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
Funnily (if you have a sick sense of humour, like me), backward Wendy is watching the axe unchop the door, here. So it is an odd sort of…CLOSING DAY, isn’t it?
Closing Day, we’ve been told by the devilish Ullman, is October 30th, which in the popular Western conception is Devil’s Night, a night of mischief and chicanery. This mirrorform section will include both the clubbing of Jack and the mystical release of Jack from food prison, so it certainly lives up to that label.
Interestingly, in the last decade in America, decline in Devil’s Night arsons has “coincided with a rise in similar arson on the nights surrounding July 4th, Independence Day”, the day photo Jack is trapped in.
In 1979 (the year of this film’s story as best I can tell), Oct. 30th was a Tuesday, which attributes its name to the Norse god Tiw, who, it is believed, might’ve once been the ultimate Germanic god in the preceding era, later supplanted by Odin, as mythologies came together. Later he was interpreted by some to be a son of Odin’s, and in the mirrorform, as long as the CLOSING DAY section is on screen, the opposite day, the day of Jack’s insanity, is Thursday, named for Thor, another son of Odin. So this whole section is about days named for sons of Odin. I’ll be discussing later how Tiw could relate to Tony, but just note how, in the backward action for this section we see a lot of Tony having hijacked Danny.
If the Jack’s axe/overlogging imagery is intentional: before we get the shots of his axe chops overlaid with the Montanan treescapes, there’s this shot of Wendy screaming, entirely consumed by trees, here, with no trace of human civilization in sight.
A couple seconds later, and to be repeated, Jack’s axe, seemingly buried in the forest.
As backward Jack revs up to give the bathroom door its first blow, and while quoting the Big Bad Wolf from The Three Little Pigs, the forward Torrance family drives past Alder Creek, on Going-to-the-Sun Rd. (AKA Glacier Rd.). The word “Alder” derives from the German “el-“, meaning “red”, so it’s like the first thing the Torrances do on their way to live at the Overlook is cross the “red” river, which is here slashing backward Jack (about to chop at REDRUM without seeming to notice this odd inscription) diagonally through the chest.
For those keeping score, this is the 1/4 mark for the mirrorform in terms of the film length. Or the 1/8-7/8 mark for the film proper. It’s 13 short seconds past the end of THE INTERVIEW, the film’s first major self-imposed section. Interestingly, I just noticed–and I’ll do a deeper dive at the halfway mark–that the first art piece to appear at the 1/4, 2/4 and 3/4 mark of the mirrorform is this ovular mountain/lake combo painting. Is that a harkening back to the opening shot of the film, flying over St. Mary Lake?
There’s also a piece to Jack’s right depicting what I believe to be the Kaiser mountain range, which was called that for the way its chain of snowy peaks resembled a “crown”. Consider the fact that the exact middle of the natural film (AKA, the “end” of the mirrorform) features an album at Hallorann’s feat called Commoners Crown. That means that when we fold the mirrorform in half to get the Twice-Folded Shining, this “crown” and that “crown” would be at the beginning and middle. A third fold would put this at the end of the 17:37-long movie, and a fourth fold would bring them together for an 8:48-long film. Is that to create a chain of crowns?
As backward Jack pretends to be a wolf who’s going to gobble them up, forward Danny tells his dad that he’s hungry, and Jack reprimands him for not having eaten his breakfast.
More about our Kaiser painting: if I’ve got it right, this is by Alois Arnegger, of an area of the Tyrol province of Austria (the Norse god Tiw was also known as “Tyr”). Kaiser comes from the word Caesar. And there’s oodles of Caesar references throughout the film (we just left a section featuring Caesar’s biography above the doctor’s head, and there’s a copy of the complete life and works of William Shakespeare on the shelf next to Jack here). So as Jack heads towards his doom, he’s dogged by this left eye of caesar.
The mountains out the window behind the Torrances here will shift between the Oberlin and Heaven’s Peak mountains, throughout the scene (yes, they’re driving backwards along the road, from the direction Jack was driving in the intro). And that seems like an apt mash-up: Caesar and heaven’s peak. Jack wants to be the best of the best, but the only thing he can actually do better than most is (try to) murder his family.
Also, Hitler got his start painting postcard-style images of the Austrian countryside. What are the odds that he never painted these “crown” mountains? But if I’m right about Arnegger, he got into the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, which rejected Hitler in 1907. So this piece mirroring Oberlin is apt.
And here’s another cool thing on that: since we know that’s Oberlin over there, the family is most likely driving around the base of Mt. Gould at this point. And the last time backward Jack was passing a “Gould” was when he was passing the John Gould paintings in room 237, another bedroom that he was crossing to get to a bathroom, to do some no good.
Also, as Jack’s reproaching Danny for being a picky eater, backward Wendy is stuck in the window, like her counterpart Winnie-the-Pooh, who gets stuck in Rabbit’s hole after eating all the honey. Sadly, Wendy’s rabbit, Danny “Doc” Torrance, is at the bottom of the slope now, beyond the reach of aid. Though Hallorann is another kind of rabbit, and he definitely does get Wendy out of her jam.
There’s also something funny about the image of Wendy getting stuck in her own ear canal, as this overlay suggests. She’s just about to remember the Donner Party, so maybe this says something about her being stuck in her own little world. Her future stuckness is reminding her dimly of a real-world stuckness, and what resulted from that.
Also, in case I never ID it, there’s that weird shadow monster artwork in the lobby’s foyer, right? Well, it’s sort of a guess, but I think that the little silhouette of Danny standing at the bottom of the snow pyramid here is standing right in front of where that image hangs in the foyer. It’s a little complex, but a network of clues have caused me to wonder if this will eventually speak to one of the fables referenced in the film called The Queen’s Dog. The code for that story (449) appears on a licence plate during the tour, seen with the foyer right behind it (see below).
So if the foyer piece is a silhouette of, say, a dog, then perhaps what’s being implied here is that Danny is becoming the “queen’s dog” for a moment. Wendy is telling him that she’s stuck in the window and can’t get out, and to “Run and hide! Run! Quick!” He’ll run and hide in the steel cupboard, which puts him in one of his most perilous positions. So both Danny and Jack, by being the “queen’s dog” get themselves into their most endangered moments. Danny escapes by following the lessons and escapes that he mostly learned on his own, and definitely executed on his own, while Jack is left to freeze to death when he makes the one wrong move that he makes. Also, that 449 code appears at 23:31, and one of my theories is that Jack’s soul gets absorbed into room 231 of the hotel. And 231 is a jumble of one of the most recurring fables in the novel, Bluebeard (312), in which a woman is almost beheaded for taking a key and breaking into the one room she was told never to enter.
It might add to all this to consider that backward Jack is about to quote his one fable, the Three Little Pigs (AT code 124).
As forward Jack is invoking cannibalism to his son (thanks to Wendy bringing up the Donner Party), backward Jack is seconds away from becoming the Big Bad Wolf to Wendy and Danny’s “little pigs”. Coincidentally, pigs are quite close to humans, genetically.
There’s a game box of Jumbo Tiddley Winks sitting on the coffee table to backward Jack’s left, here. There’s a special move in tiddley winks called the John Lennon Memorial Shot, though I couldn’t find when it was named this, or why. Many of the most obvious Beatles references (the Abbey Road Tour) are two minutes away now, but this game does appear while the entire mirror family is nestled in a moving Beetle, so there is an overlay at play here. Though you almost have to wonder if Kubrick saw a connection between the band’s disintegration and the cannibalism of the Donner Party. Certainly, both groups disbanded in some infamy, if nothing else.
Also, the original name of Tiddley Winks was the French “jeu de puce” which means “flea game”. In the TUESDAY portion of the film, the mirror action will show the scene with Larry Durkin mirroring over the first scene of Jack freaking out at Wendy about interrupting his “work”. Behind Durkin is a TV showing a Warner Bros. cartoon called To Itch His Own, which is about “The Mighty Angelo” a strong man flea from a flea circus, who wants to move into the country for a spell, which means shacking up on the fur of a friendly dog, and tormenting the bulldog who bullies the friendly dog. So it’s as if the start of Jack’s madness is tied to the end of his madness through these “fleas”. But also, he drives a beetle, which is commonly (and many times in the novel) called a “bug”. And the first time we ever see Jack is in this tiny bug as it creeps through Glacier National Park.
Oh, also, the Tiddley Winks seems to be sitting on a few obscured issues of TIME Magazine. A major aspect of my analysis has to do with the Torrances struggling against the forces of time and space. So I’m hoping that one of the other obscure magazines here is about space. But what’s really cool about that is that Jack starts telling the Donner history to Danny at 18:46, and 1846 is the year they ventured into the mountains. So there’s quite the “time” aspect to this moment either way.
Backward Jack is saying “Come out, come out, wherever you are…” and if you still (still!) haven’t read my analysis on that, The Shining contains numerous visual and contextual references to an old episode of the TV series Thriller, called Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are, including a sequence where three people are seen through the windscreen of a driving car, the two in front plotting to murder the one in the back middle. I don’t think SK is saying Wendy is in on the Danny murder, but both Jack and Wendy have, at this point, signed off on being isolated with the hotel, which very much has murder on the mind, making them its de facto murder agents. Also, that red lamp resembles a lamp from the hotel in the show (see below).
As Jack smirks about Danny’s prior knowledge of cannibalism thanks to TV, backward Danny performs a backward ascent up the snow pyramid leading back to Suite 3. I’m not sure exactly what to make of Danny’s diagonal slide here. It feels in keeping with the Jacob’s Ladder imagery throughout, and we are just about to see multiple ladders in the hotel lobby and throughout, during the tour. But it’s not a direct overlay, and in the forward version of this scene, Danny is descending.
If you saw my intro doc, you’ll recall that this is happening at 19:07/19:21, the part of The Rum and the Red where side one of One By One flips over for side two. In the novel, there’s a cool series of page jumps that use (Jack’s) ladders to connect Jack to the reality of his being a potential Grady clone, and maybe the deeper reality that he is a character in a novel. Here the time codes, in concert with this seeming Ladder/Pyramid, are giving us years that signify the hotel’s origin (1907) and Jack’s future/past demise (1921).
