MAIN PAGE ⎔ SECTION PAGE ⎔ SITE MAP ⎔ GLOSSARY
MIRRORFORM ANALYSIS – SKIP TO A SECTION
INTRO ⎔ THE INTERVIEW ⎔ CLOSING DAY ⎔ A MONTH LATER ⎔ TUESDAY
THURSDAY ⎔ SATURDAY ⎔ MONDAY ⎔ WEDNESDAY
SPECIALS: GREAT PARTY ⎔ GINGERBREAD HOUSE ⎔ SHINED & CONFUSED
MIDWAY ⎔ MIDDLE-END
There’s two things that build in the mind, the more you study the mirrorform: 1) Jack was always going to go full Grady, no matter what, and 2) Jack would always lose. But is this simply a reaffirmation by the part of our brain that already knows the full story? Or is there something intrinsic in Jack’s devolution and defeat?
As we’ve seen already, Jack’s got a definite connection to the minotaur, and a possible one to Medusa and her grandson Geryon, and all of those characters become more dramatically significant after they’re destroyed by a hero (especially Medusa, whose head is sealed to Athena’s shield to petrify the goddess’s enemies – but Geryon’s defeat means that Hercules has finally made up for killing his family, and the Minotaur’s defeat means that Daedalus and Icarus will be imprisoned there, leading to the invention of flight).
As we’ll see in a bit, backward Danny escapes Jack in the heart of the labyrinth just as Watson is walking into the interview, which is the first time the audience gets beneath the Public Relations exterior of Jack Torrance. Before that, all we know about Jack is he drives a car commissioned by Adolf Hitler, a defeated supervillain of actual herstory.
So it seems a little hasty to judge Jack, to condemn him to death, before we’ve gotten to know him: hence THE INTERVIEW. But here, in the overlay, backward Jack is already defeated. So, it really is as if, even before we’ve laid eyes on the man, we know everything we need to know. But I don’t think we’re meant to think his inevitable undoing is meaningless or nihilistic. I think we’re being offered a kind of blueprint. Step one: take one potential minotaur man; step two: add him to one labyrinthine environ; step three: isolate. What does that equal(?): one Charles Grady clone.
And if this formula produced anything else, you would sense it didn’t feel right. Like how, at the end of way too many horror movies, when the monster comes back one last time, the point is to test our sense of the eternality of menace. And it’s also to resolve our fear that the monster ever could come back again someday. The Shining isn’t about any such eternal resolve. It’s about the eternal need of the latest Icarus for a father to craft him better wings.
That said, even as a kid myself, this ending never quite worked for me on that level of lingering thrill that you hope a horror movie leaves you with, and I think this is why. In a sense, Kubrick wasn’t making a horror movie. At least, not the titillating kind.
One visual comparison we could also note here is the way Jack is crossing his hands over his neck. He does this exact motion on his first tantrum walk to go meet Lloyd (see below), which was, in a sense, his interview with the hotel.
I was recently made aware that in the subtitles of certain versions of the film, frosty Jack here is screaming out the lyrics to an Al Jolson song, California, Here I Come from the musical Bombo. I won’t reproduce what all can be said about the significance of this mirrorform combination, so head to that last link for all the juicy details. But I must mention the fact that the lyrics he sings are “San Francisco, here I come/Right back where I started from”, and he’ll be singing that during the first 14 seconds of Jack crossing the lobby, visible to the audience for the first time. So, since I’m on the subject of Jack being doomed to become Grady 2.0, let me say that the character Jack would be embodying by singing this song is one of Jolson’s blackface characters, a slave of Christopher Columbus named Gus. So, even before forward Jack has opened his mouth to the reception lady, backward Jack is letting us all know that a) he probably wants to be the hotel’s slave, and b) he’s a little bit of a racist. A racist minotaur, ripe for the decapitating.
Also, how groovy is it that he’s singing a 1921 song while his former self is passing a 1921 painting (The Solemn Land) and, in a couple seconds, the same spot where his own 1921 photo will hang?
Overlaid with howling Jack here, is a sign advertising all the tours offered by the hotel, which includes the “BIG TREES” tour and the “LOOP” tour. Backward Jack is surrounded by “big trees” of a sort, and is stuck in a loop.
Notice that there’s a camera beside the smoking man, in front of a glass of some dark beverage. The man is also wearing a shoe from the 1940s called the wingtip oxford spectator shoe, which comes up when you search for golf shoes. The toe cap of this shoe has a design on it that looks like a butterfly, and a band of leather that extends from the heel to the laces takes on a bull horns shape. If this man is meant to be symbolic of Jack’s future (which I strongly believe he is), the imagery of an ox and a butterfly almost couldn’t be more apt, as we’ll see later.
But the drink and camera is, I think, the most interesting part of this little moment. Later, when Wendy and Danny go out walking in the hedge maze, they both take cameras with them, and while they’re on this camera walk, forward Jack is inside the hotel, scoping out the model of the hedge maze. There’s a sign inviting people to go on such a camera walk that is, right now, in the spot where the maze model will later be. So the idea of a camera walk and the labyrinth are associated within the movie proper. There’s a suggestion that taking a camera into the maze is part of what prepares Danny for surviving Jack. Jack will never take a camera into the labyrinth, and here, as backward Jack is defeated, and moaning his misery, he’s overlaid with a camera whose viewfinder is obscured by a dark drink.
This is our first glimpse at the fact that most of the art in the hotel is both Canadian and associated with artists who were parts of collectives. The first piece we see clearly here is JEH MacDonald’s The Solemn Land. MacDonald was the founder of the famous Group of Seven, seven Canadian painters who gained popularity after the first world war for their glorifications of the Canadian wilderness, but skyrocketed to international fame thanks to the idea of group member AY Jackson to distribute silkscreen versions of the paintings to troops during WWII. It’s been questioned whether this program transformed the art into propaganda. This particular painting was first exhibited in 1921, the same year that photo Jack is eternally trapped in. So the first and last time we see Jack, there’s something screaming 1921 at us.
There’s also an art piece in the lobby foyer Jack just entered from, visible only in the giant mirror during this shot, of something like a shadow creature (see below for a better view). So, forward Jack has just strode between this monster(?) painting and a mirror while backward Jack is looking like a giant shadow monster in the mirrorform.
A second later, the lady behind Jack here will break from her conversation with the young man, and stare directly at the camera for the remainder of Jack’s traversing. Along with the smoking man’s camera pointed at the audience, this seems like a good, subliminal way of making us feel watched, and establishing the running theme of there being things placed all over the hotel in eye-shape arrangements, which is probably playing off Freud’s notion of the uncanny.
More to the mirrorform, I believe this young woman was from an old tv movie called Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are. Spoilers: the character she plays in that film almost gets away with murder, only to get nabbed at the last second. Jack’s ruination isn’t quite so close-call (we even get a sense of his defeat whole minutes before the credits role), but in terms of the proximity of his two deaths at the end (frozen Jack and photo Jack) to the actual end of the film, there’s a parallel to be drawn there.
Also, she happens to be looking right in the direction of two magazines that will appear throughout the hotel, an April ’78 edition of BURDA magazine, which is a leading example of what was called the German Economic Miracle, after WWII, and the March ’78 edition of Scientific American, which, among many other interesting subjects, includes a piece on dissecting the use of then-current technology in the art of 16th-century Dutch-Flemish painter Bruegel the Elder. The piece on the cover is his The Tower of Babel (1563), which is still the oldest painting I’ve correctly identified. So, as backward Jack howls incoherent racism, the Tower of Babel passes over him. I wonder if this is meant to counterpoint the “Better Wings for Icarus” thought. Like, better wings for Icarus means mothers and fathers trying to make a better world for their sons and daughters, and the Tower of Babel was about everyone working together as one collective family to make the world a better place for everyone. In both myths the ambitious were struck down by cosmic forces. And while Danny seems to lift off the ground in the centre of the labyrinth, Jack is toppled into a mumbling, shambling wretch, frozen in collapse.
There’s a painting called Log Hut on the St. Maurice behind the bus times billboard. So while opposite side Jack howls about San Francisco (Saint Francis of Assisi), forward Jack is passing an obscure St. Maurice, who was one of the first black saints of myth.
As forward Jack is passing the spot where his future photo will hang forever and ever and ever (or until the hotel closes, anyway), the overlay is Danny and Wendy escaping in the snowcat, their headlamps punching a hole of light in Jack’s chest here. This would make a nice visual representation of Hallorann’s claim that the hotel has “something about it that’s like shining”. Photo Jack “hasn’t happened yet”, and its contents will portray “a long time ago”.
Tom Thomson’s Northern River appears here. Thomson is sort of famous in Canada for dying on Canoe Lake under mysterious circumstances: he was an avid outdoors person, with ample experience, and was alone in good weather. His creative star was rising in his industry, and he left no suicide note. Backward Jack is also being left to die in the “wilderness” of the hedge maze (cutting short the writing of his masterpiece), but also, forward Jack is about to pass JEH MacDonald’s Mist Fantasy for the first time, which depicts two empty canoes, floating in a still lake with no people in it.
Note how backward Jack collapses under the CAMERA WALK sign. Later, the sign moves to the lounge, where it sits right behind where Jack types. As I’ve proven in the Lessons and Escapes section, Danny’s camera walk is crucial to his survival of the Overlook. Danny’s first lesson even includes him triking past the CAMERA WALK sign. But Jack is almost never seen on screen with the sign after the CLOSING DAY tour (the one exception is that it appears behind him when he’s reliving his murder nightmare to Wendy). So I’m wondering if this was a subtle way of suggesting Jack’s salvation was always within reach, but he simply always had his back turned to it. The photo of Mt. Hood on the CAMERA WALK sign also happens to be the “summer” shot of the hotel that appears outside Ullman’s office (see below), which, in the Redrum Road analysis, I’ve linked to the cover of Let It Be, in which summer correlates to Paul, and Paul correlates to Jack in the Abbey Road Tour. So the sign seems to be calling out to Jack.
Note the way the maze lamps shine over both Jacks in this moment.
The painting that hangs above the model maze here is FH Varley’s Stormy Weather, Georgian Bay, another Group of Seven piece, also exhibited first in 1921. Backward Jack is dying in a storm.
Forward Jack is noticing the model maze for the first time while backward Jack is collapsed inside the real maze, and directly behind forward Jack is where photo Jack will reside, and of course he’s passing over the spot where he’ll kill Hallorann. So this is a bit of a hot spot for death. Also, AY Jackson’s Red Maple is up the hall from Jack for the first time, as the mazerug and Mist Fantasy.
This is 3:27 into the film – a 237 jumble.
Look closely at the plant on top of Susie’s filing cabinet and you’ll notice a little elephant figurine on top. Given that the seasonal photos are a reference to Let it Be, we could take a leap and suppose that this elephant is a reference to the Hindu god Ganesha, since George Harrison was a Hindu, and Lennon was sympathetic to Hindu views. Ganesha is, among other things, the god of beginnings (which is where forward Jack is on his Overlook journey) and the god of removing obstacles, which is symbolized by his wielding an axe in most depictions (an attribute backward Jack shares). Ganesha is also thought by some to have attained his elephant head by having had his former head lopped off. So if Jack is later embodying Ganesha in his axe-happy travails, that would make yet another decapitation reference for him.
Ganesha’s other weapon is a noose, and as we’ll see in a moment, Jack wears a tie that has a green, maze-like pattern on it, and in the mirrorform, Jack is being killed by a maze. However, in case you were starting to make a negative connotation to Hinduism there, we will see an elephant in Danny’s bedroom in a little bit as well.
There’s also a little cartoon on the side of Susie’s filing cabinet which I haven’t properly ID’d yet. In case I ever do, I suspect it’ll speak to this moment, so head here to read about it.
This is one of my favourite overlay images. Just as Jack wraps on Ullman’s door (with Norval Morrisseau’s The Great Earth Mother beside it), the snowcat appears, and seems to fill the room perfectly as mother and son climb backwards out of it. We just saw Jack pass an elevator in the lobby that would have to be very shallow not to overlap with Ullman’s office here. And as you well know, I’m sure, elevators have a certain connotation to death in this film. So as Wendy and Danny are reaching their escape pod, Jack is reaching his trap. And as we’ll soon see, this room also contains a painting called Trapper’s Camp.
What this shot does is visually connect all three of Jack’s murders: the radio next to Ullman, the snowcat as a symbol of the other snowcat, and the snowcat as an object of Hallorann’s. So, this does a neat job of explaining Ullman’s eternal positive regard for Jack: as discussed elsewhere, the hotel’s major objective is to kill Hallorann, so the snowcat is something like a trophy in this moment. Jack will serve his purpose as the minotaur, so the hotel can just relax and let it happen. In this sense, the story is ultimately somewhat pessimistic.
This moment also joins the last moment before Wendy and Danny are fully safe and escaping to the last moment before Jack has spoken to Ullman and sealed his fate. Speaking of, the “spring” photo beside Jack here (which symbolizes Wendy in the Abbey Road Tour) is by Francis Kies, and “keys” are why Danny escapes the hedge maze and reaches the snowcat.
This is our first glimpse of Ullman’s impossible window, and it overlays with the snowcat, which has a certain impossibility to it, in the sense that we’ve seen Jack drive up to the hotel already at this point, and there were some passes that would be treacherous in a blizzard for any vehicle, let alone a two-tonne beast like this. Not to mention the fact that Ullman is about to tell Jack he made “very good time” by reaching the hotel in 3.5 hours from Boulder. Hallorann tells Durkin he’ll get to Sidewinder(?) in 5 hours at 9am, and then gets the chop at 5:25pm, meaning the cat got up to the hotel in about 3 hours. That would seem to be very, very good time.
Also, I should just note that the Aktiv Snow-Trac (the snowcat Jack murders) is a Swedish-made automobile with a Volkswagen engine. So, even the Overlook has a direct connection to Hitler.
As Ullman tells Susie to “ask Bill Watson to join” them backward Wendy is throwing down her knife. How does she know it’s safe to disarm herself and run toward the maze to hug and kiss her son for ten seconds when she should easily be able to hear Jack hollering bloody murder in the distance (he can hear the snowcat revving from where he is, clear as day)? Well, I have a concept about Watson being the hotel’s ultimate shiner. So Ullman invoking Watson here could connect to Wendy’s minor shine power, which has at least one definitive example in the film coming up.
Right behind/above backward Wendy’s head is the only window in Suite 3 that for sure exists, which we know because Danny just slid out of it. In the mirrorform, that window is floating above Ullman’s fake windows.
Also, if you agree with my assessment that the hotel always planned to kill Hallorann, it’s worth noting that the painting Trapper’s Camp appears while Hallorann’s snowcat is occupying the bulk of the image.
