If you don’t have a head for numbers, this section might not be for you, so here’s a little overview. Basically, I’ll be looking at ten chunks of time within the film, determined by the numbers in the Fibonacci sequence (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55). Then I’ll be looking at whether it can be shown that these sections have enough properties within themselves, and enough connections to one another, to justify the claim that this was an intentional technique. I would conclude that there’s enough patterning to say that even if the technique wasn’t intentional, it works as though it were.
However, if you’re feeling scared off by what you just read, I’d encourage you to still read Part 1, which is written much more like the other analyses on the site, and which concerns the most fascinating phenomenon that this study revealed the presence of.
table of Contents
- Part 1: Mark 13:29 and the Balance of Fantasy and Reality
- Part 2: Section I – 1 Minute
- Part 3: Section II – 1 Minute
- Part 4: Section III – 2 Minutes
- Part 5: Section IV – 3 Minutes
- Part 6: Section V – 5 Minutes
- Part 7: Section VI – 8 Minutes
- Part 8: Section VII – 13 Minutes
- Part 9: Section VIII – 21 Minutes
- Part 10: Section IX – 34 Minutes
- Part 11: Section X – 55 Minutes
So, what is a Fibonacci Film? If you’re arriving here before reading anything else on this site, I wrote an introduction that explains the nature of this study here.
If you’ve read that part, you know that we’re still left with the issue of what methodology should we use to analyze a Fibonacci Film?
Kubrick probably didn’t sit down with 63 different geometric stencils to ensure that no two themes or motifs would ever cross over Fibonacci lines. I say 63 because that’s how many themes and motifs appear on what I call the Shining Tree of Life.
There are art objects in every section, there’s music in every section, there’s dialogue in almost every section (only Section I is without any–unless you count the singing in the reverse action). Mirrors, animals, numbers, you name it.
So perhaps the answer lies in how a phi grid affects a photograph:
- In the below image, you can see the way the road is majorly represented by the middle column, and the bottom right spiral
- The dark greens of the valley are almost perfectly kept to the left column, and the light greys of the mountainside are kept out of that same area
- Note how the top of the left vertical line touches the end of the valley, and how the bottom of the right vertical touches the end of the highway
- As for the spirals, note how they speak to the fading light and colour in this shot. If we read that metaphorically we could say that the shot is giving us a warmer sense about civilization and technology and getting colder and colder the deeper we get into dense nature.
- As for this shot as a whole, like with much of the intro sequence, Jack’s car isn’t exclusively within the centre square. Throughout the entirety of the driving up sequence, Jack’s car, while mostly appearing in the centre column or row, does veer off onto the right side a few times, which could be a way of decentralizing Jack as the film’s main character from the get-go, as I discuss at greater length in the Julius Caesar section.
So the point is, a phi grid, like a rule of thirds grid, works partly by the way it separates sections of an image, and partly by the way it gives structure to how they flow together. So perhaps if we just look at how the Fibonacci lines and spiral cuts divide up the film’s action and subtext, we can decide for ourselves how well Kubrick achieved the effect. For the purposes of not making this a million pages long, I’ll forego as much as I can making points you’ll read about in other analyses on this site.
So there’s ten sections, and each one should have a spiral cut that divides the action into a golden ratio.
For the first 60 seconds (Section I), the cut comes at 37 seconds in (or 23 seconds into the backward action). But it could’ve been at 23 seconds in, if that had made clearer sense. Or there could seem to be cuts on both sides, even (though I don’t see much evidence for that in my analysis). Or the cut could be on the one side in the forward action, and on the other in the backward action. I’ve only noticed in one section (III) that this works out this way.
In any event, when the spiral cuts are at the same moment on both sides, this divides each Section into four parts, two forward and two backward. So our analysis will consist of looking at each of these quadrants in isolation and then a discussion of how well the spiral cut divides the action.
I’m also excluding the opening Warner Bros. logo from consideration, which is why the time codes for the different sections are 14 seconds into the applicable minutes. Just so you know.
The last thing I should mention is that The Shining‘s aspect ratio either stretches or squishes the phi grid’s aspect ratio slightly (as you can see in the image below, the height of the film image should be as tall as this one, or the width should be as narrow, to gel with a proper golden spiral).
But I think it’s better to stretch it out, rather than to apply a proper grid and have the left and right sides of the film’s image “dangling”, or unsquish the grid and have the spiral sail off the top/bottom of the image. The global effect of this approach, if it was intentional on Kubrick’s part, is that the entire film will have a slightly “unnatural” look (whether you think of it as stretched or squished–but honestly, it’s not as if more geometric forms aren’t “natural”).
Though an unstretched approach retains a certain beauty.
One last thing before we start: this analysis will have a lot to do with comparing lengths of scenes, shots, and bits of soundtrack to the second, in order to help further explore the way the film balances geometric and golden approaches. I’ve done what I hope is a very thorough job of exploring these patterns, and giving accurate lengths for shots and music cues. When it comes to the more substantial claims, I would say they’re 80-90% undeniably, verifiably accurate, but I’ve sometimes erred on the side that better makes my point, when the difference is between one second and next.
Why was that necessary? Well, I’m not looking at the film frame-by-frame, I’m using the time code in the player to mark where cues begin and end. The issue there is that a cue has an entire second in which to happen. And if you’ve never used an editing program before, let me assure you, a second is a long time for something to happen. So if a cut happens right before the shift to the next second, or right after the shift to the next second, depending on which end of the second we’re talking about for a given clip, that clip could be as much as two seconds shorter, or two seconds longer, than you think it is.
So, for instance, if a cut happens right before the shift to 0:02 and the next cut comes right after the shift to 0:10, you might be inclined to say “0:01-0:10, that’s ten seconds.” But in exact frames, it’s much closer to 8 seconds. For the sake of expediency, and to not go utterly insane trying to guess where every frame started and ended, I basically went by whatever number showed during the cut. But my sense for the patterns of the film, and for special numbers that Kubrick may’ve been trying to nudge our attention to (like 42, and 237) helped me to realize that sometimes what looked like a 239 may’ve actually been a 237. I’m not saying the difference isn’t negligible, and in the majority of cases, no tweaking was necessary. But in case anyone ever checks my work, you may notice the discrepancy, and think I was being periodically sloppy. If the difference is over 3 seconds, then yes, that was a mistake, and I’m happy to be corrected. Otherwise, hopefully this serves to account.
Click here to begin learning about The Golden Shining
MAIN 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