story to tell, no one could claim to understand every one of The Shining’s mysteries. Yet.


And while it might seem counterintuitive, almost the very last thing I did in my analysis was to annotate King’s novel, to see which, if any, of the following techniques and references may have originated there, and I’m shocked to find myself reporting that, after almost 2 years of thinking Kubrick was just some mad genius of peerless ambition, everything you’re about to read about has at least some root of origin there. Since we haven’t delved into what most of Kubrick’s methods were, you should come back here after finishing this page if you’d like more info on how…

I was doing a page-by-page analysis, which I stopped once I hit the middle of the novel, because there was so much going on, the analysis was taking forever, and it only seemed to be snowballing. That said, every one of the major analyses linked to above do involve the back half of the novel, I just didn’t list every single thing there is to say about the back-half pages. So it’s possible that the few of Kubrick’s techniques that seemed to be unique to the film (The Treachery of Images, The Twice-Fold) are to be found through a more rigourous dissection of the novel’s back half. The fact is, I’m much more curious about Kubrick’s methods than King’s, and since what I have now suggests a link between the book and film on 95% of what’s there to connect, that’s good enough for me.

So these are not, as I’ve long thought, solely examples of Kubrick reimagining King’s prosaic gold into cinematic platinum, so much as Kubrick finding ways to make cinematic shorthands for the complexity of what’s possible in the long-form nature of a 447-page book. This is not to say that we’re able to play Abbey Road while reading the novel to hear additional layers of meaning. It simply means that Kubrick came up with that, and everything else, because of things that can be found in the novel.

Keep that in mind as we move forward.


As discussed all too briefly in Room 237, theorist John Fell Ryan had the idea (inspired by theorist MSTRMND) to superimpose a backwards-running version of The Shining over a forwards-running version of the film. They called it the Redrum Edition, and you can watch it here. I call it the “mirrorform” (partly as a reference to Alice in Wonderland, which I have reason to believe inspired this technique).

In Part 1 I do a truly exhaustive (frequently moment-to-moment, line-by-line) survey of ways in which the two halves of the film reveal thematic, stylistic and structural similarities. What’s revealed is a story in constant conversation with itself.

In Part 2 I look at what I call “interlocks” and “piggybacks”. Interlocks are when sequences line up perfectly with each other, as in the case of all the kitchen pantry sequences lining up back-to-back, with Hallorann’s tour of the pantry fitting perfectly between the two sequences of Jack being stuck in the pantry.

Piggybacks are when more general themes/subjects seem to interlock across vast swathes of story. One of the most fascinating (if briefly analyzed) examples of this is the mazes seen in the film. There’s the famous hedge maze, which I’m sure you’ll recall is a major feature of the film’s final 11 minutes, but there’s also a large model of the same labyrinth in the hotel lobby. So if we think of all lobby scenes as “labyrinth” scenes by extension, and if we then go looking for things that connect the lobby to other rooms in the hotel, like how first half Jack is noticing the baseball bat on the couch, while last half Wendy is wielding that bay in the lounge…

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…virtually the entire mirrorform film is connected to this lobby/labyrinth.

Or, as forward Jack is on his way to the interview glancing over at the model labyrinth for the first time, backward Jack is defeated in the actual labyrinth, with the model labyrinth seeming to crush down upon him, like a trapping cage.

Now, some might say, imagining these images streaming by in real time, “Well, how was anybody supposed to get that?” To which I say, yeah. You’re right. It would take a genius way beyond even Kubrick’s to get all of what I and others have discovered in the mirrorform, watching it unspool live in movie form. You’d be lucky to glean one out of every ten of my findings that way.

But Kubrick wasn’t just a filmmaker. He was also a photographer, who prized the value of the still image, and who decried the idea that a failed director is another name for a photographer. Without going frame-by-frame, without treating the film as a massive daisy-chain of photographs, you will miss these hundreds and thousands of gorgeous contextual symmetries.

Click here to start the mirrorform analysis

Click here to start the interlock and piggyback analysis


This section starts with an overview of what I consider to be one of the most important of Kubrick’s techniques, which I’ve dubbed Up the Down Staircase. In a nutshell, this is the process of taking every element of your story (in this case, the likes of family violence, alcoholism, isolation) and considering it at its most general and its most specific implications, its macro and its micro.

All good stories will focus on the micro, adding only dashes of the macro to nudge the audience in the intended direction. So, while the Torrances are going to be isolated in a hotel all winter in the Rockies, Wendy remembers how the Donner Party was snowbound in a similar part of the country, famously resorting to cannibalism to survive. From there, a small explosion of other connections emerges (the Donner Party “ate each other up”; will the Torrances eat each other up in this Ahwahnee?), and so we get the secondary effect of Up the Down Staircase, which is how the macro side of things invites the audience (and the artist) to make other sets of connections between the specific spectrum of isolation, and the other spectrums which could easily connect in the macro sphere (the Donner party were a “party of settlers in covered wagon times”; are the Torrances part of so-called manifest destiny?). But that’s not all.

As Danny inquires about the Donner Party, mirror Jack
pretends to be the Big Bad Wolf, hungry for some little pigs.

In this rare, wonderful, 2-hour interview, Kubrick reinvokes several times what might just be his most central creative maxim: “Is it true? And is it interesting?” So, Up the Down Staircase would be a supporting pillar of the “Is it true?” half of this duo. And what would make one adaptation of The Shining more true (or more interesting) than another? The truth of the shining, as a phrase and as a phenomenon, is that Stephen King dreamt it up thanks, at least in part, to John Lennon’s first post-Beatles single.

Think about that. Why would King draw our attention to that fact, when he dedicated the book to his son Joe, who “shines on” (and he does, in case you hadn’t heard)? Why are the Grady girls murdered in the winter of 1970? Why is the whole story about a family on the verge of collapse, and a man trying to spin the straw of isolation into the gold of artistic greatness?

During the entire first shot of what I call the Abbey Road Tour, Tony/Danny
is writing REDRUM on the door. So I don’t call it Redrum Road for nothing.

I’m not saying King was consciously forging a Beatles implosion parable, but I think Kubrick saw that a big part of the truth of this novel was in how the death of the Beatles specifically, and the horrors and heartache of the 20th century’s major events generally influenced the conceit and the writing, and became a major component of its truth. Redrum Road wouldn’t work if the songs didn’t seem to be speaking to the events onscreen. And while you have to become a bit of an Abbey Road expert to see how that’s so (did you know Octopus’s Garden is about how desperately Ringo (played by Wendy Torrance in the Tour) wanted out of the band?), or how consistently so it is, once you get to that point, the two become almost inseparable. That’s how “true” Kubrick was able to craft this film.

During the opening bars of Octopus’s Garden in Round 2, Wendy is “under the sea” of elevator blood, while inspecting Danny’s neck bruises.

The ancillary effect of Redrum Road is, as it divides the film into three perfect thirds, it gives you a reason to watch the entire mirrorform in full. Like, you can watch the Redrum Edition from the start to the middle, or from the middle to the end, and have seen the full movie, right?–although you could miss out on the fun of things like watching Jack tumble backwards up the (down?) staircase. But if all you were doing was analyzing the mirrorform for how the structure affects the drama, you could study 70:45 (half of 141:30) and have studied everything there is to study. But Redrum Road gives a forward-moving context to each of the film’s thirds, and both of its halves.

What’s more, it draws our attention to how each third of the film plays out with some very eerie stylistic similarities, as though it were the same story three times over. So, for instance, in Come Together when John Lennon sings “Juju eyeball” in Round 1 we see photo Jack staring creepily…

In Round 2 we see Tony/Danny staring creepily…

And in Round 3 we see THURSDAY Jack staring creepily.