Backward Jack is stopping by a lamp that makes it look like forward Danny is eating a shining sandwich here (he eats light for breakfast!).
Wendy is sipping from a Tom and Jerry mug while Danny watches the roadrunner get chased by the coyote (the episode is Stop! Look! And Hasten!). Two cartoons about a consistently thwarted predator getting outsmarted by smaller/frailer prey, overlaying Jack’s confused defeat by Danny.
I recently did a study of moments from the film that have time codes that jumble the number of pages in King’s novel (447), which include 4:47 and 40:47, two moments from the two Roadrunner breakfast scenes
Wendy’s halfway through Catcher in the Rye (halfway through a book that has the same image on the cover and back cover…), while Danny sits beneath a copy of Catch-22, the only easily discernible title on the above shelf. So that’s two famous 20th century novels with the word “catch” in the title, something backward Jack is in the process of failing to do.
(Actually, I recently did some detective work, comparing the line breaks in Wendy’s 212-page version (when she turns the book toward the camera for a few seconds) to my 192-page edition, and discovered that her eyes would be halfway down page 132 of her version, meaning two things: 1) that her eyes are on a page featuring numbers that could be rearranged, jumbled, to make either the Aarne-Thompson (AT) code for The Goat and the Seven Young Kids (AT code 123) (a fable that King seems to link to Snow White, The Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood) or the main fable invoked by King’s novel, Bluebeard (AT code 312); and 2) that she’s reading a scene from the book where Holden is making his big romantic speech to Sally Hayes about how they should run off into the woods together (into some “cabin camps” in “Vermont”, where Wendy will be proudly telling the doctor she’s from in a few minutes), until they run out of his “hundred and eighty bucks”and have to “chop all [their] own wood in the wintertime”. She gets distracted by Danny before her eyes reach the part where Sally tells him he’s a nutbar, and that his plan can’t happen. Perhaps this simply reflects the way Wendy never raises questions with Jack (that we see) about this radical plan to take on such an unusual career, but maybe it also reflects her own hopes to have things two ways: one, to flee back toward her former life in Vermont (in fact, the real mountain seen outside her apartment in Boulder is called Green Mountain, which is what Vermont (“Vert Mont”) means in French), and two, for this trip into the wilderness with Jack and Danny to work out impossibly well. There’s more to be said about all this, but since this is about the mirrorform, just know that there’s a strong link in the film and novel between Danny’s lessons and escapes and Snow White/Bluebeard, so the appearance of the book, and this page 132, pair nicely with the backward action of Wendy running to the snowcat, Jack being lost in the maze, and Danny making his final escape from the maze.)
Also, the title Catcher in the Rye refers to Holden Caulfield’s idea that there’s an angel being who protects the innocence of children by catching them when, by running through the tall rye, they get too close to the edge of a cliff, and fall off. So, on the one hand, Tony protects Danny’s mind after the 237 experience, and on the other, Wendy, by allowing Danny to roam freely around the hotel, gave him the opportunity to experience the aforementioned lessons that lead to his escapes.
Catch-22 takes place between 1942-1944, and Danny is wearing a Bugs Bunny shirt that reads 42 on the sleeves. I haven’t read the book, but according to Wikipedia the book is written using “circular and repetitive” prose, which struck me as bearing a similarity to The Shining‘s mirrorform quality and the way its three thirds can be studied as three progressions through very similar dramas, as I show in my Redrum Road analysis. What’s even more interesting is that journalist/novelist Howard Jacobson credits the book with containing elements of several artists that are seen in The Shining‘s background, including, Shakespeare, Dickens, and Dostoevsky, but most notably Tom and Jerry, who appear on the mug Wendy will set directly beneath Catch-22 in a moment.
Finally, both these novels are about figures who are alienated by the system they find themselves in. I know I’m far from the first to notice the American identification with self-alienation, but it’s interesting to note that this is all happening at the beginning of a story about a family walling itself off from the world, and what the results of that are (with Jack thrashing around, isolated and defeated). But also, Salinger, who wrote Catcher, is sort of famous for just having the one big hit, and then vanishing from the art scene, writing voluminously in private, but never publishing. Jack’s whole issue is that he can’t even finish his first great work, and that’s what the ghosts use to drive him to familicide.
Skip this if you find it confusing: if we remember that there’s those photos of the mountains and the black-and-white faces in the radio room, connecting the 1/3 mark of the film to the start…note how, at the very middle of the film (the point where this analysis ends), there’s a book called The Door in Hallorann’s bedroom, which we’ll see is also in this room with Danny and Wendy. So, ignoring the subtext of The Door itself (which is considerable), there’s a strong connection between the middle and the start. So it’s apt that Wendy would be exactly halfway through a novel at the beginning of her story; it gives us the sense of starting at the middle, which is what you could do if you scroll to the bottom of this page, and read the entire analysis from the bottom to the top. Actually, if you did so, you would start with my section explaining what I’m saying right now in clearer detail. Let’s move on.
Wendy’s also sitting under a large bull figurine, which is positioned between the twin salt-and-pepper shakers and cotton balls. Jack, the defeated minotaur, has become something of Grady’s twin-by-circumstance (shakers), stumbling around in these hedges covered in little white tufts of snow (cotton balls). And he’s about to sing out lines a slave sings in Bombo. About being “right back where [he] started from”. Well, the first shot of Wendy and Danny (in their real home) is at 4:17, and 417 is the grand total of F21 photos appearing in the lounge, where Jack will feel the illusion of “home”.
Next to Danny’s milk is some kind of small camera-looking thing that he’ll later wear in a holster off his belt when he goes maze walking with his mom, who will also have a camera. The maze walk is the second lesson, which correlates to the first escape. This breakfast is mirroring over the last of Danny’s escapes (it ends right as his third escape pattern begins), so this little camera is giving us a link between the start and the end of Danny’s escape patterns.
As Wendy sets down her cup beneath Danny’s shine sandwich (shinewich?), we see that there’s a second design on it, showing Tom getting slammed on the head by Jerry, with an enormous mallet. This image, in combination with the baseball (behind Danny’s head on the ironing board), seems to foreshadow Wendy’s first defeat of Jack, a foreshadow that is here mirroring over Danny’s final defeat of Jack. But it also shows that this mug has two cats on it, and the two visible books in this scene start with the letters “Cat”. So there’s a tonne of twinnery going on in this sequence and it’s largely aimed at Jack’s defeat, another chip in the pile connecting Jack to the Grady twins, and twins to the notion of defeat.
Actually, this happens right at 4:29, and it’s on page 429 that Danny bests Jack and the hotel.
There will also be another breakfast at the hotel where Wendy and Tony/Danny will be seen watching this same episode of the Roadrunner show, and behind Tony/Danny’s head the entire time will be a painting of some naked twins.
That said, we’re about to meet Tony, who may seem like a twin or split personality within Danny, and while Tony is the result of trauma, he possesses abilities that Danny actively lacks, if indeed he is a separate entity. Danny’s superpower is not in foresight (the thing Tony brings into his life), but in memory.
In this sequence, backward Jack’s killer face waves around inside Danny’s mind, seemingly, his face going from cold blue to near-black. Jack’s face transitions in colour a few times throughout the film, and here it seems like a good visual metaphor for Danny processing his father’s death. He’s watching roadrunner outsmart the coyote, and getting used to this notion of the villain who must be defeated, quelled or crushed by any means necessary. Also, the coyote’s defeats (like Jack’s) are virtually always the result of his plans backfiring or by intervening circumstances. Similarly, Danny merely escapes Jack, much as his plan might seem to be an intentional murder to some (though I admit I have debated this at great length within myself).
This is also our first good shot of Bugs Bunny’s rabbit ears on Danny’s chest. Along with the association of predator Jack to a cat, Danny’s sanguine expression reminds me of the Wabanaki legend of the pipe-smoking rabbit, and his sometimes adversary, the Wild Cat. In the legend, the rabbit studies medicine/magic so hard he becomes a shaman, and so elusive that the Wild Cat can never catch him. If this is ringing a bell, there’s a scene in the 1997 film The Edge that discusses this.
As Wendy is finishing saying “We’re all gonna have a real good time” backward Danny is just beginning to leap from the heart of the labyrinth, for its exit. That’s his third escape sequence, which correlates to his fourth lesson sequence, which is where he meets the Grady twins, who want to have a really, really good time.
There’s a high degree of duos going on in this transition. 1) The JOY and IVORY bottles behind Wendy’s head; 2) two red boxes (of milk (ROBERT’S) and cereal (DASH)) as well as two cereals (FROOT LOOPS being the other–Danny’s final dash out of the labyrinth will involve four lefthand turns: a loop); 3) behind Watson, we’re seeing the second of two Copper Thunderbird paintings, Flock of Loons, as well as two other paintings of two birds, one of which is seen again near 237; 4) there’s two photos here featuring people stringing up dead fish (one of which appeared behind Jack Nicholson’s character in Chinatown (see sixth image below)); 5) there’s two maps of the known world on either side of Ullman’s (one from the first atlas ever, one from the maker of the first American atlas) accompanying the moment of Jack becoming lost in the maze, and Danny escaping it; 6) there’s two men who look like Jack (if you buy the idea that Watson looks like Jack, which I’ve never been 100% on); 7) Watson and Ullman are played by two actors named Barry; 8) Ullman and Jack wear the same tie in two different colours (red and green); and 9) there’s two RED BOOKS in the sense that Wendy is still holding open her spot in Catcher in the Rye, and the RED BOOK on Ullman’s table, bears a name that could describe Salinger’s masterpiece. So, again, the fact that Danny’s escape here pairs with his Twin lesson is pretty apt.
Also, just as Danny has the baseball behind his head (to win a game of baseball you run in a loop), Wendy has a “clew” behind her head, a clew being another word for a ball of twine (see below). As in the clew given to Theseus by Ariadne when he went to face the minotaur, to find his way back out of the labyrinth. In the mirrorform, this first (very obscure) appearance of the clew overlays with Flock of Loons and an escaping Danny. Flock of Loons moves to another spot in the hotel which we see twice, later. The mirror moments for those two scenes are Danny having just received the Escape Key (as Jack stalks through the area with an axe; see below), and Danny having just received Hallorann’s shine about “ice cream/eye scream” (as Wendy runs to find the murdered snowcat; see below). Two things he’ll find helpful in surviving his ordeal. As for the painting itself, it depicts a family of birds, and it’s by a man named Thunderbird. And birds are frequently Danny’s animal symbol.
Also, regarding the Robert’s brand milk: the “winter” photo outside Ullman’s is very likely by photographer Mike Roberts (considered “America’s postcard king”). Going by the Let It Be analysis, the winter photo correlates to John Lennon, who correlates to Ullman in the Abbey Road Tour. And though the Torrances never make it to literal wintertime, the snowy labyrinth has a very wintry feel to it, and if you read the section analyzing the four bird key, you’ll note that the bird correlating to Ullman bears a unique symbolic connection to hedge mazes and such.
There’s a kitchen timer on the wall beside Wendy’s head in these shots showing numbers going counterclockwise around a frog sitting like a Buddha on a lotus. This was “Neil the Frog”, a character from a line of kitchenware put out by Sears in the ’70s. My feeling, given the moon-shaped nature of the piece, is that “Neil” was in Kubrick’s mind a reference to Neil Armstrong. Since backward Danny tricks Jack into thinking he’s lifted off into the sky, I imagine this was the implication – also, note that there’s a “sun” image in Flock of Loons, which is overlaying Danny’s head here. Also, since, again, this third escape pairs with the fourth lesson, that lesson included a painting of a child named Starlight, which, we learn by comparing the staff wing layout to the lobby layout, hangs directly above the model of the labyrinth in the lobby. What is it with Kubrick and starchildren?
Watson appears, revealing the three artworks behind him, at 5:12, which is 312 seconds into the film. And as we covered 312 is AT code for Bluebeard, the French folktale Danny will think about (in the novel) when Hallorann warns him to stay out of room 217. Danny remembers being confused about this later when he recalls thinking it was weird there were no “blue birds” in this story about “bluebird”. And Watson is revealing a mess of blue loons. Four to be exact, surrounded by seven greyer baby loons. And right behind him are two ducks reflecting in the water, and maybe just one ruddy duck standing in some reeds in the other painting. So that’s four, two, one, seven. In the film there’s a lot of 42s and 237s. Actually, at 42:17 is when Danny moves from his trike to the door of room 237, and 42:37 is when his hand grasps the knob and twists it uselessly.
So perhaps what attaching Bluebeard to this scene does is suggest how, just as Danny had Hallorann warn him what not to do (go in 237), here Jack receives a similar warning (don’t go Grady). But since the Flock of Loons is by Norval Morrisseau, and since Dick is associated to St. Maurice…I’m guessing that these paintings being in Susie’s office implies that Watson and Ullman aren’t saying what they should be saying.
As we get our first close-up of Jack in THE INTERVIEW, there’s a photo beside his head that is the same photo that hangs above the one of him at the end. Yet another clue that Jack was doomed from the start, and that judgment hangs over him (as first indicated by Dies Irae).
This photo appears as Danny is deserting Jack in the labyrinth, and hangs over his shoulder throughout the entire maze chase. So perhaps, while it certainly seems to represent the hotel’s desire to claim Jack’s soul, it also says something about the way the maze chase worked out, about Danny’s involvement in Jack’s being strung up like a caught fish.
It’s also neat that, as Watson forces Jack to look left, backward Jack will make the call to look right in search of the vanished Danny. Danny had a 50/50 chance of Jack stalking onto the side he was hiding on, and getting caught. But here, backward Jack is deciding on the side with the photo.
Which means he’s also looking toward the ancient world map on Ullman’s wall. This is the first map of the Americas from the first atlas ever, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, which is the result of European explorers going where (they thought) no one had gone before, and here, Jack is stalking into unmolested snows, which is how he’ll die, but, on a literal level, it’s thinly daring. To believe (rightly, in reality) that Danny had not transubstantiated, and that he could still be found. So it’s worth noting that, had Jack truly believed Danny to have ascended in glorious flight, and left the maze in defeat, he might’ve at least killed Wendy before the cold collapsed him, or the hotel regained him.
Given that I consider this photo the “HEAVEN” photo in my F21 analysis, it’s probably worth pointing out that there’s a song ending on the other side of the film here called Kanon, about the ascension of Jesus into heaven, which will play in spurts throughout the entire maze chase, and axe-chopping sequences.
When Jack calls himself a writer, he reacts with a mock humility/regret as if to signal that he knows his work hasn’t spared him interviews like these, and in the mirrorform we hard cut to terrified Danny, crouching against a wall, uncertain if the gambit will pay off. I like this moment because we don’t get much direct evidence through the drama that “sane Jack” regrets where his life choices have lead him. Is Jack pursing his lips in this moment because his quest for literary greatness broke his son’s mind in two?
