Curiouser and Curiouser, Part 4: Twins and Duos



There’s a painting at 81:26 called Maligne Lake, Jasper Park, by Lawren Harris (1924), which bears an obvious resemblance to the opening shot of the movie, of St. Mary Lake. Maligne is the French word for malignant. The mountains and the lake were named by Canadian naturalist Mary Schäffer, who was the first westerner to visit the area in 1907. The peaks visible in the painting are Samson Peak, Mt. Paul, the Queen Elizabeth Ranges, Mt. Charlton, and possibly even Mt. Mary Vaux in the distance. So, all those names (minus the Queen, perhaps?) have obvious twin/duo reference potential for the film, as I’ve discussed throughout the site.

Also, both of these images feature a mirror image of a landscape. A duo of duos.

The second body of water we see in the film is Lake MacDonald, seen in the second shot. The first shot of Jack entering the hotel features The Solemn Land by JEH MacDonald, and the first shot of Jack arriving to take over the hotel captures both of the (known) MacDonald paintings in the film: The Solemn Land and Mist Fantasy, seen way in the distance. And just for the hell of it, I’ll mention that in one of the firsthand accounts of the making of the film, Ian Watson, a sci-fi writer invited on set, wrote about Kubrick driving to set, carelessly allowing McDonald’s wrappers to flow out the window of his moving car. That struck me as an odd detail to include, and odd behaviour on Kubrick’s part, given the apparent concern for the environment in various of the buried clues. Also, note how Bill Watson (same surname as Ian) is standing directly between the two MacDonald’s.

There’s two VW Beetles in the film a yellow and a red one. For more on Beetles and Beatles, check out my Redrum Road analysis.

That said, yellow and red as a duo is a recurring theme. The Dopey sticker on Danny’s door should be green and purple to be like Dopey, but instead he’s red and yellow (see below). There’s a red racket laying perfectly over a yellow racket on top of a copy of Candy Land in Danny’s bedroom, and Winnie-the-Pooh sitting next to the firetruck and the baseball bat are a lot of red and yellow.

Sorry for the scrunched image below; these are instances in which a mountain known as Heaven’s Peak appears during the opening credits and during the second drive up to the hotel. The red boxes indicate where the bulk or the foot of the mountain is visible.

According to Kubrick’s assistant, Anthony Frewin, a dummy company of professional book readers was set up in order to find the next novel or screenplay to adapt, a process which lead to the discovery of The Shining. This company was named, by Kubrick, Empyrean Films, and none of the participants knew they were working for Stanley. Well, the meaning of “empyrean” that Kubrick was employing here meant “the highest realm of heaven”, which is awful synonymous with Heaven’s Peak, no? Kubrick also claimed that the shots of the mountains was done late in production (this seems demonstrably false given the variable snowfall seen throughout on the same mountains (see below), but perhaps “late” meant several months, compared to the total production time of three years). Nevertheless, the mountains could’ve been chosen well in advance for all we know. The novel he adapted might’ve been contingent on it making sense against the context of these mountains.

The year 1921 is invoked by the first and last art we see in the movie. The Solemn Land debuted in 1921.

Almost everyone in the film speaks with either a full-on British accent, as in the case of the four Grady ghosts, the maître d’ ghost, and the 237 ghost (who seems to laugh with a British tongue), or as though they were suppressing a British accent, as in the case of the receptionist, Lloyd, and Susie. Actually, I think Lloyd is supposed to be more of a turn-of-the-century American where some of the hard Rs were there, like in the “Your” in “Your credit’s fine, mistuh Torrance.” But some have vanished completely, like when he says, “No, suh. Not busy at all.” or “Your money’s no good he-ah.”

There’s two phone rings as Jack crosses the lobby, one just as Jack leaves the receptionist, and one just as he’s crossing Hallorann’s death spot. I recently discovered this interview with the film’s editor, Gordon Stainforth, about Stanley arguing with another of the editors about the exact timing of these rings.

Do these represent the two deaths in the film? The first one plays as Jack passes the spot where his photo will hang at the end.

