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MARK 13:29 ⎔ I ⎔ II ⎔ III ⎔ IV ⎔ V ⎔ VI ⎔ VII ⎔ VIII ⎔ IX ⎔ X
THE MIDDLE MOVIE ⎔ IX MIRROR MOVEMENTS
12:14 – 20:14
GOLDEN SPIRAL MOMENT – 17:11
Forward First Half
- Doctor interviewing Danny (130 sec)
- Doctor interviewing Wendy (167 sec)
Backward First Half
- Jack attacks (13 sec)
- Hallorann arrives/interrupts (60 sec)
- Danny hides (16 sec)
- Jack stalks the kitchen (10 sec)
- Wendy escapes the bathroom (22 sec)
- Hallorann walks to the 2nd entrance (20 sec)
- Jack gets into position (45 sec)
- Hallorann’s death march (65 sec)
- Jack kills Hallorann (16 sec)
- Jack hears a Danny (30 sec)
- Music: Ewangelia (39 sec), Polymorphia (10 sec), Kanon Paschy (21 sec), Kanon (19 sec)
Forward Back Half
- Doctor interviewing Wendy (28 sec)
- CLOSING DAY placard (5 sec)
- Drive back to the Overlook (121 sec)
- Ullman and Watson greet Jack (30 sec)
- Music: Rocky Mountains (130 sec) (32 sec from start of section; 21 sec from end)
Backward Back Half
- Jack attacks Suite 3 (183 sec)
- Music: Kanon (183 sec)
As spiral cuts go, this is probably my least favourite for not lining up with a clear cut or transition on either side. But thematically/dramatically, there’s still a good deal to point out.
The forward action divides the audience’s concept of Jack as a “completely normal individual” from our concept of him as a man with a history of violence. We go from thinking he could become Grady 2.0 at terrible expense to his soul, to thinking he’s already halfway there. At 17:11 Wendy is saying this: (as usual, asterisk indicates the spiral cut) “It-it’s just the sort of thing you do a hundred times with a child, you know, in the park or in the streets…*but…on this particular occasion my husband just used too much strength…and he…injured Danny’s arm…” Until that final sentence fragment, there was a chance the long, awkward story could’ve exonerated Jack. Now we know, this is all there is to it. Jack’s a violent man of the bottle.
The backward action is three seconds away from Jack’s final words to Wendy (and the film’s last Carson reference, remember), dividing the Wendy who will ever have anything to do with Jack again, from the one who will slash him with a knife to save her life. And 17:11 (the spiral cut) specifically draws attention to one of my favourite overlap effects: Wendy’s secret black eye (formed by a slanted landscape painting). It’s only on screen for 6 seconds, and for the line “on this particular occasion my husband just used too much strength” and you get that horrible feeling of knowing there’s an ocean of women who’ve made similar excuses over the centuries.
Before we get off the subject of cool eyeball overlays, recall that I’m exploring the notion of Sections I-V bearing similarities to sections VI-X. Well, the spiral cut for section one involves this moment of a crossfade involving a woman’s eye fading dead centre on another man’s forehead.
And in the overlay this puts the eye at a peak of Red Eagle Mountain.
I could explore the eye of providence symbolism here further, but I don’t know if there’s a connection between the Section I and VI eye overlays beyond the aesthetic.
There is something of a profound coincidence (if that’s all it is), in the way the painting giving Wendy the black eye features a tall mountain across a lake, which, in the final frame of the overlay, her eye is at the bottom of.
In the backward back half you get every chop of Jack’s axe (eighteen to break into Suite 3 and twelve to break into the bathroom, or thirty total), save four in Section VII, and Hallorann’s death chop which happens in the first half here. This means that besides overlays which feature him swinging the axe into his employers, his wife, and his son, we also see him do this during the two sequences of tall trees.
Also, though we get Going-to-the-Sun Road in Sections I-III, it’s worth noting that the other two shots we get also appear in Section VI.