In any case, Danny’s crouch here is probably informed somewhat by what happened when he scattered Jack’s papers 3 “goddamn years ago”.
When Watson says “This ought to be quite the change for you” and Jack replies “Well, I’m looking for a change”, backward Jack is screaming out for Danny. On the basic level, this is hilarious. Jack got the change he was looking for times a thousand.
But it’s also neat because as he screams for Danny, he’s looking up into the sky. He’s looking up because Danny’s impossibly ended footsteps suggest he flew off into the sky, like an Icarus boy, transformed. So, backward Jack is quite literally looking for a change. I should also note that a Penderecki composition that appears all throughout the latter part of the film, Utrenja: Kanon Paschy, which is about the resurrection of Christ, plays during the next minute, leading to the bloodfall. Christ is a metamorphosis figure.
Barry Nelson (Ullman) does a lot of neat little moves with his hands throughout this sequence, and here, as backward Jack is discovering the evidence of Danny’s ascension, he’s holding them directly over Danny’s final foot marks in a kind of worshipping motion for several seconds. So if Ullman does reflect Satan on some level, perhaps he’s not above praising the ascension of wonder boy, Danny. Though he is saying how “this site was chosen for its seclusion and scenic beauty”, and isn’t it exactly the seclusion of the heart of the maze that kills Jack? So that’s more Jack-was-doomed-from-the-start.
Also, though this will apply to any of these shots, note that there’s what looks like a little silver axe sitting in Ullman’s tin cup, by the American flag. I’m of the opinion that all the golf imagery early on implies that this is a little toy golf club, but it could be both, obviously.
The entire time Jack is saying, “Do you mind if I ask why you [close the hotel for the winter]? It seems to me that the skiing up here would be fantastic.” There’s this little light hovering over his head, like an idea came to him. Going-to-the-Sun Road, the one we see Jack’s car driving up to get to the Overlook, is, in fact, closed during the winters. But it doesn’t lead to a resort of any kind. So, while Ullman says there’s no way to make it economically feasible to keep the road open, I seriously wonder if most places like the Overlook could afford not to be open year-round (a close friend of mine recently sent me a link to a job offer for a winter caretaker in British Columbia, for just such a place, so I guess it does (still) happen – though, fun fact: in the offer it talked about how a plane comes in every few days with supplies). The Timberline, which is the hotel you see in the exterior shots, is open during the winter, and the paths there are hugely snowed in, by the look of some photos I’ve seen.
Another way of looking at it goes back to the concept about Jack’s status as a doomed, ritual sacrifice minotaur/Medusa/Geryon figure. Ullman has just explained that the hotel closes down for 6.5 months of the year, so what Jack’s literally, subtly asking is, “Why do you want me to do this job?” If we imagine him asking the same question about his position as minotaur/sacrifice (“Do you mind if I ask why you want me to become the minotaur? It seems to me that society would be just fine without ritual sacrifices.”), backward Jack is seemingly answering the question: without a suitable threat, the Icaruses of the world won’t feel inclined to design better wings.
And really, this impossible track in the snow, while not unearthly in execution, is a kind of “soft shine” from Danny at Jack – as deceptive as the Overlook’s shines. And Jack is deceived. As he stalks upon the epicentre of his defeat, the bright light shines in his eyes, and Jack makes the wrong choice. The labyrinth, the hotel, and life itself are engines that create the challenges the younger generation must overcome. In the Icarus story we get the narrative of the child lost (the wings of Icarus melt while escaping the labyrinth), and in the Theseus story, we get the inverse (upon returning from slaying the minotaur, Theseus’ father misinterprets a distant signal, and kills himself, thinking Theseus failed). So, I suppose the Greeks understood that, though progress is in some ways inevitable, some ages become Dark Ages. Like, I often think about the fact that humans can only make movies, and talk about them on the internet, for as long as we have the minerals to make fibre optic cables and film cameras and DVDs. If we run out of those minerals before we achieve interplanetary mining capabilities, even if that process were to take 1000 or 10,000 years to fulfill its sad promise, we will nonetheless reach it, and the internet will vanish like a boring dream.
The Shining, through this lens, is ultimately quite optimistic. It was 50/50 that Jack would go right, but he did go right. Danny defeated the challenge of his lifetime (even if a Hallorann had to be forfeit).
I like this image of Ullman’s third eye being Wendy’s shock at the bloodfall. Again, Ullman happens to be making a praying gesture at Wendy. In my Four Horsemen analysis, Wendy is here witnessing Death. And according to the Red Book analysis, Ullman is Satan. So maybe the more Bible scholarly folks can tell us if Satan worships Death at all, but I imagine he would be a Thanos-level fan of the stuff.
I also just want to mention that Ullman is here saying how in “1907, there was very little interest in winter sports”. Later, when we’re hearing about the tragedy of the “winter of 1970” Wendy will be making a very similar face, in a very similar position on screen behind Ullman.
Here’s a cool thing: it’s a fact that the hallway Wendy is standing in for the bloodfall is the same set as the lobby back hall, redressed to look like it’s somewhere near the Gold Room. And Ullman’s impossible window here should be looking out onto that hallway. So, even though Wendy would be positioned off to the left, behind Ullman, there’s a physical closeness between these figures that is being obscured. Maybe that has something to do with the four seasons, and the Let It Be crossover business. Every time Wendy appears in the mirrorform across from these three, the Beatles are all alone together again – with Wendy/Spring/Ringo truly off on her own.
Here, the bloodfall seems to be sucking back up Ullman’s red tie into his brain. On the other side of the movie, the it appears to fall out of him, and, this bloodflood symbol, seeming to represent everything from natural disasters to war to one-on-one murder (see my section on the Pillars of Hercules for more on that), is probably the best mirrorform evidence that Ullman is at the heart of the hotel’s malevolence. Also, recall that Jack passes a set of elevators on his way into Ullman’s that would have to be very shallow not to overlap with this room. So it’s as if Jack is having his interview inside an elevator.
Also, deals with the devil are often signed in blood, and the RED BOOK sits within the bloodfall’s splash zone.
I should also point out that Ullman is going to reference famine “the winters…can be fantastically cruel”, war and conquest “The site is supposed to be located on an Indian burial ground, and I believe they actually had to repel a few Indian attacks as they were building it” and the most intimate murder and suicide “He ran amok and eh…killed his family with an axe…stacked them neatly in one of the rooms of the west wing, and then he uh…then he put eh both barrels of a shotgun in his mouth.” So, while these references don’t match perfectly with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse that Wendy is facing throughout her story’s end, Ullman is nonetheless concerned by the same four notions.
The bloodfall is also the only of Danny’s visions from Tony never to be witnessed by the boy in its moment of physical realization. It’s also the only one witnessed in the mirrorform before we’ve seen Danny receive a Tony vision. The effect is that the bloodfall predates his visions, which, given its status as a metaphor for all the death of all time, makes sense. His other visions–the twins, REDRUM, and his own eye scream–are much more personally relevant to Danny.
That said, it is worth noting that what all these visions allude to are all referenced in this room, in the interview (Grady killing his daughters (the twin vision), Jack’s potential to become like Grady (the REDRUM vision), and the Trapper’s Camp painting alludes to the murder of Hallorann (the eye scream)). Why is that significant? Well, it could mean that Tony became aware of everything that would happen going forward in the story by shining in on what was being thought during the interview by the malevolent forces, which could indicate that Tony’s visions were not depictions of the inevitable, but interpretations of ill will. He simply couldn’t talk the Torrances out of going.
Side note: In this regard, I think shifting the nature of Tony away from what King intended was a smart move. In King’s vision (as evidenced by the TV movie, and by a moment late in the novel), Tony is a grown-up version of Danny shining back to younger Danny to guide him through this inevitable nightmare. But then why doesn’t older Danny (if he actually exists in some future time period) use his presumably encyclopedic knowledge of his childhood trauma to shepherd Danny into cogently, cleverly steering the family away from its destiny? Why doesn’t he take any post-1978 award-winning novel, and have Danny write it out and give it to Jack to take credit for? Obviously these things would destroy the conceit of the story, but…yeah. It does destroy the conceit…
…I suppose one could argue that Tony looks like an older Danny because, thanks to physics and heredity, there’s only one way Danny could look as an older person, and that the Tony in Danny’s mind is something that is not his own future self, but something assuming that form in order to make Danny more receptive to its wisdom.
As backward Wendy approaches the bloodfall, we get another moment where the same painting is in both rooms at the same time, both off-screen: Trapper’s Camp. The backward one is to the right of the elevator, about an inch to the right of Ullman’s head, and the forward one is behind Watson’s left by about two inches.
The paintings we now see bedecking the bloodfall hall here, are the same paintings that line the hall behind Ullman’s office (see below), where this impossible window should look in on. The one hovering near the forward Trapper’s Camp is Lawren Harris’ Beaver Swamp, the second last painting to be seen for the first time in the movie proper. Beaver Swamp would be directly behind Ullman’s head all through the interview, if the window didn’t lie. If Mist Fantasy were also visible, that might say something about Ullman and Watson being ghosts, since that painting contains two empty canoes. Actually, if you read what I wrote before about Tom Thomson and his death on Canoe Lake, the painting that hangs in the lobby is what he called his “swamp painting”, so this combo of Beaver Swamp and empty canoes could really be drawing that connection between Tom Thomson and the two Barrys. In the novel, Jack and his friend Al Shockley, who gets him the Overlook job crash into a riderless bicycle in the middle of a highway leading into a town called Barre, which is pronounced the same as Barry.
There’s also one painting that only appears in the bloodfall hall which is Frederick Horsman Varley’s Arpeggio, which has a lot of cool implications for this moment that you can read about here.
As backward Wendy creeps back into the hall that leads to the bloodfall, we see that that hall bears a strong resemblance (especially with Ullman’s white-ceiling office overlaying it) to the Gold Room bathroom (see below), which is where Jack and Grady have the conversation that pushes Jack toward murderous oblivion. In fact, this is the only other place in the hotel to have this look, so the suggestion seems to be that the Jack-Grady collusion is not that far removed from the Jack-Ullman interview. As previously discussed, there’s a strong twinning going on between Jack-Ullman-Watson, and Jack-Grady-Lloyd (I took out my earlier analysis of the Jack-Grady-Lloyd similarities from this section but you can find it buried in the Twins and Duos section). Incidentally, perhaps the way Ullman and Watson are almost never seen without each other, and the way Grady and Lloyd are never seen together suggests the way Lloyd and Grady are two faces from the same dark heart (Geryon), while Watson and Ullman are more like the God/Devil duo of a Job/Faust story.
As Ullman says “running the boilers, heating different parts of the hotel on a daily rotating basis, repairing damage as it occurs and doing repairs, so that the elements can’t get a foothold” Danny is doing the mirror walk that will save his life. I like this because what saves Danny in the book is telling the murderous Jack that the boilers haven’t been dumped, and that the hotel’s fit to burst, which it does.
Oh man, this is happening right at 7:09 (when Ullman says “repairing damage”), which a) is the Aarne-Thompson code for Snow White, but b) is also 429 seconds into the film. And Danny beats Jack on page 429 of the book. Also, if you follow that link you’ll note that Danny beats Jack thanks to the Fibonacci sequence, and the Golden Shining features a cut at 7:14 (dividing section IV from section V), which is 5 seconds forward from here. And page 434 is where the hotel explodes, killing Jack and sparing Wendy, Danny and Hallorann.
In Kubrick’s vision, Danny bests Jack by mastering the four directions. Ullman’s sustained upward glance here even reminds of backward Jack’s impression that his son has lifted into the air. Also, Ullman has an eagle statue behind his head, the wings of which give him little horns sometimes throughout the interview.
Also, Ullman will say during this part, “Physically, it’s not a very demanding job…” which is funny because I’m sure little Danny Lloyd found this feat a little demanding.
Quick note: From 7:23-7:32 in the film’s run time Ullman says, “The only thing that can get a bit trying up here during the winter is, uh, the…tremendous sense of isolation.” To which Jack replies, “Well, that…*clears throat*…just happens to be exactly what I’m looking for.” Backward Danny is backward walking all throughout this passage, which will spell Jack’s doom, leading to a tremendous sense of isolation as he freezes to death. In room 237, Jack will perform his own, major backward walk (see below), which he’ll learn nothing from, and which results from the major sense of isolation he feels realizing that the woman he’s making out with is a corpse ghost.
Also, in the Story Room analysis, we see that the Abbey Road Tour passes a car with a licence plate that improbably only has three symbols on it: 449. This is the Aarne-Thompson code for Sidi Numan, AKA The Queen’s Dog. Jack starts saying that he’s looking for solitude and isolation, looking to become the Overlook’s dog, right at 7:29 (449 seconds). The car with that plate appears at 23:31 (a jumble of the code for Bluebeard (231), and is still onscreen at 23:37.
As discussed in the Fibonacci section, the music that plays over the fight between Wendy and Jack in the lounge (called Polymorphia, which means “many forms”) goes on for 732 seconds. During the entire sequence of Jack stalking upon Wendy, he’s pushing her closer and closer to room 237, which is located around the corner from where she cracks him with the bat. Point being: 237s and 732s seem to be bad business for ol’ Jack Torrance. We might also interpret this “just happens to be exactly what I’m looking for” as Jack giving tacit approval to the hotel’s plot to make a minotaur out of him. Jack wants to be a 237/732 man.
As Ullman is innocently approaching the subject of how “solitude and isolation” drove Grady crazy, backward Wendy encounters her third trial, the deep blue skeleton ball. Which correlates to famine, in my Four Horsemen analysis. Solitude and isolation are forms of social famine.
There’s two butler skeletons at the ghost ball which stand at the starting and ending point of sane Jack’s last movements through the hotel (see below). So the one mirroring over Ullman here is the one for Jack studying the labyrinth. The minotaur is famously alone in the labyrinth with itself, killing anyone it encounters to become alone again.
But also, these two skeletons reflect a Jack on the verge of mental collapse. Solitude and isolation are just about to get the better of him. Famine is about to get the better of him. In the scene after the lobby stroll he’ll be bitching out Wendy for interrupting his glorious “work”.
In the first close-up shot of the skeleton ball, the labyrinth skeleton butler is in the distance right in Jack’s forehead. Jack is about to say “Not for me.” As in Jack Torrance is no mere mortal who would collapse into murderous rage after only 44 days and nights in relative seclusion. Not he.
I also like how the two skulls on his face are almost like tears in this shot. All famine and no feast makes Jack weep death.
