The Treachery of Images: Number Combinations




As the gang arrives to do the Abbey Road Tour, the first sums we encounter are 34 (20+5+9) and 21 (6+15), with an 8-value (“the real Gradys”) blocked by a light. As the shot moves to the left, the 8 and the 6 will be separated by the light for a moment.

The other thing to notice here is that the little photo on the CAMERA WALK billboard is the same as the one outside Ullman’s office, showing Mt. Hood in the summertime. So what I’ve wondered is: does the blocking chandelier act to separate the 8-value from the other 21 points on it’s wall? Because if so, then it would be that left of the chandelier would add to 42 (34+8), and right of the chandelier would be 21. And the “summer” photo makes me think that this could be a way of saying, there’s a Summer of ’42, as in the film that Danny and Wendy watch, and a Summer of ’21, as in the July 4th photo that Jack becomes stuck in.

You might also recall from way earlier when I was talking about the billiards balls on the table in the games room, and how that table is identical to the one here, and how exactly 42 points worth of balls are sunk in that scene. Perhaps this is the reason why: to emphasize the 42ness of this moment.

And I might as well point out that, as they watch Summer of ’42, there’s a painting hanging beside the TV that was published in 1921 (possibly even the summer of), called The Solemn Land, and which is in fact the first artwork seen in the film.

Also, there’s text at the top of the CAMERA WALK billboard that reads, “Join Hank Merrill photographer and amateur naturalist in a CAMERA WALK”. The most significant Hank Merrill I can find online seems to be a veteran of the 82nd airborne, who performed operations in Naples among other places, and Naples has great significance to The Shining’s subtext. In fact, the invasion that Merrill was a part of involved coming down off Mt. Vesuvius to push the Germans out of Naples. So having Merrill’s name above a photo of a very Vesuvian-looking Mt. Hood, and between these two war-themed numbers, seems pretty neat.

Also, the black bar at the top there seems to say “Thursday 9:15am” or something close to that. The two instances of it being early on a Thursday are when Wendy and Danny frolic outside while Jack broods on THURSDAY (we don’t know the time of that moment), and during Hallorann’s rescue mission he calls Durkin at 9:07am.


The time code for the first second that we see Jack set foot in the Colorado lounge, which we just saw in the Summer of 42/21 bit) is 20:34. These are also the two numbers that we see the two times that the camera zooms in on typing Jack from behind. So I’ve wondered if that’s what these sums are about: reminding Jack (and us?) of the first moment he set foot and eyes upon this glorious place, and fell in love (the below shot, also, ends at 43:19, one second before 43:20, at which point we switch to Jack furiously hammering out sentences – I wonder if that’s a reference to the 1439 box behind Jack when he’s talking to Grady, a box that describes a time code in the mirrorform when Jack gives his “word” that he’ll kill his family – if so, that would nicely allude to the fact that the hotel will yank out this promise of home).

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The time code for the second that Wendy sets foot in the Suite 3 living room is 22:41, seen here.

And the sums of 22 and 41 show up behind her as she’s crossing between radios (sorry, they’re never all on screen at once). And this happens right after the scene with the 20-34.

In fact, these sums also appear (just one other time) behind Jack as he’s arriving for the interview (again, never all at once).

And 22:41 from the end of the movie (including the end credits) is the second that Wendy sees MURDER in the mirror.

When Wendy’s arriving to fight Jack, the south-facing side of the northern west pillar now has all but one of the same photos as the southern pillar had in every other of its shots. So that means that we’ve got a 34 value on the opposite side of the 20-34 dynamic.

And as you can see here, the 20-34 walls are too dark and glossy to be seen in the continuing image. But if we imagine this “moving 34” to represent an inversion of the 20-34 dynamic into a 34-20 dynamic…

34:20 is the last second of the first post-closing establishing shot, leading into 34:21, the first second of Wendy pushing the breakfast cart.