It’s not like there’s one of these for every lyric of every song, but there’s dozens, if not hundreds, of major instances to observe (many of which would be true with or without Abbey Road, like the above creepy stares, but I can’t stress enough how beautifully Redrum Road gives you the reason to look, and something to find). Also, note how each of the creepy stares is from the backwards action. So if we didn’t have the mirrorform, it would be impossible to notice these things. So the mirrorform supports Redrum Road, and Redrum Road supports the mirrorform.

Also, just in case you never go deeper into my research, the Beatles references do not end at Abbey Road, and are not limited to the form and function of Redrum Road. As you can find at the end of my Round 1 section, there’re numerous codes within the film nodding at the full careers of the greatest band in the history of time. Like, did you know Danny escapes the hedge maze because of the cover art for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band?

Go here to read more about Redrum Road


Redrum Road might’ve been an easier pill to swallow with what I’m about to reveal in mind, but I only just discovered it (May 2020), and I’m presenting it having only just finished the analysis.

With the help of the good folks at discogs.com we finally identified the album sitting behind Wendy when she hears about Jack getting the job: it’s Stomu Yamash’ta’s East Wind, a 1974 album composed as the soundtrack for a 1975 racing documentary called One By One, reissued in 1978 as The Quick and the Dead, and later again as Champions Forever: The Formula One Drivers.

And track one (the title track, One By One) ends at the exact moment that the album itself appears in The Shining (at 10 minutes and 45 seconds). I’d discovered Redrum Road 18 months prior, so naturally I thought we gotta mash these babies together and see what happens. And do they go together? Do they go together?

It’s practically a Kubrickian Fantasia.

(Actually, I’m gonna leave that last line, cuz I like it, but I’ve since compared it to Redrum Road, and they’re sort of equally amazing in different ways, just fyi.)

As each track comes to its thrilling conclusion, we realize that it encompassed some scene, or sequence of scenes, perfectly. There’s only two tracks with singing (Hey Man and Superstar), so it has to work less by the context of the lyrics and more by the movement of the music, the structure of its timing. And when you throw in the mirrorform factor, it gets even more impressive. But the album is only 38:43 long, so I knew it wasn’t going to be another Redrum Road, where it would play three times perfectly, and anyway, why would we want it to do that? Redrum Road already does that.

What it does do, is end 3:27 past the one-quarter mark of the mirrorform (35:16), at the exact moment that Wendy and Danny reach the dead end in the labyrinth that causes them to turn around and retrace their steps for a few seconds. Danny even says “Dead end!” at this moment. And that made me think that this was the “Dead” end, as in The Quick and the Dead.

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So, where would the “Quick” end be? Only two people say “quick” in the film. Wendy says it 18:06 into the mirrorform when she’s stuck in the bathroom window, telling Danny to “Run, quick!” And Ullman says it 20:06 into the mirrorform, when he’s saying they should have a “quick look” at the apartment containing the window Wendy’s stuck in. Well, the album was an LP originally, so it has a side one and a side two, right? Side one ends at 19:06.

18:06-19:06-20:06. There’s a “quick” 1 minute from each side of the middle of the album. So there’s your “Quick” end.

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And just so you know, side two of the album therefore begins at 19:07, which is the year (1907) construction on the Overlook began, according to Ullman. But it’s only 19:07 when you take out the 14-second Warner Bros. logo at the beginning. With the logo, it’s 19:21, the year Jack transports back to after his not so quick and debatably dead end.

But there’s also this issue of One By One, the doc’s (and album’s) original name. Jack says “One buh one” to Lloyd, in the line, “You set ’em up, ‘n’ I’ll knock ’em back, Lloyd, one buh one!” If you just play the album from the start of The Shining to the “Dead end” that line’s left out, because it happens 5:20 from the middle of the mirrorform, and 26:28 from the “Dead end”. So that got me thinking again: could we fold the mirrorform a second time, bringing the middle of the mirrorform to the start of the mirrorform, so that One By One would play over the entire film?

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The first track, the 10:45 track, has three parts, and these are called One By One, Hey Man, and One By One (Reprise). So if we play the album starting from the middle of the movie, it just so happens that Jack says “one buh one” mere moments from the shift between One By One and Hey Man. So naturally, I had to make this Twice-Folded Shining, and see if it revealed structural synchronicities on the level of the original mirrorform analysis, and whoa nelly, does it ever.

One utterly spectacular thing this analysis revealed was the significance of this one little thing that’d been puzzling me for months. In Boulder, Danny’s bedroom features two boxes of sewing cards, that sit in a sort of yin-yang arrangement, one upside-down beneath the other. They only appear one other time, in one other shot, behind Jack on MONDAY.

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Well, it just so happens that the doctor leaves Danny’s bedside right at the end of track 2, Black Flame, and what the Twice-Folded Shining does it cause them to show up again (behind MONDAY Jack) during the exact middle of track 4, Tangerine Beach.

But, again, thanks to the Twice-Fold, the entire sequence of Danny in the bedroom with Jack starts exactly as the doctor’s leaving, so the sewing cards are off-screen the entirety of track 3, Rain Race. Only appearing again, once Rain Race has ended.

And what are sewing cards? Well, they’re cards designed to teach kids how to sew, by punching their favourite cartoon characters (or whatever shape, really) with holes that you can run thread through. So, Kubrick has used the Twice-Folded Shining and One By One to make a thematic sewing card out of Stephen King’s story, and he used sewing cards themselves to draw our attention to this.

I’ve also discovered evidence that the film could be folded up to seven times, but that’s part of another analysis, actually. We’ll get there.

Anyhow, my plan now is to make a commentary track where I’ll play both halves separately once, and then run through the whole thing all together, so you can see how insanely beautiful these four layers of overlay all working together looks. And I’ll link to that here once it exists, but for now, you can jump the turnstiles and read my moment-by-moment analysis.

For more on the album East Wind, and how it and the documentary One By One alone relate to the movie, go here.

For the start of the round one, “Quick half” analysis, go here, and for the start of the round two “Dead half” analysis, go here. And FYI, I only start using the Twice-Folded visuals in the “Dead” half, so if that sounds like more your thing, you might want to start there, though there is a good deal of analysis from the first half that I don’t repeat.


Now, if by some astronomical coincidence, Redrum Road and The Rum and the Red were entirely unintentional (thus becoming the most intricate and elaborate series of coincidences of all time, hands down), the film would still be awash in buried art references. In my section Come Together, Right Now, Over Me, I’ll guide you through the 300+ paintings, books, magazines, films, songs, photographs, and games sprinkled throughout the film (that I’ve been able to identify – there’s another 40 paintings and books still to put names to, though in most cases I’ve got some good guesses), and what their inclusion tells us.

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And not only their inclusion, but their behaviour. What do I mean by that? Well, it just so happens that paintings move from room to room, books are shared between the Torrance and Hallorann libraries, and all the photos around photo Jack at the end appear elsewhere in the hotel.

This is also the section where I show how the plot structures and story details of Snow White, Julius Caesar, and Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are (all heavily referenced by the film) informed the “codebreaking” Kubrick did to mold King’s drama into something all his own.

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Generally speaking, I don’t think a single book or song was included in the film for no reason, but what becomes increasingly clear, once you start to research the methods these artists used to create their works, is how helpful the methods would’ve been to support the grand vision Kubrick seems to have had for this project. Like, even if the mirrorform and Redrum Road don’t sound utterly bananas to you, you’re probably wondering how anyone could’ve formulated a method to keep all these details straight, and then to time each shot of each sequence just right so that the right moment would appear on the opposite side.