Jack’s vilification of television here is ironic (especially given that backward Jack is about to make possibly four back-to-back TV references to I Love Lucy, Thriller, Silly Symphonies, and The Tonight Show). Television acts as a portal that allows people to communicate across vast distances and times, and takes us into realms of the fantastic, which is what Jacob’s ladder seems to be partly about. If room 237 is using Jacob’s ladder to link up with the notion of going to the moon, that’s another thing that television did: showed the human race that the moon landing happened. That interstellar travel was no longer the pure dream of a cow in a pasture gazing at the sky.
All in all, this scene shrewdly gives us a sense of the shared blame this family has for its dysfunctions—Wendy introduces the Donner party, which leads her to caution Jack about speaking so openly about it to Danny. Danny already knew about it from the television (though he might be lying, he might’ve simply shined it out of his parents), and Jack chides television for disseminating such gruesome wisdom, when he was just relating this exact same information freely. It’s as if none of them are fully aware of who they are to each other, or themselves.
This is also the only scene where all three members of the family are alone together talking to each other (when Danny walks in with the bruises, Wendy is the only one who does any talking), and it overlays entirely with the family’s final, ultimate collapse, and Tony/Danny’s separation from Wendy.
Oh, the scene inside the car is exactly 1:24 (17:58-19:22) And 124 is the code for Three Little Pigs.
As Danny squeezes out the Suite 3 window, which seems almost built into the side of The Garden Wall/Gould Mountain here, the forward shot is actually of the same crest of mountain that the last shot passed over, this bit of road being a couple hundred feet before the part seen the establishing shot for this sequence. So they’re just about to cross Alder Creek, the “red river”, again. Talk about déjà vu.
And since this act is likely Danny’s first post-Tony-takeover act of consciousness since getting choked in the Gould Room, it’s perhaps only too perfect he’d be popping out of part of Mt. Gould, as if he’s ready to enact his learnings. The other mountain here is The Garden Wall, which, again, is pretty apt for Danny’s hedge wall racings.
As backward Jack apes Ricky Ricardo, (Hey Wendy, I’m home!), we get the first establishing shot of the Overlook (Jack’s home?) from this angle. Jack says his line from 19:32-19:35, which would be 19:18-19:21, minus the opening 14-second Warner Bros. logo. But also, of the four songs heard at the ghost ball, two are from 1932 (the first and last tracks, Home and Masquerade) and two are from 1934 (the Al Bowlly tracks). The one 1932 track is playing when Jack passes a painting that looks like the first shot in the movie. And the one 1934 Bowlly track is playing at the end of the movie, through the mirrorform from that opening shot.
Note the way the break in the wood almost highlights the Torrances’ yellow Beetle, off to the left, there. Last in the row. A subtle suggestion that they are not home? Also, the first beetles were made in 1938.
Oh, fun fact, the Timberline Lodge was built in 1936.
Jack, overlaid with his Beetle, axe buried in the Mt. Hood tree-line. The last of backward Jack’s tree-line axe chop overlays. In fact, this hotel’s name, Timberline, means the same thing.
There’s a copy of Glamour magazine behind Jack in this moment, and the time code is 19:39. Glamour was founded in 1939.
Backward Wendy’s first look at the snowy slope Danny will slide down, and she’s got a giant ladder in her face. In the forward crossfade from the shot of the Overlook exterior, this ladder lines up for the briefest moment with the fading Overlook and the peak of Mt. Hood behind (19:42), so there seems to be a general connection between the idea of ladders and the mountains themselves.
Since the novel makes such a big deal about Jack’s reaction to 1945, I thought we’d better capture the 19:45 moment. Book Jack finds a note that flutters out of the evil scrapbook on page 154 that gives him a wistful nostalgia for how the hotel looked when it opened under Derwent’s control, mere weeks after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The description of that card sounds a lot like the shot of the hotel that ended a second ago, minus the “Japanese lanterns” that festoon the Overlook’s front property. The page opposite that (pg. 294) is Jack slapping Danny for insisting the hedge animals cut him, leading to Wendy trying to pull Danny away, and Jack pulling his other arm, and Danny screaming out in agony at being ripped in half by his warring parents.
Jack has another fantasy about the post-war Overlook on page 237, as he crosses the lounge to meet Lloyd for the first time, imagining the sense of relief, victory and future everyone must’ve felt. The opposite page to that (211) is the Torrances being snowed in at the Overlook for the last time, and the image of them as “microbes” in the “intestines” of the hotel. But there’s quite a few other war and army images that punctuate the story, these are just the two big ones. Frequently Jack is making references to deserving a “purple heart” or racing up stairs like a man coming home from the war, etc.
By contrast, Danny seems to have a pronounced fear of war, as expressed through his dreading the concept of an artwork that asks the viewer “Can you see the Indians in this picture?” (pg. 193-197) which, when stared at long enough reveals that war-mongering indigenous men were hiding in plain sight all along. What about the Overlook is like such pictures, wonders Danny. Well, let’s see…
There’s a surprising amount of really obscure artworks on screen here.
- On backward Jack’s side there’s the two Oxborough portraits of Stoney-Nakoda-Bearspaw kids – the Crying Boy mirroring over the reception desk mail slots, the one of the girl child mirroring over the radio room.
- Behind the radio is one of the Grady Twin paintings (possibly showing a horse on a snowy mountain), and a political cartoon poster possibly by German artist Hans Bierbrauer (AKA Oskar). These are mirroring over axe Jack’s backside.
- Jack’s axe seems to be buried in a pillar of the lobby, with Frederick Horsman Varley’s Stormy Weather, Georgian Bay (1921) on one side, and Cornelius Krieghoff’s Winter Landscape, Laval (1849) on the other side. Two paintings describing bodies of water (Lake Huron and the St. Lawrence River) that divide America and Canada, and from two very different parts of Canada, the English and French speaking halves of the nation.
- And in Jack’s head here is a pale green stripe of the accountant’s office with that painting of the plovers in it. They might be sandpipers, which are closely related to plovers (there’s even a sandpiper-plover), which would jive with the painting Mist Fantasy, Sand River that’s about to appear. Since Ullman and Watson are coming not from Ullman’s office, but from further up the hall, where that André de Toth-looking guy came from before, this could be another Sand Creek massacre subtext, which would jive with Jack’s ongoing activities.
I also wonder if that fan in the radio room is making Jack look like he’s got a swastika on his cheek.
There’s also an interesting phenomenon involving a service cart in the room here, that moves around the hotel in interesting ways, and which speaks to Hallorann’s murder. Head here to read all about it.
Note that the ladder in front of Jack’s hateful face here has eleven rungs, and that the last time he saw his son was when the boy was wearing a ripped Apollo 11 sweater. Jack did not rip that sweater, but the accusation has made him wish he had.
Read about Bill Watson’s significance and more over on my art analysis page, but I’ll just point out here that Danny’s face overlays with Watson. And if you think about how Winnie-the-Pooh will appear there later (see below), that connects nicely to Wendy’s approaching window-stuckness. Also, the ladder over Danny’s worried nose here has nine rungs. It’s been nine years since Grady killed his family. Remember, Danny never seemed aware that Jack could become another Grady. Tony may’ve been, but Danny was only receiving very abstract warnings. So this ladder might indicate Tony/Danny’s illumination to Jack being the predator outside.
I also like how the 2x3x7 mazerug at the end of the hall seems to be giving Danny an eyepatch in this moment. Perhaps a coincidence, but perhaps Danny’s realizing that the events of 237 will cause him to need to go into the labyrinth. If that was André de Toth, he famously wore an eyepatch for much of his life (fun fact: he was also one of the first directors to ever make a 3D movie, lol).
A woman is passing Ullman in a Trois-Rivières Ducs jersey, with either the number 43 or 13 on it. The 3 is the most visible. Danny and Wendy are in Suite 3, and Tony/Danny just said “REDRUM” 43 times. So it’s possible the obscured 1/4 was meant to invoke both. Because 143 is a very significant number to both the film and book.
Also, the player the jersey is referencing is Claude St. Louis. And there’s that giant wall mural in the lounge that could be a Be’ena Za’a design, a name which means, The Cloud People. Danny is about to descend from the cloud realm to do his maze run.
Sort of a moot point, but there’s a snowy cabin in an ad on the back of Jack’s Playgirl, which overlays with the first shot of him axing away. CABIN FEVER!!! But even if I’m wrong about the magazine image (it’s not 100% clear), there’s still cabins in the Krieghoffs in this room. There’s also cabin paintings in Suite 3, so, again, moot point (unless the ad is for something key).
As for the fact that it is a magazine, behind axe Jack is the Glamour magazine still. And on its cover is Christie Brinkley. If you go check out that analysis you’ll see that
Also, I find it interesting that Jack is sitting in the chair where the Cathy More character was sitting during his arrival for the interview (in this sequence, Ullman and Watson are approaching Jack). This is mere moments from backward Jack referencing Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are by name.
There’s a cool thing you can’t really appreciate unless you’re watching the mirrorform (and studying it closely), where the painting Crying Boy is overlaying JEH MacDonald’s The Solemn Land, behind lobby Jack, and then flying to the other side of the screen to mirror over the tiny distant Mist Fantasy, also by MacDonald, as the camera tracks the swing of Jack’s axe. In the making-of documentary, you can see that Kubrick himself was pivoting the camera during these shots, which might explain how it was executed so perfectly. But yeah, a Stoney-Nakoda-Bearspaw child mirroring over two paintings by a MacDonald. That seems like a reference to Canada’s first prime minister Sir John A. MacDonald, whom one can imagine an indigenous Albertan person having mixed feelings about.
A second from here is the time code 20:01. In that moment, the backward shot is Wendy turning the key to lock the bathroom door, and on the lobby pillar behind Ullman is a black box with the words KEY RETURN on it. I don’t know if that’s some secret reference to 2001: A Space Odyssey. The only clear(ish) connection to that film that I’ve noticed so far is explored here. And for the record, 2001 seconds into the film is Hallorann saying (33:21) “I think a lot of things happened right here in this particular hotel over the years.” So, since that other connection links to room 237, that would gel well. The mirror action in that scene is Jack telling Wendy she had her “whole fucking life to think things over” while pushing her toward 237.
