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GOLDEN SPIRALS – SKIP TO A PAGE
MARK 13:29 ⎔ I ⎔ II ⎔ III ⎔ IV ⎔ V ⎔ VI ⎔ VII ⎔ VIII ⎔ IX ⎔ X
THE MIDDLE MOVIE ⎔ IX MIRROR MOVEMENTS
1:14 – 2:14
GOLDEN SPIRAL MOMENT (1:51)
Forward – First Half
- The opening credits, including the A Stanley Kubrick Film, Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, The Shining, Featuring Danny Lloyd, and Scatman Crothers. In other words, the film’s lead artist, and the main cast.
- The 4th (26 sec) and 5th (11 sec) shots of Jack driving up to the Overlook, which, as you can see in the map below, flow in the same progressing direction.
- The yellow Beetle passes a white Mercury Villager.
- Music: Mostly Carlos’ skittery spooky sounds on the soundtrack (22 sec; the track is officially called The Shining), with 15 seconds of Dies Irae.
Backward – First Half
- Starts right at the cut to the zoom on photo Jack, and goes right up to the eight photos around photo Jack. (37 sec)
- Music: First 37 seconds of Midnight, the Stars and You
Forward – Back Half
- The remainder of the cast credits (the supporting cast): Barry Nelson, Philip Stone, Joe Turkel, Anne Jackson, and Tony Burton, though Burton only makes it up half the screen.
- Jack drives past a black car with a white roof, and a dark-toned car (blue-black?).
- The mountains in these shots have lost any association to indigenous themes.
- The remainder of the 5th shot (20 sec), and a smidgen of the 6th shot (3 sec)
Backward – Back Half
- Starts while maze-stumbler Jack is being collapsed by the cold (13 sec)
- Ends on the full shot of frozen Jack (10 sec)
- Music: De Natura Sonoris #2 (23 sec)
The forward section contains the full cast and Kubrick credits. It switches from indigenous-themed mountains to Christian-themed mountains at 26 seconds in. And Jack drives past three of the four cars he’ll pass. One on the right shoulder, one on the left shoulder, and one going the opposite way. The major thing the spiral cut does is divide the main cast from the supporting cast.
The backward section contains all the shots connected to mortal Jack’s mortal demise: the collapse (0:13), the freeze (0:10), and the photo (0:37).
There is a bit of an echo, you might say, in the way there’s 21 photos at the start of this section (appearing in full at 7 seconds in and becoming cropped out again at 21 seconds in–no joke) and how 1921 was at the start of Section I (a number that’s onscreen for 12 seconds). Recall, too, that Section II starts on a shot sweeping over St. Mary Lake, which ends over the same area, with the same view of the same mountains, as Section I began with. So there’s a spooky amount of repetition and cyclicality going on here. Kubrick is establishing this film’s language.
On that note: the photos all appear elsewhere in the hotel (except Jack’s to my knowledge), which implies right off the bat that this is a kind of legend to understanding the film, and that there even is a legend to understanding it. That’s quite similar to the x/y/z-axis shots from Section I, which establish the film’s visual legend (lefts and rights are significant; ups and downs are significant).
Bloodrug and waverug are introduced (I had a mind to make a section about the rugs once, but for now, see the image further below for a better view of these rugs and why I call them that), bringing in the way the film uses other forms of art than film and photography to express patterns and cycles. Also, fun fact: the red bloodrug is overlaying with Red Eagle Mountain, and the waverug (which I call that for its repeating motif of Ws (which could be interpreted as two sets of horns)) is overlaying with Goat Mountain. So, while no art object in the film is used frivolously (so far as I can yet tell), these first two function perfectly to link the mirrorform together, with obvious pattern connections.
Also, the backward first half features Jack transforming into a dead person, and the backward back half shows the audience a transformed version of the hotel lobby. There’s sheets over everything, there’s no red couch beneath the photos here (there always was before), where there used to be large mirrors are now the bloodrug and the waverug, and if you get in really deep, you know that only four of these photos hung on this wall before, and all in different spots. In fact, the purple and yellow boxes have switched places, while the red and green boxes switched places then dropped one and two spots (or if you think of them as just jumping to the new spot, they make an X-shape).
