Curiouser and Curiouser, Part 5: Notable Instances of Repetition



Here’s a neat one. There’s 15 appearances of the model and the real labyrinth. They go:

M=Model; R=Real

You have to be a little creative to arrive at this configuration. For one thing, the last three model shots are technically from the same basic sequence, but I was exhaustive with individual shots of the model, with one exception, which is the skeleton ball, but to be fair, the model is darkened out of visibility in that sequence (see below). I even wonder if that’s why the maze was darkened out (I’ve also wondered if it’s because Danny and Jack are in the (evolved) maze at this moment, and maps no longer factor).

The other thing is I’m condensing all the real labyrinth moments into basically just the starting shot from that sequence (with the exception of the aerial shot, which is part of the 2nd Lesson), instead of counting each cut back from Wendy’s final trials to Jack chasing Danny, which would give us another several reals at the other end. The reason I like not doing that is: just check out the below graphic. The aerial shot of the labyrinth is smack dab in the bull’s-eye of this sequence. How elegant is that?

The two breakfasts are notably similar affairs. Actually, I haven’t pointed this out in any of my other comparisons: note how even that green-orange flower-patterned cushion behind early Wendy looks like the starry, flowery green-orange comforter on the bed.

Also, there’s an interesting trend of Jack only being seen eating meat, eggs and protein (peanut butter, peanuts), while Danny is only seen eating and being prepared vegetarian foods. When Dick asks him if he likes lamb, Danny says no, and when he’s asked for his favourite food, he replies, “French fries and ketchup”.

The hall leading to the bloodfall, and the hall behind the lobby appear to be the same set redressed to look like different parts of the hotel. It’s possible the crew accidentally built the exact same set twice, but I think a redress is much more likely. This would mean that the door marked “private” next to the bloodfall is the same door that leads into Ullman’s office from behind the lobby.

There’s numerous maps presented throughout the film: two in Ullman’s, the migrating one outside the entrance of the labyrinth, the model which reproduces that design, then all the many maps in the US Forest Service and the first radio room Wendy tries. What’s interesting is that at least two of these maps are wrong. The 14th-century map inside Ullman’s, the first ever map of the Americas, looks like a funhouse mirror version of the land as we would come to understand it, and the maze map and model both completely fail to capture the actual layout of the labyrinth, as confirmed by the aerial view. It’s like Kubrick’s saying, maps only get you so far. You’ve got to walk the walk. You’ve gotta get out there and see the world to understand what it really is.

Perhaps this also accounts for the seeming absurdities that we see happening in the real world, like how Hallorann and the Torrances share some of the same books, or how things seem to move around the US Forest Service office at will.

So, if nothing else on this site has convinced you I’m a crazy person, dig this: there are 536 visible lines of “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” across the 18 pages we see Wendy look at. At 5:36 into the film Jack says, “I’m a writer” in response to Watson’s question “What line of work are you in now?”

There’s 8 American flags and 2 Colorado State flags in the film. Both state flags hang to the right of the country flag. Maybe that’s tradition, but still.

There are numerous flying machines in the film from the two jets in the Newswatch 10 Miami intro, to the two shots of Hallorann’s flight, to the two air balloons in Danny’s room, to the toy fighter jet Danny plays with while watching Summer of ’42 (which is about a fighter pilot), to the tiny jet in the background of Woman and Terrier, to the Apollo 11 rocket sweater.

Danny gets a warning from Tony to stay out of the Overlook generally, and then gets a more specific warning from Hallorann about 237.

All three main characters receive a very different kind of shine while looking in the mirror. What a simple way to express the diversity of an absurd concept.

Although this is a subject better discussed in the section focussing on the phenomenon of shining, I thought I would just point out the power that Danny’s shines have to express a pattern. As the bloodfall punches its three holes in the action, we also get the two girls, the one Danny, and then darkness. So the bloodfall doesn’t simply convey the notion of death by way of its bloody nature, but also by the lessening degrees by which life intercuts with it. The blackness at the end is less a shine than a consequence of Danny’s passing out, but still.

Meanwhile, the second set of shines Danny receives are during three different moments on Tuesday (from touching the knob of 237), Wednesday (while Jack is lying about what he saw in 237) and the final Thursday (once Jack starts pacing upon Wendy in the lounge). These feature a progression of one image (the twins), two images (a REDRUM and a bloodfall, spaced apart by some other action) and three images (two bloodfalls interrupted by a REDRUM). It’s less clear where these shines are coming from, but one thing worth noting is that the REDRUM door is the only shine definitely not experienced (by a later character) from the angle it’s presented at. Danny’s scream face, while possibly only experienced by Danny in his hiding place, could also be appearing to Danny in a shine in that moment. It’s unclear. Though it would seem cruel of Tony to show Danny the fruits of their failure to stop this from happening, in the moment of fate becoming irreversible.