Here’s another cool stylistic connection between Sections I and VI: forward Section I’s Fibonacci lines all involve the same rough view of the same mountain range, which reappears three times in three different shots that all mask this repetition, and Section VI’s backwards action features Jack beginning a new phase in his mission to slaughter his family (this is even more interesting when we consider that these mountains include Four Bears (left) and Goat (right) Mountains, and Wild Goose Island; Wendy is often connected to bears, Jack to horned beasts, and Danny to winged creatures).
Another interesting inversion: Wendy is freeing herself, while Jack is sealing his fate. The back half involves Wendy getting stuck in the bathroom, then freeing herself by slashing Jack, and then using the knife to slash open the jammed door handle. Jack finally succeeds in becoming a murderer, killing Hallorann; the first thing he does afterward is stare at the spot where his photo will forever hang.
In fact, the shot of the final photo (which lines up with Jack’s stare here), lasts for 97 seconds, and in that same amount of time, we see Hallorann walk all the way through the lobby to his death, get hacked, and then Jack make the stalk from the killing spot to the end of the hall that he’ll spy Danny down. So, he veers off from the final photo eyeline at the last seven seconds, but consider too that the 97-second shot of the final photo includes over 30 seconds of the intense close-up. The major point is, both Section I and Section VI spend a considerable amount of time moving up and down this lobby path (actually, a quick survey has revealed that only Section IV doesn’t feature someone or something moving up or down the path toward the photo Jack spot–Section VII isn’t obvious about it, but the staff are seen moving up and down that channel behind Watson and Ullman).
Also, the last 30 seconds of the forward action of the back half, include this side-scrolling pan where a) the camera is bisecting the path the final shot of the movie will take, and b) Watson and Ullman are tracing the steps Jack will take after killing Hallorann, only they’ll curve off to their left to find Jack, while Jack curves right to find Danny. These two movements occur within 30 seconds of opposite ends of this section.
And just in case this is the only part of this site you ever read (and just in case you think the Ullman/Watson murder-spot reference is arbitrary), let me just draw your attention to the fact that Ullman and Watson are wearing the same colours as the toys that are later seen (in the first half of Section VIII) in this same spot.
Another good inter-Section connection: the first half of this one includes Hallorann’s entire interrupting of Jack’s siege on Suite 3, his approach, and his murder, while the first half of Section I is the entire visible zoom into photo Jack. By the end of Section I, while we’re still in the process of zooming on photo Jack, he’s just passing out of visibility. Jack and Hallorann are the only people who die in the movie.
One intersection connection that doesn’t quite work is Section I was made of almost perfectly opposing factors, as we’ve covered. Section VI includes a fair bit of basic similarities, although perhaps that’s more a consequence of this being so far through the film. Let’s consider what opposites there are:
- Backward has sparse dialogue; forward has plentiful, detailed dialogue
- Backward takes place almost completely within the hotel, with a few exterior nighttime driving sequences; forward takes place mostly in Boulder, Colorado, with the only sunshiny driving scene in the film
- Backward goes east-west through the lobby; forward goes north-south
- Forward features Wendy mostly playing dumb about Jack’s nature; backward Wendy has dispensed with that in favour of survival
- Danny is unquestionably Danny in the forward, but backward is less certain, though I would say that if the Suite 3 experience didn’t jostle him out of Tonydom, then the murder of Hallorann would certainly be another good candidate, in which case we could say that Danny switches out of Tony mode in the backward, which he doesn’t do in the forward
- There’s also the fact that Tony is constantly being invoked by the forward action, while his role in the backward action is left fairly vague
- Forward Danny is at his most protected; backward Danny is at his most vulnerable
- Forward Jack chides Danny’s exposure to information through television; backward Jack is quoting television and pop culture
- Similarly, the forward Torrances are talking about the grotesquery of the Donner Party’s cannibalism, and backward Jack is aping the Big Bad Wolf, suggesting he wants to eat Wendy and Danny
- Forward is light; backward is dark
A lot of the other “opposites” (Jack drives a car; Jack doesn’t drive a car) feel more incidental than these. So, basically, these 10 spread across 8 minutes feel a little less substantial than the 16 I found in the first minute of mirrorform (although, would it really be fair to expect 128 opposites here?). And it’s possible we would notice many similar “opposites” if we looked at the other sections. Without doing an exhaustive study of that, I think we can conclude that if there was an attempt to link VI and I in this manner, it wasn’t achieved proportionately. Though that’s not to dismiss the substance of the opposites you can talk about here (I especially like Jack’s relationship to TV).
