The Golden Shining: Section IV



4:14 – 7:14


Forward – First Half

  • Wendy and Danny breakfast scene (56 sec)
  • Watson enters, Ullman butters up Jack (56 sec)
  • Music: Roadrunner soundtrack (54 sec)

Backward – First Half

  • Jack arriving at the end of Danny’s tracks and looking befuddled (27 sec)
  • Jack making the wrong turn and becoming trapped (13 sec)
  • Danny making his run for the exit (27 sec + 5 sec)
  • Jack confused (17 sec + 15 sec)
  • Wendy running out to see Danny by the snowcat (7 sec)
  • Music: Kanon Paschy (23 sec), De Natura Sonoris #2 (50 sec), Kanon (57 sec)

Forward – Back Half

  • Ullman explains the winter closure (34 sec)
  • Ullman details Jack’s caretaker duties (35 sec)

Backward – Back Half

  • Jack stalks the maze (7 sec)
  • Second half of Danny setting the trap for Jack (7 sec)
  • Wendy surviving the bloodfall (31 sec)
  • Jack entering into Danny’s trap (24 sec)
  • Music: Kanon Paschy (39 sec), Kanon (35 sec)

So the spiral cut here divides still-menacing Jack from defeated Jack, and it divides the Jack who didn’t know the job from Jack who knows the job enough to agree to it.

It also divides the Wendy who had not seen the whole truth (ie. the four horsemen of the apocalypse–she sees Death (bloodfall) in the back half here), from the Wendy who frees herself from the hotel’s grip.

And it divides the Danny who has bested Jack from the Danny who hopes to best.

Side note: From this point on, I’m going to try to focus as much as I can on how the Fibonacci lines and spiral cuts split up the mathematics and the plot/theme mechanics. As things go on, they’re bound to get exponentially more complex, and I find myself making points I’ve already made in other essays. I’m not going to abandon the contextual significances of certain passages, but if I’ve already made a point here, or elsewhere, I’ll have a mind to skip it.

That said, there’s one contextual note we can’t ignore, and that’s Wendy’s Four Horsemen experience. As I said, she deals with Death here in Section IV (a number associated with death), with Famine and War in the first half of Section V, and Conquest in the back half of Section V.

So we’ve got a formation of 1-2-1, in the context of how section-halves are segmenting her experiences. We saw that formation already in the cars Jack passes in Sections II and III. The end of Section II’s first half was Jack passing the white car (Death?), the back half was him passing the white/black (Famine?) and the dark-toned (War?) cars, and the first half of Section III was him passing the silver (Conquest?) car with the yellow boat on its roof (The Shining?).

So here’s what I’m wondering: as I argue in this mini-essay, Kubrick might’ve regarded the shining as the fifth horsemen of the apocalypse, so it would follow that a) the four horsemen portals would be experienced in both the fourth and fifth Fibonacci sections, and b) that that fourth car in the intro would have two major tones (silver and yellow), since Wendy experiences the first horseman, Conquest at the exact same moment in the mirrorform as Danny receives his first shine.

And on that note, I like Conquest and Death being isolated by the Fibonacci lines and spiral cuts because they do have a special relationship in the way that Danny’s first vision of the bloodfall overlays with Wendy’s entire flight up the BJ well (Conquest), and Wendy’s vision of the bloodfall (Death) overlays with Ullman’s first hint to Jack about the hotel’s power to isolate “…this site was chosen for its seclusion…”

Perhaps the most easily striking thing about this section is the way the forward action is segmented so evenly by the spiral cut. The first half has twin 56 sec segments, and the back half has near-twin 34/35 second segments. The back half of Section III’s forward action was similar, with its 3-35-33-3 second segments. Also, recall that the back half of Section III’s backward action had music that overflowed the segment’s runtime, and here we have a similar situation in both the backward segments (both with doubled-up Penderecki tracks). The first half having 2:10 of music against 1:51 of screen time, and the back half having 1:14 of music against 1:09 of screen time. Also, the overflow in the Section III back half was 19 seconds, and in Section IV’s first half here, again, 19 seconds.

Note too that the 57 seconds of Kanon and the 50 seconds of De Natura Sonoris #2 match up almost perfectly with the two major sequences here. In fact, the hand-off between the two songs happens right as Danny begins fleeing the maze, which happens to overlay with the transition from Boulder back to the Overlook. So Kanon plays over breakfast, and On the Nature of Sound #2 occurs over the interview introductions.

Seemingly in keeping with the first half’s technique, the back half also features a musical hand-off at the midpoint. Technically Kanon Paschy starts playing a few seconds before the midpoint (hence the 5-second surplus in music vs. runtime), but the exact middle of the segment is when Kanon cuts out.

