Mark 13:29 and the Balance of Fantasy and Reality



Each of my three longest singular analyses–the mirrorform, Redrum Road, and this–possess an interesting phenomenon at the point that signals the moving from the one major section to the other. In the mirrorform, there’s a book at the middle of the movie (which appears during the Doctor scene in Boulder, also), called The Door.

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This book helped invent the trend known as Had-I-But-Known, a technique in mystery novels to hook the reader with the intrigue that the protagonist regrets where their curiosity (and lack of foresight) lead them. It’s a technique that usually appears at the beginning of the story. And in the mirrorform, it appears at the exact middle of the film for, I think, 14 seconds, but the doctor scene lets us know that it was offscreen in the Torrance apartment at the 4 minute mark, 1 minute after Jack walks into the hotel for the first time.

And there are other books that connect the Torrance and Hallorann libraries, but the point is: the middle and the beginning have this connecting thread of shared books. A subtle suggestion to consider the validity of the mirrorform, and to see the middle as a secondary beginning/end, and the beginning/end as a second middle.

In Redrum Road this effect is achieved in this way: there’s a set of postcards next to Wendy in the radio room, which appear at the exact 1/3 mark of the film, along with a propped-open envelope and a note reading EYE SCREAM. We could also consider the u-turn shape of the horseshoe on the wall here.

The beginning of the mirrorform film features an image that looks exactly like a mash-up of all these elements. Black and white faces. Vistas of distant mountains. And Jack holding a note we can’t read.

And because of the nature of the mirrorform, the 2/3 mark is the same as the 1/3 mark, so this image of the postcards and the envelope appear at both of Redrum Road‘s middle-hinges, let’s call them. But even if we didn’t count the mirrorform, the 2/3 mark features Jack walking past the same room 1/3 Wendy is in with the postcards, on his way to murder the radio. So that horseshoe on the wall might be a little wink at the fact that this moment works like a u-turn for the film’s three thirds, while the postcards remind us that these are the two things we see as the first Abbey Road starts and as the last Abbey Road ends.

And if we apply the logic of the mirrorform, and look at what’s occurring in the exact middle between these hinges…

…we see that it’s the exact second (23:32) that Ullman (correlating to Lennon on the album cover) is getting hit by the Austin Maxi, which was the same car Lennon crashed before recording Abbey Road, almost killing himself and his family (and of course midway between the two thirds points is the exact middle of the movie). So if we apply a mirrorform logic to the thirds of the film, we get clues that connect to the context of Redrum Road as an analysis. We get clues that connect the “hinges” to the beginning and end.

Does Fibonacci have a hinge? Well, I instinctively suspected this would be the movement between Sections I-V and VI-X, as I said. Section V ends at 12:14. What’s happening at that moment?

Actually, it’s almost too complex for me to want to say, but I’ll try to keep it neat and focused.

Here’s the moment:

Here’s the context: Jack has just killed Hallorann, circled through the lobby, having heard Danny’s scream, and has spooked Danny out of his hiding place. At the moment of transition, Jack is beginning to chase. On the soundtrack, a song called Polymorphia (Greek: “many forms”) has just ended, while a song called Utrenja: Ewangelia (about the resurrection of Christ from the perspective of the gospels) has been playing (from the moment of Hallorann’s murder), and continues to play as the chase continues.

On the other side of the movie, Danny just finished receiving his first vision from Tony, which was soundtracked by a song called The Awakening/Dream of Jacob (all these are by the same composer, just so you know), leads to a darkness in which we hear a doctor say, “Now hold your eyes still so I can see.” As we pass the end of Section V, the doctor scene begins, and the Jacob’s ladder song is gone.