Whether it’s the geometry Alex Colville used in his paintings (five of which are in the film), or the “graphic notation” Krzysztof Penderecki used to compose his songs (seven of which are in the film), you start to get an idea of Kubrick using techniques like these to frame his shots or time his sequences.

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As for the mirrorform itself, people have theorized that Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment (1866) and Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) are what I would call mirrorform stories. And sure enough, at one point in the mirrorform we have two very Alice-looking young ladies (the original Alice, not the Disney Alice) appearing in the same place on screen as a book shelf behind a REDRUMing Tony/Danny where a copy of Crime and Punishment can be seen. Coincidence?

Go here to read more about the art in the film


Six months after switching from working on this site to working on documentaries about this site, I was working on episodes 4-6, which look at how the photographs factor in a larger analysis of lefts and rights and ups and downs, and I realized that I’d never really gone shot-for-shot to be sure my claims about where certain photos appeared were iron clad claims.

Long story short, what this process helped me discover is that the final 21 photos are part of what I now call the Final 21 Key (F21), a sort of shorthand code for clarifying a few of the film’s spatial and thematic uncertainties.

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Using the numbers as you see above, I discovered what the totals are for the three areas of the hotel where these photos repeat.

The total for the lobby? 237.

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The total for the Games Room? 157. Which is 2:37 expressed in seconds.

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The other colour boxes in this graphic are just tracking the other photos in this room that twin one another. Only the blue numbers/red stars are F21 photos.

The total for the lounge? 417. Or, 157 + 237 + 23.

157 for the photos east of Jack’s typewriter (sorry, I screwed up the placement for the 33 value, and was too lazy to make a whole new graphic). And 260 for the photos west of his typewriter. And there’s a 23-value as part of the area marked “55” in the below graphic, which I believe was intended to sit apart from the other values in this area.

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So if we think of 237 as the “work” (lobby) number, and 157 as the “play” (games room) number, then it’s like Jack’s being ground up between these forces the entire time he’s pinioned between east and west.

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Then, since 237 is the whole number and 157 becomes 2:37 as time, could this “work and play” be rendered as “space and time”? All space and no time makes Jack a dull boy. Isn’t that a lovely way to describe the hell of Jack Torrance. He sold out everyone in his tiny universe for all the space in the world, but it didn’t buy him time.

And then I found that if you add every shot of one of these photos in the film together (not counting double shots, showing the same perspective as from the shot before), the grand score for the entire film is 2368…2 points shy of a perfect 2370. And there just so happens to be a photo cloaked in shadow that appears only at the moment of Hallorann’s murder, which could be that final 2-value. I don’t think anyone could say for sure…but wouldn’t that be juicy?

I then do an exhaustive study of where each photo appears in the hotel to try to understand what symbolic significance each photo might have in each of its appearances. I also considered the significant numbers spoken and seen throughout the film to gain a deeper understanding. Like, 21 equals “Jack’s doom” because Jack becomes stuck in the year 1921. Number 9 is the Grady murders, because they happened 9 years ago “during the winter of 1970”. And so on.

Then there’s a section looking at moments that seem to have significances onto themselves thanks to the way that the F21 photos combine across the shot. So when Danny’s emerging from his room 237 experience, in the deep distance are a 10-value and a 13-value, adding to 23 (the same 23 which I think sits apart from the other 237), while right next to Danny is a 7-value. It’s as if the 237-ness of this moment refuses to quit.

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Even as Danny continues forward a new wall with 33-points-worth appears, along with a second 7-value on the stairs, for an elongated 23-33-7. The room’s influence is growing, it seems, with passing space and time.

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And finally here we’ll look at the phenomenon of what I call “Ullman’s Eyes”, the two photos which hang behind Ullman throughout the interview, and which, it turns out, repeat more often than any other photo throughout the building, with 31 appearances each. What’s more, if we apply the F21 logic to any surface they appear on (first photo equals 1 point, second photo equals 2 points, and so on), then every one of Ullman’s Eyes counted together equal…you guessed it: 237.

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So yeah, these are some treacherous flippin’ images!

Go here to read more about this dense patterning.


If that last section made your head spin, as it did mine, I’m sorry, but this one isn’t any simpler. I’ll try to be brief.

Béla Bartók is considered Hungary’s greatest composer, and his music is the first thing that goes through Wendy’s mind on page 221 of the novel, the first page after Danny gets choked by Lorraine Massey in room 217. Bartók only wrote one opera in his lifetime, Bluebeard’s Castle, based on the French folktale Bluebeard. And when book Hallorann first warns him about room 217, Danny uses his memories of the dreaded Bluebeard to contextualize the warning. It pops back into his mind the first time he passes the evil room alone, and finally, along with Alice in Wonderland and Little Red Riding Hood, as he finally enters the one room he was told to steer clear of. Bluebeard is the story of a powerful nobleman who keeps the seven severed heads of his ex-wives in a room he tells his new wife never to enter.

Only one Bartók composition appears in the film, Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta. We hear it three times.

Musicologist Ernö Lendvai wrote a book explaining that this piece was composed according to the Fibonacci sequence. The evidence for which is explained in the less-complicated-than-it-looks graphic below.

You are not required to understand this. Don’t worry.

The Fibonacci sequence is a series of numbers where each new number is the product of the last two added together. It goes 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, and so on into infinity. What’s crazy is this sequence can be used to create something called a golden spiral, which, when you place this spiral over natural phenomena (sea shells, sunflowers, galaxies, human faces), frequently reveals that life seems to like the golden ratio as a way to express natural formations.

Well, it turns out that the golden spiral can also be used to compose photographs and paintings, and, therefore, film images. The thinking goes that while the commonly used “rule of thirds” is good for presenting a heightened sense of reality or beauty, a golden spiral composition (or “phi grid” as they call it) is better for giving something a more naturalistic appearance.

As others have noted, there’s more than one way to apply the spiral.

As you can see, the spiral isn’t cutting off or capturing everything perfectly within the exact form of the spiral, but you still get a sense of natural beauty. What you’re seeing looks more correct, more real.

A proper phi grid is created when you take one golden spiral, and overlap it with an opposing, backwards golden spiral (sort of like a mirrorform). The most striking feature of the phi grid is how the centre square becomes the smallest section in the frame. So when you’re not using this technique to capture vast landscapes or outer space, the subject or focal point of a composition (if it’s not in one of the eight larger sections) can take on a shrunken appearance.

The Shining uses both the phi grid and the rule of thirds to compose its shots, as I’m sure many great films do–it’s not about one being valued over the other. What’s interesting is how and why these two compositions are invoked. The film is ultimately about Jack, Wendy and Danny trying to navigate between fantasy and reality, what the hotel is vs. what it seems to be.

When Wendy is witnessing Jack’s madness for the first time, it’s as if she’s stumbled into Rule of Thirds Land, suddenly confronted by a heightened reality she didn’t know could exist in this place.

And before Jack explodes we get these phi grid shots to establish that this is the real Jack. The naturalism of the composition heightens the sense that something is wrong with him, because he’s clearly trying to hide what he really feels, which is that he wants Wendy to get the heck out.

Once he gives in to the urge to be insane with his wife, we switch completely into Rule of Thirds Land, and the unreality, the uncanny valleyness of this moment becomes total.

And if that all sounds far-flung to you, hold on to your hat.

It hit me not long after realizing that Fibonacci could have something to do with the film’s nature that the movie is 143.75 minutes long (including the closing credits). And 144 is a Fibonacci number. Was it possible, then, that the film was itself a golden spiral, with clear demarcations at the 1-minute (1), 2-minute (1), 4-minute (2), 7-minute (3), 12-minute (5), 20-minute (8), 33-minute (13), 54-minute (21), 88-minute (34), and 143-minute (55) lines? And then, would there be cuts in-between those moments (what I call “spiral cuts”), dividing them into golden ratios of their own?

