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We’ll get to more Beatles-centric stuff after this, but first I want to deal with their connection to Peter Sellers. As noted, the Steeleye Span album, Commoners Crown, featured Sellers on its final track, New York Girls. The band didn’t know Sellers, they just thought of inviting him to play, and he accepted.
Peter Sellers died on the evening of July 24nd, 1980, (just past midnight, meaning it was still July 23rd in America, or 23/7) of a heart attack at age 54. He’d had 15 between 1964 (the year Dr. Strangelove came out) and 1980. His friends said that knowing Sellers was to know someone who could be gone forever at any minute. The Shining would’ve been in theatres for 63 days at that point, which it might’ve still been (I can’t find when it was pulled), since it apparently took the better part of the summer to turn a profit. But unless Kubrick showed him privately in the UK, Sellers would’ve had to travel to America to see it, since the film didn’t come out in England until October.
It also strikes me–from reading on his Wiki that his life was crippled by a drug and drink dependency, and that he alienated at least a few of his children–that The Shining might’ve been made somewhat as a message to him about his problem, if Kubrick had any idea about how his dependency afflicted him. Not that there would’ve been much opportunity for Sellers to play in 2001, Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, or The Shining, but it does seem pointed that Kubrick stopped working with him, but apparently kept making references to him. Sellers did say that working with Kubrick was the most rewarding relationship of his career. I have little doubt that Kubrick felt similarly.
As to references to Sellers within The Shining, it’s hard to say if there’s many direct references to Sellers body of work (he made a tonne of comedies I haven’t seen), but we’ve got (potentially) Octopus’s Garden (written on his yacht by friend Ringo–who you can see jamming with Sellers below), definitely Commoners Crown, and then there’s two paintings of foxes not long after, right outside the Demon Lover bathroom (Demon Lover is a song on Commoners Crown), and the only music Sellers recorded for film was for a film he starred in called After the Fox, which he recorded with The Hollies. Is it possible that Jack sleeping on the Holly-brand salt bags in the food storage is a wink at this? He has, after all, had a hard day’s night chasing after the fox.
I suppose I should note here as well that Sellers made a Beatles tribute album (released between 1981-83, where he sings four of their songs as Dr. Strangelove) fashioned after Hard Day’s Night. The songs, which include Help!, all have a kind of poetic application to The Shining’s content. Oh, also, Sellers’ final major release, Being There, more or less opens with Strauss’ Thus Sprach Zarathustra, reimagined by Eumir Deodato as the far jazzier Also Sprach Zarathustra. It also contains a Cheech and Chong song featuring George Harrison.
I just watched the After the Fox intro, and the song is all about a literal fox stealing a bunch of gold. There’s a line “Why do you steal? – Don’t like work. – Why don’t you work? – Work is hard!” If the crone is the fox of the hotel, what is she’s stealing? She seems to be the only ghost after her own abuse infliction. There’s also an interesting paradox in the relationship between the hotel as a building and the nature of it and its ghosts. Is it the Overlook that’s evil? Or is it a place that traps and stores evil? If the Overlook itself was evil (“compliments of the house”), and looking for fresh victims, why would it jeopardize its continued existence in that way? If people try “to burn it down” like the Grady daughters, it only invited that on itself, and it would’ve had nothing to do but be burned down. If it’s a place that traps and stores evil, part of how it does this is by allowing the trapped evil it already has to exacerbate the tendencies in the people that stay there.
An alternate title for Abbey Road was Mount Everest, inspired by a brand of cigarettes by the same name. And one of the books in the Torrance library is Tiger of the Snows, the autobiography of Tenzing Norgay, which was a book comprised of interviews with Norgay, conducted by James Ramsey Ullman. So, for a long time I thought Kubrick was simply drawing our attention to how a guy named “Ullman” is the reason why we know the inner thoughts of the man who climbed the highest mountain in the world. But perhaps this is the major reason.
There’s a box that appears three times in the film, and it’s the only box with a date stamped on it, which happens to be Dec. 13/77. Film Jack might die on the evening of Dec. 13th, 1979, two years to the day, following (if not the evening of the 13th then definitely the morning of the 14th). This has caused me to wonder if the box is simply a reference to when Kubrick imagined Jack in the books to die, since the novel came out in 1977, and context clues would lead one to suspect the events were taking place in October-December of 1977 (Danny’s born in ’72, and he’s supposed to be 5 years old).
More significantly, the biggest radio hit on this day, which happens to be one of the best-selling singles of all time, is Paul McCartney’s Mull of Kintyre. The song was a love ode from Sir Paul to the hideaway he became so enchanted by in his post-Beatles existence. The chorus lyrics are simple:
Mull of Kintyre
Oh mist rolling in from the sea,
Is always to be here
Oh Mull of Kintyre
That “always to be here” line seems like it would’ve inspired Grady’s “You’ve always been the caretaker” line, but that line is from the novel, which predates the song by almost a year. Perhaps Kubrick was simply astounded that life seemed to be imitating art, and embedded the reference in wonderment. That said, McCartney based the song partly off Amazing Grace, which is something of a funereal tune, so perhaps that was a factor in Kubrick’s thinking.
