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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
7:14 – 12:14
GOLDEN SPIRAL MOMENT – 10:19
Forward First Half
- Pre-Grady warning warnings about isolation (50 sec)
- The Grady warning (135 sec)
Backward First Half
- Jack chasing Danny into the maze (2 sec)
- Danny’s first maze run (25 sec)
- Jack chasing (25 sec)
- Danny running (5 sec)
- Wendy discovers dead Hallorann (42 sec)
- Wendy meets Grady ghost (11 sec)
- Danny reaching the heart of the maze (15 sec)
- Jack stalking (12 sec)
- The skeleton ball (18 sec)
- Jack stalking (10 sec)
- First half of Danny setting the trap for Jack (20 sec)
- Music: Kanon (58 sec, with overlap), Ewangelia (63 sec), Kanon (25 + 41 = 66 sec)
Forward Back Half
- The Grady warning overhang (15 sec)
- Tony knows Jack got the job (18 sec)
- Wendy washes up and answers phone (14 sec)
- The Jack-Wendy phone call (10/2/5 = 17 sec)
- Danny presses Tony for a vision (24 sec)
- Tony’s first shine (Bloodfall/Twins/Bloodfall/Scream face/Bloodfall/Darkness) (13/1/2/1/4/4 = 25 sec)
- The doctor scene (2 sec)
- Music: The Dream of Jacob (100 sec)
Backward Back Half
- Jack starts to chase Danny (3 sec)
- Wendy in the blowjob well (52 sec)
- Jack crossing the 2nd entrance and trying to spot a hiding Danny (42 sec)
- Danny and Jack running for the labyrinth (18 sec)
- Music: Ewangelia (77 sec), Polymorphia (38 sec, with overlap) Kanon (44 sec)
Like I said, I won’t be rehashing older points, but just bear in mind that the four horsemen, Jack’s doom photo and the Hallorann hit job are being heavily referenced here. And, you know, that seems significant in a way. This being the fifth section of ten, we might imagine that we’re approaching a stylistic halfway point, that Sections I-V have a certain relationship and VI-X have a certain, similar relationship, and/or correlate to each other as groups of sections. So, if this is the first section to enjoy the forgoing of substantial contextual analysis, because they’ve already been identified, that would give Section V a huge similarity to Section X, which only contains previously analyzed material.
It might be worth doing a complete comparison of the two halves of the Fibonaccified film, but for now I’ll just observe how Sections I-V perfectly encapsulate (in the backward action) axe Jack’s post-murder pursuit of Danny…
…and Wendy’s four horsemen portals, and (in the forward action) Jack’s arrival/interview, and the introduction of Wendy and Danny and Tony and Tony’s ability to shine into Danny.
The post-shine sequence with the doctor–while many have drawn comparisons to the Ullman interview, and certainly there are similarities to be noted–has always struck me as entirely different in spirit. The Come Out, Come Out analysis, for instance, lets us know that the doctor is acting in a good faith entirely alien to Ullman’s intentions. But moreover, the scene has simply always seemed like a response to the first 12 minutes, as opposed to a continuation of it, and perhaps that’s why it doesn’t appear in Sections I-V, but at the very start of Section VI, because if V=X and IV=IX, then I, II, and III would equal VI, VII, and VIII. And just as I, II, and III all feature Jack driving to the Overlook, VI features Danny and Wendy talking to the doctor, VII features the entire Overlook tour, which is largely Wendy and Danny talking to Ullman and Hallorann, and VIII features all of Danny’s lessons. In the 42(one-way)/84(mirrorform) minutes of Sections VI, VII, and VIII (12:14-54:14) forward Jack has less than 1.5x the number of dialogue blobs (38) as he has in the entire first (I-V) Fibonacci half (26). And Jack doesn’t even speak, technically, til halfway through Section III (similar to how he barely speaks in sections VI and VII). Point being, if I, II, and III are all we need to know about Jack to know how things are going to play out for him, it seems fitting that he would begin to feel as secondary as he does during VI, VII, and VIII.
Alright. Let’s move on.
It occurs to me that, like with Lendvai’s analysis of Bartók (or any phi grid analysis of any image, really), we could be a little loose with our definition of where the golden spiral would have to land in order to create an acceptable definition of a golden spiralled artwork, and we could push the spiral cut ahead 15 seconds to where the interview ends and the maze chase begins. But things have been fitting so nicely within the expected boundaries thus far (Section III reverse-spirals aside), that I think I’ll keep to perfection for now, and see how things shake out.