Oh, you know, I forgot that Kubrick did an interview with Playboy in 1968 about 2001, so that’s a bit of a reference. Also, I have a theory that the reason Danny’s tricycle is white here, and red in every other scene, has to do with a reference to the dawn of Jack Nicholson’s celebrity, which really kicked off in 1969 thanks to Easy Rider. The two main motorcycles in that film had a white frame and a red frame, and Nicholson had a huge red plaid luggage piece behind him on his bike, just as there’s one like that behind both Jack and the trike here. Note too, I suppose, that backward Jack has the TV in his head that Wendy and Danny will watch Summer of ’42 on. That film came out in 1971, same as A Clockwork Orange, which featured the 2001 soundtrack in the record shop scene. It was also touted as being “based on the book”, though Hermie Raucher was actually asked to write a book for the film to be marketed along with film. Similarly, Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey was written in tandem with Kubrick’s production work on the film, the two writers comparing notes as they went.
There’s a few more interesting visual winks buried in here worth noting:
- Danny’s white/red-shifting trike overlaying with most of the REDRUM (and MURDER) appearances feels pointed (is white the inverse of red? is this a reference to the red-and-white gold room bathroom where redrum is first conspired about?). Also, the bookshelf in Suite 3 will change books between shots.
- One of the books that will appear is the works of Shakespeare in Cyrillic. That seems to draw attention to the backward D and R in REDRUM. This DR overlays with Watson. Another clue that he’s a “DR.” perhaps? Also, if we read the seemingly Cyrillic letters in REDRUM as Cyrillic, it would transform the word into something like REDYAUM, which sounds like “radium”, right? Well…
- We see a copy of Bomber Pilot: A Memoir of World War II here, which is an award-winning first-hand account by Philip Ardery of his life dropping radium on people, and it’s overlaying Ullman here, who is wearing a bomber jacket. The toy tank sitting on top of the book will later be with Danny when he’s watching Summer of ’42, with Wendy, which will take place right behind the massive pile of luggage behind the group in this shot. (And don’t forget, this is the same space forward Jack is moving through in his first shot entering the hotel, while backward Jack is singing from Bombo.)
- The Playgirl has a few related things. One of the feature stories is about Why Parents Sleep With Their Children (Wendy was just sleeping next to Danny), and there definitely is sexual context between Danny and Wendy, as we’ve seen. The cover image is of a woman before a curved mirror, and Wendy just saw REDRUM in the curved mirror. She’s also marked December 31st, presumably to celebrate New Year’s. The day of Jack’s attack (which will result in Hallorann’s murder, right behind where Ullman is standing) is December 13th.
I also just want to note that the St. Louis jersey girl is carrying a second jersey in her arms for the Dallas Stars. There’s a big subtext in the novel about how Jack’s subliminal obsession with the JFK assassination is part of why he dies and Danny lives. JFK was killed in Dallas, and some have said that Ullman’s hair and bearing make him seem like a Kennedy clone. Well, in the distance behind Ullman, the two jersey girls appear again, between two pillars, from 20:03-20:08. I realize this is breaking with conventions of time, but if we imagined that the 19th minute kept counting past the 60-second mark, that would be 19:63-19:68. Or, the year of Kennedy’s murder to…I don’t know. The election of Nixon?
There’s three instances of the two magazines in these two scenes overlaying, at 20:00, 20:13, and 20:20. This moment, from 20:13, is the best in terms of the visual clarity.
Both magazines are intended to indulge in women’s fantasies: Playgirl and Glamour.
The main, apparent significance of the Glamour issue is it’s cover is graced by Christine Brinkley, the woman with the legendary 25-year contract with CoverGirl. Summer of ’42 stars Jennifer O’Neill, who competes with Brinkley for having a 30-year contract with CoverGirl in the same era. Was Brinkley or O’Neill one of the anonymous walking around in the background here? Perhaps we’ll never know.
Oh! Here’s a cool thing! There’s an ad on the back of the Glamour for Clairol hairspray called ClairMist. It features a line about giving your hair “its best shine”. This ad is plainly visible in the first shot of Jack alone in the lounge, as we’ll see in a bit. And there’s a painting deep behind Ullman here called Mist Fantasy, Sand River, Algoma. So what’s this “mist” business about? There also happens to be a photo in Hallorann’s office in the kitchen of the Maid of the Mist beneath Niagara Falls. And in the novel, Jack recalls being a little boy, flung around by his father, and soaring through the “mist” of beer that radiates off Mark’s face, as part of their “elevator game”. So I’m guessing that’s what’s going on here. Forward Jack is about to ride his first elevator. The one that will take him to his new “home” in the Colorado lounge.
Watson huffs at Jack for having a lot of luggage (and just a note on this: I know people think the luggage is odd (I certainly do) but there’s really no reason why the Torrances or the Overlook couldn’t have hired a moving truck to have performed the shipping), while backward Jack is splitting forward Jack’s skull with an axe. It’s almost like Watson is annoyed with Jack for not realizing what Ullman is turning him into.
Ullman is fittingly suggesting they go take a quick look at Suite 3 (the suite being axed), and then getting started with the tour. But as we’ll soon see, the tour of the lounge will preempt the Suite 3 tour.
If you’ve heard the theory (not mine, but I appreciate it) that the luggage behind the group here is symbolic of dead Jews from the Holocaust, a gigantic MURDER word is a pretty damn appropriate overlay. One might say an extreme understatement.
Also, forward Jack is here saying, “I better collect my family, first” which always makes me think of Ullman saying that Charles Grady “stacked” his family “neatly” in the west wing. Or Grady’s euphemism for murdering his wife and children being that he “corrected” them. Correct, collect.
This shot also marks the first sound of Jack’s axe slamming into Suite 3.
I should mention the shadow monster/Queen’s Dog image in the foyer, since this was our longest look at it. I still don’t know what it is, but as you can see from all the “bomb” and “murder” imagery flying around in this series of overlays, it certainly would be interesting to see it slot with those puzzle pieces. Knowing Kubrick, it’ll more likely expand on our concept of these ideas in an unexpected way. Since we first see it when backward Jack is singing from Bombo, I expect it’ll relate to the notion of “right back where [Jack] started from”. But will that be about his hometown of Berlin, New Hampshire? His little Beetle driving next to MacDonald Lake at the foot of Brown Mountain? Or will it have something to do with blackface? Or Grimm fairy tales? Or the dawn of all intelligent life in the universe? I really wish I knew. I’ve had decoding this at the top of my To Do list for the past three months, but it’s a bunch of dark blobs. What can I do but pursue each educated guess to the end?
In keeping with the WWII symbolism idea, the crossfade from the luggage fits perfectly over a group of people waiting to board the elevators with their luggage, and the overlay is Danny’s REDRUM, sideways in a way that seems to slide perfectly over them. Also, it’s hard to see, but that Kaiser mountain painting is visible in the reflection of the Suite 3 closet doors, next to Tony/Danny’s head. Not to mention the ovular mountain eye, which hovers over Ullman throughout this pass.
Backward Danny’s spelling of REDRUM spans the entire crossing of the lounge almost perfectly. This section includes Ullman’s first reference to the Navajo and Apache, and his references to the jet set and the four presidents who stayed there. In fact, right as Danny finishes unspelling REDRUM, we reach the far side of the lounge, which, as we see here (and during Danny’s first trike ride), is the only place in this area, on this floor, that has artworks hanging about.
Actually, if you haven’t read my analysis of the Yei/Zapotec wall rug, you might not know that part of its significance is that there’s no rainbow guardian swoosh along its eastern side, because the Navajo believed evil could not approach from the east. This is cute in one way, because (after this scene of the tour crossing the room from west to east), only Jack ever enters the lounge from the west, while Danny and Wendy only enter from the east. But given that the west-to-east tour is happening here, the overlay is really apt, because we know the Suite 3 bathroom window faces south, which means Jack’s about to chop into the Suite on its eastern side. And just like the Navajo were faced by east-to-west conquesting Europeans, Danny and Wendy will face an east-to-west-to-south conquesting Jack. And Jack’s murder of Hallorann occurs while Hallorann’s walking west-to-east (Jack springs from the south, but his motion is east-to-west, or southeast-to-northwest, to be exact).
At the end of the lounge walk, Ullman has told Wendy that the hotel has housed “lots of movies stars” to which Wendy inquires, “Royalty?” And Ullman concludes, “All the best people”.
The painting on the right hand wall (which might be by French-Canadian artist Nicolas de Grandmaison) is of Tatânga Mânî, which means Walking Buffalo, also known as George MacLean, who was, according to The Canadian Encyclopedia, a Stoney-Nakoda leader, Indigenous statesman, and philosopher. Walking Buffalo’s life was one of bringing indigenous peoples to understand the outer world, and vice versa. He travelled all around the world, trying to help diverse cultures understand the Stoney-Nakoda way of life, but he was quite receptive to the inverse. Through the mirrorform, there’s a German fashion magazine beside the sleeping Wendy here, and under the war book and tank, called Burda. It was started in Offenburg, Germany four years after the end of the war, and, in 1987 became the first Western magazine to be published in the Soviet Union, and in 1994, the first to appear in the People’s Republic of China, which strikes me as something of an incredible achievement for a magazine I’ve never heard of before, and which got going in the wake of WWII. The founder was a woman, Aenna Burda, who became a symbol of what’s called the German Economic Miracle.
So what I’m saying is, I think this is something of the film’s thesis. Ignore the fact that this phrase comes out of the mouth of the Satan character. He’s referring to royalty as being the “best” people. I don’t think that’s Kubrick’s point. The point is that people like Mânî and Burda, who spent their lives trying to bring people together from across major divides, are truly the best people. Not people of status, wealth or inherited glory. Tony-Danny being through the mirrorform–another master of left and right, another survivor of intense abuse, and a shiner capable of bringing people together–is probably apt.
While backward Danny is chanting REDRUM and discovering the red lipstick that he’ll write with, forward Danny has just grabbed two red darts out of the board.
Also, backward Danny has a huge mirror in front of him, and forward Danny sensed something was behind him without a mirror.
By the way, there’s a lot to be said about what I call the Grady Twin paintings, but I’m going to omit referring to them here, since my mirrorform analysis in that section is much more cohesive than anything I could achieve here. It’s just hard for me not to mention how the one is over backward Danny’s head, and the other is in the mirror in front of him, floating over foreward Danny’s head.
