Maligne Lake, Jasper Park – 1924

by Lawren Harris




Seen once, mostly obscured in the lobby hallway leading to the Ghost Ball (81:24-81:26).


Here’s an interesting article on the piece.

As for Harris, I just want to note (in case you didn’t know) that he’s part of the Group of Seven, who haven’t had a new piece by a new artist appear (for the first time) in the film in quite some time. Unless I’m right about the possible Franklin Carmichael, that would be the first to break the drought, but only by a moment (80:42). Either way, the last new Go7 piece to first appear would be Mist Fantasy at 19:56, which would be 60:46 (Carmichael) or 61:28 (Harris) behind. There’s two more confirmed Go7s coming before the end, and one by a student of the group (Carl Schaffer), and one that might be by AY Jackson. Given that there’s only 15 pieces left to cover from here to the end, and given that we’re looking at about 100 pieces of art, and given that the first 4 Go7s almost all appear in the first shot with any art (even the border of Mist Fantasy’s frame appears as Jack approaches the interview), I’d say there’s an argument to be made that this was an intentional algorithm, to have Go7 art wreath the proceedings.


Obviously it strongly resembles the first shot in the movie, gliding across St. Mary Lake. But it’s also interesting to think (as some have noted) that this is where Harris started to get really geometric (à la Colville).

Actually, this shot of the balloon lobby also seems to contain the film’s only obvious visual reference to the novel’s inspiration, The Masque of the Red Death (the one red balloon beneath the potted plant here vaguely resembles how the Red Death in the Roger Corman classic sits glowering beneath a tree), and so it would be quite apt to include here a painting that references the film’s own visual genesis.

Also, the other piece in the film by Harris, Beaver Swamp, has the word Beaver in the name. And that painting is the second last new piece of art to be seen, chronologically. So maybe Harris is being used to suggest a certain alpha/omega dynamic.

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The mountains that Harris was painting, located in Alberta, just so happen to be named Samson Peak, Mt. Paul, the Queen Elizabeth ranges, Mt. Charlton, and possibly Mt. Julian. So, just like the mountains at the beginning of the film, these names bear some significance to the subtext.

Samson is the bible’s answer to Herakles in the eyes of some, and also was given extra strength by god to tear down some pillars thereby suicide bombing the Philistines. This murder-suicide also famously followed Samson’s betrayal by Delilah, the woman in his life, who cut off his hair, thereby depriving him of his strength. So perhaps Jack sees the painting on his way to the ghost ball because he’s feeling a little Samson-esque right here. Also, incredibly, Samson Peak was named for a Stoney trail setter named Samson Beaver. What’s more, the reason it’s named that has to do with the fact that Samson met the woman who would name it that (Mary Schäffer Warren) the same year as the Overlook was founded, 1907. So there’s all kinds of genesis going on here.

Mt. Charlton is close to Charles, as in Charles Grady, who also probably felt a little Samsony (and who probably appears right around the corner from here).

The Queen Elizabeth bit might mean nothing but those familiar with my Redrum Road work will appreciate how Jack correlates to Paul McCartney. Though we did just cover how the works of Ralph Thompson received a foreword by Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II’s husband. And Julian happens to be the name of John Lennon’s first son, whose first given name happens to be John. Mt. Julian and Mt. Paul are positioned on either side of Maligne Lake, with Paul to the east and Julian to the west. Julian also derives from Julius, as in Caesar.


Speaking of alpha/omega: this also speaks to the start of the Twice-Fold, in which we get that opening shot…

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…happening in tandem with the “end” of the mirrorform film, which is both sides of the scene of Hallorann receiving Danny’s distress shine.

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The name Lawren Harris, when flipped to Harris Lawren, sounds a lot like “Hallorann” with a “RIS” in the middle Ha(rris) Lawren. Ha-Lawren. I mean, they sound exactly the same that way.

In fact, Danny calls Dick “sir” a few times (as he does with most people, it seems), and “RIS” is “SIR” backwards. Sir Hallorann. Lawren Harris.

So the twice-fold gives us a mashup of Hallorann, with a shot of St. Mary lake that looks like Ha-Lawren’s Alberta painting. In fact, if you’re familiar with my seven-times-folded-Shining theory, every other fold past the second would still start with Hallorann and this image mashed together, but the twice-fold is where it starts being the case, and where Hallorann appears alone with that view, with no trace of the ghostly Jack’s face until 16 seconds in, well past the point where the shot has stopped perfectly resembling Harris’s painting.

So it’s interesting that this first Harris painting appears 10:39-10:41 past the midpoint of the film, while the other Harris painting, Beaver Swamp is the second last to appear in the film: 6:30-6:34 from the end, then again 8:15-8:48 (in intermittent shots), and finally 14:17-14:21. In the twice-fold, Maligne Lake would fit nicely between the first and second appearances of Beaver Swamp.

Oh wait a minute: 8:48 is the exact 1/16th mark of the film, making it the middle of the film after you’ve folded things three times. The means that when you fold the film a fourth time, so that 8:48 is the new end point, the 10:39-10:41 part would fold back to become part of the 6:55-6:57 period, and the 14:17-14:21 becomes part of 5:15-5:19. The new middle is now 4:24, which means that all the new Ha-Lawren painting placements are between that middle and the new end. Folding the film a fifth time, brings that 8:15-8:48 series (where Wendy’s meeting the GREAT PARTY ghost and seeing Dick’s corpse) right to the beginning of the 4:24-long movie. So the new timings would go.

