Maxwell’s Silver Hammer – Round 3




  • “Joan was quizzical” – The shape in the labyrinth overlaying Wendy’s head here is kind of like a question mark. Is that too crazy? Have I lost my mind yet?
  • “Studied pataphysical science in the home” – As discussed, pataphysics is Alfred Jarry’s “science of imaginary solutions”. And here, Jack is studying the model maze, which is not the same as the actual maze, as seen in the image above, which features a much different, much larger patterning.
  • Also, when Jack chases Danny into the labyrinth, the entrance has shifted to the north face of the maze, as opposed to the west face, where it is in every other sequence with it. So, Danny’s codebreaking skills, where he took all the left-right lessons and transmuted them into the left-right escapes, how he took the pattern from the two four-bird keys, and how he knew this would still work even though the final labyrinth wasn’t the same as any he’d been in before (if the entrance shift is to mean anything), that’s fairly pataphysical. Left-rights + four-birds x2 = out-of-order maze-running. It makes sense when it’s all laid out, but when you hear it like that, you think, what on earth?
  • “Late nights all alone with a test tube” – In round 1, on “alone” we see the last shot of the backward skeleton ball, which features a skeleton butler standing exactly where Jack is standing now, offering his five fellow skeletons some refreshments. There’s two ghost butlers in the room, and the other is cobwebbed to reception, which just so happens to be where Jack was standing at the beginning of his waltz through the lobby. So it would seem that the skeleton ball has something to do with Wendy’s terror at realizing that her husband wanted the fate she sees before her. He wanted famine. In his late nights all alone.
  • For the record, the round 2 moment for this line is backward Grady cleaning off an interrogating Jack, while forward Danny asks his zombie dad why he doesn’t go to sleep, to which Jack replies that he has too much to do. We can easily read into Jack’s sleep deprivation here, but it’s neat that the backward action is about the film’s main butler figure in his last moments of upstanding appeal to skeptical Jack.
  • “Maxwell Edison/Majoring in medicine” – It’s funny that both bats are on screen for this moment. In the novel, Jack is often yelling to Danny about coming to take his “medicine”, which is his euphemism for corporal/capital punishment. But in the movie, only Jack (and Hallorann) take any medicine.
  • “Can I take you out to the pictures, Joan?” – In round 1, Wendy is running past the wall where photo Jack’s photo will hang, and here backward Jack is whipping his ball in the exact opposite direction. The lounge is also completely bedecked with photos on almost every available surface, so this line takes on a decidedly different figurative tone for the forward action. Jack is right on her heels, and might like to take her out. To the pictures.
  • There’s also at least two movie references in this shot: The Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh and The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie (among many shorts).
  • There’s also the popular phrase/jingle “Take me out to the ball game”. And here, backward Jack is whipping his ball at the backside of a bat-wielding Wendy.
  • There’s just a great moment of timing here when backward Jack “catches” the ball he was throwing into the floor. It happens in time with a large cymbal crash.
  • The whole Bang! Bang! chorus and the piano roll that leads into it play over Wendy discovering the All Work pages, in comic fashion.
  • “Made sure that she was dead” – Almost exactly on “dead” backward Wendy laughs and says “Dead end.”
  • Also on “dead” we cut to the first forward shot of the All Work papers. Wendy’s first moment of realizing that the husband she thought she knew is truly gone.
  • “Back in school again” – In the novel, Jack tries to write a play at the hotel, thinly veiled at trying to tell the story of how he lost his job, with a drama involving Jack and the student who he holds responsible, George Hatfield. This lyric makes me realize how that play was Jack’s way of trying to escape into his former life. He hated that his position had been taken away from him, so he worked on the play as a way of not letting go. Well, the All Work papers are like that too. When Kubrick made the international versions of the film, he used different lines for the different languages, and the lines were all similar idioms that expressed something about the relationship between preparedness and labour. From IMDb:

“For the Italian version of the film, Kubrick used the phrase “Il mattino ha l’ oro in bocca” (“He who wakes up early meets a golden day”). For the German version, it was “Was Du heute kannst besorgen, das verschiebe nicht auf Morgen” (“Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today”). For the Spanish version, it was “No por mucho madrugar amanece más temprano” (“Rising early will not make dawn sooner.”). For the French version, it was “Un ‘Tiens’ vaut mieux que deux ‘Tu l’auras'” (“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”).”

