by Hans Bierbrauer (aka Oskar)
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Seen in Susie’s office, the radio room, and the snowcat room. Three cartoons hang in extremely obscure locations. So far I only have a positive ID on the one, so it’s possible (I say unlikely) that the other two are by other artists. The posters all have very similar layouts.
Each one hangs near one of Jack’s murders (Ullman’s radio (near Susie’s), Hallorann (near Susie’s and the other radio room), and the snowcat).
There’s precious few of Bierbrauer’s cartoons online–about twenty of the over eighteen thousand he produced over the 40 years he spent in that line of work–so you can imagine how glad I am that this one made it online. 900-to-1 odds…
The first translation I tried gave me, “Why aren’t you shining, Gerhard?” — “Hic(!), I want to save electricity!” But a more word-for-word translation would be “Why do you not make any light, Gerhard?” — “I want electricity saved!”
Gerhard is tipsy, as evidenced by the red-nosed balloon tied to his arm. I think the joke is simply that Gerhard would be so brazen as to pretend his sneaking around in the dark was out of fiscal propriety (Jack sneaks around in the dark, but he turns the lights on, eventually). If there’s a deeper layer to the cartoon, it’s lost in time and translation to me.
Here’s a better view of the radio room one, visible for a split second as Jack stalks to Susie’s lightless office (the pillar in the foreground will block out its existence in the next frame). In the mirrorform, Wendy is trying to use the radio to no avail, which means this poster is beside her, out of view. Since creeper Jack is about to pass the one in Susie’s office, perhaps these two will have cool/creepy things to say about each other, and this moment.
One thing not lost on me is how Oskar’s real name, Hans Bierbrauer, would translate into “Gift from God (Hans), Beer Brewer (Bierbrauer)”. And Jack went to murder the radio and the snowcat after receiving an alcoholic gift from the god of the Overlook.
Hans is a variant on Johannes, which is the Germanic form of John. And Jack is a variant of John. So, Jack Brewer, you must admit, is a spookily apt name to have hovering around all three of Jack’s murders.
As for the artist, he was an interesting figure. His stage name, Oskar, was taken from the phrase “Frech wie Oskar” or “bold as brass”. So I wonder if each appearance of one of his cartoons has some connection to the concept of brass. Like, the one that appears in the radio room, appears during the approach of Ullman and Watson. Is that because they’re the “upper brass”?
German Wikipedia makes little of his war efforts, and it seems like he may have genuinely had little interest in the war effort since he married when things were going badly in Germany, and turned to political cartoons shortly thereafter, spending the next 40 years sticking it to the man. But how he was best known was as a speed-caricaturist on a hit German game show called Dalli Dalli, which, it turns out, makes an appearance in The Shining (something I might not’ve put together if not for these cartoons).
Also, I wondered for a long time if this “Oskar” was Kubrick’s way of saying The Shining was his attempt at finally winning an Academy Award, since it is one of his most accessible, populist films. I had little reason to think that beyond the shadow of a suspicion, until very recently (Sept. 2020), when one of my anonymous helpers finally ID’d the flower painting in room 237, which was painted by the mother of the only actor Kubrick ever directed to Oscar gold, Peter Ustinov (who won for playing the slave-owning Batiatus in Spartacus). The Ustinovs were and are a very artistic family, and Dalli Dalli featured only German celebrities as the contestants, so possibly there’ll one day prove to be a connection between these cartoons, that game show, and that family. Who knows?
And speaking of how Jack’s not a shiner (if I contribute only one thing to people’s understanding of this film…let it be that), the appearance of this cartoon overlays with a rather significant moment.
Yep, it’s the first half of Hallorann’s first shine to Danny, which, you may recall, is the second of the two times that a shine from someone to Danny blocks out the Polymorphia song playing on the opposite side of the film. But what’s interesting here is that the cartoon appears at 27:22 (10 seconds before Polymorphia fades), and then exits the film at 27:42 (10 seconds after Polymorphia fades). So this “why aren’t you shining?” business has one foot on the side where Wendy has witnessed the snowcat’s murder, and one foot on the side where she’s approaching that realization, Polymorphia-free. So watching the film in the one direction, it’s like a comment on why Hallorann stopped shining Danny, and watching the film the other way, it’s like a comment on why has Jack “save(d the) electricity”, so to speak. (In case you’re reading an auto-translated version of this site: what I’m implying is that Jack is “saving electricity” by destroying the electrical machine that is the snowcat.)
Note too that once Polymorphia‘s been banished, the cartoon overlays with a box of Corn Flakes next to Danny’s head (see above). If you’ve read the Redrum Road analysis for this scene, you’ll recall that Corn Flakes were John Lennon’s favourite snack food. Since Lennon was alive during production, this might be a comment to Lennon, like, why aren’t you shining, John? You said we all shine on! Get back to making records!
Next art piece: Le campement du trappeur (Trapper’s Camp)
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