The Treachery of Images: Clock Hands



This is one you might want to skip because I’m not sure that anything really concrete or fascinating came out of it. Basically, it occurred to me that the reason that so much of the time the clocks and wristwatches featured hands pointing straight at the large numbers of the faceplate (even when these exact positions wouldn’t make much sense), was because its those numbers–not the correct times they allude to–that are significant to the corresponding moments. So if a hand is pointing to the “12” on the clock, this is a scene about “play”. If a hand is pointing at 4 on the clock, this is a scene about “heaven”, and so on. But if this technique was applied for this reason, I couldn’t help wondering, from some of these results, if it was being applied too vaguely. Or too vague to feel as substantial as things feel when one of the F21 photos appears in a scene. Anyhow, I’ll include it, and you can make of it what you will, or take my advice and skip it.

Now, there’s a bunch of times where we see Wendy’s wristwatch and wall clocks pointing at various times, and it’s always kind of hard to see what they’re pointing at, so I’ve wondered if we’re meant to think of these times as their literally times, or if we’re meant to simply notice which number on the clock they’re point at. For instance, when the Abbey Road Tour is ending, the clock seems to be pointing at 10:54, but the hour hand is too close to 11 for this to make sense. As such, both hands point at 11 (meaning “Jack as the hotel’s soul slave”), and so perhaps we’re meant to dispense with the meaning of the “time” (10:54) and keep the meaning of the 11s.

And before we begin, I should just say that I won’t be considering military time (14:25, 20:18, 16:30, etc.) in my analysis, which, as such, rules out the values of 13-21 on the F21 scale. I’m sure if you want to contemplate that for yourself, you can do the math.

12:35pm – Wendy’s watch at lunch in Boulder – Hands point to 1 and 7 – 12/”Play” would make sense here, since we’ve got Wendy relaxing with a book and Danny relaxing with a cartoon. Danny also says “play” when he says, “…there’s hardly anyone to play with around here.” But the 7 would apply nicely to the subject of their discussion: the hotel, and whether Wendy or Danny wants to go there. It’s also possible this is our first 237 reference, if the minute hand is meant to be closer to 12:37.

3:45pm – Time of Wendy getting the call about the job. Hands point to 4 and 9. So a 3 would be apt, given that Danny’s talking to Tony, who resulted from Jack’s abuse, and how Jack will be shown in the spot where he’ll kill Hallorann. Ditto with the 9. As for the 4, having Ullman and Watson debating angrily behind Jack’s shoulder (while the TV characters behind Wendy do a similar thing) makes for a good nod toward this.

4:55pm – Time of the doctor and Wendy chatting. Hands point to 5 and 11. The light that pours in around the doctor makes for a good heavenly vibe (4), not to mention how this conversation will result in the doctor making a stern, judgmental face in her final shot, hearing about Wendy’s obvious poor judgment in staying with an abusive man. The 5 is obvious (alcoholism). And the 11 speaks to the subtext of this scene: what makes Jack a worthy addition to the Overlook. There’s also a second hand pointing to the 2: Danny’s trauma.

9:05am – Unclear, but the lobby clock seems to read this as Watson and Ullman arrive to start the tour. Hands point to 9 and 1. 9 would make a nice pair with the 9-rung step ladder, and the general Gradyness of this scene. As for the 1, this would be the origin of Jack’s employ with the hotel, and there’s a 1-value photo way back in the distance there.

11:00am/11:55am – Games room clock. Hands point to 11 and 12. The photo of Jack (11) is in the centre of the Photo Key, and here Danny’s striving to hit a bull’s eye in the 21-section dartboard. As for “play”, that’s fairly on point. There’s also an 11-point and 12-point ball on the billiards table.

1:30pm/2:30pm – Entering the kitchen. Above the elevator near the FIRE EXIT is a clock seen for a split second, and it’s impossible to see if the hour hand is pointing to 1 or 2 (my guess would be 2), but the minute hand is clearly at the 6. Not sure yet what any of this might mean. My main theory about 6s is that they represent the good magic of the universe, so the fact that this would accompany Wendy being shown the place where she’ll be able to trap Jack, and by the man who’ll rescue her and her son, is probably all we need to know.

Also, how about the obscurity of this clock, eh? It’s on screen for about 15 frames before it’s gone again forever.