There’s 7 ladders during CLOSING DAY with rungs in this sequence: 11, 9, 6, 13, 5, 9, 5. For a grand total of 58 (as you’ll note, I’m not counting the top part of the ladder, or the painter’s tray in the final ladder). In the classical interpretation of Jacob’s Ladder, the rungs equal years, and 58 years back from 1979 is…1921! The year to which Jack will transport back.

But also (you should skip the next part of this explanation if you aren’t familiar with this page), these numbers all seem to speak to what’s going on in their respective scenes, especially when we think about the F21 photos.

  • The first one is during the dissolve into the first day of Jack’s job, and there’s a ladder that lines up perfectly with the building, and this one has 11 rungs, and 11 is the photo Jack gets trapped in. So it’s like saying that, right from day one, from moment number one, the hotel owned Jack’s soul, which would follow with all the Red Book business.
  • The 9-rung ladder sits where Jack will kill Hallorann, and 9 is the Grady Murder number.
  • The 6-rung sits right outside the lounge’s westernmost window, and if 6 means good magic, then I think it’s fitting that “good” magic would be outside this room of bad vibrations.
  • The 13 is amazing, cuz that’s the “Beatles At Their Best” number, and this ladder passes the Ringo drum kit and Wendy dances her jig, and Hallorann walks up and blocks this ladder in his first moment. So it’s literally like he’s emerging out of Sgt. Pepper and breaking up the band.
  • A 5-rung ladder is then carried past Hallorann’s back, while he’s introduced to Jack and Wendy. Which is like a subliminal “kill this guy” message to Jack. Also, I wonder if the 13 and the 5 are meant to add to 18, the hell number, because this place will be flooded with ghosts, and the chandelier over Hallorann’s head is out throughout the scene, suggesting his looming deadness.
  • The following 9 appears behind Hallorann, Wendy and Danny in the kitchen, and which mirrors over the scene of Jack talking to Grady, which is perfect. And Wendy’s reference to Hansel and Gretel right here, implies an evil presence might be trying to gobble them up like the witch in that story, and Grady and Jack commit a similar act on their families.
  • And finally, the 5-rung that ends the Abbey Road Tour fades into Hallorann’s head for his big talk with Danny, which is another good allusion to Dick’s future as a murder victim.

I’m not sure about a more major significance than what I’ve noticed thus far, but there’s eight appearances of folded up mattresses throughout the film. The first and last overlap in the mirrorform (see below). The first and second are 2:37 apart. Also, the ones outside Suite 3 make up the 2nd, 3rd, and 7th sequences of mattresses appearing.

Fans of Lolita will recall that that film features a comedic sequence involving a folding mattress at a hotel.

There’s at least five obvious instances of a moon shape, or general moon imagery featuring in the film (excluding the general notion that 237, as a number, has a relationship to the moon–being the distance in miles from earth to the moon, for much of the year).

There’s the moon on the Corn Flakes box, the crescent shape of Danny’s toys combined with his Apollo 11 sweater, there’s two nude butts in the film from the 237 ghost and the BJ bear (this can be called “mooning” someone, in English), and there’s Wendy passing Moon and Cow, on her way to the BJ bear. You could also cite the MONDAY placard (and perhaps that entire sequence of action), since that day derives its name from “Moon Day”. There’s also a portrait of a man named Tatânga Mânî in the lobby, and Máni is the Norse moon goddess. So you can’t say that the Apollo 11 inclusion is an isolated bit of moon-related imagery. Whether or not the rest is enough to create a unity unto itself.

Go here for a more interesting analysis of what this all might mean.

There’s three instances of someone’s face being centred in isolation, almost like three flags. Each member of the family gets one. Wendy’s looks most like a zoomed-in-on Arapahoe flag, while Jack’s is like a white flag, and Danny’s a black flag.

While there’s certainly a lot to be said about the colours on different characters’ clothes throughout the film, Wendy and Danny have at least one moment of looking near-identical in their colour patterns.

There’s three instances of someone offering something and being refused. Wendy offers cigarettes and doesn’t react when the doctor refuses. The woman, Dorothy, in the film Summer of ’42 offers to pay Hermie for helping her carry her groceries home, and he refuses because he wants her to return the favour with friendship, and maybe something more, so she offers coffee and donuts, which he accepts. Finally, when Jack offers money for his ghost drink, Lloyd refuses, raising Jack’s hackles.

The episode of Playboy Kubrick was interviewed in (1968) came out ten years before the Playgirl Jack’s reading (1978).