Okay, now: what my general analysis of Sections I-V and VI-X kept me from noticing generally (when you’re right up close to every detail, you start to lose the big picture a little) is that there’s something going on for the entire I-V that has to do with “the last judgment” from the Book of Revelations (sorry if I sound naive about this; I’m not the least bit religious). The film starts with 3 minutes of a song called Dies Irae (Day of Wrath), which is generally about judgment day, following that is about 2 minutes of songs on the other side of the film about Christ (Kanon and Kanon Paschy), and while songs like those continue to come and go over the next 7 minutes, this same passage contains what I call Wendy’s Four Horsemen Portals, in which Wendy seems to square off against the four horsemen of the apocalypse, famously released during the mythological, foretold judgment day. Now, it’s not that there aren’t notes of these themes in Sections VI-X, but it’s not the constant, consistent daisy-chain that it is in the first/last 12 minutes (and most of the references to spirituality in the second part are not about judgment day (possibly none are)). In fact, the remaining 58:45 of the mirrorform film, leading to the middle, contains many more references to science, scientific realism, and natural herstory. Many of the art pieces seen around the hotel in this “half” of the film were lauded in their day for their scientific accuracy, for the artist’s attention to biological reality. Too, much of the music here is either non-mythological, like the 1930s jazz songs, the Penderecki tracks Polymorphia and De Natura Sonoris #1 and #2, or Béla Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta (the scientific analysis of which inspired this Fibonacci study)–though I have made a contextual link between Polymorphia and Greek myth, I don’t think the song itself is so.

Alternatively, many of the art pieces introduced in the first “half” are of a more spiritual nature. Krieghoff’s Log Hut on the St. Maurice, Alex Colville’s Woman and Terrier, even Copper Thunderbird’s The Great Earth Mother. And it’s well known that the Group of Seven, despite their devotion to natural scenes devoid of homo sapiens’s effects, were men informed by their spirituality, especially Lawren Harris.

So the emerging pattern is that there’s a deeply fantastical “half” of the Fibonacci film, and a deeply realistic “half” of the Fibonacci film (though that half does contain the lion’s share of the ghosts, and their ghostly doings).

Well, what does that have to do with this?

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Besides the fact that The Awakening/Dream of Jacob (coming from the fantasy half) and Polymorphia (coming from the reality half), both seem to stop at the same second second here, as if running up against each other…or the fact that the two Abbey Road songs that play here (Oh! Darling, and Sun King) have a kind of reality/fantasy relationship…I don’t think there’s too much to connect this moment to other moments in the film in major ways. Like, we can talk about the Tiger Mask behind the doctor, and how that relates to Tony and Hallorann (two major figures at the middle of the mirrorform). We can talk about the animal art in Danny’s room and how these might relate to mythological figures from Christianity, Norse mythology, and Hinduism. We can talk about the painting December Afternoon beside Jack here, and how it appears to the left of the bloodfall in every bloodfall scene. But is there anything deeply contextual going on here?

(Actually, before I forget (for the 30th time), I should mention that there is a contextual reference going on biblically in this music. Since the mirrorform and Redrum Road earmark their techniques with clues that invoke the beginning and ending of their sections, it’s worth noting that Jacob’s ladder (The Awakening/Dream of Jacob) and judgment day (Four Horsemen/Dies Irae) are from the beginning (Book of Genesis 28:10-19) and ending (Book of Revelations) of the bible. So Kubrick is doing a sly beginning/ending mash there, in a number of ways.)

If the mirrorform is earmarked by its middle and beginning/end, and Redrum Road is earmarked by the beginning/ends of its thirds, shouldn’t the Fibonacci hinge have something to do with golden spirals? Well, of course it already has to do with golden spirals. That’s my whole argument. These sections are demarcations along the Fibonacci sequence. So would it actually add anything to have this section have some subtle reference to golden spirals? Would it add anything to note that both shots in this moment are phi grid compositions…

…when you can say the same thing for over a quarter of the shots in the film? I mean, maybe it’s better that they are phi grids, but it was a one-in-four chance. And Bartók’s song (which only appears in Sections VIII and IX) is the only thing I know of in the film with a known connection to Fibonacci.