On “Not for me” the mirrorform puts Jack in front of the spot where his photo will later hang (behind Wendy’s famine horror), secluded and isolated for all time (although he is surrounded by quite a lot of people in that photo, so that’s a small comfort…? I guess…?), and remember, the photo beside forward Jack is still the one that will hang above photo Jack at the end. Wendy’s horror face in conjunction with it seems to suggest that her witnessing the skeleton ball is tantamount to her witnessing photo Jack’s subsuming by the hotel. And that’s a coincidence because…
…as Ullman wonders how Wendy and Danny will take to the hotel’s seclusion and scenic beauty, Wendy is hitting the skeleton ball and shrieking. Why is she shrieking, aside from the obvious? Perhaps in part because she was just in this room a minute ago, shrieking at Hallorann’s corpse, which has seemingly transubstantiated. This (7:53) is the last time anyone will cross the part of the hotel where Hallorann died (and the first in the mirrorform since Jack walked over the spot at 3:27), and his body is, quite notably, gone. He’s been absorbed by Ullman’s red, labyrinthine necktie. Two of the songs that repeat throughout the big finale are about Christ’s resurrection, which has something to do with an empty tomb (I’m no expert, but I have seen Saving Christmas). So perhaps there’s a bit of a passover thing going on here, I don’t know. I tend to think Hallorann relates more to the St. Maurice business (that painting moves around in this scene, by the way).
But this also echoes Danny’s seeming Icarusian transubstantiation in the maze, which also mirrored over Ullman. Both our goodly shiners have disappeared without a trace.
As backward Danny hits the heart of the maze, Ullman is setting himself up to tell the Grady story. So there’s a shared sense here of “this is it”. We’ve arrived at what we’re really here to talk about.
The turn Danny makes to enter the heart, correlates to his discovery of the bloody twins in the Lessons and Escapes patterning, so the fact that that correlation completely, perfectly covers the time from the beginning of the interview to the moment Ullman is saying “I don’t wanna sound melodramatic, but it’s something that’s been known to give a few people second thoughts about the job” is pretty amazing. Because that’s the half of the interview that doesn’t directly refer to Charles Grady (whose little girls were “about 8 and 10” according to Ullman), so the twins correlation makes it so that there’s something to do with Grady happening at every moment of the interview.
As backward Danny is performing the second series of escapes that correlate to his third lesson, the turns outside his first encounter with 237 (which involves a flash of the Grady twins, remember), Jack says, “I’m intrigued” meaning he ain’t afraid of no ghost.
But yeah, this is essentially Jack’s version of Hallorann warning Danny to stay out of room 237. Ullman really has no reason to warn Jack about the Grady story. It’s been 9 years of presumably telling people Ullman didn’t like (recall that he said “our people in Denver recommended Jack very highly, and for once…I agree with them”) about this grisly story, and scaring some of them off with it. If he finally liked the applicant, he should’ve put that aside. He tells Jack almost like it’s a blueprint. Kill your family. Then put both barrels of a shotgun in your mouth.
Hallorann telling Danny about the hotel’s ills comes about thanks to Danny’s questions, and the natural flow of their conversation (and thanks to a little mind-reading). When it comes down to the 237 question, the warning is stern and emotional. But both Danny and Jack just had to go for it. Jack had to try out this job for the sake of his writing, and Danny had to try out 237 for the sake of his burning curiosity. Ullman’s job offer and the pink tennis ball outside 237 are just pretexts for what Jack and Danny wanted (on some level) to test for themselves.
Ullman references the “tragedy we had up here during the winter of 1970” just as backward Wendy’s flying back toward the GREAT PARTY ghost. So, when we hear about how, “in 1907 there was very little interest in winter sports”, the backwards action is the bloodfall (Death), and when we hear “1970”, the backwards action is the GREAT PARTY escape (War). Both of these trials for Wendy feature the same cream/black/red colours that make up this part of the hotel’s design (almost Nazi colours, aren’t they?). And both years are mentioned right at the start of the backward death/war trial. Not to mention that the same paintings are in both halls, and, again, Ullman’s impossible window should look out upon this hallway. Wendy is running right through the space Ullman’s window opens up upon, as he’s getting into a story about a man murdering his wife.
The doors backward Wendy is rushing toward here resemble the bloodfall elevator, making these two halls somewhat inversions of each other. And 70 is the inverse of 07. So that’s a nice touch.
Again, there’s three pages in the novel that relate to how Danny escapes his situation: 143, 197, and 429. I’m wondering if this 1907/1970 speaks to that middle page. In fact, Ullman’s story cuts to Jack’s reaction at exactly 9:07.
SPECIAL: GREAT PARTY, OR GRADY?
At this point in my original analysis was when the mirrorform caused me to realize that there was a good deal of contextual clues throughout the film, and right in this moment even, to suggest that the ghost who gives Wendy the “Great party, isn’t it?” toast could in fact by the original Charles Grady. Click here to read all about it. Or continue on, and there’ll be a reminder link at the bottom of the page.
It’s hard to make out here, but when Ullman describes the Grady daughters as having been “about 8 and 10 (years old)” backward Wendy has just seen Hallorann’s dead body, and behind her, there was a piece of wood (like found art, or possibly bog oak) that has now disappeared. So, does this disappearance reflect the way that the Grady girls will become twins in Danny’s mind? Or is it simply about the death of Hallorann?
Similarly, the painting Red Maple by AY Jackson also disappears between shots. Since this piece seems to speak to how Danny (Jack’s son) is able to shine in on Hallorann’s murder, and since Wendy is about to see the consequences of Danny not sending Dick a protective distress shine before his murder, it’s disappearance probably speaks to Danny’s absence. Since this is mirroring over Ullman’s description of the Grady daughters, it might be worth noting how Delbert Grady tells Jack that one of his daughters “stole a pack of matches and tried to burn [the hotel] down”. So we have two examples of children not being able to prevent the murders perpetrated by adults.
As Ullman is describing Grady as a “completely normal individual” and goes on to describe the carnage that ensued, we get Wendy witnessing Hallorann’s very real death.
Also, Ullman starts doing a thing with his hands during the Grady story that’s a bit like a shroud covering a corpse. You’ll notice that that continues.
As Ullman says, “he must’ve suffered some kind of a complete mental breakdown” Wendy is running past a painting—more of a sketch, possibly—of what looks like three faces (predators?) staring out ominously from a water surface. I’ve wondered if these three faces refer to Grady, Lloyd and the crone ghost, the agents of Jack’s complete mental breakdown. When Wendy flips around, here, she will see a ghost, after all.
Also, as she approaches the corner, both Beaver Swamp and Mist Fantasy reflect in the glossy surface of this three faces image, so, again, if those images are meant to suggest that Ullman and Watson are ghosts (by way of the Canoe Lake business), then these three faces could reflect that and also Jack’s looming status as an eternal employ of the hotel. When Wendy looks up to see Dick’s corpse, the spot where Jack’s photo will hang is in the frame in both shots of the corpse.
Also, I’ve long wondered (in lieu of knowing for sure who this sketch is by, or what it’s of), if this piece has something to do with a part from the novel where Jack recalls being a child in a room full of other children who are being asked if they see Jesus’ face in a bunch of random, chaotic lines. Every child agrees they see it, except Jack, who can never convince himself that he sees anything there. There’s technically silence on the other side of the movie here, but when Wendy sees Dick’s corpse, one of the “Christ resurrection” tunes will kick in. So, I’m wondering if what King originally was saying is that Jack’s inability to see meaning in the chaos of existence is why he becomes a slave of the Overlook, why he joins these men in their ghostliness. In fact, when Jack’s on his way to chop down Dick, he passes this piece, but ignores it, along with Danny (our resident Christ figure), hiding down beyond the doors. Perhaps all this will be explored by this piece, if we can ever ID it. Oh! And while I’m on the subject, when Jack passes the sketch (for the only visible time in the film), Beaver Swamp and Mist Fantasy don’t reflect in it…but they do reflect in the sketch that’s one section south of it, which looks like it might be of a howling wolf, with some kind of rider. If I can ever get these, I bet they’ll tell us something about the difference between how Wendy experiences the hotel, and how Jack experiences the hotel. Wendy seeing the “three faces” and Jack seeing only the “wolf and rider”.
Novel Jack also compares his plight to that of a painter being told by a Medici prince that it’s “back to the rabble” with him if he paints a single blemish on a portraiture. So I wouldn’t be surprised if these are works from that era. Or even by someone who suffered that plight.
When Ullman says “cabin fever” the backwards shot is Danny completing his first series of left-rights, which are the inverse of the left-rights he made when first entering the hedge maze, for the CAMERA WALK. And that was an example of Wendy and Danny getting out and enjoying the fresh air while Jack wandered around inside, not writing.
I know it’s kind of obvious, but as Jack is saying “Well, you can rest assured Mr. Ullman, that’s not going to happen with me…” we get the long shot of Jack pursuing Danny into the maze. But also, in the most literal sense, it doesn’t happen with him. Jack kills a stranger, and then freezes to death. Quite different from the Grady legend.
And as he’s about to predict Wendy’s future fascination with the Grady story, backward Danny is running into a totally new entrance to the maze. The maze has performed a complete 90-degree turn, clockwise, so that it’s entrance now faces the Overlook, and also lost its kiosk and maze map standee (see below). All things that Wendy may very well find fascinating when she runs out to help Danny escape in the snowcat.
And as he’s about to say that she’s a “confirmed ghost story and horror film addict” we see that a bunch of lights have come on all over the backward hotel. In every other shot of someone passing the edifice, the only light on is the one from the Suite 3 bathroom, where Danny escaped from. In this shot, the Suite 3 bathroom light is now off.
As discussed in the Lessons and Escapes section, backward Danny running toward the hedge maze times perfectly with the first appearance of the Escape Key.
In addition to the first clear appearance of the “clew” here (which appears in the same space as the Escape Key just left), we’ll see during the doctor scene that between her and Wendy is a book by Roy Clews, called Young Jethro. The Clews book practically faces the clew, which we’ll see behind Wendy’s head in that scene.
As previously noted, the last appearance of the clew faded into Copper Thunderbird’s Flock of Loons, which is also in the room backward Jack is in here. But the present clew is overlaying near a Dorothy Oxborough painting of an anonymous Stoney/Bearspaw child of Alberta (Crying Boy). The other Oxborough here (of a woeful young girl) overlays with a large Christian cross in the postcard on the fridge to the right. But lest we make Wendy out to be too much of a strict Christ figure (Utrenja is still on the backward soundtrack here, overlaid with Kanon, two songs about Jesus), note that she’s wearing an indigenous-style belt in this scene. Also, this particular cross might bear a strong, almost unbelievably apt connection to the Come Out, Come Out subtext, and we’re about to see the Cathy More actor in the forward action behind telephone Jack. The name of the cross might be “Old Ralph’s Cross”, and there’s three paintings by Ralph Thompson in room 237, where Danny found the Lesson Key.
The image of the young girls will also overlay with the postcard of the St. Lucia region of Naples, including a statue of Augustus Caesar. St. Lucy’s feast day is December 13th, which happens to be the date in the backwards action.
Also, on the towel-drying stick to the right of Wendy’s head here, there’s a towel or something with the phrase “GOLF LIKE THE GREATS” on it, and this overlays with backward Jack Nicholson’s head, which is hilarious, because the two greats who are mentioned on the towel thing include Jack Nicklaus, and Johnny Miller. If you grew up in the 80s and 90s, you’ll recall well the confusion people sometimes had between Jack Nicklaus and Jack Nicholson, which might’ve drove one of them crazy, I don’t know. But, recalling Ullman’s little toy golf club, it’s interesting to think that this too was being used to suggest the transformation of Jack into a distorted version of himself.
Actually, I’ve come to believe, since analyzing the novel, that part of the point of the story (how Danny saves himself and jack doesn’t) has to do with Danny symbolically (or perhaps even literally) realizing that he’s a character in a novel, while Jack cannot face that he is a fictional being. So I’m starting to think that all these references to the real lives of these performers was Kubrick’s way of addressing that aspect of King’s creation.
Also, in the novel, Jack Torrance’s weapon of choice wasn’t an axe, but a roque mallet, which is a game similar to golf. And, you know, I’ve been resisting bringing it up (I don’t want this to be too confusing or serpentine), but in Redrum Road, Maxwell’s Silver Hammer plays over this whole sequence, ending as Wendy picks up the phone. Pretty spectacular stuff.
Before we move past the Santa Lucia postcard wedged into the fridge (she who was the patron saint of authors, and whose feast day is the same day that’s occurring in the mirrorform), does she connect to how the food chart beside fridge has a broom handle pointing at twin snails? Because Jack is about to meet his Grady-twin-style doom? He’s about to become food for the gods? Danny is just about to have his first vision of the twins, after all.
Also, I recently discovered at least three, but possibly more references to Mount Vesuvius in the film. I could point each one out in this analysis, but for now I’ll just say, go here to read about the postcard on the fridge (appearing at 10:48 of the mirrorform), here to read about the painting in the blowjob well (11:31), here to read about the painting in Suite 3 (64:26) and here to read about the painting in room 237 (69:34). Like I said, there are possibly others (like the hellscape in the boiler room, or the two small nature paintings in the BJ well, or even the Group of Seven-style ones in the games room), so I haven’t wanted to write a special section for them just yet. But if you start with the Suite 3 painting, you’ll see just how dizzying that rabbit hole is.
What I’ll note here is that the confirmed ones are very close together, being 31 seconds apart in the mirrorform.
Actually, since I mentioned the Hercules thing in the GREAT PARTY special, know this: Mt. Vesuvius’s name means “son of Ves”, Ves being another name for Zeus, and people at the time of the destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum understood that Vesuvius was infused with the “genius” of Hercules. So Mt. Hercules genocided the people of “Hercules Town”. I think that plays nicely with the general theme of Jack’s mental disintegration (triggered by the ghostbooze right before the middle of the film) being a kind of suicide. And I think that concept pairs nicely with the Come Out, Come Out-themed postcard also on the fridge. And it really makes me wonder if all the Kool-Aid in this scene is meant to subtly evoke Jonestown, which would’ve occurred halfway through production. But I have no strong evidence for that.
In a moment Wendy will cover up the album One By One by Stomu Yamash’ta’s East Wind. This has enormous implications for the overall analysis of the film, but to keep things strictly mirrorform: the album will be right behind her belly as she talks to Jack about getting the job, right? Well, it’s a soundtrack for a 1975 racing documentary called One By One, and backwards Danny is hiding behind the snowcat that he and Wendy will ride to safety, once his “race” against Jack is won. The snowcat will overlay with Wendy’s stomach as the shot continues to pan.
We’ll later realize that the album is directly opposite the Colville painting, Horse and Train, which, itself, was the cover of Bruce Cockburn’s 1973 album Night Vision. The idea of night vision applies well generally to The Shining, and especially to this overlay moment of Jack scanning the dark, snowy night, searching for a trace of Danny. And Danny is moments away from the “day vision” that will bring the doctor, who passes the Night Vision cover with Wendy. As for “one by one”, Jack says this to Lloyd nearer to the middle of the movie.