As backward Danny has just passed the possibly mirrorform Crime and Punishment, and is on his way to the giant mirror with the butterflies, forward Danny sees the twins standing beneath the SKI MONARCH poster, which doesn’t exist, and which bears an awful resemblance to the existing Vail Last Run poster (as discovered by the brilliant Juli Kearns), featuring a shadowy figure skiing in the opposite direction. The cowboy painting to the right of the girls is a copy of Frederic Remington’s 1902 painting, The Cowboy, which was meant to capture the spirit of the glorified cowboy and western expansion itself. So at least two of the works behind the girls are “twin” works of art, as it were.
The Steamboat USA poster, with the barn and the two horseback riders, off behind the coat hooks on the left does look like the original poster, but it seems to have more text than any of the versions I can find. In any case, I’ve elsewhere attributed this poster’s existence to the presence of Steamboat Willie himself, Mickey Mouse, on Danny’s shirt the day he creeps in on zombie Jack in Suite 3.
Point being, it’s almost as if the effect is that the twins influence the art around them, turning it into twin art. But what is SK saying here? That symmetry itself distorts art? Or that symmetry is fake art? I’m not exactly sure. Perhaps he’s saying that the twins represent the dark side of symmetry and patterns, just as Jack represents the dark side of cycles. Note how in the mirrorverse, there’s two (as yet unidentified) snowy landscape paintings above Tony-Danny, one of which is definitely a cabin (overlaying with the Steamboat barn), one of which might be a horse or dog lost in the tundra (but since it’s atop The Cowboy, I’ll bet it’s another horse). I’ve got a partial ID on the Suite 3 cabin piece, and I did an extensive analysis of its mirrorform behaviour on the art page, so head there for a deeper analysis, if you like.
The poster behind the girls might be a fabrication, but it’s definitely commemorating the 1912 Denver Flood, and REDRUM does have a connection to the bloodfall, itself a kind of flood. Also, check out my Pillars of Hercules section for a much deeper read on that imagery, and its connection to redrum.
Tony/Danny tests the sharpness of the kitchen knife as the twins leave the games room, which feels apt. A knife cuts things in two.
It’s also worth noting that the girls are dressed in the exact style of Alice from the original book cover art for Alice in Wonderland. In fact, the original Alice is not said to have honey golden locks, but a darker tone, and they’re seen near a poster with a menacing figure and the word MONARCH, which is at least reminiscent of the murderous Queen of Hearts, with her doting, enabling king. In the backwards scene, Wendy is sleeping all throughout the appearance of the twins, and some have said that the twins are something like a manifestation of Wendy’s fears. So if Wendy’s in “Wonderland”, here, that would be apt.
Also, shout out to Juli Kearns for her thought that the figure in the MONARCH poster could be a minotaur brandishing a shining weapon, because backward Danny here is testing the sharpness of his blade right in the heart of a shining light.
Ullman is overlaying Bomber Pilot again.
Jack scopes out the departing women just as they’re walking over the sleeping mirrorform Wendy. Also, if these women are who I think they are, then it’s worth pointing out that there’s a Burda Moden fashion magazine on the shelf below Bomber Pilot here.
Speaking of magazines, there’s one I can’t seem to ID for the life of me, that appears first here, and then moves into the Suite 3 bedroom where I believe it remains during the end of the film. It’s in the room with Tony/Danny right now, so I suspect it’ll have some uncanny valley kind of quality. Possibly something that unites father and son. It features a cowboy of some kind in a white hat. The novel uses this daisy-chaining series of references to Lon Chaney and Lon Chaney Jr. one of which is made by Danny when he’s shown Suite 3 for the first time, so, since we’ve got these two women who are likely appearing on magazine covers elsewhere, I thought it might be something with Jack Nicholson on it, or possibly Robert Redford (who novel Jack compares himself to at one point). Anyway, the search continues.
I love moments like this. Wendy is just about to step into the very spot that backward Danny was moving back to, right beside the mirror. Right as she fuses with Danny’s path, Danny’s scene will jump to the shots of Hallorann speeding up the mountain in the snowcat. It’s literally like we’re going through the looking glass here.
Actually, Jack’s last line was “Perfect for a child!” assenting to the quality of Danny’s bedroom. That might be a joke about the Arnegger painting above Tony-Danny, or about one of the books the boy’s passing as Jack says the line. But the other thing that happens when we cut to Hallorann’s rescue mission in a second is we get a shot of a man in a red cap and hood riding a snowcat up Mt. Hood. Little Red Riding Hood. Which we can all agree is perfect for a child. That is, until you run this scene the other way and meet a Big Bad Wolf.
So here we have one of the major moments that seems to suggest my Redrum Road theory is true. At 23:31, which is halfway through the first and third rounds of Redrum Road, Ullman (who is Lennon in the Abbey Road Tour walk), is about to get hit by an Austin Maxi. And that’s the same model car that Lennon crashed during the making of Abbey Road, almost killing himself, Yoko Ono and two of their children.
On the other side, the snowcat Hallorann drives to the rescue is a Thiokol Spryte, which bears a slight resemblance, you might agree, to the Pistendienst Plattenkar-Lift seen below carrying the Beatles up a mountain, during the filming of Help!. Also, incidentally, the Spryte is in the same spot here as the Aktiv Snow-Trac is when Wendy and Danny are playing in the snow THURSDAY afternoon.
The Help! connection is significant since it’s the album most directly referenced in the novel: Jack hears the ghost band play Ticket to Ride at the ghost ball on page 352. On the opposite page, 96, Ullman takes them form the Presidential Suite to their own quarters, which, he informs them belonged to Hallorann during the on season, sparking Danny’s enthusiasm. The Beatles come on at the ghost ball right after Grady calls Dick the n-word.
As this lunar rover-lookin’ trolley trundles by, the Abbey Road Tour goes past an AMC Matador (the blue-white car), the first of three seen in the film. The other two are seen at Durkin’s lot, and during Hallorann’s first driving scene, as a cop car by the VW-truck accident. Dick’s snowcat drive is still visible in the mirrorform here, so all three Matadors are closely linked to him, and he’s the one that takes the bull’s horn to the chest, as it were. Ullman is talking about how they had to “repel” some indigenous attacks during construction, just as Jack will “repel” Hallorann.
Oh, and speaking of lunar rovers, this lunar rover cart vanishes offscreen to the west at exactly 23:37 in the screen time. Remember Moon and Cow, and the 23-37 business?
Also, that first car back there is a Mercury Marquis Colony Park, right? Well, John Glenn famously popularized the drink Tang on his Mercury space flights in 1962. I wonder if there’s any Tang anywhere in The Shining? Probably not.
The two snowcats don’t appear together through the mirrorform, but right here, Ullman says, “This is our snowcat”.
Also, I talk about this in greater detail in the Redrum Road analysis, but note how, during the entire exterior tour, there’s been this blue patch of sky over Hallorann’s snowcat, that is shaped like a freaky blue claw, or possibly a giant flood wave, deluging down on Wendy. The next time backward Wendy will see a snowcat, it’ll be the one coming to the rescue here, and it’ll be moments after witnessing the bloodfall.
I won’t retread the Queen’s Dog business, but the other licence plate here links to another fable, which you might want to check out here.
Right as Ullman finishes the “repel a few Indian attacks” part and switches to the snowcat talk, we get this scene with the Calumet cans behind Jack’s head. In fact, the American flag on the garbage can here passes underneath the Calumet, as well, as the shot curves (ending beneath Country Time Lemonade).
So if Ullman’s “repel” line was a subtle encouragement to Jack to “repel” Hallorann, here he’s introducing the snowcat (which backward Wendy just discovered Jack had cut the heart out of) while backward Grady is releasing Jack so he can go commit more murders. Grady who originally inspired Jack to go kill the radio and snowcat.
Oh, and, I just have to say it, if you thought that did look like a lunar rover before, check it out…it’s Tang…
Actually, despite the fact that the Torrance VW is not seen parked outside the front of the hotel, the Aktiv Snow-Trak has a VW engine, which might be a nod to the German Economic Miracle again, but if so, there’s an interesting thing going on here, in the form of the Sanka floating next to the Tang. Sanka was the result of that German company’s original brand (Kaffee Hag) being seized by the Alien Property Custodian during WWI. So Ludwig Roselius, the CEO, nimbly brought forward the brand that was known in France as Sanka (Sans caféine = without caffeine), and thrived off of that. So Sanka is sort of like a proto-German-Economic-Miracle moment.
Oh, I also have to mention that we cut to Jack in the pantry at 23:41, which has that 231 buried in the jumble (he’s stuck in a room, so I thought that was apt), but also, recall that Danny’s Lesson and Escape Keys are in that orientation of 1234-2341, right? Well 12:34 is the last second of Jack gloating over Hallorann’s corpse before coming to get Danny, and while the forward doctor is asking Danny if he “smelled anything funny”. But just as 1234-2341 delivers Danny from Jack’s malice, 12:34-23:41 mark the exact beginning and end of the hotel freeing Jack from his bind, and getting what it wanted from him.
Fun fact: that wasn’t what I originally meant to write – that jumped out at me before I could write what I meant to say. 23:41 is 1421 seconds, and behind Jack is that box with its giant 1439, which would correspond to 23:59, at which point backward Jack is saying “word” in the line “I give you my word.” So this box of yellow cling sliced peaches seemed to know that Jack would sell his soul. Is that because Ullman knew it too? Did he know it because Jack and Wendy didn’t seem to have a problem with the repelling of “Indian attacks” and desecrated “burial grounds”?
Oh, also, the number on the box right above it, 25786, can be divided by 3 to get 8595.3 And that’s the exact number of seconds that it takes to get you to the 143-minute Fibonacci line at the end of the movie (2:23:15). Could this be the confirmation that there are indeed three feature-length ways of dissecting the movie? The mirrorform, Redrum Road, and the Golden Shining? Obviously, I have many other studies, which all take the full film into account, but these are the studies that require the film to be either the 2:21:17 visual film, or the 143-minute Fibonacci film. I don’t have another way of analyzing the entire film that doesn’t involve folding it again to make it smaller? And even then you could say that those fall under the “folding” method of analysis.
Folding. Alternate soundtrack. And Fibonacci cuts.