There’s actually a few interesting repeating patterns in the various luggage seen throughout the film, but the one with significance, as discussed elsewhere, is the red plaid bag sitting by Danny’s trike when Ullman and Watson crash Jack’s lunch. As I’ve shown elsewhere, there’s good reason to think this was initially a reference to Jack Nicholson’s role in Easy Rider, where he rides on a motorcycle with a red plaid travel case behind him. I’ve wondered about the various implications of this (a foreshadowing of Jack’s death? a reminder of the actor’s glory days? an invocation of 1969 and the Apollo 11 mission?) but here, as the other red plaid cases are carried out by groups of young people, they seem to be calling out to Jack, who tries to notice them without noticing them. I wonder if this was a subtle way Kubrick was attacking actor Jack’s psyche, to undercut the grandiosity of possibly one of the greatest actors who ever lived, to get a little extra bitterness into this role. Duvall was famously the one that Kubrick targeted openly with head games, but this was possibly part misdirection.

Excluding Wendy’s four experiences at the end, there’s an interesting symmetry to the appearances of the four main ghosts. They go:

Grady Twins (games room)
Grady Twins (twinhall)
237 Ghost (rolling the ball)
237 Ghost
237 Ghost (buried in the ghost ball crowd)
Delbert Grady (ghostball)
Delbert Grady (storeroom)

There are three AMC Matadors (two ’78s and a ’74) in the film, and one toy that resembles a Matador. It’s interesting that the later two would be part of Hallorann’s universe. Is he the matador gored by Jack’s minotaur?

There are two Silver Beauty No. 8200 battery chargers in the film. One to the left of Watson and Wendy at the end of the exterior tour, and one just inside Durkin’s. Also, it’s perhaps a small thing, but when Hallorann asks for the time of arrival on his flight, the attendant says, “We’re due to arrive at 8:20.” And the very next scene shows the Silver Beauty. Note too how there’s a large red canister in both scenes.

Jack has four sleeps with very different characteristics. Wendy has only one, and only right before the end, and only when we can suppose she figured she was safe to do so.

This has more to do with the mythological connections, but in case that’s not your jam, check out this collage of every instance of Jack Nicholson acting with his tongue. It’s like Heath Ledger’s Joker up in here.

There’s more to say about the significance of the three sets of postcards, as my Redrum Road readers will recall, but for now I’ll just point out again the way that one from the hedge maze kiosk and one from the radio room kiosk appear in the US Forest Service. I think the purpose in this was to suggest that because these other two kiosks stand at the entryway to large labyrinths (the hedge maze and the hotel itself), that the Forest Service itself was the kiosk to the labyrinth of the natural world. I think this tiny detail, more than any other, is what lets us know that the Overlook is a metaphor for life itself, in Kubrick’s eyes.

Oh, I also wanted to point out the difference between an infinity loop, however complex, and a maze, however complex. Jack studies the maze, and he gets tricked by it anyway. Danny studies the maze, and he realizes its solution. The way you get into anything is the same as how you get out (like the Cheshire cat tells Alice). But Jack sees a system that is self-perpetuating, and doesn’t think there’s any way to stop it. So of course he gets ingrained into it, on every level, including metaphysical. Danny also thrives by walking the walk. He learns by being an explorer, walking the walk. Jack tries to do everything mentally, theoretically, at the typewriter.

The SWAT van and lorry toys by the TV here reappear when Danny’s outside 237, facing opposite directions as before.

The four shots of the two rangers are all taken from roughly the same vantage. But also I thought it was neat that the grumpier ranger looks up at about 45 degrees to his left, and down by 45 degrees to his right in his two scenes. Whereas the more bashful ranger looks down 45 degrees the whole time.

Danny will say almost nothing as Danny for, well, for the entire movie, really. His three big conversations are the doctor interview, the Hallorann interview, and the zombie Jack interview. What’s really spectacular is how in a 141:30 drama, Danny goes 70:12 (almost a perfect half) without speaking a word (as Danny; I’m not counting Tony talk). And all he really says post-scream is calling out for his mommy. He says the word “mom” 11 times before 237 and “mommy” 4.5 times running out of the maze (the fifth time is cut off when he collides with Wendy). He says “dad” 10 times before 237, and 8 of those are in the zombie Jack interview. Next to “redrum” (52) and “yes/yeah” (15) and “no” (7), mom and dad are Danny’s most spoken words.

As for “redrum” Danny draws it once, sees it in two shines, and Tony/Danny says it 9 times the first time, when Wendy finds him in bed shouting it, and 43 times the second time, though, again, the last instance is cut in half by the burst of music that happens mid-word. 42 is a recurring number of significance in the film, well documented by others. But I suspect that the 9 could refer to the years between the Grady murders (1970) and now (1979).

Hallorann’s shirt, with its design of little, jaggedy, thin-and-wide, mirror-esque flecks resembles the bed and curtain pattern inside 237. It seems to remind us of Hallorann’s part in this vision. Hallorann’s bedroom also has two foxy lady posters right across from each other, just as 237 has two fox paintings right across from each other.

