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ABSURDITIES ⎔ DISAPPEARANCES ⎔ TRANSFORMATIONS
SPECIALS: TWO RED COUCHES ⎔ PANTRY ODDITIES ⎔ SHINING
First off, there’s a huge absurdity factor I’m not covering in this section, and that’s how art pieces and photographs move around the hotel. For that, check out this section.
There’s an odd thing about the two “driving to the Overlook” sequences. In the first one, of Jack driving up for the interview, all the shots show the highway hugging the left side of the mountains. Turns out these are all sequences shot on “Going-to-the-Sun Road” in Montana, and the shots are all taken from beside Saint Mary Lake. But the later aerial shot of the whole family driving up, has the highway on the right side of the mountain, and it struck me that probably not a lot of highways that take a direct route to a remote area in the mountains, and which travel along waterways, would bother to weave around sides of the mountains, especially since both drives (going by the daylight, and the plot of the movie) are happening early in the day.
As you’ll learn from clicking the last link, the mountains all have names that speak to the film’s themes, but what’s neat about the last two driving shots is that they’re driving backwards along the road, and that both shots show the same bend in the highway, actually, from a couple hundred feet apart. As such, the car passes a creek called Alder Creek twice, Alder deriving from the word for “red”, so it’s not just that the Torrances are driving “backwards”, they’re also crossing this “red river” two times to get to the Overlook.
The Gold Room and the Colorado Lounge cannot exist within either exterior building we are shown, size-wise. The Timberline is about 4 car-widths wide, as you can see with the naked eye, and both of those rooms could easily park that many side-by-side, which means, both rooms should have windows on both sides, or else cut off completely on the opposite side instead of having access halls, or in the case of the lounge, having two sets of rooms on the north side.
Also, the routes we understand to connect from one area to another extend in ways that would not fit the building width. Like, Hallorann leads Wendy and Danny out of the Gold Room by taking them toward an area that only has the bathrooms and the Mylar sheet as portals. It’s possible that the Mylar sheet leads to the kitchen, but in that case, the implication is that the kitchen is either far from the Gold Room, accessed by a narrow hall (a strange choice, architecturally) or that the building extends laterally from the Gold Room’s already expansive, hulking size. Either way, it’s too big, but in one of those ways, it’s waaaaay too big.
Purple box = These show how the rug beneath the magically cordless TV is the same as one we see in the lounge on the tour and during Danny’s first trike ride, but which disappears from the lounge ever after. I’m not suggesting these are the same rug. In fact, there’s two side by side in the lounge, and only one in the lobby. No, what’s more interesting is…
Green box = …when Jack is surveying the lobby to see where he might like to jump out at Hallorann from, the rug beneath the TV is now the same pattern design as several of the rugs that appear around the lounge. It’s not the same colour as any I can spot there, but it is the same design.
I had wondered if the idea with the magical, cordless TV was that it had a cord running down its leg, and into the floor. If that were the case, then someone between Jack’s zombie MONDAY and Jack’s murder Thursday pulled up the carpet, got a different carpet and put a similar slit in it to redraw the TV’s cord through. Busy guy, that zombie Jack. Gotta fill the hours with something, I guess.
As for what this means, I’m not completely sure. The mirror moment (see below) is the end of the doctor’s interrogation of Danny, and it hovers in the spot where Danny was standing when he had his vision, in the bathroom across the hall. So it might just be a marker of that fact. I like to think that it also helps to prove that the magical cordless TV is just that.
Another thought I had was that it could suggest the lounge bleeding into the lobby, but the first rug was also from the lounge. The replacing rug does have a certain horn-shape to it, so it might simply be a subtle way of suggesting Jack’s minotaurocity as he cues up to commit his worst crime. The horn rug is seen almost directly beside this high-angle view of the maze model.
Ullman’s office has a window that looks out onto a daylight or nighttime that cannot exist, given the shape of the building. In fact, Jack’s stalk to kill Hallorann, followed by his stalk to kill Danny almost completes a perfect circuit around the impossible window. When Danny jumps out of his hiding spot, he runs up the hall that will connect to the beginning of Jack’s creep.
Ullman and first seen in the glow of the impossible windows, and last seen passing the exact spot where the impossible windows would be (through the wall, but still). Also, almost as a marker for those windows, we have a stack of six trays of 7ups. 6×7 = 42. 42s seem to mark absurdities and impossibilities.