Red boxes here show the Fibonacci cuts and the green/purple boxes show the spiral cut moments. The green boxes are for cuts that make the section into big-to-small sections, and the purple boxes are for cuts that make them small-to-big. As you can see, that means only the third and eighth spiral cuts (three cuts from either end) are small-to-big.

I’m sad to say, the film doesn’t have what I was hoping I’d find: hard cuts at all those moments, dividing what felt like one major section of drama from another (the opening drive to the hotel alone takes three minutes, covering three sections).

I’m glad to say, after lengthy study, it seems that these moments nevertheless act as firm boundaries for dividing up the film’s various dramatic and structural border-crossings, and that this logic extends to the mirrorform. In fact, the mirrorform strengthens its potency tenfold. So what you end up with is ten sections of increasing length, that segment the action in a way that should feel “natural” to the viewer.

Let’s just look at Section I which is 60 seconds. How you make a golden ratio out of 60 seconds is to have a 23-second half and a 37-second half. And there just so happens to be a cut right at this moment, dividing the first two shots of the film…from the third and fourth.

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You’ve got a shot that curves right…

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…one from directly above…

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…one from straight on…

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…and one that curves left.

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As we’ll see with Danny’s escape through the maze, lefts and rights are of central importance to the film’s visual language. So in this opening section, we’re given a basic tutorial on how the film thinks about space.

On the flip side, the spiral cut divides the last two shots of the film, from the third last. And yes, this section seems to scream something out about the nature of time…

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…but it also introduces us to the film’s general interest in numbers. There are 143 people in this shot with Jack. 76 women, 67 men.

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So, just as side one, so to speak, seems to have this interest in symmetry and mirrorformity, side two has its own yin-yang going on. And yeah, there’s a 143 minutes in this movie. Just as there’s 143 heartbeat noises on the soundtrack atop a long sequence starting with Wendy plotting escape and ending with Hallorann coming to the rescue.

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There’s 67 beats atop the mother and son sequence, and 76 atop murderer and murderee.

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But what really struck me about this section is all the opposites flying around. The forward song is Day of Wrath. The backward song is Midnight, the Stars and You. The forward subject is outdoors, nature, real, living Jack. The backward subject is indoors, people, and supernaturally dead Jack. Forward is colour, backward is black and white. Forward is mountains with easy-to-find names, backward is all these anonymous faces in this forgotten photo. Forward has no art. Backward is only art. I can go on. The point is: not only are there all these dualities emerging from comparing the sides against themselves, they also become yin-yangs for one another.

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There are things like this to point about all ten of these increasing lengths of time, each segmenting the action in a way that I suppose should feel “natural” to the viewer.

General critics of this theory have pointed out that Kubrick released four different versions of the film, a 146-minute version (which was quickly pulled from theatres and destroyed – no surviving copy exists), and a 144, 142, and 119 minute version. To which I would simply counter that there’s nothing I’m saying about the 144-minute version that I’m saying that isn’t true. It may well be that there are other patterns that exist in the other versions. I don’t know, because I haven’t studied them, I studied this one.

Also, though the visuals fade to black at 141:17 (or 2:21:17, which looks like an elongated 217), the song that was playing on the soundtrack keeps playing to exactly 143:00 (our final Fibonacci cut), whereupon an eruption of ghost applause can be heard, followed by the sound of all the ghosts milling about and chatting (right until 2:23:37, when THE END appears onscreen). So if we think about the film as a perfect mirror, what’s the sound that precedes the curtain going up on the start of a film? A bunch of audience members milling around in the theatre chatting, right? So it’s as if Kubrick’s hinting that we, who exist outside the film’s golden spirals, are, in reality, not so different from the Overlook’s ghosts.

Actually, I bring that up partly because one explanation I have for why the “European cut” is 119 minutes is that it would fade to black around the 117-minute mark. As we’ll see later, a major subtext for the 144-minute version is the Tower of Babel, which possesses a connection to 117s. But we’ll get to that in good time.

Another fascinating feature of this technique is that, however long your feature is, so long as its length is a Fibonacci number, the second last section (in this case the ninth section, 54:00-88:00) becomes what I like to call the “middle movie”, not just because it will always cross over the midpoint of the runtime (in this case being 70:45), but because of how, when you apply the mirrorform, this action will almost perfectly mirror back on itself.

Had the film’s visuals been exactly 142 minutes (instead of 43 seconds shy), the middle movie would reflect on itself perfectly. And if this seems like a disqualifying factor, re-gaze your eyes upon Lendvai’s graphic showing Bartók’s Fibonacci quality, and note that it’s far from perfect. The black arrows show how far certain sections of music play for, and as you can see, they don’t perfectly align with the red kite shape, they’re simply close enough that the imperfection is negligible in favour of the approximate superstructure. Same as you wouldn’t say a building lost its beauty for having to include things that muddy its symmetries, like exit signs, and fuse boxes.

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Anyway, just like how the phi grid has that mini-square in the centre of the grid, the middle movie acts (or could act) like a mini version of the total drama. In The Shining it possesses some interesting distinctions, many of which are too complex to get into here. But here’s a fun one: the last time Danny talks to Tony is right before the start of Section IX, and the first time Tony talks to Wendy after having assumed control of Danny is right after the end of Section IX. The middle movie is a Tony-free zone.

Another easy one (somewhat related to the last): pre-middle movie, Jack hasn’t seen any ghosts and doesn’t intend to kill his family, though early on he does hear the Grady story, which puts this idea in his head; in the middle movie Danny confronts Jack about the possibility of him murdering him and Wendy, then he has his murder nightmare, meets Lloyd, the 237 ghost and Grady; right as the middle movie is ending, Grady is saying “…you are the caretaker…” which begins the conversation leading to Grady instructing Jack to murder his family. Two and a half short minutes later, this conversation ends, and Jack will never see another ghost before the end (he later speaks to Grady through a door). So, pre-middle movie = Jack’s a normal enough guy being weakened by some mild supernatural forces (like he can’t tell that he’s writing the All Work papers); middle movie = the ghosts transforming him into a potential familicidal maniac; post-middle-movie = Jack’s a familicidal maniac. So while we’ve lost Danny’s Tony, Jack’s Tony is in full swing.

If you decide to poke your nose in on this, arguably most technical analysis, you’ll note that it begins with a study on what I think is one of the best proofs of its validity. For both the mirrorform and Redrum Road, when you look at the middle moments for both of those film-wide techniques, there appear to be little symbolic signatures winking at the fact that we are indeed meant to analyze the film in those ways. So I figured this Golden Shining would have one too. But what would be the “middle” of ten sections of increasing length? Well, if we treat the break between sections I-V and sections VI-X as the middle, that would be 12:14, which happens to be exactly 13 mirrorform seconds away from a vision Tony sends Danny of himself screaming, surrounded by darkness (12:01) and 29 seconds away from the shot of Danny actually screaming, in reaction to Dick’s murder (12:43). These shots are exactly 7000 seconds apart from each other in the normal version of the film, and 42 seconds apart in the mirrorform (recall that 42 is on the shoulder of Danny’s sports shirt).

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So long story short, what this helped me realize is that sections I-V of the Golden Shining do contain a massive amount of the film’s religious or “fantasy” references (especially on the film’s soundtrack), while sections VI-X contain much more areligious or “reality” references (especially in the paintings seen throughout the hotel, many of which were by artists touted for their adherence to anatomical reality). This is not to say that supernatural things don’t happen in the “reality” half, or that real things aren’t happening in the “fantasy” half – most of the ghosts are in the reality half, and the fantasy half contains most of the scenes taking place outside the Overlook (the entire hedge maze chase and half of the Boulder scenes). But one detail I really love about this is how the Golden Shining‘s middle moment would be 12:14, and thanks to details seen throughout the film, we know that Jack’s frozen corpse is likely being seen on Dec. 14th, which can be written as 12/14. So just as this moment is a midpoint between two sets of five golden ratios, dividing fantasy and reality, Jack’s death has a reality (his frozen corpse) and a fantasy (his July 4th ghost).