12:50pm – Entering the pantry in the kitchen. Hands point to 1 and 10. The 10 would be apt, given that we’re in Hallorann’s workplace, and how his office is right behind him here, and how the opposite side of the movie is Wendy discovering the cut out heart of the snowcat, a foreshadowing symbol of Hallorann’s demise.

If 1 means “origins”, Hallorann just impersonated Bugs Bunny, who was on Danny’s shirt in his first scene in the film.

10:54am – The start of the last phase of the Abbey Road Tour. Hands point to 11. And we’ve got two Jack’s in the centre of the image. I don’t know if we need to say more.

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11:30am – Wendy says this number to Jack in reply about what time it is. So, this sounds like a mash-up of Jack’s thraldom and Danny’s good magic. The scene before this was Danny’s first lesson, and as we’ll see, there’s 6s that come before his third and fourth lessons. And while there’s no clocks seen before his second lesson, that scene is right after this one, so…

5:40? 8:30? – Clock in kitchen during Wendy’s News. Hands very unclear from ceiling glare. Given that the news anchors are discussing murders and missing women it seems unlikely that this would be the lunchtime news, but honestly I’m not sure. Danny’s ensuing trike ride past 237 seems pretty bright outside, but that might not mean anything, with the scenes being out of order so often. But a fruit salad seems like an odd choice for a dinner meal. My best guess is that the hands point to 6 and 8, but the apparent 6 could be a 12 or 1, I suppose. I looked up the news anchors and this would seem to be an episode of Smith and Lynn (starring Harry Smith and Bertha Lynn) on KRMA Ch. 6, but I can’t find what time this aired, though this article has it listed under “evenings”.

So I guess the likeliest thing is that this is from a 6 or 8 o’clock report. Given that the report is about “a 1968 shooting”, a “missing Aspen woman”, and how Danny’s about to get a flash of the twins outside 237, the “8” would seem to be the most on point.

11:40am – Clock overhead in the US Forest Service during Wendy’s call. Hands point to glare and 8. Ceiling glare blocks out the hour hand’s numbers, but it’s clear it’s pointing toward the 12. That said, the angle of the shot, puts the hour hand pointing toward the 11, and maybe that’s the point. An 8 is for the real Grady murders, and Wendy’s making this call inspired by Jack’s (11) first freak out (and right after passing through the Hallorann kill spot, with the photo Jack spot behind her), and Danny’s about to meet the twins for the last time in the next scene. Also, in the first radio room, the Grady Twin paintings were behind the radio, seen clearly for the first time.

6:10pm – Clock in the lobby back hall before Danny meets the twins. Hands point to 2 and 6. So, 2 means “Danny’s abuse” and “Tony”, and Danny will get a little PTSD flash from the twins leading to him reaching out to Tony. If 6s mean “good magic” Danny is completing his lessons here, whereas in the last scene with a 6—the start of the kitchen tour—Danny was getting his first major sequence of lefts and rights with Hallorann. Also, it’s possible there’s a 6 right before his third lesson (Wendy watching the news), which would put a 6 very close to every one of his lessons.

2:55pm – Jack’s nightmare. Hands point to 11 and 3. A 3-value photo is also most visible above Jack’s head after waking. So, Jack is freaking out about his true nature (11) here. He abused Danny 3 years ago, and he’ll attempt to do much worse in about 26 hours and 15 minutes.

6:35pm – Wendy comes to report on the “crazy woman” in 237. Hands point to 7. This seems rather apt. Room 237 is perhaps the pinnacle of the hotel’s evil.

9:25pm – Jack returns from 237. Hands point to 5 and 10. It’s unclear exactly which way this was meant to be read, but given the logic of the situation (Jack believes that Danny would be sleeping, it’s dark outside), it’s probably 9:25. As for “work”, a major element of this sequence is the idea of Jack’s career, and his lack of prospects. Also the scene features a Hallorann scene on either end. As for murder, Tony’s about to beam REDRUM into Danny’s head for the first time.

10:15pm – Wendy hears REDRUM for the first time. Hands point between 10 and 11, and at 3. REDRUM and 10 go well together, and 3 is the “Jack the abuser” number.

11:46pm – Jack goes to kill the radio. Hands point at 9 and 12. Again, Jack’s passing the Hallorann death spot in this scene (9), which is also where toys were earlier seen (12). But it’s also interesting that when Jack moved through this space last, the song was singing about how “12 o’clock is chiming on the clock!” Maybe Jack killed the snowcat at midnight… But yeah, maybe this is to suggest that the killing of the machines was more “play” for Jack than “work”. Because after he does this, he goes and writes more All Work papers (so far as we know).