We only see two areas of Hallorann’s Miami flat–the bedroom and the living room/dining room–and both feature colours that are highly reminiscent, if not identical to Ullman’s office and the blowjob well. You’ll notice a few other stylistic similarities between the latter two, not least of which how both areas are chopped up by stripes of light, while both also featuring a distant lamp in an adjoining room.

Number of balloons on the way to the ghost ball by colour:

8 pink
6 white
5 green
5 yellow
1 blue
1 red

The blue and the red are the most conspicuous, and probably relate to the heavy red-blue imagery at the end of the film. Also, the blue one is only revealed as Jack moves up the hall. Also, the red one seems to be a reference to The Masque of the Red Death.

I actually don’t have a theory yet for why this plays out how it does (though I’m wondering now if it connects to the Two Red Couches theory), but check this out.

As Jack progresses through the ghostball, there’s three 3-seat couches behind, and four 4-chair chair circles in the foreground. It seems that there’s two ways of analyzing this. First, by colour of outfit, then by gender.

The gender breakdown creates a pattern of “second position, first position, first position” for the lone male on the three couches. But in the chair circles it creates three instances of two men sitting across from two women (always on a different side of the chair arrangement), except the third one, which is more of an X shape. This means the men never have two closer to Jack’s stroll, and the women never have two further from Jack.

The outfit colour breakdown has the first and third couches inverting, while the second couch is the odd one out, with black-white-white (similar to the second-first-first of the male couch positions). While the chair circles are all the same (three blacks and a white, with the white always in the upper left), except for the second arrangement which is two blacks and two whites (similar to how the odd gender one is the only one that isn’t two across from two).

So the first couch and third chair circle are the odd ones out in the gender department, and the second couch and chair circle are the odd ones out in the colour department. This means the last couch and chair circle are the consistently conforming positions, across the rows. Is that all it’s about? Suggesting that as Jack approaches Lloyd he’s becoming more conformist? Maybe. But maybe there’s a deeper pattern at play here that I’m not seeing.

Actually, the 2nd and 3rd couches are the most similar of those, while the 1st and 4th chair circles are the most similar of those. But if we think of the 1st and 4th chair circles as the 4th and 7th overall sets of people sitting, this would mean that the most conformist arrangements (by gender in the couches and by colour in the chairs), are the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 7th. That’s like a 42/237 mash-up. Also 23 minutes and 47 seconds into the movie (past the WB logo) is the first second of Jack entering the Gold Room, on the tour (once the fade from the prior scene has faded out completely). Coincidence?

Each of Jack’s three murders is carried out by destroying the heart of something. Ripping out, cutting out, and axing out. I used the images from the mirrorform to show you how these moments all coincide with images of Grady and Danny (the first one is faint, but Danny and Wendy are playing in the snow at this moment).

The 11th page of the All Work papers that Wendy looks at is the one with the triangle shaped words. The area behind Wendy’s head in both the low-angle shots show 11s in the railing, and later one shows triangles in the ceiling beams.

Also, the alchemical symbol for fire is an upwards red triangle, while the one for water is a downward blue triangle. Firewater is a slang phrase for strong liquor, so this could be a subtle jab at Jack’s insobriety. And it could imply the general wonkiness of this situation, the 6s-and-7s of it all.

Triangles were also markers used on concentration camp inmates, red for political prisoners, and blue for foreign forced labourers. Although, an inverted red triangle, like this one, meant POW. If you want to read Jack’s text as a black triangle, these were for “asocial”, “work-shy” persons, such as alcoholics and vagrants and the mentally ill. That seems terribly apt (even if the designation is about as offensive to good taste as humanly imaginable; I didn’t even mention that Roma and lesbians were among the other “work-shy”).

On the same line as the “bo7” misprint is a symbol of two circles interlocking. This is a miscellaneous symbol meaning marriage. It appears between “aAl” and “work”, then between “dul” and “boy” on a page featuring a “bo6” misprint (notice how that line also includes the misprint “no=lay”. So this could be like a subtle reference to Jack’s pre-Overlook life, always feeling like being with Wendy was work, making him a dull boy. All marriage work and no play makes Jack a dull marriage boy. Perhaps this suggests a certain sexlessness between them.

Incidentally, the Unicode for this symbol is U+26AD. In 26 A.D. Pontius Pilate was appointed to be the 5th prefect of Judaea, aided in the crucifixion of Jesus, and was played in Jesus Christ Superstar by the actor who plays Bill Watson, Barry Dennen. That’s probably a coincidence, but, you know, when you’re sniffing out every possible lead, a funny coincidence like that is too neat not to point out.

Click here to continue on to Curiouser and Curiouser, Part 6: Lobby Connections