Also, there’s a trail of footprints leading to the snowcat, made first by Hallorann, and which Danny probably jumped through to go unnoticed by Jack’s spying night vision. This is similar to his final trick on Jack.
I also want to point out the asian scroll painting of the blue bird on the pink blossom tree. If this should turn out to be a painting of a bird from the cuckoo family, that would potentially tie nicely to Danny having earlier been watching Roadrunner, who is also a cuckoo, but is at least a blue bird. The coyote might tie to the terrier in the painting above the TV, in a painting that Colville called his “Madonna and Child”, but we’ll get to that.
This is also the first appearance of the possible golliwog sitting next to the TV. Since Jack will sing out lyrics from a blackface character thanks to his leaving the hotel, I think it’s neat that it would appear right as he’s getting ready to embark on that journey. When the shot cuts to Jack on the phone in the lobby, Watson and Ullman will be arguing over his shoulder, with the model labyrinth between them, and an old man looking down on it, looking, perhaps, at the spot where Jack will be singing “San Francisco, Here I Come/Right back where I started from”. There is, by the way, a Carson city in California, which happens to be right next to the city of Torrance. Carson is where station 127 of the LACFD is located in the TV series Emergency!, which is referenced in a few minutes on a lunchbox in Danny’s bedroom.
Above Carson City is the Alex Colville painting Woman and Terrier (1963), which Colville describes as his Madonna and Child, where the painting of the held thing (the son of god) obscures (and decentralizes) the woman carrying it. This makes a nice visual metaphor for the way people tend to shove Wendy down into a tertiary existence when thinking about the film (though it should be noted that the film even mimics this composition later, when Wendy grabs onto a catatonic Tony-Danny; see below).
In fact, all the principal artists involved have agreed that Shelley Duvall’s performance here is one of the most impressive ever caught on film, and I happen to agree. It really stands with Isabelle Adjani’s work in Possession (1981), as one of the hardest to watch performances of all time.
But yes, in the overlay, we know Danny is hiding behind the snowcat, which is buried inside the image of Wendy, so there’s an inversion going on between the Mother and Child of the painting and the mother and child in this overlay.
And though it’s impossible to see here, there’s an airliner, identical to the one Hallorann will take to rescue the family buried in the Colville painting. So as much as Danny buries Wendy, they both bury Hallorann, who brought them this snowcat.
As Wendy asks if Jack got the job, backward Jack is passing Flock of Loons, which was last seen behind Watson being introduced to Jack as the man who got the job. It’ll mirror over the blue bird scroll here, and recall that the Flock of Loons behind Watson was fading in from the Roadrunner breakfast. My suspicion is that the scroll is by an artist the name Pu somewhere in their name (an artist named Pu Zuo did very similar works), and Wendy is compared to Winnie-the-Pooh throughout the film. So there’s potentially a cartoon/mother connection there.
Also, the blossoms on the branches are pink, signifying springtime. Wendy is “spring” in the Let It Be analysis.
Oh, also, since the paintings dominant tones are red/pink and blue, these are the colours Wendy’s wearing, but these are also the dominant tones of her Four Horsemen trials. Blue for Conquest and Famine, red for war and death. Since Wendy seems to correlate to Conquest, the blue connection is apt.
What’s neat about the art in the backward area here (I call it the “2nd entrance”) is that it’s all art that is seen around the lobby in other, different shots (in fact I can’t think of another lobby shot, going forward or backward, that completely blots out both Krieghoffs, as this one of Jack does). So the second entrance is like an inverted, messed-up lobby. Actually, there’s one piece of art here that doesn’t appear in the lobby, and that’s the righthand Oxborough by the exit. That piece only otherwise appears in the BJ well, which we’re just about to see Wendy go through (in fact, the two appearances of the piece are separated by exactly 40 seconds).
I also like the effect of Ullman being couched in a red elevator by the overlay (reminding of the last one we see, which will pour blood all over Ullman), while Jack has the bloodrug on his face, saying “It’s a…beautiful place. You and Danny are gonna love it.”
As for the two Krieghoffs, Winter Landscape, Laval is mirroring over phonecall Jack, while Log Hut on the St. Maurice is mirroring over Watson. And the mystery Hugh Monahan piece floats over Ullman for a few seconds. So the Krieghoffs (which speak to the death of Hallorann) are uniting Jack and Watson – Jack who is taking over Watson’s job, remember. Knowing the name of the Monahan piece would probably tell us something about Ullman’s unique role here.
Also, I didn’t make a screencap for it, but just as December Afternoon appears beside the elevator, the forward action cuts to Danny in the bathroom asking Tony to show him why he doesn’t want to go to the hotel. And when Tony gives up the vision, December Afternoon is in the shot.
As Danny asks Tony why he doesn’t want to go to the Overlook, Wendy is seeing the blowjob bear, and right beside her is a painting by Carl Schaefer called The Johnson House, Hanover (1932-42). Schaefer was a student of two members of the Group of Seven, so that probably explains the presence of his work. Hanover is a small town in Ontario, about midway between the four towns most associated with the end of the underground railroad. Possibly this house has some connection to escaped slaves, I don’t know.
But this name just so happens to strongly echo the name of the Johnson Cult of New Hanover. This was a group of Papua New Guineans who voted for Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, in their first ever election. They couldn’t be persuaded to change their vote. Look into it for a more thorough telling, but it’s now understood as a conscious act of Papua New Guineans shaming Australian colonialism.
And since “Johnson” could be interpreted as “Jackson”, it’s interesting that the painting would mirror over the real Danny. Since he’s asking Tony about a house where a “Jackson” painting will oversee Dick’s murder. In fact, in Tony’s vision, he’ll be showing Danny a hallway with Red Maple in it, just off screen.
As for the Danny in the mirror, if we think of this representing his “Tony” self, his head is mirroring over room 107, behind Wendy. There’s a lot of moon imagery in this stairwell, as we’ll see, and the code for the ship that took the Apollo 11 crew to the moon was the CSM-107, nicknamed Columbia. The nickname was in honour of Christopher Columbus, who is someone Jack was pretending to be a slave to at the beginning of this section, remember. But Tony is saying he doesn’t want to voyage into the dreaded Overlook, so I doubt that the overlay is suggesting a connection there. It is interesting that the Apollo 10 mission’s spaceships were nicknames Charlie Brown and Snoopy, and that Danny has Snoopy designs all over his bedroom, as we saw with the escape key, and which we’ll soon see much more of. As for Charlie Brown, though no obvious Charlie Brown art is in the film, that sketch of three faces in the lobby back hall strongly resembles numerous works by Charles Le Brun, whose name would be Charles the Brown, in English.
So, this all could be an obtuse way of saying Tony doesn’t want to confront colonialism, or commit something like it. Many have drawn the connections before me that The Shining is a critique on colonialism, and this may be one of the strongest proofs. Tony is about to give Danny the true tea about bloodfalls, twins, and what happens when we don’t protect our friends.
There is also a very obscure portrait to Wendy’s right, which I’ve had little luck with, thus far. One of my best guesses so far is that it’s of Maurice of Orange, one of the great forgotten evil, pro-slavery rulers of the Dutch empire. There’s a book beside the doctor in a few moments called Orange Wednesday, and sure enough the WEDNESDAY part of the movie opens with Danny playing on a very orange rug before being lured into room 237, the act that gets him injured, resulting in the distress call that summons Hallorann to his doom. So it’s possible that, as Danny’s about to be warned about why not to go to the Overlook, we’ve got an anti-slavery and pro-slavery painting on either side of a room with a connection to the moon mission and Christopher Columbus. And this room is directly across the hall from a room where a Winnie bear mask is performing a sex act.
The blowjob bear, as I call it, is Wendy’s first shine from the hotel. So mother and son are getting their first shines together here (unless you count Tony talking to Wendy over breakfast). And if you read my section on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (specifically Conquest), you’ll see how this vision for Wendy relates to her sexual transgression with her son (by showing him an R-rated film about sex, Summer of ’42 (and doesn’t Danny’s shirt here feature a 42?), and by trying to replace an increasingly absentee Jack with Danny). Danny’s four visions from Tony have nothing to do with Wendy’s lapses of motherly judgment, so it’s apt that Wendy’s cautionary vision would overlay with Danny wheedling for a shine.
Also, as mentioned many times elsewhere, this bear is probably a reflection of Wendy herself–a mash-up of Shelley Duvall’s eyes with Winnie-the-Pooh’s facial tones, in a suit reminiscent of the Magical Mystery Tour costumes. Winnie even has a scene involving looking in a mirror that many have compared to a similar scene in The Exorcist, which Kubrick expressed a fandom for. But how that relates to the mirrorform is: just off screen here is the Dopey sticker on Danny’s door, which we saw exactly 40 seconds ago (see below). This sticker features the wrong colours for Dopey, compared to his film iteration. In the film he’s green and purple (like the 237 rug). Here he’s yellow and red, like Pooh bear. Pooh bear will also show up twice, later, in scenes that either feature Wendy doing something connected to the bear, or which seem to allude to future actions by Wendy. And in my Snow White analysis, I think Wendy’s the most likely to correlate to Dopey, of the seven people who help Danny. And also, during the doctor scene, as we’ll see shortly, Wendy is dressed exactly like a puppet of Goofy next to Danny’s bed. So, Wendy has numerous connections to (for lack of a better word) dopey cartoon characters.
Also, with regard to Danny, Pooh bear has a famous bit of business with the “rain, rain, rain” coming “down, down, down”, creating a flood that makes a ruin of the 100-acre wood. Tony’s dark vision for Danny is of a similar flood. And it probably bears pointing out how Pooh bear is to Christopher Robin what Tony is to Danny. In the novel, Danny is clutching his Pooh bear doll while having a memory of a boy named Robin whose father “lost [his] marbles”, and he becomes intensely afraid of something like that happening to him if he keeps up with his Tony business.
I could retread the significance of the Mt. Vesuvius piece here, but why don’t you head to my article about that for the full accounting. If you’re too cool for that, the neat thing about that piece is, despite the fact that I’ve ID’d the piece, there’s only traces of clues to indicate who the artist might be. And who I believe it to be is the descendent of a more successful artist, who depicted similar scenes of Vesuvius (a guy named “Moonlight” Pether). And there’s strong evidence (I feel), to suggest that the reason the people selling the copy that exists today don’t know who it’s by is because that family fell into ruin. Did Kubrick know why bad fortune did this to the Pethers? Could it have had something to do with family relations? Note how in the Wiki for the family, Abraham Pether is said to have had a son, Henry, born 16 years after Abraham’s death–cuz that makes sense. I hate to speculate, especially about something so painful, but if that’s the case, it would make an apt connection to this moment, and generally to the family’s seeming obsession with the murder-suiciding Vesuvius.
There’s also a mysterious painting in the blowjob room of a dark shape that matches up with Danny’s iris here, right before he gets the vision. My big theory about the bloodfall is that it relates to the Pillars of Hercules, a myth that begins with Herc being told be Hera’s messenger Iris that he is a child of Zeus. A thing that causes him to murder his family. So I would guess that this piece will speak to that subtext, once we ID it. Every similar painting I’ve come across for it features either a mountain or a boat being the dark shape, so if this “iris” painting is of a mountain…isn’t it a mountain that causes Jack and Grady to want to kill their families?
It’s also worth remembering that Hera, who destroys Herc’s mind, is not his real mother. Though his family murder will cause him to give up his original name, Alcides, for the name Herakles, which means, “The Pride/Glory of Hera”. Thanksgiving must be awkward at the Zeus household.
There’s also a painting of two muskox here, which are named for the sexy pheromones they give off. I’ve wondered if this might be a depiction of a mother ox shepherding her child ox, which would tie to all the subtle imagery surrounding this moment.
There’s also a door to the left here reading “105”, and while I’ve had numerous thoughts about this across the site, for the sake of the mirrorform, it’s worth pointing out that the first page in the novel of the Torrances being alone at the hotel is page 105. So, it’s like Tony’s fear is less about the hotel as a structure off in the mountains somewhere where people spend a few days playing roque, than he’s afraid of being alone there, with no one but Jack and Wendy to protect Danny.
As Colville’s Moon and Cow (1963) appears onscreen for the first time, so do the Grady twins. This feels like a Pillars of Hercules thing. Behind backward Wendy are two more Oxborough children portraits (both girls), another apt comparison.
Also, the two doors closest to the twins are room 19 and room 21. Put em together and you got 1921, Jack’s eternal hell year. So perhaps it’s no coincidence that Moon and Cow resembles the last shot of Jack alive, collapsing into what will be his death pose (see below).
Moon and Cow happens to be directly above the 23rd out of 37 stairs that Wendy climbs to reach the blowjob bear. And the song playing over forward Danny, The Awakening/Dream of Jacob, is about the myth of Jacob’s ladder, which involves Jacob having a dream where a ladder extends from the earth to the heavens, and some believe the rungs on that ladder are symbolic of passing years.
Well, the distance from the earth to the moon (a part of the “heavens”) is sometimes 237,000 miles (the average is 238,855, but it varies). In fact the CSM-107 hovered a mile off the lunar surface, while the “eagle” went down to land on the moon. So 237 is indeed most likely a “moon room” as has been claimed, just not in the conspiratorial sense. Danny’s ladder, as it were, is the “237” that leads to the moon. And according to some scholars, the Jesus of myth had an intimate relationship with the moon. As always, I’m no expert.
And just so I don’t not say it: Apollo 11 really went to the moon. And our concept of the moon (and earth) changed for it. Similarly, we can voyage into the complexity of great art, and find that we can have an impact on it. Is that not what SK’s film did to Moon and Cow? To The Shining? Is adaptation not a form of gentle conquest?
The twins themselves seem to represent in one sense the anthropomorphization of the hotel’s ability to watch its occupants–remember, the murdered Grady girls of herstory were not twins. Until Lloyd shows up at the 64 minute mark (almost halfway), the twins are the only ghosts we see in the hotel (that we know of – Ullman and Watson are probably supernatural). And their duality, like much of what’s in the hotel, suggests watching eyes. At the top of the stairs, Wendy will see a form (possibly herself, as discussed) “mooning” the audience, and that image has a painting of some muskox (which are like cows), off to the side (in fact the “musk” of muskox is known to be quite potent, and connected to their mating habits).