What else seems weird is that no one seems to answer this phone. As Jack gets closer to the office, the sound of the ring amplifies, as if he were drawing nearer the phone. But after only two rings there’s no “Hello?” and there’s no third ring. It’s possible this would be coming from the accountant’s office, I suppose, and that he’s speaking too softly as we enter Ullman’s to hear the ensuing dialogue, but I think it’s more likely a sign of the hotel’s dark will–to mark these two death spots. In fact, that could imply that the hotel is also aware of the mirrorformity of the story, that it won’t get Danny and Wendy, but only Jack and Hallorann. These two rings happen while Danny and Wendy are gassing up the snowcat on the opposite side.

What else is weird (I can’t believe I never noticed this in all these months) is that there’s the sound of typing at a typewriter as Jack enters Susie’s and he looks over at the source of the noise, but makes no gesture of greeting (and no one greets him), only keeps moving upon Ullman’s, where Susie is inside. The typing takes up again, and recedes, as Jack speaks to Ullman. The only thing I can think of is that there’s a stock ticker in there, or else Jack is just really ambivalent about typists.  

As Jack is arriving for the interview, two older gentlemen are seen in the lobby, one sitting (blue box), one arriving from the spot where Wendy will later see Hallorann’s corpse (red box). When Jack is phoning Wendy about getting the job, these two men can be seen between Ullman and Watson, positioned directly above and below one another. Red box guy is poised over the model labyrinth, studying it as Jack will later do. In fact, that’s the last wholly sane thing we ever see Jack do. Also, (yellow boxes) the same bellhop and desk clerk who are seen during this cross are visible on opposite sides of each other during the phone call.

Red box guy is also coming from the spot where Wendy sees the Grady ghost, so I think it’s possible, since we’re seeing him on the sanity side of Jack’s journey, that his connection to the Grady ghost’s spot and the model labyrinth implies that Grady had a very similarly sane experience at the hotel as early Jack. A small touch, but seemingly deliberate.

Also, I have a theory that blue box guy could be Randolph Scott, the star of the film playing during the phone call behind Wendy, Carson City.

Image result for randolph scott ride the high country
As you can see in this still from his last film, Ride the High Country (1962), Randolph Scott
still had dark eyebrows as his scalp hair whitened. Just as the blurry man seems to have

Hallorann bears considerable resemblance to the trapper figure from Clarence Gagnon’s 1931 painting Trapper’s Camp. As discussed elsewhere, I believe this points to the notion that Hallorann was always the hotel’s main target. But here’s a shorter version of that theory: as you can see below, the painting first appears behind a box in Ullman’s office, when he’s shaking Jack’s hand. It will remain in the room, beside a scowling Watson for the entire interview, which puts it about 15 feet from where Hallorann will be murdered. The next time the painting appears is in every one of Danny’s bloodfall visions, the first of which comes immediately after Jack announces to Wendy that he got the job (the shot of him making the call shows the spot where Hallorann will die, just to the left of where Ullman is talking to Watson). And the last appearance is when Wendy’s climbing the BJ Well, which is the next sequence after Hallorann’s murder. That’s interesting because it’s almost like the hotel is gloating to Wendy before she gets to see the carnage–as she’ll do in her next scene. And in case that all seems like a stretch, consider this: there’s a photo by her feet at the same moment as she’s passing Trapper’s Camp which was first ever seen while Jack is going to kill Hallorann, and this is its last appearance.

Also on that note: Ullman has a little axe-shaped something in his tin pen mug. Then, next to Wendy’s head in the kitchen is a green towel or something that says GOLF LIKE THE GREATS on it, and mentions Jack Nicklaus and Johnny Miller by name. So, while these “silver hammers” are only axe-like in nature, there’s a certain duality to this incidence in isolation.

There’s numerous instances of other men seeming to act as Jack’s vague twin. Watson in the interview, seen from behind, has been remarked on by many for his twin-like quality. Jack is frequently seen in mirrors, and sometimes, like in the below shot, the other Jack will have something slightly different about him, like the halo that appears above the Jack in the mirror (not to mention the fact that the real Jack in that scene is obscuring a picture of naked twins with his head). Jack and Lloyd wear the same colour jacket, while Lloyd wears a suit more like Grady’s beneath. Grady turns out to be Jack’s soul twin in that they both will try to kill their family’s with an axe to varying degrees of success. And finally, photo Jack will be seen in the same kind of suit as Grady.

Also, Jack and Ullman are wearing the same tie, and Watson and Ullman are both played by actors named Barry. So there’s a triangle of duality going on between them, just as there’s a triangle of dualities between Jack, Lloyd and Delbert Grady. And you know what that means? Dual duality triangles.