But he also placed this date on a box of Café Vienna. And Viennese Coffee houses are something of a thing. In fact, Paul McCartney is known to have attended Café Landtmann, famous for frequently hosting the likes of Thomas Mann (author of The Magic Mountain, upon which Kubrick is thought to have drawn some inspiration (by one of the Room 237 theorists)), Gustav Mahler (referenced in Shutter Island), Sigmund Freud (referenced by Kubrick as an inspiration on The Shining), Emmerich Kálmán (a Jewish composer and one of Hitler’s favourites), and Felix Salten (who wrote the novel Bambi was based on–Kubrick referenced Bambi once (in a 1968 interview, days after opening 2001) as “one of the most traumatic experiences a 5-year-old could encounter”). Even the song that plays over the first appearance of the box, Lontano, is by the part-Austrian composer György Ligeti, who may not’ve attended such cafés, but lived in Vienna off and on throughout life.
I can’t find the time period in which McCartney was there, it’s highly possible it was post-The Shining. But even otherwise, I’m not sure what the point of this mashup would be. A very young Adolf Hitler (13/14-years-old) was known to frequent a different one of the cafés, so perhaps it was simply meant to draw the Hitler reference away from McCartney, while allowing it to still apply to the fictional Jack.
Ringo played Mr. Conductor of the Indian Valley Railroad on Thomas and Friends (1989-1990), which was also known as…Shining Time Station. Mr. Conductor was a tiny man with the power to appear and disappear, and transport the viewer into a world of magical, talking train engines. Ringo only played the first Mr. Conductor, being replaced by his cousin in later seasons, played by George Carlin, but what’s neat is, the superintendent of the station, J. B. King, is the only adult who believes in the miniature man, and King took over control of the station from his father, B. J. King. This funny little bit of mythology for this kid’s show seems suspicious. Twin Kings with invertible initials.
Ringo would later play “Fibonacci Sequins” on a special episode of Powerpuff Girls. As you can see below, he appears in drag. Could this possibly be a reference to Wendy being his avatar in The Shining, which was possibly designed with the Fibonacci sequence in mind? I can’t begin to believe that, given that I haven’t seen any trace of my theory having come from any other analyst at this time…but it’s possible…I guess…? Note too that his outfit is the same rough design as Charlie Brown’s famous colours, a character who is conspicuously absent among all of Danny’s Peanuts stickers, curtains and bedsheets.
I’ve seen a lot of different numbers thrown around for their total compositions, but at least at one moment in time, the official number of original Beatles compositions was 237.
John and George are played by two actors named Barry. That could be an allusion to the way John and George bonded over their shared sense of eastern mysticism and Indian culture. Not because Barry means anything, but because it’s the same name.
…unless they’re there to “bury” Paul…
If you take out the opening logo, and the end credits, the full length of the film is 2:21:03, or 8463 seconds. On the one hand, that’s cool because it makes a jumble of one of the subtext’s major numbers, 312, the AT code for Bluebeard, which is the major fable referenced in the novel.
But this also means that the film can be divided into three perfect thirds of time: 47:01. And that’s a jumble of the “home” number for Wendy and Danny: 417. I call it that because 4:17 is when they appear in the film for the first time, but there’s numerous other appearances of that number that speak to the idea of being truly at home. Abbey Road is actually 7 seconds shy of that. But the fact that everything does sync so well starting from each third mark seems like enough proof for me.
But yeah, I just wanted to say that linking up Abbey Road with the “home” number seemed like a sweet way to better imply the way we’re meant to look at the film this way. And that it’s good to do so.
Jack says, “It was three goddamn years ago!” Brian Epstein, the manager of the Beatles, died three years before the band dissolved. Epstein was very close with the guys, and acted as the gel that held them together, and settled disputes and managed their money. Lennon was especially affected. McCartney took over as the band’s de facto leader thereafter, which none of the other Beatles favoured. So for Jack as Paul to say something like it was 3 goddamn years ago, the level of rancour there could match Paul’s frustration at not being trusted to lead and take control. In the reality of Jack’s situation, it’s positively ridiculous for him to be describing his almost killing a 2-year-old with this degree of murderous indignity. It seems to me right now that McCartney’s obsessive control over his group played a major, if not leading, role in their dissolution. And if Kubrick thought this as well, and was looking to sync up the book with that history, that would be why he’d place the blame at Paul’s feet.
On his drive to Durkin’s, Dick passes a sign that says, 36 West – Westminster – Boulder. Westminster Abbey is a famous abbey built in 960. He sees this on a road. Abbey Road!!! Curiously, this is where he sees the truck that’s smashed the Beetle. Is this symbolic of the death of the Beatles? Is he saying Abbey Road itself was the death of the Beatles, or that it simply marks their death?
We see the full Let It Be photos twice in the film, once before the Abbey Road Tour and once after (we only see winter and spring when Jack goes to kill the radio). The Abbey Road Tour contains two left-directional and two right directional walks.