Hallorann has a somewhat different quality; he appears in the room where we see the most ghosts (the Gold Room ghostball), and dies in the room where we see the next most ghosts (the Lobby skeleton ball; skullball?). I don’t know if that associates him to death or to the hotel’s “shine” and shining in general, but it seems effective. In fact, of the three other places we see/hear ghosts (237, the kitchen, the BJ well), Hallorann sees two. He tours the storeroom, and Danny sends him a shine of 237.
The Torrance apartment is receiving bright, glowing daylight coming from three sides of this rather small apartment. The establishing shot of the building also shows every floor having balconies, with sliding doors, so, even if the building were somehow only 10 metres wide, like the apartment, those doors would either have to be in Danny’s room, the salon behind Wendy in the third shot below (which is much shadier looking than even the bathroom, with its tiny window), or in the living room/kitchen area.
So the Overlook isn’t the only quizzical setting. Which I think speaks to the notion that the radio room postcards are about how the whole natural world has a labyrinth quality to it.
The eagle statuette behind Ullman’s head does two kinds of shimmy. The first is the one it does during the interview, moving about six inches to the left in order to be obscured by Ullman’s head during most of the close-ups. This gives Ullman tiny devil horns at a few instances, like in the third image below. Only in the second image, when Ullman’s laughing to Jack’s “That’s quite a story” line, does it become fully visible.
There’s also a glass ashtray in the bottom righthand corner that oscillates between being clean and dirty. The order goes CDDCDCCDDCCCDD–the first two cleans are from a) the shot where Jack first walks in, and b) the one wide shot which is the first image below. I don’t know if the pattern means anything, but what seems notable is that the clean tray appears all throughout the Grady story. And the two cleans before that are when Ullman’s talking about the effects that isolation can have generally on people. So perhaps this was a subliminal message about being cut off from vice and release. While cigarettes are frequently seen around Jack, he’s never seen smoking in the film.
The other shimmy the statue does is in the way it faces left during the interview, right during Wendy’s distress call, and straight ahead when Jack comes to get his murder on.
What’s extra neat about this, though is how in the mirrorform Jack’s radio killing comes right before Wendy’s distress call. So the order of shimmies through the film then goes: Left-Centre-Right-Right-Centre-Left. Almost like a sweep. I’m not sure how to interpret this. Left-rights are a major theme in the film, and finding a balance to them is how Danny survives. Does that mean Jack’s murder of the radio is him finding anti-balance? Or the hotel’s private sense of balance? I’m not sure. Maybe because it points away from pre-evil Jack, and later from Wendy, it’s being repelled by their goodness, and it can face forward only once Jack’s gone radio simple? I don’t know.
Jack hears the Charles Grady story from Ullman, but then, when he meets Grady, he identifies as Delbert Grady, which is the name from the book. We’ve covered this already, but I’ll just drop another link here in case you’re unclear about why that’s interesting.
There’s only three different TVs in the film. The first one (green box) is the red one shared by the Torrances, the Suite 3 set-up, and Hallorann’s Miami apartment. The second one (purple box) is the tiny black and white one owned by the kitchen and Durkin’s garage (a sign of friendship between Hallorann and Durkin?). The third one (red box) is the lobby TV which has mystical cordless powers.
Also, Wendy and Danny are not only watching a TV with no plug, but they’re watching an R-rated movie about sex and war.
There’s a large bit of drapery that hangs beside A Solemn Land when Jack’s calling Wendy, as if the entrance always had these massive, dark curtains at the entrance. A quick search has revealed that every other shot of this area does not feature them. And you could almost think that maybe this was one version of the set that was never used again, but it seems odd that they would have all the same, minor background actors show up on both days.
As for the mirrorform to this moment: it’s Jack arriving at the 2nd entrance for the last time, to stalk Danny into the snow. As he arrives, he finds he can’t see any fresh tracks, because Danny has probably hopped through Hallorann’s footsteps to then hide behind the snowcat. So I wonder if these drapes bear some connection to how Jack fails to spot Danny in his (fairly obvious) hiding place. Or possibly they even signal how the hotel can’t help Jack “see” at this point. It’s up to Jack to get Danny, because the hotel’s power becomes “shrouded” at the portals. But then, what would that say about the hotel’s absorption of Jack into the old photo? Would it mean that it reached out into the labyrinth to pluck him back in? Or would it mean that photo Jack isn’t the real Jack on any level? Could it be that photo Jack is just a projection of the hotel’s experience of the man?
There’s three wall-rugs that move around the hotel seemingly at will. And there’s two that remain (so far as I know) just where they are in every instance.