10:19 is two seconds from Danny and Jack being totally in the maze, and in the forward action it splits apart the line, “Well, you can rest assured Mr. Ullman, that’s not gonna happen with me, and, uh…” from “…as far as my wife is concerned, uh, I’m sure she’ll be absolutely fascinated when I tell her about it, she’s a, uh, confirmed ghost story and horror film addict…” So the spiral cut here divides the bulk of the interview with all its references to the job and the history of the job, from the one of two references to Jack’s relationship with his family. The earlier 5-second reference (“What about your wife and son, how do you think they’ll take to it?” “They’ll love it.” “Great!”) is a negligible blip, not really registered by either man. In fact, Jack even makes a face of almost mock consideration at the thought of Wendy or Danny factoring in his decision.
So the spiral cut joins the ensuing Danny/Wendy action to the 15 seconds Jack spent offering up a description of Wendy’s character.
As for the backward action, since this section starts with the moment Danny pops out of his hiding place and Jack begins his direct pursuit of the boy, this spiral cut, while not perfect to the second (it’s off by 2), does divide the pre-maze father-son chase from the maze chase. Perhaps the most profound thing that helps to do is separate all of Danny’s Lessons and Keys from his Escapes. With the spiral cut where it is, Danny’s escape Key (red box) appears 15 seconds into the back half, triggering backward Danny’s flight for the maze. The shot of the Key lasts for 15 seconds exactly, too. So it’s like 15 seconds of the Key scrolling past the screen leads to 15 seconds of processing as Danny journeys from his hiding place to the maze, and begins running the pattern that will save his life.
Now, I haven’t referenced the lessons and escapes yet (if you’ve been skipping that link until now, you’ll want to read it to understand the next part), but they have already appeared in some of the sections we’ve looked at already. Here’s a quick breakdown of where they appear:
Escape 4 = (two turns) back half of Section III, (two turns) first half of Section IV
Escape 3 = (one turn) first half of Section IV, (one turn) first half of Section V
Escape 2 = first half of Section V
Escape 1 = first half of Section V
Escape Key = back half of Section V
Lesson 1 = first half of Section VIII
Lesson 2 = first half of Section VIII
Lesson 3 = back half of Section VIII
Lesson 4 = back half of Section VIII
Lesson Key = first half Section IX
Also, Section X contains all the lessons again in its first half, and all the escapes and escape key in its back half. The lesson key is the only part of this grand design that is completely isolated within Section IX (unless you count other kinds of references to the two keys, which are embedded in a few other locales–for instance, the east/west-running ceiling beams above Jack in the lounge).
Also, if we count Jack’s backward walk out of 237 (or even Danny’s escape from 237) as connected to Danny’s backward walk in the maze heart, the former occurs in both halves of Section IX, and the latter occurs in the first half of V and the back half of IV (IV + V = IX; 4 + 5 = 9).
Anyway, I’m not really sure if there’s a numbers game going on here, but there is one major pattern to point out, and that’s how all the escapes occur between III and V, and all the lessons occur (or reoccur) between VIII and X, the three last sections of both halves of the film. Which means I, II, VI, and VII are lesson/escape/key-free, but if I get into a big analysis of all the sections, we could be here a while (though I might point out that of all the sections that have lesson-key-escapes, the first half of III is devoid of them, which means that at least part of II, III, and VII are all free of these matters, though I’m not sure why that would be significant, since 237 is where a lesson, a key, and a backwards walk take place). For now, I’ll just say that Sections I and II are virtually drama-free, and Sections VI and VII are basically the doctor and the tour in the forward action (which both involve Danny and Wendy learning a bunch), and Jack’s assault on his family in the backward action (which involves a fair bit of escaping on the part of Wendy and Danny).
Another consequence of the spiral cut being where it is: Jack leaves the inside of the hotel for both halves of this section, which means that, if we count driving Jack as an outside Jack, then he’s outside for the entirety of Sections I-V. The back half of Section VI (the drive to the Overlook), and the first half of Section VII (the maze-snowcat tour), and therefore both halves of Section X, will all include a sequence of Jack being outside. That’s funny only because in the forward-moving, unaltered version of the film, Jack goes 106 minutes straight (or 75% of the runtime) without leaving the hotel. In the mirrorform Fibonacci version 14/20 section segments, or 70%, include a scene of him outside. Actually, even in the mirrorform, going from the end of the snowcat tour on one side, to the end on the other side, that’s still 93 straight minutes of Jack inside, or 66% of the runtime. I’m honestly not sure there’s a point being made there by Kubrick. At best, what it looks like is a kind of yin-yang effect to accentuate the power of the Fibonacci Film form to front-load (and back-load) symbolic significance. And honestly, that’s probably a good tip for any filmmaker. Those first 12 minutes can pack a punch. Don’t just wow ’em in the end.