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Now, it’s possible I’m not the discoverer of this technique, but rather its inventor. But I highly doubt that in the light of everything I’ve just covered. Why I suspect it’s likely Kubrick was doing this consciously boils down to the fact that a) he definitely understood the difference between rule of thirds and phi grids, b) I would bet the mirrorform was intentional, which is itself like a phi grid, and c) King’s novel uses Fibonacci to embed a code. The likelihood of Kubrick having golden spirals on the brain is higher than if he hadn’t been using these techniques, but if Fibonacci cuts and spiral cuts were a conscious decision, it clearly didn’t move him to force the edit to include hard cuts at the Fibonacci lines. The only question is: does that matter, when everything else about it is so strong?

Go here to read more about the Fibonaccification of Kubrick’s brain


Did you realize that Danny’s trike rides were more than just the random swervings of a curious child? That they are in fact, the reason for his survival?

In this section we’ll look at Kubrick’s dense efforts to embed basic codes and patterns into the film, like what I call Danny’s lessons and escapes, and the two four-bird keys.

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After that we’ll look at what I call Mirror Movements when either the camera or the character(s) move through the same space in the same way (often inviting games of Spot the Difference (or Kim’s Game) for the viewer).

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Or how characters sometimes move through the same space in the opposite way.

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Then we’ll look at what I call Mirror Phrases and Echo Phrases, two types of dialogue that seem to emerge from Jack’s talks with Lloyd and Grady, and which he attempts to midwife into his relationship with Wendy.

In a nutshell, a mirror phrase is an exact repeat of a line of dialogue, sometimes by one character mirroring the other and sometimes by one character repeating themselves. The example that always springs to mind for me is:

Grady: “An n-word.”
Jack: “An n-word?”
Grady: “An n-word…cook!”

Or: Wendy: “As soon as possible?”
Jack, mockingly: “As soon as possible!?!!?”

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An echo phrase takes something about the form of another bit of dialogue and twists or trims it in some necessary way. It’s not a perfect repeat, but it’s very close.

Wendy: Well I…I think maybe he should be taken to a doctor.
Jack: You think maybe he should be taken to a doctor?
Wendy: Yes…
Jack: When do you think maybe he should be taken to a doctor?

While the applications of this technique are limited only to the imagination (the Coen Brothers are masters of using them to comedic effect, for instance), in The Shining they speak to Jack’s bottomless appetite for praise and acceptance. The ghosts use them to lure Jack over to their side, and then tease him with them until he’s their willing catspaw. During his ultimate battle of wits with Wendy, he throws one after another at her, expecting her to return them like one of the ghosts. But she’s not trying to manipulate him that way, and so Jack talks himself into an echo chamber of his own undoing.

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“Have you ever thought about my responsibilities? Have you ever had a single moment’s thought about my responsibilities? Have you ever thought for a single solitary moment about my responsibilities to my employers?”

Then we’ll look at the phenomenon of exact twins and imperfect twins (duos) that appear in the film. The Grady twins draw our attention to the notion of imperfect symmetry and duplication (not least by the fact that Ullman describes them as not being twins, Ullman: “He came up here with his wife and two little girls, I think, about 8 and 10…”) but the phenomenon doesn’t end there. And these duos can often tell us a lot about the film’s subtext, like in the example below where Wendy is on the phone with Carson City playing behind her, and Jack is on the phone with Ullman and Watson standing in the same formation, behind the opposite shoulder. The character from Carson City relative to Watson is named Mr. Sharon, but the way the actors in the film say it it sounds like “Mr. Shine”. And I have reason to believe Watson may be the film’s most powerful shiner.

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Then we’ll look at all the other notable instances of repetition, of which there are legion. Take, for instance, that every main character receives a kind of shine while looking in a mirror.

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And we’ll look at the absurd degree to which Kubrick embedded references to the numbers 42 and 237 throughout the many, many dimensions of the film’s construction.

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I already noticed 237s were showing up in my Treachery of Images analysis, but this helped me to realize that the numeric shots of the film connected to 237s (like the 2nd, 3rd, and 7th shots, for instance) are also speaking to this phenomenon. Also, there’s numerous objects throughout the film with embedded 237s. Like, did you know the Grand Stair in the Colorado lounge has two flights containing 23 and 7 steps apiece? Or how this pattern is echoed in the design of the Overlook labyrinth, which features 7 zig-zagging step shapes, leading to 23 east-west barriers flowing to the top of the image?

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But the most spectacular discovery this study makes (for my money) is that the film is entirely made up of shots and scenes lasting, in seconds, lengths that are significant to the film’s special number sets. So, for instance, the time it takes to go from the opening of the film to the end of the scene where Jack meets Ullman is 237 seconds (0:14-4:11). The following scene of Wendy and Danny eating breakfast is 58 seconds (58 being the number of years Jack travels back in time from 1979 to exist in the 1921 photo) (4:11-5:09). The following scene of Jack at his interview is 325 seconds, which can be broken down into 237, 58, 23, and 7. This effect travels through the entire film.

There’s 143 of these time chunks, and 108 of them are 7s, 11s, 23s, 37s, 42s, 58s, 67s, 76s, 143s, 157s, and 237s.

And that got me thinking, could the entire 8463 seconds of the film (not counting credits) be broken down into large-scale versions of these tiny time chunks? And it turns out that, yep, it can be divided into chunks that go 2370 seconds, 1100 seconds, 1430 seconds, 210 seconds 1921 seconds, and 1430 again. The two 1430 chunks are, as you might expect, able to be regarded as a 670 half and a 760 half (like the 67 men and 76 women in the final photo with Jack), and while the first instance of division is a cool moment (the 670 half ends right as Wendy banishes Lloyd from existence with her 237 story), the second time a 1430 section is cleaved in twain is the exact moment that Hallorann takes the axe to the chest. Head here to read all about it.

And last but far from least, we’ll go deep on an exhaustive analysis of the film’s use of phi grid shots and rule of thirds shots. Actually, we’ll mainly look at the phi shots, since there’s about half as many (a little under 200, out of 666 shots), but one really cool thing this study revealed is that a lot of shots shift between the two compositional styles mid-shot, which is often used to suggest the way that fantasy and reality are duking it out in this mystical place.

So, for instance, the entire time that Jack is first entering the hotel, everything is phi and “real”…

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…but as he passes through Susie’s office, and appears before Ullman’s impossible window (there should be a hallway behind his office, not the great, blinding outdoors), things take on a thirds approach.

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Go here to read more about the film’s simpler patterns


This section is exactly what it sounds like, and might be the most fun for it. In the first section we’ll look at how seemingly random objects disappearing might be part of a network of revelations, like how the disappearing artworks behind “Great party!” ghost here might be a major clue to help us understand that this is the actual Charles Grady who murdered his family nine years ago.

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The section on transformations is an odd one. Much of the literal transformation in the film (like Jack’s typewriter and Danny’s tricycle changing colours) can also fall under what I call absurdities, so what’s left in this section is a handful of small shot-to-shot changes, some of which might be production goofs, and some of which might be my eyes playing tricks on me.

That said, there’s a few things here that are some of my favourite observations, like how the two moments below create a feeling of Jack being in an underworld (like Geryon?), first by the camera angle, and second by the performance. Shelley acts the entire door chopping sequence by pressing her head and torso into the wall at all times, giving the subtle feeling of her lying on the floor while the axe claws in from below.