Green box = I call this one the bloodrug. It appears at the ghost ball, and becomes how we know that the gold room bathroom is impossible, because we see it when the men are entering the bathroom (4th image), and then again in the mirrors inside the bathroom, as Jack holds the door open (5th image). We see it again twice at the 2nd entrance, as Wendy runs to see the dead snowcat (6th image), and as Jack goes to kill Danny (8th image). And finally, it hangs to the left of photo Jack at the end where a large mirror used to be. I call it the bloodrug because it features a double-helix/DNA pattern that seems to echo the nature of the bloodfall.
Red box = I call this one the wave rug. It features shapes that could be Es, Ws, 3s, or Ms. It appears to the left of the bloodfall, to the right of the 2nd entrance (which, incidentally, keeps it left of an elevator in that spot), and finally to the right of photo Jack at the end. The wave design is like the bloodrug if the double-helix was cut in half.
Purple box = I don’t have a name for this one. We could call it the rainbowrug since it has a bunch of multicoloured splotches all over it. Anyway, all it does is appear in Danny’s second vision of the bloodfall, and then jumps across the hallway when Wendy sees it in person.
Yellow box = The mazerug (3rd image) and the lightningrug (10th image). These are only seen in the spots they’re first seen in. The mazerug seems to appear only when someone is being challenged. The lightningrug only appears as Jack is stalking to his hiding place to kill Hallorann.
Hallorann and the Torrances have a shared library for some reason. The only of these books I’ve ID’d completely is Mary Roberts Reinhart’s The Door, the novel that invented the phrase “the butler did it!” and was an example of a mystery novel form called Had-I-But-Known, which is usually what the protagonist says at the beginning to warn you that bad things are coming. You can imagine what that means for Wendy, but this book appears next to Hallorann at the exact middle of the movie. Now why would that be…?
Jack says “5 months of peace is just what I’m looking for” about his future stay at the Overlook, but we’ve already heard that the place closes October 30th and opens May 15th. Later Jack says that he signed a contract that expires “…May the 1st!” This means a 6-month contract. So, is this a simple inability to calculate months? A slip of the tongue? A screenwriting error? Jack’s fearful reduction of long stretches of time? Or could this be an echo for his “5 miserable months on the wagon”? Of course, this too is a miscalculation. Wendy told the doctor that he hasn’t had a drink in 5 months, and the placard that told us a month had passed after Wendy said that, so that means it’s actually been 6 months. This 5/6 arrangement feels about as deliberate as many, but what’s the point? Is it just about the peace/misery dynamic? In both cases, Jack is dropping a month or more. Is the lost month a thing? Is it symbolic of the A MONTH LATER, in which nothing that we previously knew about Jack has changed?
Every part of Ullman’s tour contains absurdity.
- Ullman’s impossible window, up the hall, in the lobby.
- People are saying goodbye to Ullman while walking into the building, carrying luggage. As far as we know, the only parking is in the front of the building. Also, in a moment we see other staff carrying luggage out the front doors.
- The luggage that the Torrances brought was way too much to have fit in their tiny Beetle. It occurred to me that some hired help might’ve brought the rest in a separate vehicle, but that was never explained, were it somehow the case.
- In the lounge, people are carrying luggage upstairs after others have lifted theirs into the nearby elevators. Even if it made more sense to go through the lounge on the way to the lobby, why would you haul heavy bags upstairs? If you had to make a quick trip up for something, why bring everything along with you? Why not just come back for it?
- The lounge windows are perhaps the most absurd difference between what we know about the inside architecture and the outside architecture.
- The western windows in Suite 3 are impossible, as I’ll explain later on.
- The hedge maze that we see on the tour will change multiple times throughout the film, just as the edifice of the Overlook will. There’s a set of trees on the left of the wide shot that disappear when Hallorann arrives at the end.
- Ullman almost gets hit by a car on the tour, which I’ve managed to connect to a bit of Beatles trivia in my Redrum Road analysis. But if that were somehow wrong, he’s still almost getting hit by a car with no fanfare.
- The Gold Room, and its adjoining halls is way too big, and too windowless, to fit inside the building we’ve seen from the air.
- The kitchen is riddled with impossibilities, which I’ll get heavily into later on.
- And, again, the tour ends around the spot where Ullman’s impossible window should look out onto, but if that’s not good enough for ya, there’s a door in the first part of that hall (check it in the next image down, right behind Watson’s head) that, according to what we know spatially about this area, should open directly into Ullman’s or Susie’s office.