As for the music, this section features one of the most singular techniques in the film. So, if the length and positioning of the music is meant to mean something geometrically (as well as thematically and subtextually), Section V involves two instances of songs overlapping with themselves. And I could never take credit for noticing this, so please give some love to the impeccable work of Valerio Sbravatti (et al?). I’ll reproduce the parts of their work that I’m referring to, since I don’t mean for you to read that whole document for these purposes.
Here’s the section pointing out the part where Kanon overlaps itself. If you do choose to read the entire document, you’ll note how unique the first line in this writing is (“our analysis is provisional”). Also, “Stainforth” refers to Gordon Stainforth, the assistant editor on the film.
And here’s the part where Polymorphia overlaps.
I gave these a listen, and sure enough, I can hear what they’re talking about in both cases, though I wouldn’t have noticed the Polymorphia doubling in a million years, and I’m operating on trust, basically, that the effect is as Sbravatti suggests.
But with that in mind, we can consider a few things.
First, that Polymorphia (a word meaning “many forms”) is a “twin” track. People have suggested that the Grady twins have a connection to Wendy, and I don’t usually go in for that theory (everybody in the movie seems to have a twin or two), but it seems terribly applicable here. In the BJ well, Wendy is regarding a bear-masked person who, for reasons I detail in my section on Conquest, I believe might be the hotel’s projection of Wendy back at herself. So this overlapping of “many forms” with “many forms” could be a sly way of suggesting the evil inherent in Wendy’s conquest upon Danny. And that there’s something “Overlook” even about the Pooh-bear-esque Wendy Torrance.
And this track plays all the way to Jack reaching the 2nd entrance, where every piece of art is seen somewhere else in the building. And in this overlaying shot of the lobby there’s quite a few twin-esque things going on, like how Watson and Grady are standing in a very similar formation to the characters behind Wendy in Carson City (Bill Watson even shares a name with his respective character, Bill Sharon). Or how Jack will later mirror the distant older gentleman here, stooped over the model labyrinth. Or how the woman behind reception is different from the woman Jack first spoke to at the beginning, but similar enough that you almost don’t notice.
Also, the last time Polymorphia played on the forward soundtrack was as Wendy was running through the 2nd entrance (the first of two times this area is seen, shot in the exact same way), ending just two seconds after the shot transitions to the outside world.
We’ve hit peak twinnery! (I wonder if there’s a…twin peak going on…)
As for the Kanon overlap, it’s also a fairly lengthy overlap, with the first moment of overlap starting 49 seconds into the version of Kanon that crosses the spiral cut. This overlap continues until 38 seconds later, when the track that was playing first drops out, and the track that came in to overlap with itself plays for an additional 15 seconds.
So the Kanon overlap is completely in the first half, and the Polymorphia overlap is completely in the back half, and both overlaps are exactly 38 seconds, except that the Polymorphia is two of the same track played almost at the same time for one effect (giving the familiar track an alien sound), and the Kanon overlap features the same song from two points 51 seconds apart (by Sbravatti’s counting, and it seems right to me, except I quibble with where the fragments are introduced and where they drop out) to create a much different effect (once you know what the two parts are meant to sound like, it really feels like two tracks are competing for your attention). Also, the Kanon timecode for where the first bit of music ends (3’00”) is ten seconds behind the timecode where the overlapping track begins (3’10”), and sure enough that’s almost exactly the amount of gap that there is in the final two appearances of Kanon (in Section V, first half, so, not far from here), where the sound cuts out during Wendy’s run up to the skeleton ball (9 sec).
But if the Polymorphia doubling is meant to speak to Wendy’s sexy Pooh bear double, or all the double art in the 2nd entrance, what is the Kanon doubling meant to speak to?
