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(There’s a tonne of links on this site directing people here to learn about how the hotel’s out to get Hallorann. I don’t get into that til the end of this section, so if you’re in a hurry, scroll down til you see the bolded words A Trapper’s Camp.)
Spoiler alert! In case you’d like to be surprised by the plot of this delightful little thriller, you can watch it here, before reading the following.
Okay, so, you’ve seen the episode, and you remember that a big part of the plot was the idea of Cathy More and her cousin Jane Howard signing the hotel’s log book, right? Well, the RED BOOK on Ullman’s table here, identifiable only in this shot, is a 1973(?) Hotel & Motel Red Book, but thanks to the blurriness of the shot, it ends up looking a bit like HOWE & MORE. But what’s the significance of a “red book” being signed by anyone?
Well, remember when Jack says, “Does it matter to you *at all*…that the owners have put their complete confidence and trust in me, and that I have *signed* a letter of agreement…a *contract*…in which I have accepted that responsibility?”
Some have already likened The Shining‘s plot to a Faustian bargain between Jack and the hotel, but for the longest time I couldn’t quite decide if that’s all there was to that. Turns out, according to the Wikipedia page on “Deals with the Devil”, that all one ultimately needs to do a more general devil-deal soul-selling arrangements is sign “Satan’s Red Book”. Edit: this detail has since disappeared from Wikipedia, so here it is in a herstory book.
Now, wouldn’t you agree, as a recent viewer of Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are, that More’s arrangement with the stranger was a bit of a “deal with the devil”?
Want more proof? Read on. There’s a graphic below that corresponds to all the following colour boxes.
Green Box = The same camera that’s used by the cousin who gets murdered is next to this smoking guy.
Red Box = The smoking guy is probably John Carson, the actor who played the drunk innkeeper, Arthur Lewis. This being filmed about 4-5 years after that show, his hair’s a little greyer, but the thing I’ve always thought about this guy is, man, that looks like Oliver Reed. And that’s what I thought about Carson’s performance all throughout the episode. I’m not expecting you to know Oliver Reed, just that I thought my reaction seems telling.
Purple Box = Jack and Carson wear the same outfit with slightly different colours. Even the undershirt has the same checkered pattern.
Yellow Box = It’s hard to tell if those are the same actors as the conspirators in the show, but they’re clearly styled the same way. Except…
Blue Box = …the Cathy More character, who looks directly at the camera and stares for about two seconds, seems to be stylized after the woman on the cover of the Burda magazine.
Also Blue Box = Seated directly behind the Cathy More character (this is confirmed by IMDb) is a famous, ubiquitous bit part player named Aileen Lewis, who earned the nickname “the duchess” thanks to her “regal bearing”. She appeared in a tonne of things, seated in the background, to give the air of propriety and upperclassness. So, besides the fact that her last name is the same as the character John Carson played (Arthur Lewis), she also appeared as a party guest in another episode of Thriller, called Look Back in Happiness, which is what the woman in front of her seems to be doing, right? But wait! There’s more!
The plot of that episode concerned an American jazz pianist who went blind during a bank robbery that took his wife’s life. Ten years later, he returns to England to play at the retirement party of a wealthy socialite, when his keen ears pick up the voice of his wife’s killer. The pianist’s name? Stan Kay. Kinda like…Stanley Kubrick, who moved to England in 1961, as a result of divorcing his second wife. More to the point, the Grady murders happen in the winter of 1970, almost ten years before the Torrance murder of December 1979, and of course most people would’ve seen it in 1980, when it came out, and assumed the film was making a ten year allusion.
Other clues: boxed fish hanging on the walls…
…people carrying rugs up and down stairs…
…the “deal with the devil” lamp is almost identical to the BJ bear room lamp…
…and the mirrorform moment where Jack is saying “Come out, come out, wherever you are” has that red lamp (middle left), which is very similar to the one in the show pictured below it, and the show also has a sequence where the two conspirators are driving with the woman they kill seen between them here (bottom right), and Danny’s the one Jack and Wendy are ostensibly going to the Overlook to murder.
GET DICK: A SHORTCUT TO HOW THE HOTEL ALWAYS WANTED DICK TO DIE
I actually have a now-very-solid-feeling theory that Hallorann was the one the hotel wanted all along. As you can see below, Hallorann’s death outfit bears a striking resemblance to the trapper in Clarence Gagnon’s painting, A Trapper’s Camp. The painting appears in three places around the hotel, and is one of about five paintings to appear on screen at the same time in the REDRUM edition (in the blowjob well and during a bloodfall).
The first time we see A Trapper’s Camp is in Ullman’s office, when he and Jack are shaking hands (see below). It looks like Ullman’s taking it with him for the season, but in fact it turns up in the BJ well and in the bloodfall hall, even in Danny’s first bloodfall vision which happens right at the end of Jack’s interview. So, if Ullman’s office is “a trapper’s camp” then it would follow that Hallorann getting axed directly outside Ullman’s office door (as seen in the last REDRUM image) would draw a connection from the painting’s name to the purpose of Hallorann’s demise.
In fact, right behind the doctor in the mirrorform, there’s a book leaning against Danny’s wall called Teeny Weeny Adventures, an apparently short-lived series of children’s books where the boy and girl main characters (Tobi and Terri) were always seen in some kind of camping or hiking or farming environment. On the cover of this issue is a red cabin, and someone unfurling a green sleeping bag (I’m guessing). So, the image of Jack springing out to axe Hallorann mirrors over the idea of camp. The red pillar was Jack’s trapper camp, and Hallorann is the…trapper who got trapped?