- Oh, and the last phase of the tour features a clock telling us it’s still the morning, when, in the scene before we were seeing that the clock was showing the afternoon. So the tour ends with time travel (this is more substantial when you look at the mirrorform, and you realize that the only other instance of this is on the opposite side of the movie).
Danny’s white trike becomes a red one. And loses a red bell on the left handlebar. I have a theory that this is about Easy Rider, and Nicholson’s glory days as a younger man, but I’ve discussed that at length elsewhere.
There’re people carrying things upstairs, during CLOSING DAY (guys carrying rugs upstairs…to the rug room?; women carrying their luggage upstairs to the…better elevators?). Seems like a waste of effort. Where are they going? Most of them look like they’re leaving. Up, up, down, down. That’s the order of the four we see stairclimbing. Actually, it’s one man up, two women up, one man down, two women down. Both the men are carrying a rug on their shoulder, and both sets of women are toting small luggage.
Two of the three ashtrays and one of the chairs jostle slightly in this scene. I’m not actually as convinced as some that this means anything. This entire sequence mirrors over Tony/Danny’s REDRUM death march, and yeah there are things we’re shown in that sequence that change slightly after Wendy wakes up, but is this our connection to that? Seems unlikely, somehow. I would believe that that was our connection to this a little easier. As in, Kubrick messed with things slightly here so that the REDRUM sequence’s irregularities would have something to correlate to in the mirrorform.
During every scene in Suite 3, we’re lead to believe that it has a western wall that lets in all this glorious, natural light. But when we see Danny climb out the front face of the hotel, we see that it’s the middle of a long, flat wall. What were the Torrances seeing when they looked out these windows? What was zombie Jack seeing the day Danny walked in on him?
The hedge maze rotates 90 degrees, between the first two trips to it, and the last trip into it. The hedge maze is also waaaaaay too big from above if the map or the model of the maze are meant to be taken literally. But also, when you see the maze from the side, it clearly only has eight spires marking the top edge, lengthwise, so, again, the aerial version of the maze, is way too big.
When Jack comes out to chase for Danny, there are 5, almost random lights on in the building behind Jack. I don’t know if these are supposed to correlate to rooms where important things happened, but I don’t get that sense. Then, when Danny or Wendy are outside, only the bathroom window Danny slid from is on. In fact, when Wendy throws the knife down, it’s right behind her head.
The only other two lights on are when Hallorann’s arriving, just outside the 2nd Entrance. It’s like the Overlook is watching him come in.
The kitchen Jack stalks through to get Hallorann looks different from the one Wendy locked him in. Tony the Tiger is missing as a result. Where there should be a flat steel surface behind the wooden dinner table, there’s rows of steel shelves holding things.
The door to the deep freeze changes its hinges, and changes sides of the hall. They go into C4 and come out of C3.
Just for the record, I’m discovering this 19 months into my work on this project (just to give you a sense of how dense this film is). To be fair, I only worked intensely on the research part of Eye Scream for 13 months, but now that I’m making the documentaries, I’m still picking up things as I scan through for my clips. This is one such.
There’s an elevator at the fire exit side of the kitchen that juts out to the right of the path that Hallorann and Wendy take to enter the kitchen. The path they take to get to the pantry is like a big question mark shape, if the FIRE EXIT door was the dot beneath the hook part of the shape. So when they emerge from the pantry, the hall that Jack, Watson and Ullman come up should either be blocked by this elevator, or give a view down to the open FIRE EXIT portal, and we would see the vending machines. Instead (see down further below), there’s a set of black doors, and you might argue that these are doors that exist beside where Hallorann and Wendy are passing the elevator. But(!)–and this is very difficult to see without actually watching the movie, hence how long it took me to notice–the Abbey Road Tour at the very end of the hall here, turns left (red box below), just as the shot is fading into the next sequence, so they don’t reach the black doors, and they do turn left. That would mean they would pop through the wall somewhere behind the group in the second shot below. And as you can see in that shot, the wall isn’t very thick, as indicated by the glass windows above. So it’s not a matter of perspective or proportion.