34:20 is also the exact number of seconds from this moment to the end of the movie. So Jack’s first moment in the lounge is 20:34 in, and his last is 34:20 out.

Anyhow, it occurs to me that 22 and 41 are one number off each from 21 and 42. So I wonder if 22-41 is meant to feel like a dissatisfying 21-42. Like, if we just shimmied a little bit, we’d be perfectly at 21-42. Similarly, if we reverse the 34 in 20-34, we get 20-43, which is like 22-41, but the other way (like in that 43:20 timecode from before). Sort of like a Goldilocks situation, where Wendy’s is the bed that’s too small, Jack’s is the bed that’s too big, and the hotel’s in the bed that’s just right. So, 21-42 is like the number of perfect resolution that’s calling out to Jack to be achieved.

And the moments for timecodes 21:42 and 42:21 are two moments of Danny interfacing with two of the realities of what the hotel’s warped idea of “home” really is: a place to “play” forever and ever, and a place to keep your worst demons (237).

Also, behind Danny in the games room (at 21:42) are the F21 photos for 4 and 19 (“heaven” and “time”). The time code for the first moment we see Danny at the apartment in Boulder is 4:17. Another near-miss, but perhaps that’s of little consequence.

Actually, it occurs to me that it wouldn’t have been difficult (I mean, relative to everything else going on in the film’s construction), to have the 4:17 and the 34:21 adjusted to match with the photos in these other moments. So perhaps part of the point here is that the hotel can only get it bang-on with Jack’s sense of what “home” is, while it can’t quite get it right with Wendy and Danny.

The most spectacular instance of synchronicity for this “home” effect, though, is in the Redrum Road version of the film.

This might seem a little outlandish, but I’ll try to keep it simple.

20:34, expressed as seconds, equals 1234 seconds. Track 9 of Abbey Road, You Never Give Me Your Money, ends with a series of repetitions of the band singing “1234567, all good children go to heaven”. In round 1 of Redrum Road, this part plays overtop Danny making his circle round the lounge, in which he passes the 20-34/1234 dynamic.

But even more fantastically–and I’m sorry, you’ll just have to hear it for yourself to know I’m right–there’s a moment at the end of Carry That Weight (track 15), where there’s a repetition of two sections of You Never Give Me Your Money, and in Round 1, the part that repeats the “1234567” part, plays for just 10 seconds, from 44:46-44:56, and this covers, in total isolating perfection, the backwards zoom out of the 1234 pillars. There’s no singing, and the riff is interrupted by the start of the next song (at which point, the pillars fade into Hallorann on the plane), but the pairing between that sliver of a moment and this pillar moment is perfect to the point of mind-boggle.

The following two rounds don’t feature anything quite so perfect, though the round 2 You Never Give Me Your Money, does feature this part of Jack seeing a 20-value on the left and a 35-value on the right, which is pretty close to 1234. Perhaps the fact that this is 1235 signifies that Jack is not a good child, and won’t go the heaven.

But yeah, I think that might be the whole point of this whole mini-exercise. Jack is wreathed by this “1234” because he wants to be a good child, and go to the heaven of the Overlook. Danny is a good child, and he doesn’t need to see an entire 1234 to know about it (his first lesson cuts out the 20 in 20-34).

And before we move on from this, yes, I have wondered if every instance of two F21 clusters side by side give us a timecode worth looking into. And no, I haven’t done this thankless task just yet.


So, recall that 237 and 157 are symbolic of “work” and “play”.

Danny experiences 157-worth of points in the games room, right? Well, he’ll then experience 151-points-worth of F21s during his first lesson, looping the lounge. Then he’ll see another 5-value while looping above the lounge on his third lesson, bringing his total to 156. Then, while emerging from room 237 he’ll pass another 70 points, bringing him up to 226. Danny won’t be seen in conjunction with hotel photos ever again, but I’m struck by the fact that we would only need another 11 to reach 237. And there’s a big ol’ 11 on that Apollo 11 sweater of his, right?