If you look at it through the lens of “trapping = shining” then it follows that it would want him dead as, like, a rival trapper. Actually, when that theory first hit me (I just put the Teeny Weeny thing together as I’ve been writing this, for the record), it struck me as oddly horrific, since, you know, it’s true that the hotel wants to consume other shiners, and even though Danny (and to a lesser extent Wendy) is spared, the hotel does manage to kill one powerful shiner. The hotel wins. It’s a tragedy.
In fact, when Wendy’s passing the painting, Hallorann was just killed. So it’s like the hotel is gloating it’s victory there–and we don’t see it next to the bloodfall when Wendy’s seeing it in real time, probably because that’s not what that sequence is about for her. And the painting appears in all of Danny’s bloodfall shines (with varying clarity), as if Tony was trying to warn him that the hotel wanted Hallorann, and Danny isn’t able to save him. In that sense, Danny is making his own kind of deal with the devil: take Hallorann, just let me live! Like, there’s no reason he couldn’t have shined Hallorann a warning, or even just a “Hey, come get me! I’m over here, in this drawer. Within earshot of your shouting.” He doesn’t come out of hiding because he knows his dad is nearby.
There’s also the phenomenon of the painting in the lobby called Log Hut on the St. Maurice. The St. Maurice of Christian faith was one of the first black saints in history, killed when he was 37, in the year 287 CE. This painting is within eyeshot when Hallorann is slain, and has some curious behaviour in the film, explored on the page dedicated to all things Maurice. The other thing to note here, though, is how Maurice’s feast day is the same as my best guess for the day Jack arrives for his interview with Ullman, September 23rd, which we know thanks to a newspaper in Boulder with a headline about a nuclear satellite. Given that this is 1979, and sometime shortly before October, this headline is most likely regarding what’s known as the Vela incident, which you can read about here. And this isn’t the only feast day of note in the film: there’s a postcard on the Torrance fridge in Boulder clearly showing a statue of Augustus Caesar that can be found in the St. Lucia district of Naples, Italy. And St. Lucia’s feast day is December 13th, the same day Jack kills Hallorann and then freezes to death in the labyrinth. So, given the cannibalism subtext that enters the story through the Donner Party reference, having the story begin and end on the feast days of these two saints seems like a pretty good indication that the hotel maybe not only wanted Hallorann dead, but Jack too (since the Lucia reference includes a Caesar reference, who is richly connected to Jack).
It’s also occurred to me that the sound of “Maurice” appears in the name Norval Morrisseau, the indigenous Canadian painter whose two works The Great Earth Mother and Flock of Loons appear in Ullman’s secretary’s office, and Flock of Loons later moves to what I call the 2nd entrance, which we see moments after Jack’s slaughtered Hallorann, on his way to kill his son. A region where Log Hut on the St. Maurice has also migrated. If there are other “Morris” or “Maurice” references in the film, I haven’t found them as of this writing.
Oh, and there’s a painting right after Trapper’s Camp (the second of the two red boxes below) which I’d never found quite so identical a match for until I discovered a painting of Derwentwater by a painter named Roland Stead. I’ve since looked at many other paintings of the lake and surrounding area, and several use a similar vantage, capturing very similar forms, but none quite so bang on as this one, in all but a few instances. The biggest problem with the Stead painting is that it’s way too big in its original form to be exactly the one in the well. As you can see, my red box is cutting off the last quarter of the image. That doesn’t mean Stead couldn’t have painted a variation that happens to be smaller in all the right ways here, but it does mean that this particular Derwentwater painting isn’t the right one. However…if that’s Derwentwater in the film painting, Horace Derwent is the name of the hotel’s ghostly manager in the novel, who helps ghost Grady egg Jack on to murder his family and Hallorann. So this could be Kubrick’s subtle way of invoking King’s inspiration for the manager’s name. And in case that sounds random, there happens to be a painter named Edward Horace Thompson who painted Derwent quite a bit.
Also, there’s no point in truncating the whole theory here, so head to this link to read all about the connection between room 237, the “All work and no play” papers, and how Jack’s destruction of Hallorann was the real “work” he was typing so furiously about. If you have read all about that theory, isn’t it interesting that both Jack and Hallorann die so close to the heart of a labyrinth? Jack dies in the actual labyrinthine hedge maze, and Hallorann dies both beside the model of that maze that sits in the lobby, but also, the lobby itself acts as a kind of spiritual heart of the Overlook itself, as discussed here.
Anyway, getting back to the Thriller episode: we eventually find out that the conspirators were using Arthur Lewis’s alcoholism and tendency to violence as a way to make the police think he could’ve killed their friend. Not to completely pin it on him, but just to “muddy the waters” as I think the guy says to Cathy More. To give her a plausible alibi when she inherits the money. She kills the stranger guy at the end, to keep all the money for herself, but then the inspector springs out at the last second to show her how he knew to follow her and to expect her to kill the stranger guy, and thus, she’s caught. All thanks to a pack of matches, actually (remember Grady saying “One of them stole a pack of matches…and tried to burn it down…”?).
In this framework, the stranger is Jack Torrance (the one who does the killing), and Cathy More is the hotel, and we are the inspector, who, by following the clues, puts all this together.
But then, what’s the lesson? How do you prosecute a hotel? Are we prosecuting history? Life itself? Only one thing’s for sure: within the confines of this movie, Cathy gets away.
One last thing: I recently discovered that the postcard on the Torrance fridge of the strangely-shaped cross may be (or may be alluding to) the Ana Cross of Spaunton Moor. That cross replaced a cross called the Ain Howe cross. An Ain Howe was replaced…on a moor.
Literally 3 seconds after that cross leaves the screen, we see the escaping Cathy More behind Jack, crossing the lobby. What are the odds?
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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