  • Also, the round 1 version of this line plays over the last appearance of the backward Grady/GREAT PARTY ghost. The round 2 version plays a second after backward Grady gives up the ghost on his true identity. Here, Wendy is realizing that Jack is showing the first signs of being Grady reincarnate.
  • Also, backward Danny’s maze walk is like a form of school, since it’ll lead to his survival.
  • “Wishing to avoid an unpleasant scene” – This zoom on the All Work papers is much like what happened in round 1 when Wendy spotted Hallorann’s corpse. Or in round 2 when zombie Jack is quoting the dead Grady twins at Danny.
  • “Writing 50 times ‘I must not be so'” – Mind-bogglingly, there are exactly 50 visible iterations of “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” This is counting the phrases that are largely cut out by the framing. Otherwise it would be 46. But come on.
  • Recall that last time there were 50 diamonds on the bloodrug. Well, in round 1 I overlooked that detail, but now I realize that Ullman’s American flag is situated right by his left elbow. And maybe you can ask your American friend how many stars are on that flag.
  • “[I must not be so] oh oh oh” – I like this image of Wendy seeing the All Work papers and having the labyrinth over her face while Maxwell is writing out how he mustn’t be how he is. If we think of the teacher forcing Maxwell to do this, and the hotel (which is maze-like and lifelike) forcing Jack to write out these lines, then it’s the labyrinthine nature of life that pushes the troublemakers to become axe-murderers. By forcing them to confront their darker nature through the boredom of repetitive tasks. If Jack had been actually writing, actually creating, and being his full self, he might’ve been spared this fate.
  • I’m reminded again of I’itoi, the O’odham deity (of peoples descended from Aztecs) otherwise known as the “man in the maze”, and how in their conception reaching the middle of the maze is the end of your life.
  • “But when she turns her back on the boy/He creeps up from behind” – There’s a cymbal splash that sets off the mirrorverse camera to follow backward Wendy and Danny back to the hotel. Then, on “boy” the All Work pages show back up, which includes the word boy at great length. And on the “Creeps up from behind” part, backward Wendy is unintentionally aping what Jack will be doing to Danny at the end, saying “And I’m gonna getcha! Better run fast! Dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun!”
  • Also, backward Danny and Wendy are running past the postcards that will link to the US Forest Service and the radio room. In the mirrorform, when Wendy is having no luck in the radio room, the mirrorverse is showing a radiokilling Jack creeping through the lobby right behind where her back is turned.
  • Also, round 2 “creeps up from behind” features a backward 237 ghost watching Jack and Grady enter the bathroom. Here, Wendy is discovering the All Work pages, and should still be very concerned about the “crazy woman” who strangled Danny being at large (hence her bat). In round 1, backward Wendy looks behind herself while creeping through the lobby wreckage. Was she still freaked about the “crazy woman”?
  • “Bang! Bang! Maxwell’s silver hammer made sure that she was dead” – Although this moment appears at the end of this line, it’s worth noting that the 11 audible booms of Jack’s ball-throws, and the one silent one, start at the end of this line. Also, Wendy has rifled through 11 pages when Jack appears.
  • Also, as I’ve shown elsewhere some place, the spot Jack is throwing the ball is exactly in front of where the pink ball rolls up to Danny outside 237. But another way of looking at that is that Jack is throwing the ball at the 237 ghost! The same one who is creeping on him in round 2! Round 1 features Wendy being creeped out in the lobby back halls, but no sign of 237 ghost.
  • “PC 31 said ‘We got a dirty one'” – This is from the moment of “got”. So, as shadow Jack is creeping up on Wendy, the white typewriter is about to transition to bedroom Jack in the mirrorform. But what’s interesting about this moment, is the way it shows the light and the dark sides of the typewriter. Remember, this is the only scene where the typewriter is white. In every other scene it’s grey or dark silver (interesting that a typewriter would be the hammer(?) Paul Sheldon uses to defeat Annie Wilkes in Misery…). This pseudo-wipe (created by Jack’s emergence from behind the pillar) gives the impression of the machine becoming less grey again, less “dirty”.
  • Also, in round 2 Jack is dancing at the ghost ball, being observed by the 237 ghost, and forward Wendy is being secretly observed by Jack. In round 1, backward Jack stalks behind Danny in the maze.
  • In the novel, Dick happens to board his flight to Colorado from Gate 31, but I don’t remember if there’s any other 31s directly associated with the story.
  • Also, those who’ve studied my photography findings know that all the photos on the pillar here have altered positions. So this “got a dirty one” line, could read like a cheeky reference to Kubrick’s massive alteration of the physical hotel. But honestly, that’s true of almost every shot.
  • “Maxwell stands alone” – Wendy standing alone, until it’s only Jack who is spiritually alone. Backward Jack is making a joke about the spookiness of déjà vu, which, I have to tell ya, gets funnier and funnier the deeper down this rabbit hole you go.
  • This is also the last plainly nice thing backward Jack says to Wendy. So, from here on out they both basically stand alone.
  • “Painting testimonial pictures, oh oh oh oh” – Again with the out-of-order photos. And the colour-swapping rugs in the middle of the room (as discussed in the absurdities section). Were these part of Kubrick’s testimonial?
  • Also, just for the record, the one picture that connects the lounge to the Gold Room is visible in this shot: the middle photo in the bottom row, left of the fireplace.
  • “Rose and Valerie/Screaming from the gallery” – On “screaming” Wendy screams and spins around, bat in hand, despite the fact that she had the pages in her hands a second ago. Quick Draw Wendy. Also, there’s two galleries in this room.
  • Just to point it out: the word “Rose” (a colour similar to red) never appears on a sighting of REDRUM, but this one comes closest, being about 90 seconds away.
  • At the end of “gallery” backward Jack makes the déjà vu face, and what will they both be doing in about four minutes? They’ll be at the top of the gallery screaming at each other.
  • “The judge does not agree, and he tells them so oh oh oh” – If we imagine the lounge as a courtroom, Jack’s desk has the position and breadth of a judge’s bench. Wendy stands in the witness’ area, and the Navajo mural has the proper lefthand placement of a jury. I’m not sure what it would mean that all these factors invert by the time Wendy is bringing down the hammer on Jack, but it is interesting that right beneath where Wendy clubs Jack is the portrait of chief Tatânga Mâni, as though Wendy were carrying out a different sentence, from a different justice.
  • Also, backward Jack is here disagreeing with Wendy’s depiction of the hotel as a large, scary place, saying he fell in love with it straight away.
  • “Bang! Bang! Maxwell’s silver hammer” – All through these words Wendy’s bat is touching backward Jack’s forehead.

Click here to continue on to Redrum Road: Oh! Darling – Round 3