In terms of Jack’s four final lines of meaningful dialogue, all of which are potential film and television references, it’s neat that the first three (“Wendy, I’m home!” (121:57) “Come out, come out, wherever you are!” (122:37) “Little pigs, little pigs…” (123:17)) are in the back half and the first one (“Here’s Johnny!” (124:23)) is in the first half. Also, if you check out the time codes, you’ll notice that the first three all start 40 seconds apart, and the last one comes 66 seconds later. So the first three have a symmetry to them, and the middle of those has a connection to the more isolated line, in that both involve a Carson. (And yes, the “Little pigs” lines do go on long enough to make it where there’s only a 45-second gap between the last two, but still. “Here’s Johnny!” is past the spiral cut, like a few other stylistic quartets, thus far.)
Another neat thing about the dialogue: all of the doctor’s and all of Hallorann’s post-Durkin’s dialogue are contained by the first half of Section VI (the doctor is rendered silent by Wendy’s abuse confession), while Danny’s abusers (Jack, and the Overlook staff, going by the Come Out, Come Out theory) speak in the other half. Perhaps that speaks to how Wild Goose Island (the first thing we see in the movie) only appears in the first half of Section I, and not the back half, despite the same lake being featured again, twice.
Also, I think it’s neat that Section VI (especially the back half, but it is set up in the first half) seems to be predominantly about smearing Jack’s character, after the whole Section I-V being a big love-in between Jack and Ullman. Section I does kick off with a song about the Last Judgment, and features backward Jack’s ultimate ruination, alongside all his ghost buddies. So perhaps that’s why Section VI kicks off with an interview about Danny’s trauma history that leads to the revelation that Jack has been a monster to this family. Even the meet-up with Jack by Ullman and Watson features Jack reading an erotic magazine, and includes his indication of their massive luggage pile, causing Watson to huff for some reason. But from here to almost 45 minutes into the movie (the back half of Section VIII), we don’t get another whiff of the depths of Jack’s corruption potential.
Another cool bit of business: the Fibonacci cut between Section V and VI separates the scream face Danny sees in his first vision (12 seconds from the end of V) from the one he’s making while Hallorann dies (30 seconds into VI). These moments are separated by 42 seconds.
But why I think that’s especially neat is that there are only three shots that perfectly repeat in the film (technically all the bloodfalls are seen from slightly different angles): the REDRUM vision (1582 seconds apart), the twins vision (1848 seconds apart), and the scream face (7000 seconds apart). So, the one that’s furthest apart in the linear narrative is the one that’s closest together in the mirrorform, and it’s divided by the line that divides the first half of Fibonacci sections (I-V), from the second half of sections (VI-X). This reminds me of what I call the middle-end in the mirrorform analysis, where the exact centre of The Shining acts as a kind of second starting point.
So perhaps the scream faces are to the Fibonacci middle what The Door was to the mirrorform middle: a signal to say, you can also think of this as a kind of midpoint. They are, after all, exactly 7000 seconds apart one way, and 42 seconds apart the other way, which feels rather deliberate. Actually, I’m not sure what this would mean, but 7000 plus the length between REDRUM visions, 1582, added together make 8582, which is 2 seconds longer than a Fibonacci-length film of 143 minutes (8580). I’m not sure why that would exclude the 1848 between the twins (and 1848 + 1582 making 3430 feels kind of pointed too). But perhaps there’s some secret logic I’m not a math wizard enough to see, there. And perhaps it’s a meaningless coincidence.
