Curiouser and Curiouser, Part 2: Mirror Movements



There’s a host of instances in the film of characters moving in the same or opposite directions from each other (or themselves) through the same spaces, and of camera movements shooting the same kind of action in the same kind of way. We’ll start with the character movements.

Kicking things off we’ve got Jack’s two Ullman entrances. I’ll talk about this in greater detail in the next section, but for now, just note how these two moments are framed to create a very similar effect at this point. Wendy also enters Ullman’s but it’s shot differently, and doesn’t include The Great Earth Mother painting on the left here.

During the tour and post-237 Jack leans in to check out Danny’s room. Note the way the light/dark colour balance between husband and wife have switched.

The Gold Room strut is shot fairly similarly in all four instances. The first three track with the person(s) approaching, while the last one waits at the end for Jack to approach.

The first and last flow with the party into the room by passing through the wall in a continuous shot, while the middle two pivot at the doorway and watch Jack and Wendy go through, cutting into the room after showing them cross the threshold. Also, the last three show Jack or Wendy reflecting in the large hall mirrors (see above), while the first one doesn’t.

As a result of that, Hallorann is the only major hotel employee to appear in a mirror, and only extremely obscurely, in one moment near the end. Perhaps that’s to show that Hallorann is the most real of the employees (all the others are unperturbed by the building’s many structural impossibilities), though all three of the major ghosts are also seen in mirrors, so that might be a moot point.

The pan that crosses the pantry right-to-left comes right after a shine in both instances. Hallorann shining Danny about ice cream, and Grady shining Jack into wakefulness.

The lobby back hall shots track in very similar ways, if the characters’ movements differ. In fact, just as Ullman’s passing the spot where Danny will hide, he says, “By 5 o’clock tonight, you’ll never know anybody was ever here.” And Danny is passing the clock here at 5:16pm. So 5 was when the last of the hotel’s workers were supposed to be gone, and that’s approximately when Hallorann showed back up.

Three characters pass between the kitchen/gold room area and the lobby taking this route. As those well-versed in my Redrum Road writings will recall, Wendy’s journey and Hallorann’s journey happen almost at the same time in the same sequence. Wendy’s journey comes slightly before, and the shot of her ends right as she enters the spot where Hallorann will be killed. In the final version, Wendy stops short at the entrance, horrified by the skeleton ball, so it’s a bit like death stops both characters who enter this room this way.

Danny’s first trike ride, and Wendy’s run to wake nightmare Jack move in opposite directions around the lounge. What’s interesting too is that Danny’s ride here shows us that the stairs (the black shape over his head) where Wendy’s run starts are much closer to the other entryway, meaning, Wendy took the long way around to run to Jack. She should’ve heard his screaming closer to that side, where the writing desk was and taken the much shorter route. But I think this nicely conveys the opposite approaches that Wendy and Danny take to their stay here. Danny’s on a journey of discovery and exploration, Wendy’s on a journey of survival and caution.

Also, people dangerously familiar with my Redrum Road analysis will remember that these moments happen at almost the same part of the third Oh! Darling, Danny triking backwards, Wendy running forwards. So, though they aren’t in the same spot in the physical space (Wendy’s also running much faster), they’re moving in the same clockwise direction around the lounge.

Again, readers who’ve read Redrum Road will know that backwards-walking Danny crosses Wendy/Danny’s path during a key moment in the music of both sequences (in both instances the maze action is the forward action). But putting aside that incredibly timed incidence, it’s interesting that his backward moves push him through the middle of the path of mother and son here.

8am dead snowcat-seeking Wendy retraces the THURSDAY snowball fight of mother and son. What’s more, 8am is another Thursday.

Wendy passing between the two radio rooms makes the opposite curve that axe Jack makes going between killing Hallorann and trying to kill Danny.

And in fact, the first shot after Wendy’s successful radio call is of Danny triking up the hall behind the lobby, making a right turn at the end.

Danny jumping out of his hidey hole makes the same turn here, at the opposite end of the hall. Also, note the colour inversion in these two moments of warm and cool tones.

Also, Danny’s last trike ride (the third of three) inverts his third last escape path (the final two being his run into the heart of the maze, and his run out of the maze). Those familiar with my lessons/escapes findings will appreciate that the trike ride here is the last of his lessons, and the flight to the hidey hole is the build up to the escapes.

Wendy enters the lounge three times, and the two from the northeast side of the room are shot almost identically. Minus some rugs and end tables.

All three shots of Jack entering the gold room track his progress through the room, all going straight from the entrance to the bar.

Jack and Lloyd’s two sequences are shot virtually identically plus and minus extra ghosties.

The two walks from the lobby back hall to the lobby are the same at first, but Jack’s walk is captured completely from the front, while Wendy’s turns to her backside at the corner here.

And while Jack’s shot cuts to show him seeing the ghost ball, we follow behind Wendy and react to Hallorann’s murder in time with her. Cutting only to witness her horror at the sight.

This shot has even more in common with the final shot of the movie, which picks up twelve metres down the hall, or so. But the shot is moving in the same direction, along virtually the same trajectory, with virtually the same framing. The other neat thing is that these are from two of the three instances when the lobby features some kind of unexplained transformation (balloons, sheets), the third being the skeleton ball.

With slightly different results each time (no answer, answer, answer with bad news), Hallorann makes the exact same movement through his apartment on his three calls for help. Eagle-eyed viewers will note that his drink switches sides of the coffee table.

Wendy and Danny make the same back-and-forth motions through Suite 3, while plotting their escapes, crossing north-to-south, south-to-north, and one last north-to-south. And while Wendy moves through the entire apartment on her journey, as opposed to Danny who stays completely within the bedroom area, Wendy’s last north-to-south is interrupted by Tony/Danny’s “REDRUM!” from Danny’s bedroom. And she’s standing right beside the large mirror when she hears this, which is where the later shot of Tony/Danny’s first north-to-south begins.

The last point is especially neat when you consider how in the mirrorform, just as mirror Danny’s walking back into the end of that shot, forward Wendy is stepping into the very same spot in Suite 3.

The three vehicle sequences of Hallorann’s rescue mission are depicted in highly similar fashion, but especially the second and third legs of the journey.

The shot of Wendy and Jack running to the 2nd entrance is identical with one notable exception. The very start of Jack’s gives us a sliver of the painting December Afternoon (check out the far left of the shot below), which appears next to the bloodfall in all the visions, and later in reality, when Wendy’s onlooking. Both December Afternoons hang to the left of an elevator.

Wendy and Danny retrace the path Hallorann takes in to the rescue.

These two shots feature Jack just sitting there, typing, but they move the same way, from the same spot. This is a good case of the context affecting the twinniness. Because in the former, Jack hasn’t seen a supernatural threat, and in the latter, he’s been to 237, which is about a 15 second jog from this very spot.

In Redrum Road the first iteration of these two shots is almost perfectly joined by Carry That Weight, and in the second iteration, they’re both covered by Come Together.

Finally, while the shots and the character placements aren’t exactly identical in either case, I just wanted to note that there is nonetheless a similarity, which helps to build on our sense that GREAT PARTY ghost is in fact the original Charles Grady, and that Jack’s passing here indicates a commonality. The painting to the left is The Makah Returning in Their War Canoes, by Paul Kane, which neither Wendy nor Danny are seen in conjunction with. So, if nothing else, Grady ghost and Jack are being knit by a concept of violence. They are men of violence.

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Curiouser and Curiouser, Part 3: Mirror Phrases and Echo Phrases