Point being: disappearances, transformations, and absurdities are major themes of the film. Though absurdities were part of Section I, to be sure.
The Gold Room is introduced, along to the title, and the Gold Room is where the bulk of the film’s shines take place. Also, the Rockies are variously known as the “Shining Mountains” to indigenous peoples from Colorado up to Alberta.
The night/day aspect of the musical element cuts out at 15 seconds, since Carlos’ skittery modern score has taken over from the 13th century Dies Irae theme, and the backward music switches dramatically between eras (30s/70s) and styles (jazz/modern classical), and while these two switches are not in sequential step with each other, there’s a deeper pattern at play.
The forward music switch happens at 15 seconds in, a perfect quarter of this section; while the backward switch in music (from Al Bowlly to Krzysztof Penderecki) happens at 37 seconds in, which is the perfect amount of time to make a golden ratio. So this section gives us a geometric switch in music (forwards; 15/60), and a “natural” switch in music (backwards; 37/60), since that’s what the golden ratio is primed to create. The backward shots of the lobby and frozen Jack and even stumbling-in-the-dark-to-his-demise Jack are steeped in geometric forms…
…while all the nature shots have more of a phi grid feel.
So the geometric shots go with the music that gets spiral cut, and the phi grid shots go with the geometric break in the music. I guess Kubrick was stepping up his inversions for this section, after all. But I wonder if that will keep on being the case (it’s occurring to me now that each section could have stylistic callbacks to the previous section, though I’m wondering if Section I and II are special, because they’re the only two that are the same length).
Oh, and speaking of geometry, the 37-second cut almost perfectly halves the 45 seconds of Carlos’ score between the two rounds of Dies Irae. Actually, I’m just noticing upon editing this section that the next round of Dies Irae actually starts half a second before the next section, so it is perfectly split into two 22-second chunks. 15-22-22-1.
As for De Natura Sonoris #2 (On the Nature of Sound #2) on its own: four of Penderecki’s seven compositions used in the film are of a spiritual nature, but this is one of the three that are not. So it’s interesting how here it rests separate from the religiosity of Dies Irae (by 12 seconds), while in Section III they’ll overlap for the first quarter of that section’s run time. Also, what is the nature of sound?
Well, perhaps the simplest way to express its nature is to say that it’s a wave that is roughly symmetrical.
And what else is roughly symmetrical? The surface of St. Mary Lake. The first shot in the movie, which goes for 20 seconds. De Natura Sonoris #2 plays for 23 seconds at the end of Section II. So it seems like Sections I and II have some rough symmetries all their own.
- Both of the initial tunes shift from a more familiar and melodious theme (Dies Irae/Bowlly) to a more experimental, tuneless theme (Carlos/Penderecki).
- Penderecki did a composition of Dies Irae, actually, “in memory of the victims of Auschwitz”. So it’s fitting perhaps that his music will play over the next round of Wendy Carlos’ Dies Irae in Section III. There’s no such overlap in Section II, though, so I wonder if Kubrick’s making a point to have them separated in Section II (by 22 seconds).
- The backward spiral cut divides Jack the mortal who was defeated by his hubris, from Jack the eternally ensnared thrall of the hotel. The Jack who dies from the Jack who never dies.
- The three cars that Jack passes in Section II go all-white, white with a black roof, and all-dark (blue-black?). The mirrorform scenes they overlay with all match these tones, but putting that aside, there’s a curious progression of light to dark. Also, the light car appears in isolation (in the 10 seconds leading to the spiral cut), but the two dark cars appear almost simultaneously (for 8 seconds leading to the cut between shots #5 and #6).
Click here to continue on to The Golden Shining: Section III
MAIN PAGE ⎔ SECTION PAGE ⎔ SITE MAP ⎔ GLOSSARY
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