What makes me wonder still about this is how several of the luggage items being loaded here are in the style of luggage we see during earlier bits of the tour, so to have the gang make an impossible turn toward this luggage makes me wonder if it’s a comment on the looping nature of the tour. Also, and I can’t believe this is just hitting me, but why would this luggage need to go on an elevator unless the kitchen wasn’t on the first floor? Now, it’s true that the walls we see through the two exits are unlike any other walls in the building, but this scene ends with Ullman telling Hallorann he wants to take Wendy to go see the boiler room. And in the next scene they’re passing behind the lobby, which we know is on the first floor. So if the kitchen is in the basement (which these thick concrete brick walls suggest it might be), why would the architects put the boilers in a second basement not accessible by this one? I guess it would prevent the spread of a fire in case of an explosion, but I mean, I don’t think it would prevent much. And if there’s a fire in a remote mountain hotel, that’s it. The firefighters aren’t getting there anytime soon.
SPECIAL: PANTRY ODDITIES
At this point in my original analysis I did a special section looking at the plethora of spatial strangenesses about the Overlook storeroom. Click here to read all about it. Or carry on and there’ll be a reminder at the bottom of this page.
Moving on from the pantry: I’ve talked about the vanishing rugs (the yellow and green boxes below) in another part of this page, so for now I’ll just talk about the two middle rugs that like to flip sides of the room. These rugs are the same design, but slightly different colours each. North is toward the fireplace, south is toward the windows. I’ll note where each sits in each scene.
South (Red) – North (Purple)
Danny’s 1st trike
South (Red) – North (Purple, maybe)
Jack’s ball game
South (Red) – North (Purple)
South (Red) – North (Purple)
South (Red) – North (Unclear)
South (Purple) – North (Red)
Nightmare – Wendy runs in
South (Red) – North (Purple)
Nightmare – Danny’s wanders in
South (Purple) – North (Red)
Nightmare – Wendy accuses Jack
South (Vanished) – North (Red)
8am – Jack Does Some Writing
South (Purple) – North (Red)
All Work Pages
South (Purple) – North (Red)
So, as you can see, the switch first happens on SATURDAY, during a brief ten-second high angle shot of the lounge (seen in the first image below). Then, when Wendy rushes to Jack’s rescue, the order returns to normal for a moment, but when Danny wanders in with his neck bruises, the reverse order comes back and stays back. And when Wendy suspects Jack of being the strangler, the Purple box rug vanishes completely.
I’m not sure exactly what to make of all this, though. Jack shows signs of decay before the first swap. But since the swap stays so swapped after Danny’s bruises, and since the swap unswaps for Jack’s one moment of clarity, post-nightmare, that would seem to suggest that the rug order says something about Jack’s status as a decent man, or Jack’s status as one outside the grip of the hotel.
Perhaps the purple rug being closer to the fire is meant to build up our sense of warmth, and then swapping it, and then vanishing it altogether is meant to obliterate our sense of warmth in the family.
One thing of note is how, in the mirrorform, Danny’s 1st trike and Jack’s ball game both occur over top the All Work pages fight. And the 8am writing session mirrors over Wendy interrupting TUESDAY night. So both of Jack’s post-soul-selling lounge sessions mirror overtop earlier lounge moments, and in both instances, the rugs are reversed.
So, in case you thought these two shots were a simple matter of chucking the desk lamp, flopping the scrapbook around, and ashing a cigarette, think again. All the furniture had to be removed, the rugs swapped, and all the furniture put back perfectly. Oh, to be a grip on a Kubrick set.
File this under #thedress.
First thing about the lobby-Gold Room/kitchen walkway: this isn’t major, and I could be wrong, but the curtains in the hall here go from looking a bright, distinguishably golden gold colour to looking barely distinguishable from the walls, when Hallorann enters. The lighting is obviously meant to be different, but it almost looks desaturated, like whatever process/filter they used to make the pink and gold balls that approach Danny outside 237 look pink and gold (in case you don’t get that reference, read on). Note how even in the way darker third image, all the yellows jump out again.
Second, note how in the third image, the mirror at the end of the hall is gone. The mirrorform is Jack saying “They’ll love it” about whether Danny and Wendy will be okay staying at the hotel for the winter. And that’s cute and all, but I doubt that was the point of doing that. Ultimately, I think the changes in that third instance were more about making the space feel alien. In my pre-Shining-obsessed days (what beautiful days those were), I often thought the skeleton ball had to be not the lobby, because of that missing mirror, and the odd lighting.
The halo over the Suite 3 bed shifts around to stay in the shot, or raises completely out of view. The mirrorform moments for this loss of halo sequence runs from when Jack gets advocaated (Grady’s gotcha moment) to when Jack throws in the towel, having fully related his entire theory about Grady’s deadness to Grady (Jack’s less successful gotcha moment). The Jack-Danny scene (their only scene alone together) plays a bit like a gotcha sequence itself, so perhaps this loss of halo speaks also to how the hotel has generally “got” zombie Jack’s mind at this point (I mean, that’s why I call him zombie Jack in every reference to this scene). His next scene will be the murder nightmare, which is the last moment of clarity for poor dumb ol’ murderous asshole Jack.