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It’s hard to pick a favourite absurdity, but here’s one I’ve never seen anyone else point out (probably for lack of trying): the Suite 3 apartment that the Torrances stay in at the hotel seems to have bright, natural light pouring in from two sides. This would suggest it’s a corner apartment, right?

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But when Danny slides out the front, the apartment is part of the long, flat front face of the building. So, what are the Torrances seeing whenever someone glances out one of these windows?

Now, I’ve tried my best to avoid claiming the power to read the mind of a dead giant of the film medium, but I stumbled on a quote from Voltaire during this project that just seemed to clang every bell connected to the dozens of absurdities in the film. “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” That’s a line from his 1765 essay Questions sur les miracles.

By packing the hotel with absurdities, and references to the Holocaust and indigenous genocides, is that Kubrick’s comment on the hotel, the hedge maze, and life? That because there seem to be so many things that can’t be explained, so many things that require absurd explanations (the kitchen alone has a dozen or more), that this is what drives us to create injustice? Could atrocities be avoided if we had an explanation for everything, and nothing could ever seem absurd? Is fantasy the bad guy?

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Go here to read more about the film’s strangenesses


And on that note, we come to what is definitely the grimmest section of all, Here Comes the Sunken Place, which takes you on a tour of the film’s mythological subtext, from the Pillars of Hercules

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…to Jack’s triple-decapitation-duty, as a symbolic representation of the Minotaur, Medusa, and a lesser known villain by the name of Geryon (Medusa’s grandson)…

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…to how Wendy’s four trials at the end are symbolic of the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

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I actually realize now that I don’t want to bastardize any of my findings here by truncating them. If you only read one of my larger theories, this is one of my favourites. What I will say is, after reading this, you may never think about flood myths or male-on-female violence the same way again.

Finally, we’ll study the genocides of the indigenous populations of modern day America. The film opens on a series of shots of Montanan mountains, many of which are named for people slaughtered by smallpox, murdered in the Baker/Marias/Piegan massacre, or who survived that same massacre. The film also seems to generally contain references to the Meeker massacre, Pontiac’s War, and the Sand Creek massacre, considered one of the worst instances of genocide on modern American soil.

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But it’s not all as depressing as all that. The film also contains numerous references to celebrated and venerated figures of indigenous history, like how Jack is first defeated while standing directly above a portrait of chief Tatânga Mânî (“Walking Buffalo” AKA George McLean)…

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…or how the Torrances own a copy of Tiger of the Snows, the autobiography of Tenzing Norgay, the first man to climb Mt. Everest, and one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century…

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…and of course one of the paintings that likes to move around the hotel is by the “Picasso of the North”, Copper Thunderbird (AKA Norval Morrisseau).

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Go here to read more about the film’s mythological roots

THE TOWER OF FABLE: The “Story Room” and the Overlook’s Impossible Blueprints

Speaking of mythology, as a natural consequence of writing the scripts for my sixth documentary series (not yet released) concerning what I call “The Story Room” I stumbled on multiple major revelations about Kubrick’s superstructure that practically beggar belief.

When Hallorann is introducing the pantry to Wendy and Danny, he’s supposedly saying, “Now, this is the storeroom.” But the sound of him opening the door muddies the sound of him saying “store” and when you listen carefully what the sound seems to mask is that he’s actually saying “story room”. Why would he say “story”?

My first thought was that all the absurdities one can point to about the “story room” were meant to reflect things like the mirrorform, and the other large-scale techniques we’ve been looking at. But it hit me that the story of Hansel and Gretel, referenced by Wendy right before getting to the “story room” (“Yeah, this whole place is like one big maze. I feel like I’ll have to leave a trail of breadcrumbs every time I come in.”), is known by the code 327A in something called the Aarne-Thompson index, which is sort of like the Dewey decimal system, but for folktales. And as Hallorann turns his head to offer Danny some sweet, sweet iced milk, what number does his turning head reveal?

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Well, it turns out that every fable referenced either directly (Three Little Pigs (124), Hansel and Gretel (324A)) or subtextually (Snow White (709), Little Red Riding Hood (333)) has an AT code that appears in the SKU numbers on the story room’s food boxes. What’s more? There’s 133 other 3- and 4-digit codes you can look at from the various boxes, and so I scoured through AT databases to see what they corresponded to, and boy oh boy is it ever insane. Click here to read all about it.

On the heels of that discovery came my identification of two paintings I’d never been sure about before, one of which turned out to be a chief from the same clan (Bearspaw) as the one that Jack is clubbed directly above on the lounge’s Grand Stair.

This Chief Bear Paw

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…is hanging in the halls outside Suite 3, which the movie lets us know would put it right above the lobby.

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So I made a little map (using designs by the brilliant Juli Kearns) with both areas see-through, and it turns out that this chief is directly above where Jack hides to kill Hallorann (the red circle at E3). So Jack is almost killed above a chief, and Hallorann is killed below a chief.

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I’d been ruminating on the layout of the hotel since the beginning: why do we never see characters pass from major area to major area? Why is so much left to inference? And if impossible things are just going to happen, like when Hallorann takes Danny and Wendy into a room on one side of the hall and takes them out from the other side…

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…or when Jack and Grady enter a room that folds back impossibly into the same room they just came from…

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…what’s the point in having any continuity at all?

In fact, I was planning to collect all these spatial oddities together in one spot, but now I don’t think that’s necessary. Because, what I realized (from looking at Kearns’ map designs) is that every map from every major area of the hotel looks roughly the same: the Gold Room, lobby and lounge all have massive bay windows on one side, and besides the staff wing and games room, every other area (the kitchen, the bloodfall hall, the 2nd entrance, the boiler room) looks like a giant L-shape, and the bloodfall hall is in fact the same set as the lobby back hall, dressed to look like a different area.

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So when you layer them all on top of each other, like so…

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…you can use these “star-crossed blueprints” as I call them (I used stars to mark the different phenomena that occur from floor to floor) to see that Kubrick essentially designed a 3D tower of jigsaw-labyrinth-style rooms and corridors that all speak to what’s going on in the other areas. You don’t have to think of them as literally making a tower of stacking floors, but it’s possible that the entire hotel is like the Gold Room bathroom, constantly leading back into itself.

Check out all the evidence for yourself

But in case you don’t venture further into that analysis, let me tell you briefly about one of the most significant phenomena this approach to the film helped me realize. I’ll be skipping over all the supporting evidence, which is presented in full here.

In a nutshell, the indigenous mural above the lounge fireplace could be a Navajo design, but it could also be a Zapotec design, a people who called themselves Be’ena Za’a, which means “The Cloud People” (c. 700 BCE – 1521 CE). They believed that their elites, for whom they built large pyramids, would return to the sky after death, to the cloud realm (and pyramids were often seen as ways to communicate with the heavens). And I’m not the first to point out how the Colorado lounge’s grand stair resembles such pyramids, nor how Wendy’s clubbing of Jack from on high seems to echo the human sacrifice thought to have occurred atop many such Mesoamerican pyramids. But I am the first that I know of to point out how both the stair and the labyrinth have a 7- layer set and a 23-layer set.

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There’s a lot of moon imagery connected to this staircase, but my favourite is how Tatânga Mânî’s portrait is the only art that hangs on this Grand Stair pyramid that we know of, and “Máni” (pronounced like “money”) is the name of the Norse Moon god – Norse mythology being something that is only subtly referenced throughout the film. So I wondered if Kubrick thought of this as the Pyramid of the Moon, which, it turns out, is the name of a real place – the second highest pyramid in Mesoamerica, in fact. It’s right down something called the Avenue of the Dead from the highest pyramid in Mesoamerica, the Pyramid of the Sun. Here’s a sideways overview and tell me if it doesn’t remind you of something.