Well, these 38 seconds go from Jack queasily saying, “Well…that is, uh…quite a story…”
…to a sage and knowing Jack saying, “Well…you can rest assured, Mr. Ullman, that’s not gonna happen with me.” (except he only says the first couple words before the cutoff)
The backward action is the near-completion by Danny of the first escape phase (the final left happens a few seconds after the overlap finishes), which, as we all know now is a mirror of his trip through the maze with his mom, earlier. So Danny’s performance of his epic lesson-escapes is being paired with this song that’s 50-odd seconds apart from itself, and which doesn’t repeat the same music in this phase. And in the forward action we’ve got two-thirds of Jack’s reaction to the Grady story, in which he denies that he could ever become such a man (while backward Jack screams bloody murder over his shoulder–how awesome is this screen cap, by the way?), another loose doubling.
Last thing to note about the music is a little complicated, and potentially pointless (or maybe it’s just a lot of explanation for not much payoff), so feel free to skip this next paragraph.
Okay, so, on the first half we have Kanon (58 sec), Ewangelia (63 sec) and Kanon again (66 sec). And on the back half we have Ewangelia (77 sec), Polymorphia (38 sec), and Kanon (44 sec). Let’s say the two overlap sections are meant to be a pair. That would make the remaining first half Kanon 20 seconds, which if we combine it with the back half Kanon becomes 64 seconds, which is almost the length of the first half Ewangelia (63 sec). So let’s think of those as pairs. That leaves us with the latter first half Kanon (66 sec) and the back half Ewangelia (77 sec), which are like a pair of twin numbers, but if you add them together you get 143, the length of the film in minutes (also the number of heartbeat sounds during the first REDRUM sequence, and people in the crowd with photo Jack, and so on). And if you add all six numbers together, you get 346, which happens to be the number of times we hear the heartbeat sound on the soundtrack, total. And if we add back in the value of the two sections that overlap themselves, we get 422, which contains one of the film’s most repeating numbers: 42.
The backward action in this section totals 300 seconds, so whether you look at it with or without the overlap, the amount of music in these 300 seconds is either 346 or 422, or 15-40% more music than time.
Oh, one last music thing: I almost forgot about The Dream/Awakening of Jacob, which dominates 100 of the 115 seconds of the forward back half (the first music on the forward soundtrack since the Roadrunner music of Section IV’s first half). This track will only play in four sections of the mirrorform film: once here, twice in both of Section IX’s halves, and once in Section X’s back half. So, first off you’ve got that cool mirroring of Section V and X’s back halves (technically these two moments are the same scene, playing on opposite sides of the mirrorform). Anything that happens in Section IX is going to be isolated within that section, but what’s absolutely stunning is that the first of those iterations (from Danny playing outside 237 to a wounded Danny entering the lounge) is 3:57 long…or 237 seconds long. And the second Section IX iteration is (possibly) 273 seconds (Sbravatti believes that it begins just after the shot of Danny shining the 237 key fob at Hallorann, but there’s a loud screeching on the soundtrack, and so the first time the track is plainly audible to me is 8 seconds later).
Anyway, we can ponder over the significance of that mammoth duality/inversion later. For now we’re stuck with this stately 100 seconds, which bears no major stylistic comparison to the other two iterations (other than they’re both heard while the audience sees Danny’s Keys).
The two things I wanted to point out here are 1) the total music that plays under this track in the mirrorform is 182 seconds-worth, or nearly double (which I think just speaks to how much more music stuff is going on on the other side, here), and 2), there’s a neat symmetry to the way Polymorphia starts playing over The Dream/Awakening of Jacob 30 seconds into its runtime (going on for 38 seconds), and how Kanon cuts into it exactly 30 from its other end. Ewangelia happens to be playing during the 32 seconds that the other two aren’t involved.
But yeah, the twin Polymorphia starts 30 seconds in, and ends 32 seconds before the end, making an almost perfect bubble of twinniness within the track. Two-thirds of this mash-up occurs over Danny talking to Tony in the mirror, asking what’s so bad about the Overlook (there’s also 13 seconds of Jack telling Wendy how the building is a “beautiful place” and how she and Danny “are gonna love it”). So the fact that the other two iterations of The Dream/Awakening of Jacob should happen to be 237 and 273 seconds long, speaks to both the inverted nature of Tony and Jack with their descriptions of the hotel, and also the good/bad nature of shines and shining. Like, you can ask about the future, sure, and asking might be what saves you, yeah, but you might not like what you hear.
Click here to continue on to The Golden Shining: Section VI
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THE STORY ROOM ⎔ ANIMAL SYMBOLS ⎔ THE ANNOTATED SHINING