Now, I can’t give you examples to back up this claim that are both easy to say and persuasive (you’ll have to read the rest of this analysis to see if I’m telling the truth, I’m afraid), but something that’s come out of my Fibonacci research more than a few times is that it’s not the Fibonacci moment itself a lot of the time that’s so special, but how that moment divides up other significant moments in the two adjoining sections. What is that for Section V and VI?

Well, there’s a few things, honestly, but the most significant one, it seems to me now, is the way that 13 seconds before the end of Section V and 29 seconds after the start of Section VI we get the first forward (V) and the last backward (VI) of Danny’s scream faces. In the mirrorform, these scream faces are separated by 42 seconds. In the movie proper, they’re separated by exactly 7000 seconds. The first one is part of Tony’s shine-warning about the hotel. The final three (there’s three shots of the scream that punctuate Hallorann’s downfall) are the real Danny, experiencing Hallorann’s death in tandem with the heroic, selfless man…perhaps realizing it was preventable…and perhaps realizing the guilt that letting his rescuer die will result in.

The scream that happens on the fantasy half of the film is the fantastical Tony shine, which foreshadows a real event. The scream that happens on the reality half of the film is the real scream, resulting from forgetting about his premonition. And in case that’s not enough of a yin-yang for you, note how the fantasy scream is connected to Wendy’s vision of the blowjob ghost bear, and the real scream is connected to Danny’s real, and visually similar bear pillow.

But is that 42 second gap just another of the film’s many, many 42s? Or do the 13-29 halves have something to say?

My first thought was to see if the Book of Revelations had such a chapter and verse (13:29). Spoilers: it don’t. But remember that the song that crosses from one side of this passage to the other is called Ewangelia, which is Polish for “gospel”. And if you read my Four Horsemen analysis closely (or if you’ll dare to read the full Fibonacci analysis), you’ll recall that there seemed to be an invocation of the synoptic gospels going on there, too. So, you might appreciate the impression it made on me when the first thing that popped up on a search for 13:29s was this passage from Mark.

“So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.”

This is Jesus telling his gospel posse what to expect, after Matthew asks how people could possibly recognize the coming of judgment day. Now, it’s possible that a savvier bible scholar kinda person will see even more in this than I do, but let’s look at Jesus’s full warning and see if we can note other similarities here.

He starts by warning that the world will suffer some four horsemen-style blights (war, famine, the persecution of believers (conquest?), and natural disasters (death?)), but that this is just a precursor, not an out-and-out sign. The first major sign will be when the antichrist…

…defiles the temple…

…and sends the Jews in Judea running for the mountains.

God will respond with terrible displays of His wrath and judgment (Dies Irae), even as evil forces persecute the Jewish and Gentile Christ-followers (Mark 13:19–20).

The number of false teachers who claim to be the returned Christ will increase and become increasingly convincing (Mark 13:21–22), but His followers will know the truth.

(I’m not using this as a dig on Hallorann, I’m just saying both Hallorann and Ullman make powerful overtures to ingratiate themselves with Danny and Jack. And also to stymie anyone who might think that Hallorann’s “I Died So That Danny Might Live” status made him a Christ figure. Even if that were so, it wouldn’t be so in this context.)

Shortly before the entire world topples into extinction, Jesus will come “in clouds with great power and glory” (Mark 13:26). Jesus will not be subtle. He will battle and defeat the Antichrist and his forces (Revelation 16:16; 20:1–3) and gather His followers (Mark 13:27).

(As Danny rejoins Wendy, and they make their escape, great, misty clouds blow over their exit. But also, the snowy, cottony labyrinth walls and floor look sort of cloudy. And the “gather his followers” bit seems a little paltry in the sense that he just rejoins Wendy and they flee. Still. I don’t think Kubrick was trying to pay endless respect to the mythology. Though, on the Wikipedia entry for the film, it claims that the final, deleted scene included Anne Jackson’s doctor (Doc in my Snow White analysis), and Tony Burton (Sneezy) in Wendy’s (Dopey’s) hospital room(?). If there’s proof for that claim, I’ve never stumbled on it.)