Then again, it might be we who are the Cow in that moment, watching with cool relative disinterest for what’s playing onscreen, not understanding that this dense labyrinth (labyrinth almost seems too simple a word) of visual, subtextual connections exists. Think of how few people, in the grand scheme of things, have ever tried to peel back Kubrick’s layers, and how fractional the success at decoding has been across the four decades. Kubrick the genius created something almost as complex for the world as the moon is to that cow. Incidentally, if the cow is meant to represent the mass of people, could that be what Hercules is saving from Geryon? Is that why this was (almost) the last thing Hercules was asked to do? Because his labours started with killing his family, they would end with rescuing a symbolic family of people? The red cattle are sacrificed to Hera upon their return, mirroring how Herc’s story began.
If we consider the part where the cow doesn’t understand the moon, Jack dies not understanding the labyrinth. Part of the horror of the difference between father and son is just how incredible Danny’s survival pattern understanding is, and just how pitifully dumb Jack’s is. All he had to do was follow the trail, and he still lost the game.
In every one of these comparisons we’ve just considered, the commonality seems to be that two things are observing one another, with no seeming intent to effect one another, and this relationship seems to be a critique of the characters every time. So if we are the cow to the film’s moon, we might feel a paradoxical shame: at once unable to change anything about the injustices in the film, but feeling like our relationship to it should be more meaningful, even as its icy permanence holds our participation utterly outside of its reality, utterly within our own. But, such is art. (Well, until remix culture came about.)
As backward Wendy passes the Oxborough children, Danny gets the shine of himself witnessing the murder of Hallorann. So, again, we get the feeling of the horror of the genocide of indigenous folks. Hallorann’s death, thanks to Tony’s shine, was avoidable, but in the mirrorform it’s fait accompli. In fact, Danny’s next scream face is 42 seconds away from this one, and on the other side of the movie (remember Danny has a 42 on his shoulder).
And, again, one of these paintings will appear at the 2nd entrance, which has a strong connection to Hallorann’s death.
I also just want to make a brief mention of a cool thing I discovered while doing the Fibonacci analysis: in that study I look at how the film can be divided into ten sections of increasing length, each of which is a perfect Fibonacci number. But the first five sections account for only the first 12 mirrorform minutes, which end 13 seconds from this moment. The second five sections account for the last 131 minutes (55 of which are retread), and the first Danny scream face that appears in those appears 29 seconds into that section. So I’ve wondered if the scream faces (which, by the way, are separated by exactly 7000 seconds in the movie proper–how crazy is that?) are to the Fibonaccified Shining what The Door is to the mirrorform, or what the radio room pictures are to Redrum Road: a kind of hinge, or border-crossing to mark the significance of this formula. With that in mind, consider how, as we approach the 12-minute mark in the mirrorform analysis, we’re a sixth of the way through the 70:45 mirrorform movie, yet the amount of stuff to say has almost taken over a quarter of the words that will be spent analyzing the entire mirrorform. So it might be true that the film is front/end-loaded, mirrorformally (in fact, if you look at the pre- and post-INTERVIEW Shining, the pre- section (which ends at 17:38) is well over a third of the analysis). Interestingly, the opposite is true in the Fibonacci analysis (perhaps naturally): section nine (IX) alone (which covers the middle 34 minutes of the film, but those double back on themselves, so it’s more like 17 mirrorform minutes) accounts for a third of that page’s analysis. Redrum Road, for the record, is relatively even between the three thirds, and perhaps that’s to be expected. But it’s a neat phenomenon. These are my three hugest analyses and they have three equally different distributions of heft. I just think that’s neat, even if it’s simply a by-product of how I talk.
(True story: writing this is what lead to the new intro to the Fibonacci section. If you haven’t read that, I would check that out. It’s pretty neat if you’re a bible nut.)
Wendy is running between rooms numbered 13 and 15 in this moment, by the way, and you might recall from my intro doc how the Hansel & Gretel folktale is thought to have been inspired by the Great Famine of 1315-1317. At 13:15 into the mirrorform, Dick is seconds away from getting the chop in the lobby, while the doctor is asking Danny if he remembers what he was doing just before he “started brushing his teeth”.
But yeah, Wendy is in the Conquest Well here, and she will notice that Dick’s body has transubstantiated at the Famine Ball.
Let me just point out that my theory about the next two pieces Wendy passes (while more bloodfall would be happening in the opposite action), is that they show an area of England called Derwentwater (right), and a tidal island off the shore of France called Mont St. Michel (left). I have to stress that these are unconfirmed, but you’ll note that they both look close enough to be confirmed art.
What’s cool about these two locales is that both have to do with water, and both are of places with names connecting to book characters that were omitted from the text of the film. Horace Derwent was one of the major owners of the Overlook, who may or may not still control the business (Jack sees his ghost at the ghost ball). And Mont St. Michel is right next to an island called Tombelaine. And on page 11 of the book we hear about “Tom and Elaine”, a couple who live above the Torrances in Boulder, and who have vicious, audible, weekly fights. The bloodfall seems to at least be partly about the way that rivers and lakes and oceans separate people and nations, so these two pieces being possibly of England and France (who’ve had a stormy relationship at times), seems apt.
Also, there’s numerous characters in the book named Mike.
Right before the bloodfall vision washes up over the screen, we’ve got, here, in one of the rarest of instances, the same painting appearing twice in the same shot in two different locales (which is saying something for a film with paintings moving all over the dang place). Again, the piece is Clarence Gagnon’s Trapper’s Camp, appearing here on the second wall of the BJ stairwell (above the 11th step), and to the right of the bloodfall elevator (this is at 12:05, though the vision carries on until 12:07). The fact that two Trapper’s Camp paintings overlap, just 30 seconds after the death of Hallorann, and 4 seconds from Danny’s eye scream face, seems like a powerful binding spell speaking to the inevitability of Hallorann’s demise. At the very least, it feels like the Overlook gloating over its victory.
As you can see plainly, there’s an amazing effect achieved of the blood pouring down the circular stair, as well. This is doubly cool because it’s playing the end of Wendy’s four trials (the bloodfall) over the beginning of the first trial (the BJ well). Which brings to mind the fact that there was no guarantee Wendy would pass all the four apocalypse trials, and Danny had a vision of this last one three times throughout the film. So there’s the subtle implication there that his mother will ultimately fail him (not that she does). The urgency of the repetition, and Tony-Danny’s failure to relay this warning to Wendy.
It also creates the sense of a loop to the Four Horsemen business, like a mini-mirrorform within the mirrorform.
But I think what’s really going on there is this: the movie starts with Dies Irae, which is about judgment day, and which plays until we see “THE INTERVIEW”. There’s a slight break from apocalypse connections (unless you count the Christ music), but then the bulk of this section depicts Wendy’s four portals, ending exactly as we hit the middle of the Fibonacci sections, 12 minutes, and with Dream of Jacob playing too. This might seem counterintuitive, but I don’t really see Danny’s own visions of the bloodfall as being intrinsically about the “Death” of Four Horsemen fame. I think his visions are more like the Noah’s flood myth. They’re a warning about the coming redrum. So, what seems like a mini-mirrorform is actually the first half of the Fibonacci sections being about judgment day and the apocalypse, and the second half being about these same concepts (conquest, war, famine, death) abstracted from religious literalism. If you study the art that appears in the hotel, from the art objects around the hotel, to the music on the soundtrack, the ratio of sacred to non-sacred works sways radically in the opposite direction once we pass the middle of the Golden Shining. It’s not that there aren’t those flourishes, but, yeah. The hotel is more about naturalism, and the fantasy/reality of life itself.
I also just want to point out that there’s a photograph at Wendy’s feet here (see below), which you can’t see (appearing from 12:03-12:06), which happens to be one of the last Jack passes on his way to axe Hallorann. And here it’s awash in a blood wave, so that’s interesting. These are the only two appearances of this very unusual photo. The most similar-looking photo I’ve yet found is of a bunch of seamen about to make a voyage into the icy north in the 1920s, but I honestly have no idea if the one in the film even features a ship. But that would possibly speak to the Noah’s Ark subtext.
As Wendy begins the first of the four trials, the forward action is in blackout, and the doctor is heard saying, “Now hold your eyes still so I can see”. This seems like an apt phrase for this location, since we’ve got all this hard-to-ID art whizzing by in the dark (there’s still five I haven’t got yet).
The two pieces here are Starlight: Indian Papoose by Nicholas de Grandmaison and The Mill on the Cliff by Nicholas Hornyansky. Starlight will also be hanging next to Danny when he sees the twins in the ghostflesh, and Wendy will be standing exactly above where she’s standing right now when the vision of the twins is flashing on the other side. And these two pieces are by Canadian artists named Nick. Grandmaison means “big house” and the other painting features a big house.
Still inside Danny’s blackout, Jack passes the glass room behind reception with the twin plovers painting in it, and the sign on it reads ACCOUNTANT HENRY CALLAHAN. The most famed person bearing this exact name is known as one of the leading proponents of Ultimate, the sport of Frisbee, which he brought to the University of Oregon in 1978 while pursuing a degree in “finance”. Apparently, Callahan wrote impassioned essays about the sport and even got a fledgling Nike to pay $10,000 to support the university’s team, which was named the Low Flying Ducks by the members (later renamed EGO). That seems especially interesting when you consider that the room features birds, and how just up the hall are the two Monahan paintings of the geese flying low over the waves, one of which is called December Afternoon, which this is. Actually, December Afternoon was seen in backward Jack’s last sequence, stalking past the elevators to get to Danny outside. Seconds after that, it appeared in Tony’s vision, and 9 seconds after the bloodfall blotted it out there, it’s appearing here.
There was also a Harry Callahan (Harry is synonymous with Henry in English, like Jack and John), who was a famous photographer, famous for double exposure, meaning, creating photographs that look like mirrorform images. So perhaps it’s only too perfect that the mirrorform would be at its most extended “single-image” appearance as his name slides by.
A moment later, in Danny’s bedroom, we see that the two Monahan bird paintings are very close to where (on the left) Danny’s rubber ducky was in the shower (see below), and (on the right) where the ducky has migrated to, atop the window shelf. Not to mention the duck stickers on Danny’s door. “Low Flying” or otherwise, we got our fair share of ducks, here. So the Callahan reference seems likely. Also, there’s a painting that appears outside Ullman’s and later outside room 237 of what are almost certainly “ruddy ducks”, though I’ve found it near impossible to identify this very discernible piece.
Also, note how the Wendy-style Goofy puppet is right in the middle of December Afternoon here. His blue/red attire again seems to foreshadow Wendy witnessing the bloodfall that will splash all over this painting.
In fact, this marks the start of the second “half” of the Golden Shining, at 12:14 into the film. Jack’s frozen corpse appears to the audience on December 14th (12/14), if it’s truly the day after his collapse (12/13). Actually, you know what never occurred to me before somehow? Jack’s last sane day is Nov. 30th, and his first unhinged day is Dec. 4th. So really, his entire psychosis plays out over seven such “December afternoons”. Which we could write out as 7 12s.
Also, this overlay nicely shows Danny at his most protected, and backward Danny at his most endangered.
Here’s one showing backward Jack’s blood-stained hand dripping on Danny’s face. The blood is from the slash Wendy gave him, and the blood has taken on a kind of bull-shaped pattern as it drips between his knuckles.
Also note that we’ve got another instance here of an axe on screen with an elephant, the purple elephant on the art by Wendy’s leg. This elephant will be on screen when Jack’s axe collides with Hallorann’s chest, right outside the room where we saw the last elephant. And just for the record, there’s quite a bit of chess imagery in the film, like how when Wendy and the doctor go out into the living room to chat, there’ll be two large knight pieces bookending over their heads. Well, the original piece for what is now the “bishop” was an elephant called the “alfil“. I don’t have a very strong network of reasons to think this is relevant yet, but I do have reason to think that Hallorann is something like a knight. So maybe the elephant imagery is to imply Jack thinks he’s a bishop when really he’s just a pawn.
It’s probably also worth pointing out that 10 seconds after forward Danny’s eye scream face the doctor has got her biomicroscope down in Danny’s eyes, which she checks for 10 seconds, and then 22 seconds later, backward Danny is doing the real life eye scream face, as we’ll soon see.
In this one, the Henry Callahan office overlays with the forward bathroom (red box), where Danny just had his vision. If you toss out the Callahan connection, that’s still the approximate direction in which Danny is hiding in the steel drawer. So the locations of both Danny’s eye screams are overlapping here (the steel drawer for real, the Boulder bathroom for the shine). Also, the doctor is asking Danny if he saw any “bright, flashing lights, or anything at all strange” to which the boy replies, “No.” I’m just noting that because near-death experience survivors often report heading toward a bright, comforting light, and backward Dan just experienced Hallorann’s death, possibly from inside the dying man’s head.
Note the way the doctor often seems to be blocking Danny from the horrors going on in the mirrorform.
There’s another image like this coming up a long way from now, where one of Danny’s scream faces overlays with a very placid Danny (see below). In that other case, the visual metaphor seems to be about the ocean of terror going on inside the catatonic child, zombie-walking into his mother’s arms.
In this instance, Danny is lucid, and the horror face is the result of being able to shine Hallorann’s death, at the moment of his axing. The doctor’s asking if he remembers anything about what came before his blackout, and he’s saying no. So perhaps this speaks to the horror backward Danny might feel at knowing he was warned this would happen, and did nothing to stop it. Or possibly the effect is to give away the lie of Danny’s claim. He does remember, but he doesn’t know what to make of it.
(Again, if you haven’t read my Fibonacci section intro, you might appreciate learning about the subtle significance of this scream face business.)
Fun fact: remember how there’s 7000 seconds between the first and last scream faces? Well that middle scream face divides that 7000 into a 4063-second half and a 2937-second half. Isn’t math fun! So if that’s an intentional little 237 snuck in there, I guess I should note that the sideways scream face is Danny reacting to the second of the three bloodfall visions, while Jack is about to explode at Wendy over the idea of leaving the hotel (after having just come from his own 237 experience).
She then asks if he remembers brushing his teeth, and as he says yes, we get this image of the axe to Hallorann’s chest, which also seems half-buried in Danny’s skull, and his brown bear pillow with the yellowish face. So if the BJ bear (and bears generally) represents Wendy, then this shot shows the sacrifice Hallorann made to save Danny and Wendy.
Jack’s axe is burying into Hallorann right straight up the hall from where Jack’s photo will hang forever. And in that photo, Jack’s stuck in the year 1921, in a collection of 21 photos. And Danny here is wearing a sports shirt with the number 42 on it.
There’s a sign up the hall here that Hallorann’s torso directly obscures that seems to be advertising the different times of day that activities happen in the Gold Room. It’s mostly obscure in the one shot where we can make it out, but the words we can see include “COCKTAIL”, “INDIAN” and “LADIES”. Need I say more?
Well, actually I am curious what the phrase that started with “INDIAN” was going to go on to say. “INDIAN SUMMER”? “INDIAN MURDER REENACTMENT”?