On a thematic level, though, I think it’s fair to say that scream face and redrum both have to do with Hallorann, and the twins don’t as much. Abstractly, yes. But perhaps too abstractly to matter.
Oh, and as for why the scream face would be the The Door of the Fibonacci analysis: The Door (a book that appears for 15 seconds at the centre of the film) is an example of Had-I-But-Known, and scream face is Danny’s Had-I-But-Known (a literary device used usually at the start of stories). I’ve gone round and round on whether Kubrick wanted to imply Danny’s guilt at not warning Hallorann, and I still doubt he was anything close to that vicious, but I think he wanted to imply the potential for the Danny who survives this ordeal to feel guilty he didn’t send Hallorann a shine to warn him off Jack’s axe (for a window into how Stephen King himself has wrestled with this question, see the end of the miniseries remake (in which King changed the novel’s ending to give Danny (who now looks just like the 20-something vision-man young Danny calls Tony) a happy, shiny send-off into a post-graduate future as some kind of intellectual success story with his father’s force ghost looking on proudly), and the later novel Doctor Sleep (in which Danny is a recovering alcoholic of small account, with a laundry list of shameful memories)). So while The Door seems to mildly jab Wendy and Hallorann for letting Danny slip into this perilous realm, the positioning of Danny’s warning comes before those parental slip-ups (and resolves 42 seconds later in the mirrorform), and features a much more substantial warning. Not only did Danny “know”, but he could hear Hallorann calling out for his entire 65-second death march through the lobby. When Hallorann is struck dead, Danny reacts screaming, because he knows. In this sense, Sections I-V are ignorant Danny overlaid with the ashamed Danny, and Sections VI-X are enlightened Danny looping around to making perhaps the wrong choice. Of course, there’s a school of thought that would say ashamed Danny is also survivor Danny, and who knows how things would’ve worked out if he had warned Hallorann? Maybe they’d all be dead.
Obviously, not every film that uses mirrorform or Fibonacci would have to include these messages at their halfway marks, but perhaps it’s advisable to do something at the hinge, to let people know that’s what you’re going for. The mirrorform Had-I-But-Known crosses its midpoint, but the Fibonacci one is broken into two separate moments, perhaps to highlight how it differs from the other. Imperfect twins.
As for the music, there’s an interesting, easily noticeable overarching pattern.
- Forward first half has no music.
- Backward first half has 60 seconds of music on screen which is located on either end of the screen time in imperfect halves (39/21).
- Forward back half has 130 seconds of music that occupy almost the perfect middle of the screen time with 53 seconds of silence on either side.
- Backward back half is all music.
So forward first and backward back half are opposites (ooo, more opposites!), and the other two are opposites of a sort, despite not being the same length, with a big blob of music or silence in the middle, with the opposite in the wings.
The other neat stylistic thing there is that the middle blob of silence in the backward back half is 237 seconds. So, from Hallorann’s interruption of Jack’s assault on Suite 3 to Jack’s axe colliding with the man’s ribcage, 237 ticks by. That sequence also includes Danny jumping into the steel drawer (a dead end, like the 237 bathroom), Jack stalking past the pantry that Grady opened for him (another example of a ghost physically altering Jack’s person), Wendy escaping her imprisonment in the bathroom (Danny and Jack also escape the 237 bathroom), and a whole lot of Hallorann (who was being shown 237 by Danny’s shine, and who discussed the room with the boy at the end of Section VII, as we’ll see in a bit). Also, note how the Suite 3 bathroom window is beside Hallorann’s head during his entire approach.
And although Wendy Carlos’ apparently enormous score for the original 3 hour+ version of the film was largely scrapped, the two album tracks of hers that appear start in Sections I (Dies Irae) and VI (Rocky Mountains).
Click here to continue on to The Golden Shining: Section VII
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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