So this would mean that Danny’s game room experience was his “play” and that his lessons and 237 experience were his “work”. But only if we count that 11 on his shirt, and why would we do that? Well, perhaps the Apollo 11 is Danny’s 11 in the same way that the 11-value photo is Jack’s 11. I like that explanation best, but I’m really not sure. I think this could be another case of “if you believe, they put a man on the moon”.


The door for room 238 opens between shots, during Danny’s first encounter with 237.

In the mirrorform, this moment is paired with Hallorann’s rescue mission. The moment he’s passing the Volkswagen Beetle crushed under the transport truck (this happens to be the 237th shot from the end of the movie, the one of Hallorann driving).

So, in counting up the F21s that Hallorann passes in the film, the job is somewhat split. There’s all the photos he passes while alive (158), and all the ones seen around his corpse (240). It’s possible the 240 being close to 237 is purely incidental, I suppose, but that 158 being 2:38 in seconds stood out to me. Like, why not make it a clean 157?

So my theory is that 238 somehow represents Hallorann’s death within the hotel. Once Danny notices 237, and becomes moved to try to enter it, Hallorann’s death is assured. This moment was the domino that set Hallorann’s murder in motion. And perhaps when guests encounter his corpse ghost, that’s where it’ll happen. If that’s the case, then how cool is it that this is the spot Jack’s throwing his ball at in the lounge? 238 would be directly behind that spot on the wall.

Also, when he’s retreating from the 237 ghost, the 238 door is what you can see out the door, there. And the painting to the right there is of a baby leopard, and Hallorann is associated with tigers, who are very similar to leopards.

But yeah, perhaps the reason Danny doesn’t notice this door opening is because he’s unconscious of how his being tantalized by 237 will kill Dick.


This one feels more tenuous to me than some of the others, but the first shot of Wendy after the closing of the hotel features a 13-value on the left, and a combined 22-value on the right. When she was getting the tour of the kitchen, she referenced Hansel and Gretel, which some believe has its narrative roots in the Great Famine of 1315-1317. But it’s held that the effects of the Great Famine weren’t fully recovered from across Europe until 1322. That would pair well with Wendy expressing doubt to Hallorann that she could ever master the Overlook kitchen, and now here pushing forward this elegant breakfast.

As this shot continues, the two sums will be 13 and 57 for a total of 70, the year of the Grady murders. And the next time Wendy comes scurrying up this hall, she’ll be running face first into the skeleton ball, which, in my Four Horsemen analysis, I liken to Wendy confronting Famine. So it’s not totally without precedent, I just wonder still if that’s the point of this framing in this moment.


I thought it was worth pointing out that while we do eventually see that the number on Danny’s shoulder is clearly 42, the scene before and after Jack’s interview feature primarily the 4 singled out. And the 4-value photo (“heaven”) appears behind Jack all throughout the interview. So there’s a whole lot of heaven going on here.


The games room features, so far as I can tell, at least 14 sets of twin photos. And four of these sets feature three twin photos. That means that 28 photos are only would-be twins, which would make another 14 sets if they had all been. When we cut back to Danny’s reaction to the twins, there’s six photos returned into the shot, and 5 of these 6 are twin photos, and three have three twins. So that’s one non-twin, two twins and three triplets. I wonder what that says about Danny’s perception in this moment.


The two sums that most frequently appear between the various walls are 23 (6 sightings) and 37 (9 sightings). 37 is a frequent sum of the lobby’s southeast stairwell and of the lounge’s eastern north wall. 23 appears in the games room, the lounge’s west back hall, and the north side of the grand stair in the lounge.


At 1570 seconds into the proper film (1584 into the file), Hallorann is reciting the meats in the deep freeze. He’s just finished saying “12 turkeys”.