There’s a thin purple box on the shelf next to Danny’s head here that says Snow White on it. This is probably where his Dopey sticker came from. Check out the Snow White analysis for a complete overview. But for this moment, Hallorann getting axed is probably equivalent to the moment when Snow’s glass coffin is dropped, returning her to her senses, so it’s appropriate that, despite the fact that the Dopey sticker will be missing from Danny’s door, we haven’t left the comparison behind.
There’s a thermos (top shelf by the tiger mask) and lunchbox (second shelf, beneath Goofy), from the TV series Emergency! (1972-1979) which was a highly-rated series (especially considering the era), with a 7.9 on IMDb, and it used people with real firefighting experience in some of the roles, and at least named two of its characters with the actor’s real names (à la Jack and Danny). The series involved a fire engine, so I like to imagine that future references to Danny’s fire engine (there’s three, two of which occur while the Grady/Jack bathroom tryst is going on in the mirrorform) are connected to these objects. In the overlay, here, it certainly seems to reference Hallorann’s impending doom. And backward Hallorann here did just pass the spot where Danny asked if he could go get his fire engine. Also, the star of the series, Randolph Mantooth, is half Seminole, so the letter board isn’t the only subtle indigenous reference in this scene. The name Seminole comes from a Creek word meaning “runaway”.
And while I’m at it, I might as well ID the other objects here. There’s two boxes of Sewing Cards on the shelves, in a yin-yang position to each other, and one of these will later appear next to zombie Jack when Danny stumbles in for their one scene alone together, when he’s in search of his fire engine, in fact. Sewing cards involve putting a piece of yarn through holes on a piece of paper to generate patterns, or complete images. A similar concept to the clew we saw not long ago.
The green box on top of the shelf I haven’t ID’d yet, but it’s with the fire engine, the Winnie-the-Pooh doll and the bat, when Wendy goes to fight Jack. The name on the box seems to say either Bull Riders or Bull Rodeos, and in the mirrorform throughout this sequence, it’s hovering over the model labyrinth, as Hallorann passes it. So, Jack being the minotaur, Danny will become the Cowboy, the bull rider, that rides him down.
There’s a copy of the game Candyland on the bottom shelf with one red and one yellow tennis racket lying on top of it. The rackets bear the same colours as Winnie-the-Pooh, and Candyland bears a loose connection to Hansel and Gretel, since the cover art features a house made out of confections (also, the letter board behind the doctor’s head advertises a “SWEET SHOP”). It also references the gingerbread man, who famously ran, ran, ran as fast as he could, just as backward Danny is about to do. There’s also two pairs of shoes and one pair of red boots (obscured in this shot), which seem to suggest Danny’s future running about. And don’t forget, we’re coming up to the time code 13:15 here, which echoes the year of the Great Famine that possible inspired Hansel and Gretel.
And finally, there seems to be something analogous to everything we saw on Danny’s door not long ago. For Minnie Mouse we have Goofy, for Dopey we have the Snow White set, for Woodstock hugging a rainbow balloon in the sky, here we have Snoopy in a hot air balloon with rainbow-esque tones (near the Peanuts-covered window curtains, which Danny’s bedsheets match, by the way). And for the bird stickers we have a Fuzzy Felt Farm (the green box below the lunchbox), which contains felt birds you can stick to the board.
Again, when Danny tells the doctor he was “Talking to Tony” the overlay shows the bathroom in the same spot as the view to the Henry Callahan office and hiding Danny. We see a tiny sliver of the Plovers painting.
But what’s really cool about this shot is two things that can’t be seen. 1) Jack hiding behind the last pillar. 2) A book the doctor is obscuring with her body: a copy of Teeny Weeny Adventures, a short-lived magazine series glorifying country and wilderness activities to kids. This particular issue shows on the cover the main characters (the twin-like “Tobi and Terri”) at a red cabin, presumably camping. So while Tobi and Terri camp, Jack Torrance is camping out behind a red pillar, near where we first saw Trapper’s Camp, which features a trapper who looks like ol’ Hallorann here.
When the doctor asks if Tony is one of his imaginary animals, the tiger mask is right next to her head, only now its eyes are completely covered by that picture frame/chalkboard thing. In the wider shot (see above), one of its eyes was unblocked. I think this little trickery has more to do with the forward action (once the doctor starts asking about Tony, the tiger hides, and once she stops, it peeks out again; also Tony the Tiger, of Frosted Flakes fame, will make several appearances in the film). But it’s interesting that this hiding Tony business carries on throughout almost the entirety of Hallorann’s last walk. That speaks somewhat to the way that Tony/Danny is so close by, but does nothing to save Hallorann from his doom. And just generally speaking, Hallorann was the only other person to have a serious conversation with Danny about Tony. After this scene, Wendy will never address Tony again, despite the way he’ll hijack Danny’s form for the majority of the rest of the screen time.
Actually, the tiger mask hides its eyes at exactly 13:15, our famine years. I wonder if this speaks to the Donner Party subtext. There was a young man in the company named Luke Halloran, who died on August 25th of 1846. That happens to be the 237th day of the year, except on leap years, when it’s the 238th day. The Donner Party year was not a leap year. But isn’t that wild that Hallorann’s (likely) namesake died on the only day that could be both 237 and 238? And room 238 is likely where movie Hallorann’s soul gets absorbed. So maybe this speaks to Tony (the tiger mask) knowing that Dick had to be “fed” to the hotel in order to save Danny. His eyes are hidden during the “Great Famine” years, because he knew that the famine needed to be resolved by Dick’s death. As we’ll see later, Jack starts telling the Donner party story at exactly 18:46, and Hallorann gets the chop at 2:08:37.
The mirrorform time period for Hallorann’s on-screen death is 12:45-12:52. There’s not a lot of things that happened in these years that Wikipedia felt fit to print, so it’s interesting how many references can be drawn.
- In 1245, Westminster Abbey was rebuilt, and Hallorann drives past a road sign on his way to the rescue, listing a “Westminster” (a scene that mirrors over Danny discovering room 237 (42:31).
- In 1246 Little Sir Hugh of Lincoln was born. His murder in 1255 is the subject of a song that appears as track one on an album that appears in Hallorann’s apartment during the whole middle scene of the movie.
- In 1248 Saint Louis launched the seventh crusade. A woman wearing a St. Louis jersey crosses the lobby on closing day, passing the spot where Hallorann gets killed.
- In 1249 and 1250, more stuff with Saint Louis went down, but 1250 was also the year that Leonardo of Pisa (who discovered the Fibonacci sequence) died.
- The movie opens with Dies Irae, which is thought to have been written by Thomas of Celano. Thomas wrote a book about his friend St. Francis of Assisi (who is referenced by Jack near the beginning in his Bombo singing), called Second Life sometime between 1244 and 1247. If that was the same period in which he wrote Dies Irae, it’s worth noting that the version from the 13th-century manuscript thought to be the first official version is from 1253-1255. Meaning Celano might’ve been composing it in the years prior, only to write it down officially in the first year after Dick’s death phase. So, as the backward action gives Dick his life back, we have this Second Life and Dies Irae reference. I don’t often think about the backwards part of the mirrorform as literal – I usually only see it as a way of tracking the opposing action – but here it’s pretty apt to look at it that way.
You know, I’d actually never before connected the dots with Dick and all these 13th century references. That’s pretty wild.
Note that Goofy is now hovering in the air above the Bull Riders/Bull Rodeos game box. So if Wendy is Goofy (their outfits are the same colours in the same places), and they’re talking about Tony, I wonder if this suggests Wendy’s mild shining ability. Also, note that forward Goofy (above the bull game) is hovering next to the backward maze model in the lobby. This could suggest Danny’s seeming levitation at the end of his run (Danny is also wearing Goofy colours), or it could suggest Wendy’s role in helping Danny survive (by showing him the labyrinth, no less).
Here, when the doctor asks if Tony ever tells Danny to do things, Danny shrinks away from the question. But in the reverse we see Hallorann, who Danny did tell that Tony tells him never to tell his parents that Tony tells him things. Perhaps this is only because Wendy’s in the forward room, and wasn’t with him with Hallorann in the kitchen.
This, in conjunction with the hiding tiger mask, could be a subtle suggestion that Tony is telling backward Danny not to alert Hallorann of his impending doom. Perhaps Tony understands that the only way to survive now is to let fate run its course.
It’s worth pointing out, too, that, given Goofy’s status as a Wendy twin, in this shot (his final close-up) he’s looking up the hall from the same rough position as Wendy will be in, when she runs in to see the skeleton ball, with his back to the final photo wall. The camera work in that scene will mimic the work in this scene.
Backward Jack shows up in the action just when Danny says he doesn’t want to talk about Tony anymore, as if protecting the information.
The other thing to note here is there’s a rug in the lobby of a style only ever seen in the Colorado lounge before now, and it’s overlaying the bathroom, where Danny was standing. As you can see in the graphic below the rug that was there in every other lobby scene was a different rug also from the lounge, and as you probably recall, the TV that stands on both rugs has no power cord. So, is that one last reminder of the absurdity of Danny’s powers? Seems redundant. Perhaps the design on the new rug of twin forking pillars is a reference to the twins, who Danny just saw for the first time. That would pair nicely with Jack’s imminent completion of the Grady cycle of violence. Also, Wendy and the doctor are about to step out into the hall where a wall knitting that looks like the twins will float behind them.
As the doctor stands and reveals the Teeny Weeny Adventures, Jack is passing that most obscure photo that will only make that one other appearance, in the BJ well (124 seconds apart, which is the AT code for The Three Little Pigs). I like to think “teeny weeny adventures” was SK’s joke to himself about the ubiquity of all these tiny absurdities. As if the Overlook was riddled with microscopic gremlins carrying out all these pointless little shiftings, unnoticed by the characters.
But the figures on the covers of these books were usually doing some sort of camping or outdoor adventure, so, since this book would overlay Jack’s hiding spot, earlier (see below), I’m guessing this is another reference to Trapper’s Camp.
In the salon up the hall behind Wendy here is a knitting of a little boy and girl. I was able to find an exact replica of the knitting, but in different colours and attributed to no artist, so I’m wondering if this was from some pattern kit, and if Kubrick had the kids in the film made blue-and-white to echo the Grady twins from Danny’s vision a moment ago. If so, that could help with my theory about GREAT PARTY guy being Charles Grady, because backward Jack here is passing the spot where GREAT PARTY ghost will appear to Wendy, and the knitting twins float roughly over where he’ll stand.
Actually, in this very moment they’re overlaying with what I call the mazerug (with its 2x3x7 diamond design), and the piece of bog oak that will vanish between Wendy seeing dead Hallorann and Grady ghost. So perhaps the vanished bog oak is similar to the vanished art behind Grady ghost.
And recall that straight through the wall from this big rug we see here (I’ve called it the Lightningrug for its repeating bolt shapes, and the only day it’s ever seen being Thursday (Thor’s Day)) is the painting of Maligne Lake, with Samson Peak. The knitting twins have just overlaid with this whole area (starting in Jack’s head for a few beats, in fact).
The second Colville to be seen in the film is Horse and Train, which depicts a dark horse galloping toward an oncoming train at night. It overlays with Jack heading to kill Hallorann, which involves flowing over all six of the artworks seen in the hall behind Jack. Could it possibly speak to all of them? I doubt it somehow, but maybe if I knew the identity behind the two sketches I’d think differently.
This painting has often been invoked by people who want to praise its depiction of a mortal being charging against seemingly impossible odds. The horse doesn’t fight the train because it thinks it will win, it fights it because it is a train. But who is this painting ultimately meant for? As one of the easiest to identify, and most closely witnessed paintings in the film, perhaps that’s an indication of how broadly its metaphor can be applied to the film’s action. The piece has a duality that evokes fate and choice: the train cannot be moved from its track, while the horse could gallop away at any moment (though they are surely seconds away from colliding). So why does the horse seem fated to face its impossible odds?
The overlay with Jack, here, suggests that he is the horse, charging toward the oncoming train of the murder he’s been hired to commit. Like the horse, Jack is making a bad decision to charge this way, and there will be no gladness in Jack’s victory. But the inverse would seem to make more sense: Hallorann is the horse, charging unwittingly against impossible odds and all good sense, save heroism. Finally, the horse could be Wendy, who is simply charging along the track of her life, unaware that it leads face first into something terrible coming the other way. And just a reminder that Horse and Train was the cover of Bruce Cockburn’s album Night Vision, which contained a track called Déjà Vu, which feels apt for the film, generally.
There’s also the fact that Wendy’s Four Horsemen trials ended exactly 143 seconds (a Fibonacci number, and a number associated to Jack’s death) before this piece flows past her mind and Jack’s. Hallorann will be murdered next to Stormy Weather by Frederick Horsman Varley. And while there were “HORSE RIDES” offered on the letter board by the front door, this is our first clear view of a horse in the film. Something that will happen three more times.
And for anyone who doubts the veracity of my analysis of The Door, or my analysis of Jack as a man who knows no shine power (who are you?), try this one on for size.
Right at this moment two things are happening in the mirrorform. 1) The Door is appearing for the first time, overlaying with a stalking Jack. And 2) Jack is looking up the hall at the doors Wendy will flee through to escape GREAT PARTY ghost. But that’s not the only thing these doors lead to. In fact, we know from looking at two other moments in the film (see below) that Danny is hiding in the steel drawer right through these doors. Hallorann’s first “Hello! Anybody here?!” happens 14 seconds after Jack passes this hall (so it wasn’t simply that the sound of Dick was drawing Jack on). The Grady ghost will appear right here to Wendy, so the hotel even had the power to have someone like Grady appear, and push Jack right at Danny. He could’ve burst through the door, and been five feet from his redrum object. Had-he-but-known.
Or had the hotel wanted Danny more than Hallorann.
Also, as per my GREAT PARTY analysis, right as Jack is passing the spot where that ghost will appear, Wendy and the Doctor are walking into the shot that shows the one art piece in the film that I’ve ID’d so far that features an artist named Mark. Ted Mark wrote the James Bond spoof Dr. Nyet. Jack’s father in the novel is Mark Torrance. Jack’s also passing a painting here by Paul Kane, and a “cane” is what Mark uses to almost beat Jack’s mother to death.
This is the first shot chronologically (in the movie proper) of the audience seeing the spot in the hall behind Ullman’s office where his bright, glaring window should be, and in the forward we’ve got the Torrance’s bright glaring windows. In fact (see below), the Torrance apartment doesn’t match well with the exterior shot of that building. We see in the doctor sequence that the Boulder apartment has bright light pouring in from three directions (north, south, and west, by the look of it), and while the exterior apartments all have large balconies, the Torrance apartment enjoys no such luxury. So, even if they were in the penthouse, and even if the building was only 10-15 metres wide, there’s still the absent balconies.