Apologies for the sideways factor – I have to conserve space on the site now and I wanted you to see it with this alignment and these name markers. But yes, the layout vaguely resembles our Tower of Fable, with Kubrick’s 30-stair moon pyramid (C4 – Lounge) appearing right across from where the 37-stair Conquest Well would appear at C7/C8 of the Staff Wing, and Hallorann dies between them at C5 of the Lobby…on the Avenue of the Dead?

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Also, every encounter with the fake Grady ghost family occurs within a really tight 2×2 box of squares in the D/E/4/5 region. And if you refer back to the Avenue of the Dead map, you’ll note this Grady zone would be the “Palace of the Quetzel-Butterfly”, which I’ve seen written on other maps as the “Court of Columns”. So on the one hand, the Gradys are associated to butterflies, and on the other, I see the Grady twins as connecting to the Pillars of Hercules, and Delbert Grady spills “advocaat” on Jack, a name that means “advocate” as in “lawyer”, for the way lawyers drank it before a trial to help soothe their orating throats. So, when Grady first meets Jack in this “court of columns” he’s like a lawyer, defending Jack’s character (D4 of the Gold Room), and when they meet later, Grady would be in the same spot (D4 of the kitchen), judging Jack harshly before releasing him from his “story room” prison.

And there’s also the Temple of Quetzalcoatl at the far right, a third pyramid just past the San Juan river. San Juan is Spanish for St. John, and there’s a painting just inside room 237 (F7) called Dog, Boy, and St. John River. Quetzalcoatl, a “feathered serpent man” was basically the Christ figure of the Aztecs (he’s believed to be a manifestation of Christ by modern-day Mormons, in fact), and is considered the “good twin” to his twin brother Xolotl, a dog-man. So, perhaps the temple being located in the Suite 3 region means that Danny and Jack have a kind of Quetzalcoatl/Xolotl twin relationship (don’t forget that Danny rides a kind of pyramid made of snow to escape the room). They certainly have a Goofus and Gallant dynamic. In any case, Suite 3 has a lot of subtle (and not so subtle) twins in it.

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And just as the Tower of Fable gives us one floor built upon the next…and just as Ullman tells us that a decorator from Chicago (Frank Lloyd Wright?) was brought in “just last year to redecorate” the Gold Room, suggesting a kind of soft burying of the Overlook’s history…these pyramids were often built upon older pyramids, as the Pyramid of the Moon was. Or, as depicted by this cross-section of the Pyramid of the Magician, some were always intended to be like this.

Thinking about things like that, or like how Jack and Grady make those impossible two right turns to reenter the same room they just came from, or, really, any of the dozens of spatial oddities about the Overlook, it occurred to me that it’s possible we were always supposed to regard the hotel as one 7×11-square game board.

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Before I try to make that nut easier to swallow, I want to tell you a little about the short story that inspired King’s novel. Edgar Allen Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death is referenced openly a dozen or more times in the novel, and a lengthy passage from it stands as a kind of preface to the text, along with the Beatles reference. In that story, a prince named Prospero locks himself in an abbey along with all his wealthy buddies, throwing a lengthy masquerade to ride out a plague called the Red Death sweeping the countryside.

The phrase “Red Death” originates in a 17th century manuscript thought to have been written by Thomas Dekker, who’s poetry inspired the song Golden Slumbers from Abbey Road, and in that story, three of the four horsemen of the apocalypse (or, to go by the first two lines of the poem, their “geniuses”) have gathered to have an epic rap battle of sorts about who’s the most badass horseman. But what they’re really fighting over is the #2 spot…after the true champion: death. The phrase “Red Death” (spoken by Pestilence to insult War) symbolizes all the many who’ve died in battles and wars across the millennia. In Poe’s short story, the abbey of Prince Prospero is described as a seven-chamber establishment, with each room lavishly painted up to highlight its dominant colours, each room connected by a series of confusing lefts and rights, such that visitors might not know exactly where they are. Analysts have interpreted these rooms as symbolizing the seven stages of life. And when a shrouded, silent figure in a red cloak appears, it’s understood that this might not be a fellow reveller, but some manifestation of the Red Death, having somehow punched through Prospero’s best walls. The prince flees to the final room, where he unmasks the red shroud, and, in the 1964 film version, finds that it was only himself that he was running from, resulting in a fright that kills the Prince, and gives all the revellers the sickness they thought they could simply throw up walls and confusing passages against. Analysts have recommended we don’t try to analyze the figure of the Red Death too closely, lest we mistake its complexity for some trinket of a central metaphor. But I wonder if this is what Kubrick saw in its horror: walls are only helpful, when walls exist. And is there a place in all of life that pestilence, war, famine and death can’t access? Is human civilization simply an illusion, a masquerade, of barrable doors and unscalable walls? And can you lock someone in…who believes that the door is open?  

But why a game board? Sure Kubrick was a notorious chess master, who once famously shut down production for a day to play against Tony Burton who surprised Kubrick with his own mastery of the game. And sure, we’ve seen that characters move back and forth across the same paths, sort of like game pieces. And there even seem to be a couple of giant knights, bookending over Wendy’s head here. But until just last month, I thought these were only the kinds of things a chess master would put in his movie.

Then I started to study the way that various objects move from room to room, and found that, amidst the chaos of movements, a copy of Scientific American (Vol. 238, Issue #3) with the Tower of Babel on the cover, and which happens to review the work of chess puzzle master Raymond Smullyan, moves from B7 to C7 to C9. For Smullyan, it wasn’t the traditional strategy of chess that mattered, only a knowledge of how the pieces are supposed to move. And in his world of logic puzzles, there were only three types of characters: knights (who only tell the truth), knaves (who always lie) and normals (who do a mixture of both). So this Scientific American moves like a knight (B7 to C7 to C9), but only when we stack the various floors as I’m doing here.

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And even if we only look at the “staff wing” and the “lobby”, the two floors we know are for sure on top of each other (as evidenced by seeing where Danny pops out the front of the building), we know that the stairwell just outside the Torrance bedroom (C7) should be punching down straight into the middle of the lobby. And so the truth-telling “knight” of a Scientific American encircles the lie of this building’s absurd construction. And a famous crumbling tower just happens to be along for the ride…

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Or is it incidental? Because this game board is 7 by 11. And while Genesis 7:11 is about how on the 17th day of the 2nd month, in the 600th year of Noah’s life “all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened.” Genesis 11:7 is God plotting against the Tower of Babel in the land of Shinar, “Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” If you’ve seen the intro doc, you know there’s a lot more to say about this, but for now, just note how the version of the Babel tower here looks kind of pyramidal.

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Well, the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon in particular were considered actual staircases to heaven, and there’s a name for things like this: axis mundi – a latin phrase that means, “hub of the world”. When I looked into other examples of an axis mundi I found they include the column of smoke rising from a calumet pipe; a taiji (or yin-yang, if you like), as I believe the Kubrick twins in the Gold Room represent; a palmette symbol as we see on the rump of the ghost who spins Grady off his axis to collide with Jack’s; a caduceus, like the one held by Hera’s messenger Iris, when she offered Herakles his own special brand of EYE SCREAM, causing him to murder his wife and children; and Jacob’s Ladder, for which we have a song named after playing while characters move all over the hotel, but which happens to be playing as Wendy screams Jack’s name at D4 while running through the lounge. And that’s the thing, all these axis mundi occur at D4 across the various floor-plans, and only when we line them up the way their architecture suggests we should. And D4 happens to be the entirety of the “story room”.