Jack’s white typewriter becomes a dark grey one, and remains so till the end.
You don’t have to be a Rhodes scholar to know there’s zero resemblance between the interior and the exterior of this building, but what struck me as neat is how, just above Danny’s head here, you get the effect of a Roman column just outside the window, supporting the foyer. When Jack passes this spot on his way to the interview, it does seem to be more a part of the general design of the outside, but perhaps this was the intended effect, to give that feeling of Caesar’s day. In fact, the play Julius Caesar ends in October of 42 BC, with the deaths of some of Caesar’s assassins. That’s pretty close to Summer of ’42, the movie playing here.
Oh shit. Caesar’s assassins died in the Battle of Philippi. The mirror scene for this entire scene is Jack and Grady plotting against Danny. Grady is played by actor Philip Stone. Kawinkidink?
The hotel rooms around the lounge are absurdly small. As you can see here, when Danny trikes past the balcony, the distance between the railing and the hall is only about four feet. And as we can see in the lounge, the wall doesn’t extend but sinks in even further in places. So all the rooms along this hallway, opposite 237 are smaller than walk-in closets, basically. That’s true evil.
Also according to Danny’s 2nd ride, there’s meant to be rooms in the same block as the elevator shaft. Below is a shot from every turn and straight in Danny’s ride. Note how there’s a set of doors on either side of the elevator block in shot 2 and 5. The one on the elevator side is clearly meant to be a utility closet, but the two rooms on the opposite side have numbers like all the others.
The door opposite 237 (236?) opens between shots of Danny first noticing 237. When Danny approaches the room, it’s shut, and when he gets up to try the handle, it’s open. That struck me as being kind of amazing, but mainly because I didn’t notice that after four months of rigourous analyzation. That might be my favourite instance of feeling the depth of Kubrick’s genius. It’s awesome. It’s totally, utterly awesome. And it’s such a simple trick, too. Actually, given that I’ve never noticed it in 20+ years of watching the film, the fact that I got spooked, watching that slanted broom enlarge behind Danny as he walks…that is the mark of true, ultimate horror. A horror movie you’ve been watching every day for months should not retain the power to freak you out with a trick that simple.
My analysis of this moment in Redrum Road is probably one of my favourite so far, but for now I’ll just observe that the open door across from 237 foreshadows the sudden opening of 237 later on. The openness appears on the right hand of the screen in both instances. Note too that there’s light that’s glinting off the top of the waste bin in both shots. As if putting a little extra shine in 237.
Jack’s typewriter loads a fresh page after his blow-up at Wendy. Also, there’s no paper tray visible in any shot in this scene. Also, the scrapbook flips to a page with possibly two obituaries on it. The Gradys? The mirrorform for this is Hallorann getting the bad news from the ranger that the Torrances can’t be reached, and a second later he’s in the air, flying to the rescue. Perhaps the obits reflect his worries about Danny and Wendy.
I’m not sure if this should count, but Wendy passes the lobby TV playing to no one in this moment. This seems more absurd to someone like me who hadn’t noticed this fact after dozens of watchthroughs. But you can see a cushion leaned up on the couch arm as if Wendy was just sitting there and got the idea to radio and went to do so without shutting the screen down. What’s maybe absurd is the fact that this detail was included at all.
A few strange things in the ranger office other than the twin 7ups.
1) There’s a blue-green sheet on the board in front of the first ranger’s head that becomes pink in all the other shots.
2) The telephone beside the first ranger becomes a blue binder in the close-up (and then a blue binder appears on top of the radio next to the second ranger in the last two shots–which is not absurd, but perhaps that’s the same binder).
3) There’s two sheets of paper pinned to the board at the end of the hall, which get a little further apart in the close-up on the first ranger, and then the second paper disappears behind the second ranger. The disappearance isn’t absurd, but the first shifting is, and the disappearance seems to suggest a purpose. I can’t see anything in the mirrorform which would account for these discrepancies. Perhaps they’re genuine mistakes, but since all the other papers in these rooms remain exactly in place, and since the rangers have a post card pinned to their board that was also in the first radio room, there’s definitely something deliberate going on here. Perhaps the appearance of red and blue is connected to the red and blue of Wendy’s final four trials.