Wendy’s saying, “He sure did a great job. Pink and gold are my favourite colours”, and behind backward Jack the three big boxes (almost touching Wendy) go Gold-Peaches-Gold. That’s pretty close.
Jack and Grady only have two scenes together. The one where they meet in the Gold Room, and the one where they talk through the storeroom door. They meet when Grady spills an egg-based drink on Jack, and here, as the gang crosses that very spot, there’s a box of American Beauty brand Chinese Egg Noodles between backward Jack and Grady.
Hallorann appears and approaches the group from out of a Calumet can collection, which ties into his role as an icon of the murdered indigenous folk. But since, as we’ll see in a moment, Danny’s head will match perfectly with one of these Plains chieftain heads, I wonder if the implication isn’t also that Halloraan is a “chief”. He will, after all, be murdered directly beneath a portrait of Chief Bear Paw.
Also, note how the chandelier above his head is out, as if foreshadowing his doom by pantry Jack.
One more thing: two characters die in the movie, Dick and Jack. Jack we first see in the lobby (where the skeleton ball is happening later), and Dick we first see in the Gold Room (where the ghost ball is happening later). So, the film’s two “ghosts” appear in the two rooms (out of about 30 that we see) where we see the most ghosts.
Backward Jack is saying there’s nothing he looks forward to with greater pleasure than murdering his family (but he’ll actually murder Hallorann). At the risk of being really obvious, I have wondered if that’s what the Oreos signify: the white man killing the black man. But it’s worth pointing out that, when Jack visits the ghost ball later, there will be one (possibly two) daughter(s) of Stanley Kubrick sitting on the red sofa, directly beneath where these Oreos hover, and they’ll be dressed all in white and all in black–they become visible again just after Grady spills the egg drink on Jack, in fact (see below).
While Jack gives us a mean Tom Cruise face (or does Tom give Jack face…?), Danny is brought over by Susie, and the entire time, the Calumet can gives Danny a flopping war bonnet. There’s a part in Kubrick’s Boxes where Kubrick’s longtime assistant Tony Frewin (I think that’s his name) is saying that Kubrick could tell if an advert in a newspaper was too big or too small by a degree of a couple millimetres. When I see framing jobs like this…I don’t find that story hard to believe.
Oh, I should mention that throughout the Jack/Grady talk, the camera shimmies slowly to the left, so it wasn’t a simple matter of knowing that the whole Grady talk would put the Calumet cans in one spot, and then adjusting the Danny walk to that spot, it had to be right for the right moment of the Grady talk. Maybe there’s some editing trick that could simplify that, I’m no expert. But I suspect it had more to do with infinite patience.
In this moment, Grady is taunting Jack for not having the “belly” to kill his family, so the war bonnet bit is apt in a way. On the one hand, it’s reminiscent of the way some European military men wrote to each other about suppressing the indigenous populations. On the other hand, Danny is a formidable opponent, and he will win.
Forward Jack is asking, “Hey Dan! Did you get tired of bombing the universe?” And backward Jack is just about to say, “Just give me one more chance to prove it, Mr. Grady. That’s all I ask.” Perhaps I just think this because I’m a millennial, and I came up during the arcade generation, but that overlay sounds like an interesting connection between Jack’s derision of gaming, and backward Jack pleading to pop another quarter in the game machine. Just gimme one more quarter, mom!!!! That’s all I ask!!!
Also, it happens to be exactly 143 seconds (22:40-25:03) between Bomber Pilot leaving the screen and Jack saying “bomb”, in case you wondered (and there’s a giant 143 behind pantry Jack…). It’s another 22:45 (47:48) until Wendy walks past the TV playing Maxi Böhm.
Dick beckons to Wendy here to follow him, with one finger, sort of like the way Danny talks as Tony. Probably a coincidence, but I thought that was neat. Especially since at the same moment backward Jack is grabbing his head wound. Hallorann is going to show Wendy the storeroom, where she’ll put a head-bashed Jack.
I’m not sure what to think about it, but I do like how Jack’s face overlays the Kool-Aid Man throughout this sequence. The other brands inside him are Country Time lemonade, Nilla (a vanilla product), Oreo, Tree Top Apple Juice and Heinz ketchup. At his legs are olives, which are what Lloyd will serve him at this very bar later.
Here, Dick is saying “Mrs. Torrance, your husband introduced you as Winnifred. Now, are you a Winnie, or a Freddie?” This is a line from the novel, but I suspect Kubrick used it to make the Winnie-the-Pooh connection. In the overlay, Jack is stuck in the storeroom, just as Wendy will later be stuck in the window, like Pooh bear was in the rabbit hole (from eating too much honey, just as Jack has eaten too much protein as we’ll see in a bit). Wendy didn’t have a rabbit to push her out, or a Christopher Robin to pull, but Jack here gets the inverse because he’s a real man with a helpful imaginary friend.
FIRE EXIT MUST BE KEPT CLEAR. I’ve wondered if this was Kubrick’s way of saying, “Hey King, I’m not doing the exploding building thing (the “fire exit”). I’m gonna axe Hallorann, and then have Jack die of exposure in a maze.” I’ve wrestled over including that insight, but I think it’s apt because Jack is just about to be released from the storeroom (his “ghost exit”?), after which the film’s final movement gets underway, and that’s where the biggest changes to King’s novel really start to hit home.
Here, as backward Jack is about to greet Grady, Danny is saying it’s the biggest place he’s ever seen, and Wendy is saying, “Yeah, it’s such an enormous maze. I feel like I’ll have to leave a trail of bread crumbs every time I come in.” This is a very economical way of mashing up the Theseus myth with Hansel and Gretel. So there’s something to be said there for who Wendy is implying is the Hansel to her Gretel (Danny did have a copy of Candy Land right by his head in his bedroom, which features a gingerbread house on the cover), but there’s an interesting overlay here between the kitchen, which is where the witch would push Gretel into the oven, and backward Jack’s storeroom, which is like a little house made out of treats. In fact, when we see Jack emerging from sleep, we see that he’s feasted on Oreos and SPAM and such. Not a man long for this world.
Another neat thing here is the one ladder overlay for backward Jack, which extends up from Danny. One of the lines from the Jacob’s ladder bit of the bible is “Truly the Lord was in this place, and I knew it not”, so I’m wondering if the joke here was, “Truly the Lloyd was in this place, and they knew it not”. I’m only half joking, by the way. As I’ve said enough times, rungs on ladders are years for some analysts, and this one has nine. Again, nine years is how long it’s been since the Grady murders, and presumably Grady is standing directly through the door.
In this scene, Hallorann, and a giant backward Jack (our two dead characters), are the only ones who appear to be “inside” the meat locker, with all the dead meat. Also, I can’t help but imagine a kind of visual suggestion of the ghettos the holocaust Jews were forced to live in, which had bunks not unlike these shelves. Next to backward Jack’s head here is a box of Café Vienna, and there were eight Nazi concentration camps in Austria. The Viennese Coffee House was a thing in old Austria where writers and thinkers and the sort would congregate in a friendly fashion. Hitler and Freud, among others, used to frequent these houses around the same time as each other.
What’s more interesting is that there’s a date marked on the Café Vienna box, the only date marked on any box in the storeroom: Dec 13/77 (the feast day of Saint Lucy). This is the day that both Jack and Hallorann die on in 1979 (if Jack freezes before midnight, which he probably does). In a moment, we’ll see Hallorann standing next to the same box in a very similar spot, during his tour of the storeroom. (I more recently noticed that there’s a box from the same company advertising their Swiss Mocha (Suisse Mocha) line of coffee, sooooo….does that mean the pantry is neutral territory? Not sure what to make of that. The box is never visible enough to see any other detail on it.)
Since the one of the Grady twin paintings is likely of the Kaiser mountains in Austria, perhaps the other one of the horse/dog atop the tundra depicts a Swiss locale.
Also, Hallorann is about to give away his shine ability to Wendy, and Jack is about to give away his total manipulability to Grady.
Also, while Hallorann’s showing off all the dead meat, backward Jack wakes beside a bunch of carbs and protein: SPAM, peanut butter, Oreos, and crackers.
Also, as fans of Room 237 will know, Hallorann takes the gang into the C4 locker, and brings them out the C3 locker, which is on the same side as the storeroom backward Jack will be impossibly let loose from.
Oh, and by the way, Jack falls back asleep next to a box marked “1620” (sorry, it’s being blotted out here) and that would be 27 minutes exactly. The shot cuts away from sleepy Jack at 26:58, two seconds shy of that, at which point Wendy is going on to quiz Dick about how he knew Danny’s name was Doc. So Jack’s pantry sequence starts 18 seconds before the first number (right after Ullman confirms that he’s okay with genocide), and ends 2 seconds before this other number (right before Wendy explores the reality of Dick’s shine power). We could think of 2-18 as being a variation on the movie’s room 238, but maybe it’s just a coincidence.
SPECIAL: STOREROOM? OR GINGERBREAD HOUSE?
At this point in my original analysis, it occurred to me that there could be some connection between the pantry’s absurd physical properties and the Hansel and Gretel folktale. Click here to read all about it. Or carry on and I’ll have a link at the bottom of this page that will remind you about it.
So there’s the Café Vienna box with the Dec. 13th death day stamp on it, right behind Hallorann’s shoulder. And as you can see in the overlay, the ripped out heart of the snowcat sits on the hood, right behind Hallorann’s torso, about a foot down from where he’s later struck, but on the same side of the body, under the heart.
I also just want to say that I’ve looked as hard as I can—correct me if I’m wrong—but if the Dec. 13th death day strikes you as a funny coincidence, note that no other box or can of anything in the storeroom is marked with a date of any kind. And it just so happens to be the day that both men seen next to the date, in this minute of screen time, die. If two years later than the expiration/packaging(?) date. Also, The Shining novel came out in 1977.
Also, note how the Tony the Tiger boxes go perfectly with the form of the snowcat, bulging forward at the bottom to overlay the engine, leaning back at the top to overlay the windscreen. One dead kitty.