The position that the two men in Carson City converse in behind Wendy is virtually identical to how Ullman and Watson converse behind Jack.

Two American presidents are mentioned by name in the film: Jimmy Carter (name seen on the cover of The New York Review) and Dwight Eisenhower, who’s invoked by the radio, which mentions the “Eisenhower tunnel”. Also, Ullman says “We had four presidents who stayed here” during the tour.

The doctor wears one gold necklace, while Wendy wears two, and both wear the same watch. Also, both appear onscreen with a “clew”. The doctor sits next to a book called Young Jethro by Roy Clews, and behind Wendy’s head (seen better in the washing up scene) is a silver-blue ball of thread, otherwise known as a clew. A clew is what Ariadne gave to Theseus to find his way out of the labyrinth after slaying the minotaur.

A couple trolleys roll east and west throughout the tour. Timing suggests they cannot be the same one.

Jack insinuates the loathsomeness of television during the drive (of which he does two), but he’s not exactly a man of the great outdoors (or great culture, as his White Man’s Burden reference shows). We only see him walking around in the free air twice in the film. Once from 23:10-24:00, and then at 131:00-139:40 exactly as he begins his lunge into the snow. So for 107 minutes of a 141.5 minute narrative, Jack doesn’t leave the Overlook. Ignoring his driving sequences (of which there are two, totalling roughly 4:50 of screen time), Jack is outside once in the day and once in the night, for a combined total of 9:30.

Jack and Danny play Jack and Danny. Jack is also served Jack Daniels twice by Lloyd (though three drinks total are poured), and Danny is played by Danny Lloyd. No other actor in the film shares a name with a character.

There’s two (major?) instances of lost time in the film. In the jump between leaving Danny with Hallorann and this shot of the gang on the way to the basement, it jumps from being about 12:50pm to about 10:54am.

And later in the film, after we’ve seen the 8am placard, and seen the clock at Durkin’s saying it’s about 9:10am, the bulk of the action in this section takes place before 7:00am. The entire breakfast with Tony, going to fight Jack, finding the All Work papers, fighting Jack, dragging Jack to the storeroom and then finding the dead snowcat, you can see by the clock behind dragging Wendy, takes place by 6:55am. After finding the dead snowcat we smash cut to the 4pm placard, completely skipping over anything that might’ve happened in the 8am universe of the Torrance family on this Thursday afternoon (assuming that Jack’s storeroom chat with Grady takes place after 4; it might not…). And as those who’ve studied the mirrorform section know, these two sections are on opposite sides of the film from each other.

Hilariously, after some consideration, it’s occurred to me that the only moment from the entire “8am” section of the film to happen within this hour, might be the shot of the plane landing, which, Hallorann was told, was scheduled to happen at 8:20am.

There’s a worker at the very end of the tour who looks a bit like Ullman’s twin (not literal twin, but just a similar looking actor), and as the gang passes, he’s fiddling meaninglessly with some bowls, and then, as Ullman’s saying, “Yes, well, the last day’s always very hectic. Everyone likes to be on their way as early as possible,” this alternate Ullman crosses the hall behind them, and enters the back hall door that would lead into Ullman’s office. I know it’s not the oddest thing that some bosses should be so relaxed with their hired help, that they could enter the boss’s office without supervision or evident permission. But in every other sequence dealing with Ullman’s office, pains are taken to conceal the fact that there’s even a door in that location. It’s only 96 minutes into the movie (12 seconds past the 2/3 mark, in fact), as Jack goes to kill the radio, that we get a look at the fact that there is a door there. I actually thought this bit with the door was what I call an absurdity (something structurally impossible about the hotel) until months into my research when I realized that Ullman actually does have a door there.

Anyway, if this worker is meant as an Ullman twin, what’s the point? The mirrorform for this moment is Wendy saying she’s gonna take the snowcat down to Sidewinder today, to try to get Danny some help (see below). So I wondered if this worker using a “secret” door might be a reference to how Grady lets Jack out of the pantry with his ghost powers.