Up until this point he’s said 15, 30, 10, and 12, totalling 67. He’ll go on to say “about” 40, 50 24, 20 totalling 134.

So, 67 is half of 134, for starters. But 67 has a connection to 143, in that the final photo has 76 women and 67 men, totalling 143 (and there’s the similar thing with heartbeats). So, when Hallorann says, “about 40 chickens” could he be off by 9?

And right at this moment, going from “12 turkeys” to “about 40 chickens”, he’s pointing with his finger in a way that would lead the eye right to where there’s a “237” on a box right beside Jack on the opposite side of the movie.

In fact, Hallorann points at it at exactly 1570 seconds into the film file too, just as he’s finished saying “…never have the same menu twice!” then saying “Now, right here (points) is our walk-in freezer.”

So, is the point here just to suggest the connection between 157 and 237? Oh, and this moment is 1:57:51 from the end of the film file. Oh, AND the games room is actually broken up into sections of 134 and 23, if you combine the left wall behind Danny with the Twins side of the room (these are across from each other in the room). So that’s a 134 helping in adding up to a 157, and that was in the last Danny scene before this one.

Oh, and check this out. That box with the 237 is seen the entire time Jack’s taunting Wendy, even though it’s not there any other time.

And in case you’re wondering what’s happening at 2370-2384 seconds into the film file, it’s the shot of Jack strolling up to the model maze and studying it. A second later, the shot cuts to the aerial view of the labyrinth.

Oh, and Hallorann has more numbers when the tour gets to the pantry, and these add up to 119, which is about half of 237.


On a similar note: the final 42 that Wendy experiences happens right across from where Ullman is asking how Wendy and Danny will “take to” life at the hotel.

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The first number we see clearly in the film, is Danny’s red and blue Bugs Bunny shirt, with the 42 on it.

Hallorann is the only person in the film to actually impersonate Bugs Bunny, and the Bugs on Danny’s shirt is playing basketball. And one of the last artworks that Dick passes before dying is a stylized poster of Dr. Julius Erving, who, like Danny, also had the nickname “Doctor” despite not actually being a doctor.

In the shot of Wendy with the 42 behind her, she’s seeing the lobby again, but Hallorann’s body has vanished from where it was last time (and remember that while this scene is very blue, the last time she saw Dick’s corpse, the room was quite reddish–red and blue).

If you recall, there’s “heaven” and “hell” photos seen around Hallorann’s corpse a few times during these last few sequences, which seems to speak to the uncertainty of the direction of his soul’s post-axing trajectory, after his corporeal absorption by the hotel.

So I’m wondering: does Danny’s shirt say something about the boy’s role in Hallorann’s death? And does it suggest that he may’ve helped Dick avoid a more sulphurous fate? Like, did Danny absorb his essence away from the hotel’s dark designs? I have to say, I doubt that. The skeleton ball comes between shots of Danny reaching the middle of the maze and Danny doing the backward walk. So if we wanna get really fantastical, we could imagine that Dick’s force ghost appeared to Danny in this moment and said, “Walk backward, Doc…it’s the only way to beat him…” or some nonsense like that, and then Danny said, “Thanks, Dick, ol’ buddy, ol’ pal.” And then locked Dick in a mind box, or something stupid like that, and then helped ferry his soul out beyond the hotel’s clutches.

But if it doesn’t mean something like that, is it just a prophecy of Dick’s doom? Is Danny’s shirt trying to tell him that his life will mean that an old black guy he’s never met before will die trying to save his life from his murderous father? All the component elements (games, rabbits, cartoons, numbers) carry symbolic weight in terms of our larger analysis, but I’m not sure if they’re doing more than being connective tissue here.

But you know, maybe this is why the crushed red Bug Hallorann passes is red, and not blue, but is seen in a bluish scene, with guys in red and blue caps: because for Dick, the issue of whether he goes to heaven or hell is not really something that factors in his heroic decision.

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