0:00-0:33 (Wendy and GREAT PARTY)
1:51-1:53 (Maligne Lake)
2:14-2:18 (Wendy and the Bloodfall)
3:29-3:33 (Jack stalking to kill Dick)

The new middle is 2:12, so, again, we have a snug fit here for the six-times-fold, which would be:

0:00-0:33 (Wendy and GREAT PARTY)
0:51-0:55 (Jack stalking to kill Dick)
1:51-1:53 (Maligne Lake)
2:06-2:10 (Wendy and the bloodfall)

The seven-times-fold is as far as I go in the other analysis, so, with the end being 1:06, we get:

0:00-0:33 (Wendy and GREAT PARTY)
0:02-0:06 (Wendy and the bloodfall)
0:19-0:21 (Maligne Lake)
0:51-0:55 (Jack stalking to kill Dick)

Okay, at this point I need to break down the 0:00-0:33 section, to tell you something pretty amazing. This isn’t one complete swoosh of the painting being on screen. When you fold the 8:15-8:48 part back so that it becomes the beginning, you’re inverting the direction of that sequence, so it begins with Wendy approaching Dick’s corpse, at the exact moment that Beaver Swamp creeps into view for two seconds (0:00-0:02), there’s then 23 seconds of Wendy reacting to Dick’s death with horror, then getting surprised by GREAT PARTY ghost. It appears behind her 0:24-0:25 seconds into this passage, before cutting back to hear “Great party, isn’t it?”, and then for the final time 0:29-0:33. You know what that means? That means that it goes like this:

0:00-0:02 (Wendy approaching Dick’s corpse)
0:02-0:06 (Wendy approaching the bloodfall)
0:19-0:21 (Maligne Lake)
0:24-0:25 (Reacting to GREAT PARTY)
0:29-0:33 (Fleeing GREAT PARTY)
0:51-0:55 (Jack passing GREAT PARTY spot to kill Dick)

And that means three things: 1) at seven folds, we still have no overlapping Ha-Lawren’s, 2) the appearance of Maligne Lake happens exactly on top of GREAT PARTY ghost appearing to Wendy, which would seem to support my notion that he is being compared to Samson, et al., and 3) if we think of 0:33 as a potential new end point for an eight-times-folded movie, the only Ha-Lawren that flips is the 0:51-0:55, which would then be 0:11-0:15, still not overlapping any of the others. And at that point, we have a few cool things:

  • We now have a Ha-Lawren at the beginning (0:00-0:06) and the end (0:29-0:33), which means we couldn’t fold again without overlapping them, which perhaps signals the end of our need to continue folding.
  • Stopping at eight folds seems like another link in the Hallorann-got-sucked-into-room-238 chain of reasoning. And I just have to say, I love that, because until now I was thinking that the one-time fold (the mirrorform), the twice-fold, and the seven-times-fold were the most significant, and signalled Kubrick’s love of King’s novel – making the 2, the 1, and the 7 spell out King’s most hateful room. But this is why I think this “Ha-Lawren” business is no joke. The eight fold is produced by watching the Lawren Harris’s as they fold. So this is Ha-Lawren’s level of density. How insanely clever is that?
  • Now Maligne Lake is appearing in the middle of two sets of two clumps of Beaver Swamps. Which seems to speak to its “middle” role in the film proper. How fascinating that that middle would seem to highlight GREAT PARTY ghost, with all his fatherly connotations. Maybe this is how Kubrick stamps Hallorann’s role as Danny’s surrogate father, by linking him up with a man symbolic of Jack’s surrogate (and real) father. In fact, Ha-Lawren is a warped “Hallorann” just as Alberta is a warped “Delbert”.
  • And just as Maligne Lake stamps that middle, the encircling moments start and end with Wendy’s GREAT PARTY experience. 0:00-0:02 is her entering the hall, 0:02-0:06 is her entering the bloodfall hall, (which is the same set as the lobby back hall, so she’s looking at the GREAT PARTY spot as she sees the elevator), then 0:11-0:15 is Jack stalking past the spot, 0:19-0:21 is the ghost showing up, and the last two bits are Wendy’s reaction shots, leading right to her crashing out the door.

Since the gaps between sightings doesn’t seem particularly symbolically significant – not as obviously significant as the four bloodfalls in the seven-times-folded Shining – I’m wondering if some of the unidentified pieces might plug in the gaps. Like, I recalled that there’s a piece I think of as the Mystery [Frank] Carmichael, but that piece has always made me think it was a mash-up of both their styles. And that piece would almost perfectly fill the first two gaps, 0:06-0:11 and 0:15-0:18. Jack’s back blocks it for almost the exact amount of time for the 0:11-0:15 one to go by. Then it would be a “simple” matter of figuring out what the two that fill the 0:21-0:24 gap and the 0:25-0:29 gaps would be. Piece of cake, right?

I also want to point out that the two Harris paintings are to the direct east and the direct south of where Jack’s sitting throughout the entire interview. And you might recall that Ullman’s window onto the great outdoors should be showing the hall that Wendy is running through when he brings up the “tragedy we had up here during the winter of 1970”.

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That means that Beaver Swamp should be visible behind Ullman’s head, through the window, the whole time. So this really was the Ha-Lawren interview.

Next art reference: Baie St. Paul