It also occurred to me that this might have something to do with the Red Book on Ullman’s desk. I’m not sure what, exactly. But since this is the end of the tour, maybe it’s something like a confirmation that the Torrances have truly committed to this experience, Wendy and Jack both. If twin Ullman is the “real” Ullman (either in the sense of being superior to the Ullman we get to know, or in the sense of just being another tentacle of the Overlook’s malice), then maybe, since Jack and Wendy have been through all the most important places up to this point, this last little jog represents the final crossing of the threshold, and “twin” Ullman is officiating the Red Book’s value, doing whatever Ullman twins do with such eternally binding contracts.

Wendy chases Danny to the labyrinth with a playful menace, “And you’re gonna lose! And I’m gonna getcha! Dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun!” Later, Jack presents the real version of this play, chasing Danny into a slightly transformed maze.

Pooh bear and the baseball bat appear twice on screen together.

Wendy hears on the news about Susan Robertson, a woman from Aspen who went missing in the mountains near Ouray. She’s said to have been missing 10 days, and the search might be called off if the snowstorm hits. The Shining takes place over ten identifiable days (the initial interview day, while not explicit, could be Oct. 1st, based off the newspaper in the Torrance living room; also the final unknown day could somehow be the same day that dead Jack was discovered…but I strongly doubt that). Also, both Wendy and Hallorann watch a newscast discussing a snowstorm.

There’s also a moment during the doctor interview when we see a copy of Diane Cilento’s The Manipulator. Cilento wasn’t a highly celebrated author, but she happened to also be a movie star, and was featured in Hitler: The Last Ten Days, with Alec Guinness as Hitler and…Philip Stone (Delbert Grady), as General Jodl. The film tells the story of Hitler’s final days going irate with indignity as the war outside was lost. Cilento played a doctor who impresses Hitler with her life-saving powers and Stone played one of the Generals locked in with Hitler as things get worse and worse (see him speaking on the left in the fourth shot below).

There are two doors that open spontaneously in the film, and they’re on opposite sides of this hall. 237 and 236/8.

Jack and Danny only have two moments alone together in the entire film, and one is about five seconds long.

There’s an American edition of the film and a British edition of the film. I haven’t tracked down the British version, but it’s quite a bit shorter (119m vs. 144m), and is possibly the version that has the yellow ball, I don’t know. But since the stars on Danny’s sweater appear pink in both versions, I’m going to guess that the pink ball/American version was the one that got colour corrected.

Kubrick…corrected it…

While not perfectly identical, Jack’s post-wagon-fall death mask is a lot like his actual death mask at the end. Incidentally, the post-drink face happens 4 minutes before the middle of the film, while the frozen face happens 2 minutes before the end. I just think that’s neat.

There are numerous instances of duos and twins in Hallorann’s place (the two nudes, the twin books shared between his place and the Torrance’s, the fact that his TV is the same as the one in Boulder and Suite 3, the general symmetry of the layout), but I specifically appreciate that in Glenn Rinker’s newscast he describes two weather issues besetting the Colorado area and the Miami area. When he switches between the two areas he says “we have just the opposite problem”. I think that’s a good way to describe much of what’s going on in the film.

Jack has two instances of a ghost fooling him with appearances, and in both instances the ghost is one part of two apparent halves. The 237 ghost has an older and a younger identity, while the Grady ghost is attached to two different first names, Charles and Delbert. A mirror reveals the truth of the 237 ghost, so Jack tries again to use a mirror to scan for Grady’s other half.

Fool me once…shame on…shame on you. Fool me can’t get fooled again. (Or can you?)

At two points Jack stares straight at the spot where his photo will forever hang, and two times the camera pushes in on this exact spot.

Vivian Kubrick, and the woman who might be her real-life sister, dressed all in white and all in black are who I call the yin-yang girls. If they’re not two of the director’s own daughters, made up to look like two halves of a whole, there’s still the duo of there being two Kubricks on set directing a film. Stanley making The Shining, and Vivian making Making ‘The Shining’.

I read a bit of trivia that Stephen King was the bandleader in the ensemble behind Jack and Grady here, but I think this was possibly a mistake on the part of the trivialist, since he very, very much was the bandleader in the TV version of The Shining. In case this turns out to be true, it would be quite a thing if he did both.

At one point I went through looking just for eye shapes throughout the hotel. This got to be a frustratingly tedious process (they are everywhere). So I’ll just present you with the shapes that look the most singularly eye-shaped, and these are the cashier window lattices. These are seen for the first time clearly as Jack goes to kill the radio, and then as Hallorann comes to be killed. The area they’re in is passed five times before we get this shot of them, which gives the impression of the hotel suddenly, subtly animating, but on a level we don’t quite notice.

