One By One – 1974

by Stomu Yamash’ta’s East Wind


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Alright, now, before we get into studying The Rum and the Red, we should familiarize ourselves with the Yamashta’s album, and the documentary it was written for, to see what other little layers we should be watching out for.

One by One (1975 film) - Alchetron, The Free Social Encyclopedia

As you can see, it goes beyond the ultimate trip…
The Ultimate Trip - 2001 A Space Odyssey 1968 Movie" Poster by ...

The film contains footage for the death of Roger Williamson, and features François Cevert, who died in October at the US Grand Prix. As I mentioned, it was released again in 1978 as The Quick and the Dead, following the deaths of featured drivers like Peter Revson and Tom Pryce. One of the few filming locations was the Monza circuit in Monza, Italy, which is interesting since the first time the film zooms in on the Kensington Apartments where the Torrances were living in Boulder (and where we’ll later see the album), the closest and clearest car we see is a black Chevy Monza 2+2.

The Monza circuit’s deadliest year was the year of filming, 1973, with five mortal crashes. Given the documentary’s claim that there were only about fifty people in the world at that time qualified to drive F1 cars in competition, that would make it one of the deadliest careers in human history, with a 10% death rate. To put that in perspective, the deadliest job in the world generally last year was logging with a 0.1% death rate. So I guess if Kubrick sensed this F1 racing undercurrent in King’s writing, he figured King was using this subtext to highlight the extreme danger of the job Jack was taking on. In both the novel and film, the Grady murders happened within the last 10 years. So, if we count the Torrance year as another mortal year, and if we imagine the average number of winter caretakers per year is around one, this would be a 20% death rate over those 10 years, at least (not counting the caretakers who would’ve replaced Grady and Jack).

As for Yamashta, his birth name was Tsutomu Yamashita, which he truncated and simplified presumably to help English speakers pronounce it correctly. The name translates to “hard work” (Tsutomu) “(those who live) beneath the mountain” (Yamashita). In the establishing shot of the Kensington apartments, the mountain in the background is Green Mountain, Colorado, and when Wendy speaks to the doctor about the family’s origins she proudly proclaims “we’re from Vermont!” Vermont is based on the French words for Green Mountain (“Vert Mont”). So perhaps part of the suggestion here is that Wendy (who sits in front of the album after picking up the phone, obscuring it) is one such “hard worker who lives beneath the mountain”. But she’s about to go up the mountain, of course, where she’ll remain a hard worker.

Yamashta was considered a pioneer for gelling traditional Japanese percussive music with Western prog rock throughout the ’60s and ’70s. So he fits into the frequent pattern of pioneering characters who appear throughout the film, like Tenzing Norgay. He also joined his father’s Kyoto philharmonic as a percussionist at age 13, making him a wunderkind, like Danny, which, again, goes with the way that the album sits inside (behind) Wendy’s stomach throughout the majority of its screen time. The Colville painting here, Woman and Terrier, which we’ll look at in a moment, was described by the painter as being his “Madonna and child”, so the maternity theme there might not be incidental.

Other smaller points to make about the scene in which the album appears, and the album’s general significance:

  • Yamashta became known for an acrobatic performance style, and as we’ll see later, there’s a paper on the coffee table here that says Trapeze.
  • Yamashta’s music was featured notably in several films, but until that time had only contributed to the David Bowie film The Man Who Fell to Earth, Ken Russell’s The Devils, BBC’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Robert Altman’s Images. He was also featured in the final 1977 episode of Tony Palmer’s All You Need Is Love: The Story of Popular Music, which was called Imagine: New Directions. You can probably imagine why I’m drawing attention to several of these (a direct Beatles reference!), but let me point out how Hitchhiker’s Guide is another story where the number 42 figures largely, and how, of the fourteen films Robert Altman made between the first (Brewster McCloud, 1970) and last (Popeye, 1980) that he made with Shelley Duvall, seven didn’t feature her, and the first of those was Images. So just as Danny’s tricycle might be being used to poke at Nicholson’s glory days, this might be a poke at one of Duvall’s early rejections. Remember, Wendy here is hearing how Jack got the job. Duvall only had bit parts on two TV shows between her 1971 spot in McCabe & Mrs. Miller and her 1974 spot in Thieves Like Us. In fact, besides her supporting role in Annie Hall, The Shining was Duvall’s only non-Altman source of film work throughout her heyday, the 1970s.
  • As for the album, Kubrick could be invoking its band’s name, East Wind, for several reasons. The one that jumps out first is how the Greeks had four winds, and the west wind was Zephyrus, and there’s a Mercury Zephyr on the cover of a copy of Car and Driver in Dick Hallorann’s Florida apartment. Florida is, of course, east to Colorado’s west, so it’s interesting that there would be this reversal in the winds. Perhaps this also speaks to the shared books between these two apartments.
  • In the Iroquois tradition, the east wind is said to be brought by the moose, who blows a grey mist and brings cold rains. In the Colorado lounge, a moose head is mounted on the north wall, and watches over Danny’s emergence from room 237. As discussed elsewhere, the mural beside the moose head is based on earlier Navajo and Zapotec sand art, and the Navajo believe that evil cannot approach from the east, which I’ve linked to Danny’s eastern approach here signifying his lack of evil. Does it matter, though, that the moose head is on the north wall?
  • Also, consider that Wendy and post-237 Danny are about to imitate the Woman and Terrier Colville painting, as discussed here. That Colville appears next to the East Wind album, as we’ve already discussed. So perhaps this moose is not by accident.
  • There’s also 17 references to the east wind in the bible, including chapter 41 of Genesis, in which Joseph interprets the pharaoh’s dream about seven ears of corn getting blasted by the east wind (there’s twenty ears of corn in the Zapotec/Navajo mural). An east wind is what Moses summons to part the Red Sea, and remember that a giant red bloodfall happens 42 seconds (11:00-11:42) after Wendy blocks this album from view (while the other one happens 4:14 away in the mirrorform (6:44-10:58). Apparently, biblical east wind references are usually destructive in nature, a thing god uses to wipe out the wicked.
  • Charles Dickens uses a recurring reference to an east wind as an evil thing in Bleak House, and there’s a Dickens book in this very room.
  • The last literary connection worth noting would be to Hans Christian Anderson’s The Garden of Paradise, in which an East Wind is what ferries the hero to the titular garden, where he eventually meets a personified Death. This would seem to gel well with my four horsemen theory, given its proximity to two bloodfalls (the bloodfall, I believe, symbolizes Death).
  • It might also be worth noticing that the album name invokes “wind”, track two is about Black “Flame”, track three is about a “RainRace, and the artist’s name invokes the concept of a “mountain”. Earth air fire water. The four elements of ancient Greece and other cultures. We might also note that track seven is Seasons, of which there are four, which would give us another 2-3-7 sequence. But then we should consider that track five invokes star, and tracks four and nine invoke Beach, which are both elemental expressions, although perhaps discounted by their specificity. I don’t know. Food for thought, anyway.

Alright, so, with the mirrorform in mind: there’s two shots of Wendy holding the phone with the album behind her (see below). In the first, the mirror moment is Jack surveying the grounds and seeing no Danny. But we’ll see in a second how Danny’s actually hiding behind the snowcat. So in this last image from these two shots overlaying, the snowcat is completely inside Wendy, with Danny behind its rear bumper. The snowcat was brought to Wendy and Danny by Mr. West Wind himself (with his Zephyr magazine), Dick Hallorann.

Then, in the other shot, of Wendy saying, “Sounds like you got the job…?” the mirror moment is Jack approaching the east-facing mouth of the hotel to start the race for survival between father and son. So, this album about the high death rate of F1 racers syncs up with the moment right before Danny and Jack have their race for survival. What’s more, track six off the album, Nürburgring, is named for a race track in Germany which in 1968 was nicknamed “The Green Hell” for a particularly rainy and foggy day that made conditions extra perilous. And that would be a good way of describing everything that follows for Danny and Wendy–Danny with his green maze, Wendy with her Four Horsemen challenges.

Next art reference: Mysteries of Boulder

Click here to continue on to The Rum and the Red: Round 1