As we zoom on the severed heart of the snowcat, forward Danny is surrounded by things that are “minced” and “sliced”. Another key clew buried here is the box Danny is standing in front of. It’s only ever seen one other time in the film (see below), when Jack is stumbling into the box tower, which shows us that this is Poppers Supply Co. of Portland, Oregon (now defunct), whose logo was a red flag. Popcorn was an ancient discovery of the Mexican peoples (circa 5600 years ago), and which was enjoyed throughout pre-colonial North America. Jack boasts to Lloyd that he’s the best damn bartender from Timbuktu to Portland, Maine, or Portland, Oregon. People before me have linked that line to the notion of westward expansion and manifest destiny. So is it a coincidence that this secret Portland, Oregon box overlays with a bucket of SAND in the snowcat garage?
On that note, the numbers on the boxes here might be referring to time codes within the movie. The number next to Danny’s head here, 1126, is the number of seconds it takes to get to 18:46, which is when Jack starts to tell the Donner Party story. So that goes well generally with this theme of manifest destiny, but also, 1846 is a jumble for the year that the Sand Creek massacre happened, 1864.
Also, this is probably just a fun fact, but did you know there’s only two words for the different kinds of popcorn–mushrooms and butterflies–and that butterflies are the ones people prefer to eat?
The boxes of Ritz crackers overlay with the dead VW-engined snowcat, right? Well, the Hôtel Ritz Paris was where the Nazis set up headquarters in 1940, after getting routed.
“How’d you like some ice cream, doc?” More like, how’d you like some Tang!
Here’s also our first forward sighting of a Calumet can, which comes on screen just as backward Wendy passes the two Nakoda/Stoney child portraits.
Also, the soundtrack: the forward song in György Ligeti’s Lontano, which was heard in the games room with the twins first, and will be heard while Wendy and Danny are playing in the snow last (followed by crazy Jack having his own eye scream in the lounge).
Okay, the other song moment here is on the backward action, and it’s a switch from Polymorphia (which ends as Wendy crosses the door to the outside) to De Natura Sonoris #1 (which crossfades with Polymorphia). Right as Hallorann shines his line here, there’s a shrill spike of sound in De Natura Sonoris #1, which pairs nicely with the shrill Lontano ringing Danny hears as Hallorann shines him. The only other time De Natura Sonoris #1 plays is when Danny rides up to the twins in the twinhall, where Danny gets one helluvan eye scream (while passing some indigneous portraits).
As Dick’s head turns, he reveals the number 3274 on the box behind his head. 327A is the AT code for Hansel and Gretel. It’s sort of a minor point, but Wendy is retracing the path she makes while playing with Danny that day in the snow, and with this song playing over them. Also, she’s about to cut a path through the 2nd entrance here that Jack will repeat exactly when he comes out here to find Danny hiding behind Dick’s snowcat. In fact, that moment will also feature the song changing from Polymorphia and Kanon Paschy to one simply called Kanon, as Jack scans the grounds for Danny.
Backward Wendy is running past Copper Thunderbird’s painting Flock of Loons here, seen directly behind forward Wendy. The last time we saw this (in the forward action) was when Watson walked in on Ullman and Jack. The last time we saw it in the backward action was when Jack was calling Wendy about getting the job, with Ullman and Watson over his shoulder. The forward team here is a second away from re-encountering Watson, Jack and Ullman. Is this a cute way of saying those guys are a “Flock of Loons”? A band of Beatles? There are four adult loons and seven child loons, after all.
I forget if I mention this later, but there’s two establishing shots of the hotel coming up (6 and 12 minutes from this moment) where we hear a gorgeous loon call deep in the distance, or anyway, something that sounds just like one. Actually, I just checked the other two mirrorform appearances of Flock of Loons, and they’re exactly 6 minutes apart at 5:13 and 11:13. The other painting appearance and the two calls are at 28:08, 34:13, and 40:32, respectively. Not sure what that tells us, but it is neat. And yes, there are other bird sounds heard in the film during both daytime hedge maze sequences (23:13 and 38:04).
This backward area is interesting because all the art seen along these two halls, what I call the 2nd Entrance), can be found elsewhere in the hotel, and they’re all seen in the lobby (and the connecting halls to the lobby) at some point. While the kitchen contains almost nothing seen anywhere else. The point is: all this art appears in conjunction with the “storyroom”, so this idea of using markers (Kubrick uses works of art, cuz he’s friggin’ clever as hell) is also something now being associated to the story. This is the trail of bread crumbs.
Also, the bloodrug, as I call it, tends to be associated to murder in the mirrorform, and here, overlays with Hallorann as he’s finished doing his tour of duty, so to speak (while Ullman and Watson are emerging from it, just as they emerged from the mazerug earlier). Note too that he’s standing between two Krieghoffs that will be off to the side while he’s taking the axe to the chest. Flock of Loons will be on his opposite side during his murder. The dog portrait will be around the corner, where Grady ghost will appear, and the Monahan bird paintings will encircle Jack at the first spot he goes to after killing Hallorann. The bloodrug and waverug will appear beside photo Jack at the very end, also in the lobby, and perhaps that’s part of why we see them there.
Note too how this overlay puts a giant elevator next to the spot where Hallorann and the others are about to stand around for a spell. There’s a Tony the Tiger box back there, which might connect to Tony showing Danny a different elevator that also has December Afternoon and the waverug to its left.
So, here’s the first moment of backwards Jack reappearing in the mirrorform. As you can see, everyone’s basically out of there, and Hallorann will close the door in 3 seconds.
So we’ve got two Wendy’s in roughly the same spot of the same room. One of whom (left) is blocking our view of a box of Frosted Flakes, and one of whom (right) will be backing up to another box in a moment.
Also, if you recall our Golden Bowl discussion, note that it’s in the same spot as the backward storeroom bolt lock (and forward Jack). So “all is vanity” is overlaying the kitchen bolt that was supposed to keep in Jack, but failed against the ghost magic.
It’s also neat that the two cameras capturing these two scenes would be roughly pointed at each other in the reality of this space. Hallorann’s asking if he can give Danny some ice cream, so perhaps the cameras pointing at each other is another secret “eye scream”.
There’s also a mysterious little artwork on the pin board behind knife-wielding Wendy here, which, during this moment, is lodged in Watson’s forehead. I’ve had dozens of theories about what this might be (a page from a children’s book, a drawing from an ancient Book of Hours, an obscure nude image), but so far nothing. That fact that it fits inside anyone’s forehead makes me wonder if it might be a Greek myth thing, since Greco-Roman gods liked swallowing their children in their foreheads, in a really imaginative form of cannibalism. I suspect that will tell us something about Watson. But also, Wendy, I think. She and Watson are wearing beige turtleneck sweaters on both sides of the mirrorform here.
If you skipped the Gingerbread House analysis, it involved a funny little phenomenon where the clocks on both sides of the kitchen sequence suggest that we’ve lost time (just so you know, every other appearance of time on a wall clock or a wristwatch makes sense). Well, find the proof below, but note how both these sequences overlap in the mirrorform. Also note that Ullman’s second last line to Wendy is “By 5 o’clock tonight, you’ll never know anybody was ever here.” To which Wendy replies, “Kinda like a ghost ship, huh?” And in the backward action we’re moments away from the 4pm placard. Hallorann will get axed at 5:25pm (according to the lobby clocks), which means that on December 13th, exactly 44 days after October 30th, at around 5pm is when Jack is released by Grady to start slamming the axe into Suite 3 at approximately 5:00-5:15pm (it’s 8 minutes between the first axe blows and Hallorann’s death, but you have to imagine Jack’s journey to kill Hallorann took some time). Also, Wendy and Danny are escaping exactly 10 minutes of screen time after the death of Hallorann, so, granting time for extra running around, they’re probably off the hotel property before 6pm, by which point there’s not a living soul left in the building. So, was Ullman off by an hour (in the prognostication sense) on purpose? Is that another case of time warp in this short section?
Note the little postcard picture on the wall of Dick’s office. It’s of the Maid of the Mist boating around the base of the Horseshoe Falls at Niagara Falls. As you can see here it starts in the back of Ullman’s mind, and as kitchen Wendy curves away from the door, it flows off to the left.
Ullman is talking about how the guests and some of the staff left yesterday, and how everyone likes to be on their way as soon as possible, and just as the image leaves the screen he says the 5 o’clock line. Dick is murdered while standing in front of Mist Fantasy, a painting of two riderless canoes, as we’ve covered. Wendy will say “kinda like a ghost ship” as the gang walk up the hall, and the shot will fade as they seem to walk into Hallorann’s emerging cranium. As the shot fades, they’re in the spot Wendy will be in as the shot starts that follows her to the spot where she sees Dick’s corpse.
Backward Jack just said, “I’m dizzy, I need a doctor.” Forward Hallorann just said, “Do you know how I knew your name was Doc?” Also, Danny’s got a Tony (the Tiger) inside his head. Wendy is crouched exactly where Hallorann is sitting, talking to Danny.
This is the first moment Hallorann says “shining”, and backward Jack’s just about to say, “I think you hurt my head real bad” which feels apt. Wendy doesn’t fall for this feeble ploy whatsoever. Jack’s not a shiner, but he’s got a shiner.
Hallorann says, “But there are other folks, though mostly they don’t know it, or don’t believe it.” And backward Jack says, “Wendy, Listen. Let me out of here and I’ll forget the whole goddamn thing. It’ll be just like nothing ever happened.”
Right before backward Wendy will walk out of the shot with Tony the Tiger, Hallorann asks why Danny doesn’t want to talk about his powers, and he’ll reply that it’s because of Tony. So it’s almost like Wendy putting back the knife and leaving the presence of Tony motivates Danny to open up. Also, backward Jack is coming to, and starting to shout, “Open the door! Goddamnit! Let me out of here! Open the goddamn door!”
Hallorann has just asked, “Who says you ain’t supposed to” and Danny is about to reply, “Tony”. Right at this moment, Jack has stumbled into a stack of boxes, and the top three are in the process of falling on Jack. The top and bottom box are Kellogg’s Rice Krispies, which happens to be the same company that birthed Tony the Tiger, and the middle box, is that Café Vienna box again, with Jack’s death day on it. Of Tony’s four visions to Danny, only one (the Grady twins) doesn’t enter reality on Dec. 13th. He sees them on the 8th, for the record, which means the two days Danny witnesses a dead thing at the hotel are Fibonacci numbers: 8 and 13. We could also mention the girls appearing to him in the games room on October 30th, which would skew that. But they don’t appear in their “dead” form that day.