The hallway Danny is playing in when the ball rolls up is far too wide. When we cut to the hallway shot, it’s not simply that Danny’s play circle has spun from open to closed, everything is much tighter.
Wendy says to Ullman, “Pink and gold are my favourite colours.”
There are at least two differently tinted versions of The Shining in existence. One where the ball that rolls up to Danny is pink and one where the ball is a warm yellow, like gold (this is the version that appears in Room 237, or else I might not’ve noticed). Does this colour combination account for Danny assuming the ball was a play by Wendy, when the ball rolls up? Calling out, “Mom? Mom!” as he creeps to 237, and enters.
Also, I don’t think the yellow-green ball Jack throws away is meant to be the same as the one that comes rolling up to Danny (in either colouring), but it is interesting that they’re the same kind of ball. As I’ve noted elsewhere, the spot in the lounge where he’s throwing the ball is approximately right on the other side of where Danny’s crouched here.
Depending on how Danny escapes the crone, we still know where 237 is. It’s right behind the indigenous wall mural in the Colorado lounge. So, he would’ve gone all the way down the hall outside the room, heading east, turn the corner and walk across the top of the lounge without being noticed by Jack recovering from his nightmare, and not take the pyramid stairs down to his parents. He would then have to find some stairs or elevator, take that down at the southeast corner of the lounge, and then walk into the lounge from there. We see some ladies earlier, during the tour, taking that route as an exit, so presumably there is a stairwell over there (Danny trikes past an EXIT sign over a dark door there earlier, as well). I’m wondering if this is meant to go down to the area where Jack last stalks to go kill Hallorann, which would put the lounge over the lobby, somewhat. And which would put 237 on the third floor, technically. Strange. But that does kind of follow with the image of the tour taking the elevators to reach the lounge. If these are meant to be the elevators to the east of Ullman’s, then the lounge extends north of Ullman’s, and, again, the light and weather from the window in his office becomes utterly impossible.
There’s an external shot of the hotel right before the nightmare scene that shows the building to be snowed in to almost the top of the building. Then in the Colorado lounge, light is flowing in easily on the nightmare and choking drama.
When Wendy stumbles through the hall with the stuff Jack threw on the ground, there are steel rings and ewers, as there should be. But there’s also a bunch of silver bowls, exactly like the ones Danny ate chocolate ice cream from earlier.
Jack’s face goes from natural lighting to red as they climb the stairs. But they complete the shift right after the line, “I said…I’m not gonna hurtcha.” And right on the line, “I’m just gonna bash your brains in.” Another visual cue of Jack crossing a line into darkness.
This should definitely be in the Transformation section, but it got put here for some reason. Oh well.
The books on the shelf here change around quite a bit. They’re similar enough in the REDRUM sequence and Jack’s axe sequence, but in the one short shot of Wendy carrying Danny to safety, one major book appears, a Russian translation of the works of Shakespeare, and one potentially major one disappears, the second one from the left on the second shelf, with the perching bird on the spine. This could be any number perched bird spine books, but I have a suspicion that it could be To Kill A Mockingbird. A suspicion which has not been confirmed by any of the vintage first/second/third edition spines I was able to get on an image search. If someone could confirm that, that would be grand. The Shakespeare moment mirrors over Ullman finding Jack reading the Playgirl, and the first part of their pre-tour chat. (I guess Shakespeare was a “playboy” of a sort)
I’m not sure exactly why Shakespeare appears only in this shot, and in Cyrillic. One thing seems certain, which is that the plays Julius Caesar and The Tempest bear direct references to the film. Caesar because of the multitude of other Caesar references in the film, and The Tempest because The Shining novel takes open inspiration from Edgar Allen Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death, which takes open inspiration from The Tempest.
Why Mockingbird, if that’s what it is, was taken out might have to do with the mirrorform. The missing Mockingbird overlays with Jack and Ullman in the lobby, which means the TV is right behind Jack, and that’s the TV that Danny and Wendy later watch Summer of ’42 on. That was one of Kubrick’s favourite movies, and it was directed by Robert Mulligan, the director of the film adaptation of To Kill A Mockingbird. If Kubrick was a not-so-secret admirer of Mulligan in more ways than one, then perhaps the missing book and the off TV were his way of expressing that.