There’s another duality triangle in Jack’s three murders. Two are machine murders. And Hallorann both drives the substitute snowcat to the Overlook and is the reason the US Forest Service is calling when Jack rips the plugs out.

This one’s a bit on the silly side, but I’ve wondered if Alex Colville’s Moon and Cow placing here is a hint at the fact that the person in the bear suit at the top of the stairs is Wendy. The person in the suit has an exposed bottom, a slang term for which is “mooning”, and that person is on the side of the shot with another (unidentified) nighttime painting on it. The man receiving the blowjob from the vagina dentata bear is also dressed in black and white, which are the same colours as the cow in the painting, and he is seen closest to a painting of two muskox, which are similar to cows.

The better proof that the bear suit is Wendy is probably that the mask bears a colour and animal connection to Winnie-the-Pooh and so does Wendy, and the bear mask has the same shape of eyelids as Shelley Duvall. In any event, the BJ stairwell contains two moons. That much is certain.

All the furniture in the bloodfall hall is the same on both sides.

There’s two sets of women in the final photo (especially the set on the left) who could be twins or sisters.

The original ending in the film featured the below placard which would’ve listed the hotel’s running season as May 20th – September 20th. So you’ve got the 20/20 effect there. But Ullman says earlier in the film that the season runs from May 15th – October 30th. So there’s a strange discrepancy between the two given season runs. We’ll never know without ever being able to see the original print of the film, if this placard made it into that version in this form. But still.


Just wanted make a place to point out that there are numerous instances of art pieces placed across from similar other art pieces. Sometimes these are the by the same artist, and sometimes it’s more of a spiritual similarity. Sometimes they’re directly across from each other, like mirrors, and sometimes they’re simply on opposing walls. I’m not sure what the point of this was, exactly. Perhaps simply to draw connections between moments, perhaps to establish invisible boundaries to have certain characters cross. What can’t be denied is that it was done regularly and often, and wasn’t restricted to the Overlook.

The first one we’ll look at is the second one to be shown, of two Copper Thunderbird paintings in Susie’s office. The Great Earth Mother, and Flock of Loons. Flock of Loons will migrate to the 2nd entrance, to appear near another instance of mirror art later on.

The first instance of mirror art is a little less literal, with JEH MacDonald’s The Solemn Land hanging across (but not exactly) from Tom Thomson’s Northern River. Both these men are associated with the Group of Seven. And though Jack passes The Solemn Land in his first moment on screen, I chose this later shot to show how we’re getting a sense of this mirror art moment during the same phone call as we’re getting the next mirror art introduction of the two Colvilles.

Alex Colville’s Woman and Terrier and Horse and Train appear on opposing walls, if not perfectly across. Two paintings showing the duality between an animal and another force with power over it.

This one’s imperfect for a few reasons, but I still think it’s neat that the Colville-Vaughan dog paintings, appear across from the JF Lansdowne bird paintings. These are also the most separated by screen time, occurring exactly 14 minutes apart, both seen only the once.

Hallorann’s Old School Inc. portraits are the one instance of mirror art everyone remembers. And what might be especially interesting is the way that only 3 minutes go by between the first appearance of the first foxy lady, and the last appearance of the last fox painting in room 237.

As for the fox paintings, what’s interesting about them is how, opposed to the way Hallorann floats between the foxy ladies, Jack never passes between the 237 fox paintings. This is the major reason why I suspect that the significance of mirror art has to do with their placement and how/when people pass between them. Danny, for instance, is only seen doing this once, and it’s debatable (see below). The very first frame of Danny’s flight to his back hall hiding place shows him having just crossed between the two Monahan paintings, but we don’t see the exact moment when the cross would’ve occurred. Nevertheless, this crossing could signify his dawning forsaking of Hallorann when the boy’s rescuer gets chopped not very far away, despite Danny’s ability to shine, and warn Dick, or draw Dick to him.

And finally, the two Monahans second appearance occurs not long from the last appearance of the two Krieghoffs that mirror each other at the 2nd entrance. Less than a minute goes by between these two moments. And one of the Monahans (December Afternoon) has a name that seems to echo one of the Krieghoffs (Winter Landscape).

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Curiouser and Curiouser, Part 5: Notable Instances of Repetition