The falling boxes here seem to suggest that Tony is exactly the reason that Jack is defeated. And not just Tony, but all the things linked to Tony: Wendy, Hallorann, the doctor in Boulder, tigers. We get tiger masks and mascots and statues and books that reference tigers. So perhaps there’s a Tonyness to certain things, like masks, books, and helpful people, and other shiners, that can be used to make the world a better place.
Note too the way Danny’s ice cream bowl floats just beneath the Poppers Supply Company box that was behind him when he was offered eye scream. Also, I’ve wondered if Danny’s silver bowl here (Jack scatters a bunch of silver bowls on his way to the ghost ball, after giving a death look at Danny’s door, while storming out of Suite 3) is meant to stand separate from the Golden Bowl subtext. As in, silver is the opposite of “all is vanity”. If so, that would be supported by the Silver Rey brand soybean salad oil just in front of where Jack’s other foot extends. Jack is much more often seen in conjunction with Golden Rey brand things, such as all throughout his talk with Grady.
And I’m not sure exactly what it means, but the idea that Tony suppresses Danny’s openness pairs oddly with the second appearance of Poppers Supply and its Portland, Oregon connection. On the one hand, it suggests that maybe our Tonys keep us from being open with others about what we know to be true about the ill deeds of history. But it could also just be a comment on Danny’s inability to process all the rampaging sound and fury of his natural existence. The orgy of evidence that seems to mean one thing, but could mean another. Maybe the point is, our Tonys still only get us so far. In the end, we have to make up our own minds, and live our own lives.
As Hallorann asks who Tony is, Jack does this thing right after Wendy runs out, where he’s flailing around on the floor, almost like an infant, grasping at the hem of Wendy’s fleeing skirt. And I feel like this is the zenith of Wendy giving up on Jack’s infantile behaviour.
Jack is constantly looking into mirrors and seeing someone who isn’t there: Lloyd, the sex ghost, Grady. So it’s like he’s reaching out for a Tony, he wants the armour that comes from knowing that other people exist, and he keeps getting the rug pulled out. The first other person most of us get to know is our mother and father, but especially our mother. Wendy abandons Jack twice in the film. Once in the lounge after thinking Jack strangled Danny, which leads to that hilarious cave man look of confusion on his face. And once here, in the storeroom. When he bats at Wendy’s hem here, it’s menacing, but it’s also like a child reaching out for that comfort. The comfort of knowing that other people exist, that we exist for each other, to help and comfort and support one another in this life. Taking into consideration all the Aarne-Thompson codes in this room (the one for Snow White (709) was there as she dragged him in) it’s also a bit like, “You’re a grown man! Did you learn nothing as a child? Figure it out!”
Here, Danny’s describing how, “It’s like I go to sleep, and he shows me things, but when I wake up, I can’t remember everything”. I think Wendy struggling with the most obvious problem ever, with the locked storeroom door (remember that she’s been up here for 44 days at this point), is a pretty good visual metaphor for Danny’s problem here. He’s had the vision, it blew his mind, but the sleep washes away the wisdoms.
Jack is on the floor here, drooling and mewling like a deranged baby, which is another good symbol of what Danny’s saying. Hallorann then asks if Danny’s “mom and dad know about…Tony?” and that, again, feels like another good way to further establish this idea of what in psychology is called “theory of mind”, the ability to understand that other people have their own little narrators chattering away in their heads, much as we have the same in ours.
Hallorann asks if Jack and Wendy know that Tony tells Danny things, and Danny says that Tony said never to tell them that. Another good crossover for Wendy struggling frantically with the locked door. In fact, in the proper timeline, she’s struggling with this door partly because Tony has sealed Danny away from her.
Hallorann’s asking if Tony ever showed Danny anything about the Overlook. Of course, we know what Tony’s shown him—the bloodfall, the twins, and the eye scream—but Danny’s memory is patchy. Just as the sputtering Jack and the soon-to-be-almost-bested-by-a-door-latch Wendy’s memory is a little patchy. The entire time Danny’s trying to remember, Wendy is dragging Jack across the floor, and, again, there’s something about this act that seems like childbirth. She just dragged Jack all the way from the east wing, whereabouts the lounge is located, to the west wing, where the kitchen is located. She’s exhausted from the effort, and she wrestles with getting the portal open. Of course, there’s an inversion there. Instead of pushing Jack out into the big, wide, scary world, she’s forcing him into a very protective cage. Like a womb transplant.
Then there’s the two Niagara Falls cards, showing off a massive fall of water. So the answer to Hallorann’s question (Tony showed Danny the bloodfall (Niagara), the twins (there’s 2 photos), and the scream (the scream is for Hallorann’s downfall, and the photos are in his office – but there’s also the Mist connection, as previously discussed) is right behind Wendy here, and his own head in the overlay.
Also, in the overlay, we get these dangling knives, which will appear above forward Danny in a couple shots.
Hallorann tells Danny to think “reaaaal hard, Doc, think”, and as Danny Lloyd does his adorable thinking face here, we notice that Wendy is actually dragging Jack on a huge diagonal across this floor. By the time he’s at the start of this moment, he’s in the exact place where the gold bowl was earlier. And here’s Danny with his silver choco bowl.
Jack looks like some kind of ecstatic here, with his hands in the air, and flickering at the eye while he drools. On the one hand it’s like he’s praising the gods, and on the other it’s like he’s doing a poor imitation of Danny shining room 237 at Hallorann. I only mention that because the result of Danny thinking real hard is that he and Hallorann start talking about the hotel being a scary place, which leads to the room 237 talk. Did his hard thinking result in him plucking this number out of Hallorann’s head?
Oh! In fact, this moment is exactly 2:37 from the start of this scene (29:13-31:50).
So, yeah, we covered this, but I’ve got a little more to say. Right as Jack is in the Gold Bowl spot, Danny shifts the conversation, asking, “Mr. Hallorann, are you scared of this place?” The backward realm is also shifting, as it crossfades back to the shot of monster Jack laid low. Note that the two Jacks here are in the same relation to each other as the bloody twins are in the slaughter vision (see below). One Jack face down, head to the left, one Jack face up, head to the right. They even all have their hands up.
What’s kind of interesting there is that, if the two Jacks/slaughtered twins parallel is intentional, the dead Grady girls are basically the only thing the hotel shows Danny, once he’s inside. When he sees the slaughtered twins, that’s almost the most “scared” Danny ever looks (we never see his face or figure when he’s in 237, only the aftermath). There’s a few instances of Danny seeming to know what’s going on on the other side of the mirrorform (like in the Lessons and Escapes), and perhaps this is one of them. Tony wouldn’t show him the slaughter formation, but the mirrorform gave him a sense of it, and so he turns to the authority at hand.
Danny is shifting the conversation to the frightfulness of the hotel just as we’re re-entering, backwards, the terror of Jack’s murderous menace.
Oh! One more thing! As I probably cover in the absurdities section, the two giant rugs in the middle of the lounge (one with gold tones and one with silver tones) switch back and forth a few times throughout the film. I forget if I have a theory there to explain why, but the gold and silver bowls thing could be the thing. The gold rug starts out closer to the fireplace, and switches to be closer to the windows, in this their final moment in the film, and maybe that was to have the silver one over Danny’s silver bowl, and the gold one like a caul over Jack’s face while he’s being dragged through the missing gold bowl spot.
As Hallorann’s doing his best to give Danny the feeling that there’s really nothing worth being scared of, a defeated Jack is bathed in the hard light of day. This is interesting because as he chases Wendy up the stairs, they get further and further from natural light, and Jack’s face starts to take on a red demon mask kind of look.
And here’s that shot I mentioned of the knives and cleaver hanging over Danny’s head. Remember that right behind these weapons are the two Niagara Falls shots, and what they might represent. But also remember that one of these knives is what Wendy will take out, and eventually slash Jack’s intruding left hand. So, perhaps this is a way of saying, you can use the things that scare you against them.
Right as Hallorann says “Some places are like people: some shine, some don’t” Wendy smotes Jack’s ruin upon the mountainside. Need I say more?
Well, I’ll just say that a) watching Jack tumble up the stairs in reverse is great, endless fun, and b) talk about one of the most beautiful stunts ever captured on film. I’m sorry, I’m no expert on the subject, and I’ve seen my share of impressive stair falls, but this one has that touch of thematic and literal consistency. Stuntman Mike, eat your heart out.
Oh, I should also mention that Penderecki’s Utrenja plays the moment Wendy strikes Jack, and how that song is about the resurrection of Christ, which is certainly a case of some places shining more than others.
When Danny asks, “Is there something bad here?” and Hallorann contemplates how to explain the existence of negative forces in the universe, backward Jack is giving us his best red-faced snake tongue. What I call Jack’s tongue acting, is actually a fairly significant subtheme running through the film. I’ve recorded 17 instances, but I suppose it’s possible I missed some. Basically everyone Jack meets after starting his job gets the tongue at some point. He’ll do it as he’s axing Hallorann, so this particular moment feels key. Especially since Hallorann is about to sugar coat things a bit. The easy explanation is that Jack is like the serpent in the garden of Eden, but I think the connection may actually be Medusa.
In fact, as he weaves this lovely little metaphor about burning toast being like the way things leave traces of themselves behind, to protect Danny from the full harshness of the truth, Jack is doing about the most opposite thing you can imagine. He’s telling his wife he’s gonna bash her brains in. It doesn’t get much more truthful than that, before you’re Patrick Bateman.
Also, Jack’s confession of murderous intent means, finally, that he is beginning to openly aspire to embody the life’s work of Charles Grady. So just as the ghost of Delbert Grady is like a trace of Charles Grady (Delbert Grady who will be talking to Jack right around where Hallorann is sitting here), Jack is becoming a trace of Delbert.
“Not things that anyone can notice. But things that people who shine can see.” This of course is the kind of dialogue that drives maniacs like myself to spend 23 months dissecting this film…
Right at the end of this line, Jack does two interesting things: 1) he forms bull horns with his hand (the portrait of Walking Buffalo is literally straight through the wall from where he does this, and he’ll be clubbed directly above it), and 2) he’s just finishing saying, “Wendy? Darling?”