The order is off in all of these (Ringo and George should be reversed in the first; Paul and Ringo should be reversed in the second, and all but John are wrong in the third), but this promotional poster reminded me of these walks, the three with the full band coming straight toward the camera.
On closer inspection, Watson is the only one interrupting the pattern with his movements (4th place, 3rd place, 2nd place). And Ullman is the only one staying the same. Significance?
Holy shit, this is hilarious: in 1994 (the same year Jack Nicholson went crazy with the golf club), Ian McDonald put out his book about the Beatles in which he describes Paul thusly: “…Abbey Road embraces both extremes of McCartney: the clear-minded, sensitive caretaker of The Beatles in ‘You Never Give Me Your Money’ and the Long Medley – and the immature egotist who frittered away the group’s patience and solidarity on sniggering nonsense like [Maxwell’s Silver Hammer].” He actually refers to him as the caretaker. Cuz Paul’s always been the caretaker.
Maxwell’s Silver Hammer was also heavily inspired by the writings of dramatist Alfred Jerry, who wrote Ubu Roi (referenced in Eunoia–hey, which is partly dedicated to Yoko Ono!), a play that invokes Christian motifs in a way that “overturns cultural rules, norms and conventions”, and inspired the surrealist, Dadaist and Theatre of the Absurd movements.
The opening with the long and winding road to the Overlook, might be better with The Long and Winding Road (Let It Be, track 10) playing over it…
So, there’s a theory that Paul McCartney died and was replaced by a doppelgänger. And it’s thought that there are clues to this throughout their many albums that signal this, such as the below image of George pointing to the line “Wednesday morning at five o’clock as the day begins”, while a McCartney, outfitted in blue, is the only Beatle with his back to the camera.
On WEDNESDAY afternoon, at 3pm, according to Wendy’s watch, is when Jack’s having his nightmare freak out. That scene ends with Wendy accusing Jack and running off with strangled Danny. Jack reacts with confusion, and then goes off to the Gold Room to sulk and meet Lloyd for the first time where he says he’d “give [his] goddamn soul for just a glass of beer”. When Wendy comes to alert him about 237, her watch says it’s now 6:32 (give or take). So if that’s an intentional connection, one could say that Jack “died” officially on his way to sell his soul, around 5 on a Wednesday. He’d already made up his mind to do this, and was now, merely walking to perform the ritual, as it were. This seems especially poignant when you consider my Julius Caesar analysis, in which I posit that Jack’s first drink is tantamount to the assassins betraying and murdering Caesar.
Incidentally, the first thing we see on WEDNESDAY is Danny playing with his toys outside 237, and getting lured in. It’s not clear what time it is at that point, but Danny emerges in the Colorado lounge not long after Wendy wakes Jack, so probably not too much earlier.
Also, as you can see in the second image, Jack kills Hallorann at about 5:26, which, first of all would be about 23 hours after the Jack’s gold room stalk. But also, Jack sits down to die about ten minutes later, at 5:35 on a Thursday afternoon.
John Lennon put out a record called Two Virgins in 1969 which featured him and Yoko in the nude (below you can see McCartney and gang unwrapping his personal copy, and confronting this image with perhaps some embarrassment–he knew what the image would be already, because he fought its use). Jack, who is Paul, is also confronted by two nudes, who seem to live inside the hotel.
Ullman (John) and Hallorann (Yoko) live in the hotel on the off season.
The Abbey Road cover fueled the Paul Is Dead paranoia due to the fact that the license plate on the Beetle behind the Beatles had the number 28 on it, which would’ve been McCartney’s age, had he still been alive.
Jack Nicholson was 40/41 when filming started, and 42 when it finished. As you can see below, of the three plates visible in the film (belonging to these two cars, and lastly Hallorann’s rented car in Colorado), 42 appears in the middle of Hallorann’s. This is probably more connected to the WWII imagery (and the fact that 42s seem to signify impossibilities), but it is a funny coincidence.
The last Beatles performance (Jan. 30th, 1969), the rooftop performance, went on for 42 minutes.
Here’s a fun one: according to Stanley’s daughter Vivian, Harrison visited the set.
George Harrison shaved his familiar moustache and cut his hair in 1979, which leads me to wonder if the man at the bar between the two Harrison images might in fact be Harrison. Nothing about the two men disagrees, either in the shape of their heads, or in the form of their distinguishing features. It’s just so odd to see someone like Harrison all dolled up like this. In any case, he appears right as Jack pats Grady on the back, between two other heads. And he first appears as Jack approaches Lloyd, and is seen right in front of Lloyd’s chest as he deals with Jack, which would be an awesome hiding in plain sight effect. The song playing the first time we see these events is the round 2 Maxwell’s Silver Hammer, and the second time we see the scene it’s round 2 Sun King and Mean Mr. Mustard. Sun King, at least, is an echo of Harrison’s Here Comes the Sun.
Also, I read recently that McCartney visited the set of The Masque of the Red Death, thanks to his close connection with that film’s star, Jane Asher. And here Jack is passing through The Shining‘s rendition of a masque.
Finally, this is simply a band poster that reminded me of the Revolver-style image in the radio room.
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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