Story is what connects heaven and earth. Story is what the entire Tower of Fable orbits around like keys on a keychain. Story is what can trap you, set you free, and really set you free. But only if you know how to spot a real trail of breadcrumbs.

Go here to read all about it

But perhaps the most mind-boggling tower-esque discovery of all is this: I made a sort of word-map to show myself where all the events would occur in a version of film that had been folded three times. In other words, you now know about the mirrorform (one fold) and The Rum and the Red (two folds), but this would go one fold further, so that 8 layers of action were playing simultaneously for 17:37. This lead to the below graphic, which I used to see if any of the film’s many areas wouldn’t be appearing on screen continuously for the full 17:37. Turns out, about half don’t (like, the gold boxes in this particular image encircle all the appearances of the Gold Room interior, which, as you can see doesn’t appear for the first 30 seconds, and then for about a minute at the middle). With the Tower of Fable in mind, this starts to feel like a moot point, if all the areas of the hotel are secretly one and the same. But the thing that stood out to me the most was how there always seemed to be one of the four bloodfall visions (the red boxes) near the middle of the movie each time you folded it.

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Long story short (no pun intended), what this eventually helped me realize is that you can fold the movie 7 times, to create a 66-second-long film (technically 66.117 seconds) made of 128 layers, and at that density of narrative, if we only consider where the four bloodfalls occur, they would interlock (perfectly, as far as I can tell) like so:

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I call this the DNA of a Bloodfall, and there’s not much I can say simply or briefly about it, except that the breaks between the various bloodfalls go 2 seconds of no bloodfall, 17 seconds of Wendy’s encounter, 7 more seconds of Danny’s third vision, 23 seconds of his first vision, and 17 seconds of no bloodfall.


And doesn’t that look like a mashup of the two evil rooms from the film and novel? Rooms 217 and 237? How cool is it that the 2 and 17 seconds of no bloodfall would make King’s evil number (the novel has no bloodfall vision, only a vision in the presidential suite of a splash of blood and brains on a wall from a series of shotgun blasts), and the 23 and 7 of bloodfall would make Kubrick’s (with a twin 17, to hint at all the crossover between film and novel)?

Also, if you notice those four stars, they indicate when a bloodfall vision is interrupted by an accompanying vision, and these occur at 11-13 seconds, 21 seconds, 42 seconds and 45 seconds. Putting aside how these numbers all have their own significance to the film, consider how these denote major years in the life of Adolf Hitler. His artist years (1911-1913), the year of his ascension to Führer (1921), and his war years against America (1942-1945). So perhaps all the WWII imagery wasn’t by accident after all. Click here to learn all about the film’s DNA.

Or click here to go to the Tower of Fable part one


And while Kubrick does seem keen to present both sides of the war/conquest issue, there does seem to have been an extra dose of sympathy for indigenous peoples, in the form of Kubrick’s apparent adherence to the indigenous philosophy known as Four Directions, where everything in life is understood as bearing some relationship to one of the four compass directions. Which animals/seasons/element/etc. belongs to which quadrant depends upon which tribe you talk to, depriving the practice/philosophy of a central dogma, which would try to apply the same logics to all landscapes.

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I think the inherent freedom in this approach would’ve appealed to Kubrick, though he still seems to have made most dominant the four animals which are most dominant on most Four Directions wheels: the wolf/dog (correlating to the hotel), the bear (correlating to Wendy), the buffalo (correlating to Jack), and the eagle (correlating to Danny). While there are numerous other animals present in the film with their own significances (tigers (Tony), butterflies (the Gradys/murder), horses (games and mazes), rabbits (Hallorann and Watson), just to name a few), these remain the most abundant, and with the most specific attribution to the four main figures in the film.

This helped me realize that so many of the film’s big buried sublayers depend on this “Law of 4” way of looking at things. From the Beatles subtext, to the four horsemen of the apocalypse subtext, to the spatial law of 4 going on in the Treachery of Images analysis, where the Overlook’s main areas (lobby, games room, east lounge, west lounge) are used to express the significance of “work” and “play”.

Also, I realized–only since making my big documentary about all this–that the first shot in the film is a literal four directions wheel with Goat Mountain representing Jack, Four Bears mountain representing Wendy, Almost-a-Dog mountain (tucked behind these) representing the Overlook, and Wild Goose Island representing Danny (it reflects in the water, so I’m counting the water for Dan).

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What’s cool about that is how the last shot in the film is of the final 21 photos from my Treachery of Images analysis. So the first moment of the mirrorform is of these two legends for decrypting the maze that is this most complex film in human imagination.

I mean, if you can think of a complexer one…let me know.

Go here for more on the film’s animals


Last, but hardly least significant, there seem to be a plethora of films and shows that have been inspired by all or most of the above themes and techniques, none more so than the twin 2010 Leonardo DiCaprio vehicles Shutter Island and Inception. After discovering how deeply inspired these two are by Kubrick’s forms, I set out on a quest to see how many other Shine Babies I could unearth, and there’s been some good ones. I also did a complete overview of the artistic career of Quentin Tarantino to crown him the king of weaving these wisdoms into his own oeuvre, for his own purposes (with enormous respect to the many others who would easily qualify for the running).

Now, whether I ever post the rest of my Shine Baby findings will depend entirely on the success of this site. So if you’d like to see more Eye Scream content, please head over to my donation page, and throw some loose change my way. In the meantime, please enjoy the site!

One housekeeping note for anyone who does venture further: this website is somewhere between eight and nine hundred thousand words of writing, roughly the length of eleven average-sized mystery novels (to put this in perspective, you’ve read about 50-pages-worth of such novels, or 1.7% of the site, if you started at the top of this page). The last time I did a site-wide edit of everything, it took close to a month. And the size of the site has roughly doubled since then – much of that growth thanks to identifying paintings and books and such that I didn’t have before, which earlier involved guesswork which would now be invalid. So you can imagine: a) how much I ever want to re-edit everything, and b) how much potential there is for me to have written something somewhere that disagrees with something I’ve come to realize from some new identification of an art piece, or whatever. For now, if you do find such a discrepancy, please let me know about it. And please forgive the confusion.


Sorry, one more last thing.

As I said, I’ve spent almost every spare moment I’ve had for over 2 years now doing nothing but analyzing The Shining, and its intellectual offspring and forebears, in the various ways we just covered. I don’t know if this process has quite made me Daniel-san to Kubrick’s Miyagi, but when you do enough research on anything you’re bound to notice the tiny tics and tricks that make something consistently what it is.

In my original vision for this site (when I only understood less than half of what you just read above) we would’ve started by looking at where I felt he was getting these techniques (his “inspirations”), moved on into the “techniques” themselves, then on into what all this craft was in service to (his “themes”), and finally looked at how I saw this technique affecting audiences and future writers and directors (his “legacy”). As his forms and codes became clearer and more concrete to me, I abandoned the vagueness of this approach.

Nevertheless, these tics and tricks still feel like components of “how to think like a Stanley”, many of which I’ll be referring to throughout the site. And they’ve all worked to galvanize my larger analysis. If you’re ever reading some dense bit of research, and you’re thinking to yourself, “Now, how did Joe get from point A to point B, here?” the answer might just be one of the below consistencies.

Again, I’m not claiming to be a mind reader, and I don’t know if Kubrick himself thought of these as having names, or if they were purely instincts of his genius. Nonetheless, I’ve done a fair bit of research into the scholarship surrounding the man and his life (not to mention being immersed in the product of his craft for years on end), so if my experience makes me the person to train a computer program to reproduce a virtual Kubrick, these are the sorts of things I might teach it to do.

I’ve recently begun work on a glossary page for all the important terms employed ad nauseam throughout the site, so I moved these analyses into that section – click the term to be taken to that page.






















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