Wendy Darling was the name of Peter Pan’s closest friend in Neverland. As he says Wendy, one finger goes up, and on Darling the other one goes up. If he’s supposed to be Captain Hook in this moment, he’s using the hand Hook didn’t lose to make this gesture, and this is the hand Wendy will hit at the top of the stairs to get him off balance, before delivering the coup de grace. So perhaps Jack is being likened to a twisted Peter Pan, or a sufferer of Peter Pan syndrome. Either way, he’s certainly crippled by a desire for immortality, and Pan is named for the horned goat-god Pan.
Also, when Wendy’s dragging him to the pantry on pg. 372 of the book, she thinks about the Captain from Treasure Island, another pirate story, and when a connection to Grady, as we’ve seen.
Hallorann says “Just like they can see things that haven’t happened yet” at the same time as backward Jack is saying, “I’m not gonna hurt ya” for the first of four times.
In fact, Jack never does manage to hurt Wendy physically. What’s more, only she delivers blows to him. Jack obviously doesn’t mean what he’s saying, and is not a shiner (sorry, apparently I can’t stress that enough), but it turns out to be an accurate prophecy.
And before that sounds too cute, I think it’s interesting to note that this makes even more sense when you’re watching the mirrorform. Like, if you’ve been processing both sides of the narrative to this point, from the end and the beginning up to now, as we’ve been doing, you know that only Wendy physically hurts Jack. You know that this threat is empty, in the deterministic sense.
And since I mentioned the 2:37 mark of the Hallorann scene, this is the 237-second mark. Jack’s not gonna hurt Wendy maybe because he wants the 237 ghost to do it.
Actually, again, thinking of the mirrorform literally, where the backward action is flowing backwardly, having Jack tease a lack of physical violence here speaks to the way that only the hotel ends up abusing Danny. Jack is in the process of going full mask-off fascist here, so maybe it’s the hotel talking to Wendy as much as Jack. That would actually be hellaciously creepy, considering all the various 237 images that are swirling around her in this moment. It’s like the hotel’s gloating that it won’t get her, but it will get Jack, Hallorann, and Danny, the three variously disturbing ways.
As Hallorann is finished saying, “Well, sometimes they can see things that happened a loooong time ago…” Backward Jack is just finishing saying, “You’ve had your whole fucking life to think things over. What’s a few minutes more gonna do you now?”
So, while Hallorann is invoking the pre-modernity/pre-ourselves universe, Jack is invoking the existential crisis notion of the finiteness of ourselves. He’s trying to distress Wendy not only with the idea of her imminent demise, but also with the idea that she’s trapped in a nihilistic box. Her whole life has been building to this sad little end, and all the thinking in the world didn’t prevent it. Of course, she proves him wrong. (Fun fact: Shelley was 29/30 during the two years of filming, and the staircase has 30 steps. So in the Jacob’s ladder sense, where steps/rungs are years, it’s as if Wendy/Shelley is traversing the span of her life during her ascent. On the other hand, Jack gets clubbed three stairs from the top, so he went up 27 and fell back down 20. Nicholson was 41/42 at the time of filming, so, not quite as perfect.)
Hallorann’s suggestion that shining is linked to understanding our origins better is apt. Recall that Danny’s victory at the end wasn’t a simple matter of just walking backwards. It touches on things that happen all throughout the film (almost all of which haven’t happened yet), so it’s very much a case of Danny seeing something that hasn’t happened yet, and seeing something that happened a long time ago (remember, Danny hasn’t seen the bird stickers on his bedroom door in at least 44 days by the time he’s using them to elude Jack). Hallorann’s words here aren’t simply a good analysis of shiners, they’re a rudimentary blueprint for Danny’s survival.
SPECIAL: SHINED AND CONFUSED
At this point I decided to do a closer look at the relationship between all the references to the Tower of Babel that are in the film. Click here to read all about it. Or carry on and there’ll be a link at the bottom to remind you.
When backward Wendy says, “I just wanna go back to my room!” here, Danny says, “What about room 237?” And Hallorann repeats, “Room 237?” But Wendy never goes to 237 (although she is unwittingly approaching it backwards here, by ascending these stairs). And Hallorann has choice words about the dreadful hidey hole.
Again, that plays well with my Pillars of Hercules theory. When Danny approaches room 237, it’ll be under the pretence that he thinks Wendy is in 237. His venture forward is tied to a desire to return. To return to mother.
Here is where backward Jack goes back to ranting about living up to his responsibilities and “moral and ethical principles” all of which Wendy is supposed to have no idea about, and Hallorann is professing to have no fear of room 237.
It occurred to me that what the room might be partially symbolic of, in this instance, is doing the right thing. Dig this. So, if we see the maze and the hotel as life itself, Hallorann has basically just laid out the rudimentary blueprint for how to understand its mysteries, and to get good stuff out of it, right? You gotta try to look deep into the future to avoid any number of calamities, and you gotta look deep into the past to understand our origins and the patterns of survival and prosperity. Kubrick once said “However vast the darkness, we have to supply our own light.” Perhaps that’s shining. But shining is only really useful in the moment (Tony’s past shines, once Danny’s received them, don’t stop them from happening, and Tony’s future shines are only helpful if Danny lives to experience them). So the moment becomes like the surface of a mirror, with all the past on one side, and all the future on the other.
But however much we achieve our goals in the moment says nothing about whether we did the right thing to get there. So, again, as Jack barks on about “moral and ethical principles”, Danny challenges Hallorann to take a position on 237. On doing the right thing.
237 is what Hallorann was only thinking about, not what he was directly addressing. He doesn’t want to tell Danny about “making the right decision” in the moment, because he’s old and wise enough to know it’s extremely hard to know what that is. And 237 has one major negative effect (Danny’s near-death experience with the ghost), and one major positive effect (it gives Danny the Lesson Key he’ll need to survive). It also leads to Wendy suspecting Jack of strangling Danny, which might be why she and Jack were never able to reach a moment of conversation about leaving the Overlook for the good of Jack’s psyche. What it leads to is really a kind of moral chaos. If Danny hadn’t met another shiner, he might not’ve become intrigued by the room, then he might not’ve gone inside and everything about his Overlook experience could’ve been “like pictures in a book”, Jack wouldn’t have been driven into the bourbon arms of Lloyd, and maybe the family escapes back to the boring, corporeal universe. Although that ignores Jack’s nine-day-long zombification, and the fact that he’s probably been typing the All Work papers for about as long. He honestly didn’t seem like he was prepared to go through another 4.5 months of mind-warp soul-suck. So, while it’s arguable that things could’ve worked out another way, the one thing that’s certain is that Danny got the Lesson Key for hazarding a trip into 237. For trying to do the right thing.
Danny says, “You’re scared of room 237, ain’t cha?” and Hallorann, dumbfounded and caught off guard, says, “No, I ain’t.” Danny follows, “Mr. Hallorann, what is in room 237?” To which Hallorann hammers home, “Nuthin. There ain’t nuthin in room 237. But you ain’t got no business goin’ in there anyway, so stay out! You understand? Stay out!” So it’s like Danny is saying to Dick, you’re scared of doing the right thing, ain’t cha? And Dick, in a moment of pseudo-parental terror, doesn’t want to take responsibility for Danny’s moral existence. So he tells him “Don’t even try to make up your mind about moral and ethical principles. Just stay out of that debate altogether!” Which is essentially what people do when they hand off religious texts to their children with no greater guidance than, “Choke this down unquestioningly. It’s the word of ultimate authority!”
The next time they communicate, it’s by Danny blowing Dick’s mind with a nightmarish vision of what happened when Danny entered into his own relationship with the universe (which involved him seeing an older woman’s genitals, who then tries to decapitate him–sort of like Freud’s analysis of the Medusa myth), and at first Dick tries not to fully confront the situation (he makes three phone calls to the hotel and forest service before deciding to go–and when he does go, he catches the last possible plane that would get him there before the airport closed, and his route to Durkin’s and from Durkin’s gets him to the Overlook with literal seconds to spare before the Final Knife Fight of Jack and Wendy), because he is afraid of 237. But after a long night of the soul, he does only the right thing (in spectacularly selfless, sleepless fashion). Right unto his doom.
And if we recall that Hallorann’s death was what the hotel wanted most, the real horror of “doing the right thing” is that it can still lead to the satisfaction of evil. It’s almost enough to make you want to believe in concepts as basic as “sin” and “virtue”.
Okay, one more to go, before we’re done with CLOSING DAY. As Dick’s warning Danny to “stay out”, backward Jack is hard miming the film’s most visually Faustian moment.
“Does it matter to you at all that the owners have placed their complete confidence and trust in me, and that I have signed a letter of agreement, a contract, in which I have accepted that responsibility?” As Jack says “signed”, he slashes his hand through the air in a ferocious arc, slamming his other hand, the letter of agreement.
So, this becomes a past/present/future thing. The contract here being Jack’s reference to the existence and significance of his past, and then in a moment he’ll say, “Do you have the slightest idea what a moral and ethical principle is? Do you?” which, again, refers to the idea of the moment, and doing the right thing in the moment—you can’t know that you’ll do the right thing in the future, and you can’t change the past. And finally he says, “Has it ever occurred to you what would happen to my future, if I were to fail to live up to my responsibilities? Has it ever occurred to you? Has it?!” So here, Jack is showing the full hand of his Faustian game.
If you’re unfamiliar, Faust is a classic German legend (based on a real guy, in fact), and it’s about a well-studied scholar who makes a pact with Satan, selling his soul for “unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures”. This is the best known example of this kind of story, but examples exist all throughout time. One of the better known examples, where the tempted doesn’t give in, is the story of Christ in the synoptic gospels. There, the devil tempts Jesus a bunch, and after rejecting these offers Jesus goes on his way to become the messiah. So perhaps that’s the best evidence that Jack is not a Jesus parody, but an actual anti Christ (I’m holding those two words apart so you don’t think I mean any liturgical antichrist).
So, again, Hallorann’s telling Danny to not get into making an issue of what’s right and what’s wrong is a bit like him saying, don’t get into the Christ/Faust business. You can’t be tempted by what you don’t understand.
If you skipped the Gingerbread House piece, click here
If you skipped the Tower of Babel piece, click here
And click here to continue on to Through the Mirrorform, Part 4: A Month Later
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