8am – This is the placard that separates Hallorann’s distress calls from his rescue mission. I suppose this is fitting because the hotel may’ve wanted to kill the Grady girls above all else when it had Grady kill the whole family. Similarly, in this situation it wants Hallorann the most. And this section is divided into four sections, Hallorann’s rescue, breakfast with Tony, fighting in the lounge, and the post-fight lock up. We even see one of the real Grady girl paintings when Wendy runs for the snowcat. What’s funny, though, is that everything following Dick’s rescue portion (which takes place between 8am and sometime after 9:07am) technically happens before 8am. After Wendy locks Jack away, the clock reads 6:55am. And it would have to be A.M., because it’s still bright outside, and the sun would set around 5pm in Colorado in the middle of December. So perhaps part of the reason for this lapse is to give us that sense of reaching back, of the past. The real Grady murders happened in the past. And the whole time Jack is menacing Wendy, we’re imagining if this is what the Grady murders felt like. So, just as the tension of the lounge fight is extended by holding back on several jump scares, this holding back of 8am makes us feel like we haven’t arrived yet at the real murdering, the real 8-ness to come. It also seems fitting that, when Dick asks the airline attendant for the time of arrival she replies “8:20”. He’s heading to a place where he’ll be murdered in extreme isolation (20). In fact, I’ve always felt that Hallorann’s post-Durkin’s scenes were almost achingly sad for the way his isolation grows and grows, right up until his heart-stopping finale.

9:07am – On a wall clock in Durkin’s garage. Hand’s pointing at 9 and between 1 and 2. A lot of what I could say here I feel was said in the last bit.

6:30am – Wendy’s watch before going to fight Jack. Hands point at 6 and 7. If I’m right that these are about the good and evil magic in this place, this would seem like a very apt moment for this pairing. Wendy’s got a little shine power, and Jack’s got none, so she’s got the upper hand on him there. But Wendy’s shine power is probably minuscule compared to the hotel’s, so she’s got the lower hand there. She’ll best Jack, but only at the best possible moment, and only because everything worked out just so. Not thanks to her incredible cunning. And by the time she’s locking him in the pantry, the numbers point at 7 and 11, numbers better aligned with Jack and his evil intentions. So, the good magic just barely squeaked her through, it seems.

6:55am – On the kitchen wall after Jack’s imprisonment. Hands point at 7 and 11. So maybe the 11 suggests something about Jack’s waking. Like, if 11 suggests something about the connection between the hotel and Jack, maybe the 11-ness of this moment is about the hotel trying to will Jack into waking. Or maybe it’s just about how Jack does wake. Maybe Jack’s at his most Jackular when 11s are going on. And the 7 could say something about how the hotel will be letting him out soon, with its dark magic.

Also, if you’re familiar with my Story Room/Tower of Fable findings, you’ll recall that the store room has a thematic link to the Tower of Babel, which is referenced at Genesis 11:7. The film also references Noah’s Ark, which is on Genesis 7:11, and there are two postcards behind Wendy here showing the great flooding waters of Niagara Falls.

4pm – Placard between the murdered snowcat and Jack sleeping in the pantry. This probably needs no explanation, but if 4 is heavenly judgement, Grady sounds real judgy this whole scene. Grady also releases Jack from the cage, and perhaps the 4-ness was supposed to imply the deus ex machina quality of this act. Also, we never see the axe Jack uses against his family other than in the vision the Grady’s put before Danny in the twinhall. So that feels a little “gift from god”.

5:10pm – Wendy’s watch during the start of the assault on Suite 3. Hands point to 2 and 5. So 2 pairs well with Jack’s attempt at splitting Danny in two again. And 5 seems to mean Jack as a potential violence engine, and it will remain within the hour of 5pm until Jack’s a meat popsicle.

5:15pm – Danny sprinting to his hidey hole. Hands point to 5 and 3, and a second hand points to 2. So this is the same as last time, but with the added 3, for the effect of Danny’s broken arm.

5:25pm – Jack chasing down Dan after killing Hallorann. Hands point to 5, second hand to 2. Need I say more?

Actually, I will point out that military time would make this 17:25, and my Mark 13:29 findings connect this moment to the significance of the number 42 (13 + 29 = 42), which is what you get from 17 + 25.

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