Finally, let’s go back to the actual verse for Mark 13:29.

“So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.”

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The “it is nigh” part of this verse refers to the verse right before when Jesus says, “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near:” As discussed in the Redrum Road analysis, Jack correlates to Paul McCartney in the Abbey Road Tour, and if I’m right about the seasonal photos near Ullman’s correlating to the Let It Be album cover, then Jack/Paul correlates to summer. This is extra significant, because this summer photo repeats on the CAMERA WALK poster. The one near the entry doors to the hotel, which moves to right behind Jack’s writing table for the remainder of the film. In this sense, “summer” truly was “near” all along, even at the doors.

So Jesus is saying that you’ll just have a kind of natural sense about the approach of end times, the same way you know seasons and farming techniques. And golden spirals are something that gives the human eye that “natural” sense of something’s rightness.

But also, if Jack represents summer, and Jack’s almost always in the mirrorform action (which he is–especially in the fantasy “half” of the film), then Jack’s pure bearing is also like the thing that gives us that sense of approaching doom…speaking to Kubrick’s comment about how Jack was primed from the get go to enact the hotel’s dark will. His descent into madness is still a descent, but there’s something fatalistic about it, and you don’t need a mirrorform to sense it. It’s in his fakeness, his PR smile, his barely contained hostility, self-loathing, and boredom. These are the “summers” of the Torrance implosion.

Finally, just as the mirrorform and Redrum Road have those signals that suggest their connections to each other, does Fibonacci do the same? Well start with Fibo-to-Redrum-Road.

So for starters, the one postcard beside Wendy during the Redrum Road hinge is clearly from a vantage most similar to the “spring” photo outside Ullman’s, which correlates to Ringo, and therefore Wendy. (This could explain why Susie appears here too (“winter” correlates to John Lennon/Ullman, appearing alone with Susie), and why Susie rescues Danny after his encounter with the twins–because she’s a “Great Mother“/Wendy figure in that moment and this one–just a thought)

But also, radio room Wendy is standing just around the corner from where backward Jack is about to chase Danny at the Fibo-hinge, right behind, in fact, where this “spring” photo is hanging.

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In fact, as she leaves the radio room, she’ll backwards-trace the path Jack takes to get to this spot.

But perhaps the most impressive thing is how the two Danny scream faces are what marks the Fibo-hinge, and here in the radio room is the EYE SCREAM note.

Incidentally, the art deco font used in this note is like a cross between the font known as Labyrinth and the font known as Schaeffer. Two names with connections to the film.

And while there are a few eye screams in the film (like just after mirrorform hinge, for instance), this one might be the eye screamiest.

As for the mirrorform connection, I can’t help but point out that The Awakening/Dream of Jacob (itself a song about the hinge between the mythic Jacob’s dreamy revelation and his life that followed) starts playing immediately following the mirrorform hinge scene, and ends right at the Fibo-hinge. That should be about as sufficient as The Door is for connecting the mirrorform hinge to the beginning/end. But that reminds me.

“So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.”

How we know about the mirrorform is partly thanks to The Door. How we know about Fibonacci is partly thanks to “the doors.” So, is that saying that, even when you think you’ve hit the middle, even when you think you’ve reached the apoapsis, even then, if end times start to feel nigh…then they’re fucking nigh?

Finally, let me point out that Jack dies on the evening of December 13th (assuming the placards are literal and immediately sequential), but Kubrick gives us that last sting of him frozen on what we assume is the next morning. That would make that day December 14th. And that could be expressed as 12/14, which looks a whole lot like 12:14. So Jack’s death day itself was a 12-14.

And the second on the other side of the mirrorform from 12:14 is 129:17, which strike me as a mashup between 217, and Jack’s death year, 1921.

The Golden Shining

So, what is a Fibonacci Film (or what I’m, in this case, going to be calling The Golden Shining)? 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.

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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).

Image result for phi grid photography

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 continue on to The Golden Shining: Section I