The blue book under the tank is Philip Ardery’s Bomber Pilot: A Memoir of World War II, but for some reason, the book becomes an entirely different book of the exact same appearance (with text large enough to notice the difference, but too small to decipher) when Jack is revving up for the first blow to the bathroom. I’m guessing this is because Kubrick didn’t want to denigrate Ardery’s book by associating it to Jack’s violence. The book is apparently a blisteringly humanizing account of several bombing raids that Ardery was a part of, winning a best aeronautical book award. I imagine the point of including it was more about the abstract notion of murder than the specificity of Jack’s particular bloodlust.
Also, the mirrorform for the Bomber Pilot bits is Ullman greeting Jack at the start of the tour, wearing a bomber jacket.
We see Danny escape the suite 3 bathroom only to land just to the west of the front entrance, which leads to the lobby. But we see Wendy push the breakfast cart to the east of the lobby in order to get it to Jack. The bloodfall elevator is closer to the kitchen, and the Gold Room, so that would almost definitely save time, and it has been a month, so Wendy would either be taking the long, long way around, or still not be familiar with the building layout after 30 days alone in the building. I would also seriously doubt that a hotel of that magnitude would put the “staff wing of the hotel” right smack dab in the middle of the operation. This would also mean that the giant stairwell outside their door leads down into the area to the west of the lobby, more or less right next to the path to the Gold Room, making it fairly public access, and not as discreet as you’d imagine. There’s an elevator that opens almost right onto this circuit, so, again, Wendy would be going way out of her way.
Also, during Jack’s stalk to get Hallorann, he goes from apparently the middle of the building (purple line), to the far west side to stalk through the kitchen (green line) (which would be close to the 2nd Entrance), and then he goes all the way to the other side of the building to approach the lobby from the east (red line).
Jack moves this huge urn out of the way to kill Hallorann. This isn’t a big deal. I just think it’s funny, really. Hallorann is within close earshot at this moment, and shambly Jack pulled this off without raising suspicions. Good work, Jack!
The light that’s above the spot where Hallorann gets killed switches to next light west for Wendy’s discovery. There’s a few instances in the film of lights being out and on above Hallorann, like in the first shot of him. So I doubt this was entirely for lighting purposes.
During Wendy’s run around at the end, each one of her journeys contains an absurdity, besides the supernatural factor.
In the first, she runs up 3 flights of stairs to get to a floor where the doors have first-floor numbers. This stairwell is in the fashion of the staff wing of the hotel, but we don’t see the Torrance’s apartment, either.
In the GREAT PARTY hall, Wendy runs into the area behind Ullman’s impossible window.
In the third part, she runs into the lobby from the other side of the building, implying that she ran all the way around the back of the building, over to the Gold Room, and maybe the kitchen, and then somehow out into the lobby from the other side. This room also changes its lighting throughout the shots, and Hallorann’s body is now missing.
In the final sequence, seeing the bloodfall, Wendy is in a part of the building that doesn’t make sense for anything. It’s a kind of blind alley, only leading to an elevator, which is down a hall of private rooms. It would be a fine service elevator for staff, but we already know that the servant’s quarters are on the opposite side of the hotel. Also, the hall is lined with pictures from other parts of the hotel.
The skeleton ball goes through multiple stages of litness. At first it’s hella lit. Look how bright that is! Then it’s well enough lit, but with the entryway and the TV area darkened. Then things get dark as heck. Every old silhouette becoming the new light spots.
Also, the skelebutler seems to get better statured from shot to shot. While the model maze gets more and more obscure. My thought is this was done to emphasize the fact that the model of the labyrinth no longer matters. Jack and Danny are in the game of their lives right now, chasing and setting traps. The model is irrelevant.
SPECIAL: THE SHINING AS A NATURAL PHENOMENON
It occurred to me that the shining itself is technically an absurdity of a sort. So I did a little thought piece about that. Click here to read all about it.
If you skipped the section on Pantry Oddities, click here
Click here for the section on things that transform
Click here for the section on things that disappear
MAIN PAGE ⎔ SECTION PAGE ⎔ SITE MAP ⎔ GLOSSARY
OTHER MAIN PAGES FOR SHINING ANALYSIS
THE MIRRORFORM ⎔ THE BEATLES ⎔ THE RUM AND THE RED
BACKGROUND ART ⎔ OVERLOOK PHOTOGRAPHS ⎔ GOLDEN SPIRALS
PHI GRIDS ⎔ PATTERNS ⎔ VIOLENCE AND INDIGENA ⎔ ABSURDITIES
THE STORY ROOM ⎔ ANIMAL SYMBOLS ⎔ THE ANNOTATED SHINING