So what’s that all about? Well, I can’t help but wonder if this is meant to bolster the four/five horsemen motif. We have four pieces of music, with one split into two by crossing the spiral cut. Kanon brings us in and Kanon brings us out, with Kanon Paschy (split in two) and De Natura Sonoris #2 in the middle. I’m not sure if it really matters how you read these, but what would be peculiar, with regard to consistency, is that Kanon Paschy plays over the majority of the bloodfall, which would associate it to death, but if Kanon Paschy is the split track, you would think it would be the Conquest/Shining track. Then again, we could think of it as the Death/Shining track, since Danny always saw the bloodfall in his three shines from Tony. Also, if the Shining part applied to what follows the bloodfall, that’s Jack hitting the centre of the maze and finding Danny’s apparent ascension. Which is essentially the culmination of all of Danny’s shinery preparations for surviving this place.

A light shines in Jack’s eyes the entire time he’s stalking through the centre.

If I had to guess at the others I would say Kanon is Famine since it plays during the earlier Famine sequence. And Kanon will play again during the maze running sequences to either side of the War sequence, so I would guess War was the other Kanon. Which leaves De Natura Sonoris #2 for Conquest, and I like that since the Conquest sequence is accompanied (in part) by the other major non-religious Penderecki composition in the film, Polymorphia.

To take this theory all the way to breaking point, consider this: during the Famine track Ullman talks about how “the winters can be fantastically cruel” and how the caretaker’s job is to deal with the “depreciation which can occur”. During the Death track Ullman invokes the year 1907, a time not only 72 years in the past at this point, but also the inverse of the year Grady killed his family, 1970. During the Conquest track it’s a major love-in between Ullman and Jack (not to mention Trapper’s Camp is still in the room and Theatrum Orbis Terrarum and the Red Book are visible for 20 seconds). And during the War track Danny is seen in the kitchen with Catch-22 on the shelf above his head. Not to mention all the other war-themed books we’ll see around the apartment later.

So perhaps the neatness of the forward action was meant to offset the seeming chaos of the backward action, and allow that four/five horsemen effect to breathe.

Actually, considering there are only five Penderecki tracks that play during the whole finale, a strong alternate theory would be that Polymorphia is the “Shining” track since a) it starts playing in the backward action (of Section V) on the exact same second that Danny receives his first shine from Tony in the mirrorform (and starts playing again 3 seconds after the Tony shine ends)…

…and b) it’s generally highly associated to shining in the mirrorform and otherwise (it plays during the whole lounge fight which includes Danny shining/overhearing the fight…

…it overlays twice to either side of the Hallorann pantry tour where he shines at Danny…

If I’d used the actual start and end points, they’re almost impossible to tell apart (shots of Hallorann showing off the pantry to Wendy), so I went with 2 seconds in and 2 seconds before the end, for the way it shows Danny receiving the shine.

…and it overlays with the entire conversation between Hallorann and Danny, which is almost exclusively about shining).

“She called it shining.”

So, for the complete amount of time it takes for Tony’s first shine at Danny (32 seconds), and for the complete amount of time that it takes for Hallorann’s first shine at Danny to happen (24 seconds), Polymorphia is banished from the soundtrack on the opposite side of the film. As we’ll discuss in Sections VII and VIII, it plays for 732 seconds straight, during the lounge fight and the locking away of Jack in the pantry. So it has a bit of a dual relationship to shining. Perhaps the way that Tony and Hallorann banish it is to suggest their positive impact on Danny’s life, while the fact that it plays over the perilous lounge fight is to suggest that there’s such a thing as bad shining, and this is it. Even with regard to the Danny/Hallorann chat (which it completely overlays), much of their conversation is about the bad things that happened in the hotel, and room 237’s fear factor.

Lastly, the photo beside Jack’s head throughout the entire interview (Section IV-VI) is the one that hangs over photo Jack at the end of the movie (Section I-II).

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And this other photo, this spectacularly judgy photo, is seen to be in that spot for the last couple seconds of Section I.

It’s visible all throughout the first half of Section II, and it makes one more appearance, in the games room behind Danny, for 19 seconds, 1:20 into Section VII.

Actually, I didn’t take the photography mission super seriously (once I knew all the 21 end photos appeared elsewhere, I didn’t bother doing an exhaustive search for doubles), so it might very well appear all over the place. What I find neat is that mirrorform Jack here (red box) stalks away from the first appearance of the photo, and in so doing, seals his fate. That seems counterintuitive, given that he’ll go on to become trapped in a nearby photo of his own. Perhaps the overlay is merely meant to imply his inevitable doom. In any case, we know that the photo appears in Sections I, II, IV, V, VI, VII, and X. And if we counted people simply being inside Ullman’s office, we could add Section III and VIII, meaning it only wouldn’t “appear” in the middle movie, Section IX. Food for thought.

Click here to continue on to The Golden Shining: Section V