As the doctor is telling Wendy she doesn’t think she has anything to worry about with Danny’s physical state, backward Hallorann is just walking in the 2nd entrance door, to save the day. Wendy’s visible relief is apt.
While I’ve fully identified most of the books, magazines, and newspapers in the film, the thing to point out here is what I like to call the Torrance-Hallorann shared library (see graphic below). On the coffee table there’s one called something like Europe Open Europe Closed (green box in the graphic), and which doesn’t seem to exist in reality (my search has been excruciatingly thorough, but please prove me wrong; I’d love to know what it is). But if Hallorann is analogous to the Americans who rushed to Europe’s aid against Hitler, this could refer to the fact that the Overlook’s door was “open” when Hallorann arrived.
Also, regarding The Door, it invented the phrase “the butler did it” (Jack is about to become the next Grady, who he was earlier calling “Jeevesy!”). In this scene, its Had-I-But-Known quality sits in stark contrast to the symbolism of the Horse and Train painting. Wendy has been warned by Tony not to go to the Overlook, Wendy knows that talking to Tony lead to Danny’s blackout, and Wendy is about to reveal her awareness of Jack’s abuse against their child, and alcohol dependency. So she really can’t say “had I but known”. Same with Hallorann, who understood the hotel’s dark history, and Danny’s awesome, delicious power. Also, he travels to the Overlook knowing full well what was in the shine that Danny sent him. Still, he probably didn’t think 237 ghost would equal axe to the heart.
And while several of the visible books here lightly apply to the mirrorform scenario, the one that seems to be the most apt is one that’s right at Hallorann’s stomach as he passes through the open door. Tiger of the Snows, by Tenzing Norgay, the first man to climb Mt. Everest. Hallorann is on screen with Tony the Tiger in two different scenes, and as far as we know he’s the first man to drive a snowcat through a blizzard up Mt. Overlook.
If you’d like to contemplate what other connections may exist in this overlay, start with my analysis of The Door, and read all the way down to Orange Wednesday. Fair warning, that’s about 7000-8000 words.
As mentioned, we’ve got Young Jethro by Roy Clews here. Besides the clew behind Wendy’s head in the reverse shot, backward Hallorann is passing the real labyrinth, on his way to die beside the model labyrinth.
Actually, this is a good spot to observe that Ina Seidel (whose hit novel The Wish Child overlays with Hallorann here) had her breakthrough as a writer with Das Labyrinth, which was a “somber Freudian study of the 18th-century naturalist Georg Forster; the novel’s main character, despite immense talent, dies in misery as he gropes through life’s labyrinth.” Seidel’s books were a smash hit with post-WWI Germans, and she was an early adherent of Hitler’s, but she would go on to write Michaela (1959) in which she confronts the guilt of Christians who supported Hitler.
Backward Wendy, fully awoken to Jack’s violent menace, has overlaid on her face the twin salt-and-pepper shakers, the bull figurine, and the cotton balls on the back bookshelf. This is also the first shot where we clearly see the two horse figurines bookending the shelves above the bull figurine. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was another way of foreshadowing the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (although there’s only two here, there is an offscreen Horse and Train, and there’s one mystery painting in Suite 3 that might include a horse), which backward Wendy is just about to face.
As discussed in the Golden Bowl section, backward Jack is about to move through a space where once there was a gold bowl on a large steel shelf. My theory is that these bowls were a reference to Ecclesiastes 12:6-8 which includes the line “all is vanity”. Forward Wendy here has certainly bought into the notion that all is vanity with her purchase of Virginia Slims, who targeted feminism as a way to sell cancer sticks. The doctor is proving that all is not vanity by politely declining Wendy’s offer in this moment.
The one book visible on the stack closest to the doctor is Orange Wednesday, by Leslie Thomas (1967). The plot of that WWII-based book is interesting, but just look at that name, Orange Wednesday. At the start of WEDNESDAY in the film, the first shot is Danny playing on a brightly orange carpet. He’s lured up a long hall and turns right to go into 237, which turns out to be a dead-end of sorts, right? Well, here Danny’s running up a long hall, and ducks left, into the steel drawer, which also happens to be a dead-end. This also makes a nice comparison to Snow White. If 237 is where Danny goes silent (Snow biting the crone’s apple), the steel drawer is where he gets his voice back (dropping the glass coffin).
The doctor here is also just starting to ask if Tony’s first appearance coincided with anything. And it did: Jack’s violence against his 2-year-old son. Tony’s takeover of Danny will coincide with the 237 violence against him, and will end with Jack’s murder of Hallorann.
There’s also a book right over the doctor called Angell, Pearl, and Little God, but only Little God is visible as backward Tony/Danny runs to his hidey hole. That would make a nice allusion to Danny’s Icarus status. Also, the names “Hansel and Gretel” translate to “God is Gracious” and “A Pearl”. So Danny hiding in the steel box during this book’s appearance is apt. But also, the isolation of “God/Hansel” speaks to Danny’s isolation.
Also, I just love the image of Danny sprinting towards the relaxed doctor. Danny is “Doc”, and Stephen King imagined that he would age into a doctor of sorts. So Danny’s flight from violence here is also a grasping at his best life still being possible when this is all over.
When the doctor is starting to ask about “the appearance of Danny’s imaginary friend…” and Wendy supplies the name “Tony” the two Hugh Monahan paintings appear, and overlap with the heads of both women. The doctor (who is staring right at the spot on the wall behind which Danny would be laying) gets December Afternoon in her head, and Wendy gets the unnamed one. Only December Afternoon appears near the bloodfall, so is this a nod at the fact that the doctor’s skepticism helped the rest of the story unfold? It would be easier to decode this if we knew the other painting’s name, I think.
But it’s true that backward Danny has just “appeared” from behind the veil of Tony’s control, doing the opposite of what the doctor is implying about Tony. And these paintings “appear” right as Wendy supplies the name.
“Did Tony’s first appearance happen to coincide with your arrival here?” Hallorann, the other known shiner, is arriving at the Overlook.
The window that Danny slipped out of is visible right beneath the seat of the closest white chair behind Wendy. I’m not sure that that means much, but I think it’s interesting that it overlays with where Danny was sitting during breakfast.
As Wendy attributes the emergence of Tony to Danny’s starting nursery school, backward Wendy reacts to hearing the arrival of Hallorann. In both cases, violence leads to the arrival of a shiner, thanks to Danny’s mind: Tony, then Hallorann. And Hallorann is riding the snowcat Tony Burton rented to him, remember.
Also, it takes all the way to this point in their conversation for the actual clew to show up on the shelf behind Wendy’s head (for the first time since it faded behind her head at breakfast). We’re into the part of Wendy’s “Interview” that could be seen as tantamount to Jack hearing about Grady from Ullman. The doctor’s line of Tony questions will reveal what kind of man Jack really is.
When the doctor asks if Danny adjusted well to school, the overlay is backward Jack looking utterly monstrous. We know in the film that Jack was “formerly a school teacher” but we never know that the reason he’s “former” is because of violence against a student. So that’s apt.
I also wonder if this might be why we get the Charles Dickens Christmas Books on top of the stack closest to Wendy, for the Oliver Twist connection, or some such. I’m no Dickens expert, but I know his work dealt clearly and unapologetically with the 19th-century treatment of children by society, and that he campaigned for children’s rights.
Note too how the framing of this shot blocks out many of the books that were visible before, but especially the Roy Clews book. Is that because Jack doesn’t have a clue about how to beat das labyrinth this Christmas season?
To her credit, Wendy didn’t have to mention that Danny dislocated his shoulder. She could have gone on attributing Tony to nursery school, and left it there. So this scene does take on a “cry for help” quality, even as Wendy’s sheepishness grows, realizing how her story sounds. Her narrative makes a series of short turns all throughout the next minute as she tries to make her decision to stay with Jack sound rational, and not the result of apathy, laziness, or fear.
In the overlay, we get this impossible piece of splintering wood blocking the first door panel that Jack had axed out (to say “Here’s Johnny!” in). Wendy is gesturing to the same side as a reference to Danny’s dislocated shoulder.
As Wendy says, “my husband grabbed his arm” backward Jack is grabbing the key in the door lock, and backward Wendy is slashing Jack’s hand for it. A moment of vengeance? Enacting what she wished she could’ve done in that other moment, against the hand that presumes to grab?
Actually, the lesson and escape keys flow by Danny near bathrooms where he experiences serious psychic traumas. Jack experiences this physical trauma thanks to trying to grab a key, and his other physical trauma (being batted down the stairs) occurs thanks to pushing Wendy closer and closer to room 237, a room Jack escaped the night before after leaving the key dangling in the lock (see below).
A split second later, we get Wendy holding these two very different spears, one that hurts herself (cigarette) and one that will hurt Jack (knife).
It’s mythologized that SK only put in the “Here’s Johnny” line after much consideration, and with another line formerly in the lead, that he eventually scrapped. I doubt this for numerous reasons.
Consider the following: Wendy is sitting in the room where Carson City was playing in colour, and then black and white. The real Carson City is named for Kit Carson, who famously condemned the Sand Creek massacre, which seems to be referenced throughout the film. As Jack is crossing the threshold to the bathroom, he says, “Come out, come out, wherever you are” which is the name of a celebrated TV movie, about an abusive alcoholic innkeeper played by the actor John Carson.
Also, forward Wendy is saying, “It’s just the sort of thing you do a hundred times with a child” and I think that’s apt too, because “Here’s Johnny” was heard hundreds of times over the years. In fact, all of the things Jack says once he’s gone axe happy are catch phrases a child might hear. “Wendy, I’m home” (I Love Lucy), “Come out, come out wherever you are” (Wizard of Oz, Hide and Seek), and the entire big bad wolf speech from the Three Little Pigs, which was probably a bedtime story for many a youth throughout the ages. So there’s this crossover going on between the notion of how doing something to a child 100 times means it can’t be bad, and murderous Jack sputtering out nothing but catch phrases and fables. Brings to mind Kubrick’s critique of Disney.
Oh, one last thing, which is one of my favourite bits of trivia: it’s said that Nicholson hacked down about 60 doors while filming and re-filming these sequences (I’ve also seen reports of it being close to 100, which makes a nice coincidence with the overlay dialogue). Nicholson did work for a fire service, and knew how to take a door down.
As Wendy says, “my husband just…used too much strength”, backward Jack is just finishing collapsing the last bit of door, and the art piece on the wall makes it look like Wendy has a massive black eye. The slang term for a black eye is a “shiner”.
I also like how Wendy’s Slim here is sticking in Jack’s face, like, fuck you too.
Also, it should be noted how this oval painting is of a mountain seen across a large lake, similar to the “autumn” photo outside Ullman’s (see below). The day of Jack’s attack being December 13th, that’s 8 days before the winter solstice. So even though we think of this as a “winter will drive you crazy!” story, Jack couldn’t even make it that far. This rage is autumn-born. There’s also a painting in Suite 3, seen as Jack enters, called Touch of Autumn. Since autumn correlates to Watson in the Let It Be analysis, I wonder if this says something about the doctor here – my feeling, based on a lot of reflection, is that Watson, however attached to the Overlook, represents the forces of “good”. During the tour, we’ll note that he and Wendy wear the same cream turtleneck sweater. But if that’s so, he does nothing to stop Jack from taking the job, just as the doctor says nothing (that we hear, anyway) about Jack’s monstrous violence against his toddler. Like Watson, she gets the bad news, and remains silent. Judgmental, but silent.
Also, Touch of Autumn is by Gerard Curtis Delano (pronounced the same as Franklin Delano Roosevelt) and the oval landscape is very likely by Franklin Popham Cattermole. So, while I haven’t found evidence of a “Roosevelt” painter in the room, it would seem that there’s a “presidential” connection to Wendy’s black eye. As we’ll soon see, while Jack is driving up to the Overlook, there’s a painting that will encircle his eye of the Kaiser mountains in Austria. Kaiser being another name for Caesar, which was the name on the book growing out of mirror Jack’s head a few images ago. In the novel, one of the evilest rooms is the “Presidential Suite”, which goes by the number 300. Here, the Torrance apartment is Suite 3 (it was unnumbered in the book).
Novel Wendy even has a thought about the Presidential Suite that it makes her nervous thinking of sleeping in the same bed as the greatest men who ever lived. She then corrects herself to think, “the most powerful men”.
But also, there’s the point to be made about how the backward violence is the result of going up a mountain. She has “mountain eye”. Actually, in feng shui, which I idly studied some years ago, there’s something called the “long eye”, which is shorthand for how you shouldn’t be able to see too far a distant from any window in your house, because it makes you see too far, crave for more than you should want. Personally, I enjoy the long eye, but you can imagine how living at the Overlook could give you that, and why that would be bad. There is an asian banner in the Boulder apartment. It might be a long shot, but perhaps it will seem to allude to this, if we can ever ID it.
While both works never appear on screen at the same time, here you can see Christian Meier’s biography of Caesar above the head of the doctor (for the last time), and out in the Suite 3 bedroom we saw not too long ago, as I’ll later discuss, the works of William Shakespeare translated into Russian. Stephen King’s The Shining has a direct connection to The Tempest, since King’s novel is regularly invoking The Masque of the Red Death, whose main character shares a name with The Tempest’s main character (Prospero), and all three stories involve people hiding out from a great storm, and masquerades.
And in case you never took grade nine English (I wouldn’t blame you, for the record), Shakespeare also wrote a play about the life of Julius Caesar, and while the references Kubrick makes to Caesar the man are many, I’ll just focus on how the play relates to this instance of the mirrorform. Which is simply that a soothsayer tells Caesar to “beware the Ides of March”, meaning he’ll be killed at the very middle day of the third month of twelve, the 15th. Danny has had his horrible visions, which include a painting called December Afternoon (which Jack passes twice on his way to axe Danny). The day through the mirrorform (interpreting all the placards very literally) is Thursday, December 13th, 1979. Jack dies of exposure on either the evening of the 13th (it’s around 5:30pm when he chases Danny outside) or the morning of the 14th, depending on when exactly he froze. Not the Ides exactly, but definitely a December afternoon. But recall how, in the Golden Shining analysis, the middle of that framework is 12:14, and we see Jack’s corpse on 12/14. And Danny’s warning vision cuts to the doctor scene at 12:12, that being the date of his entering room 237, December 12th. So I guess it was the ides of gold Jack had to be worried about.
“He said, ‘Wendy, I’m never gonna touch another drop. And if I do you can leave me.’” Wendy tried to leave Jack in the pantry. So much for that.
If you skipped the Great Party, or Grady analysis, click here
And click here to continue on to Through the Mirrorform, Part 3: Closing Day
MAIN PAGE ⎔ SECTION PAGE ⎔ SITE MAP ⎔ GLOSSARY
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