Through the Mirrorform, Part 4: A Month Later



We know that the Overlook closes on Oct. 30th, Devil’s Night, so we can assume that A MONTH LATER means Nov. 30th, 1979, which was a Friday. Friday is named for Frigg, Odin’s wife, and Friday is therefore known as the day of marital bliss (although I can’t find where I read that now). So it’s appropriate that forward Wendy and Jack have their most peaceful and harmonious conversation here. Backward Wendy and Jack have essentially the bulk of their 2nd-worst confrontation here (though you could argue that the arrival of Friday makes things better, as their conversation winds backward).

Here we see backward Jack saying that he has “agreed to look after the Overlook until May the 1st!” So he’s invoking a month over top of A MONTH LATER. I don’t make this stuff up.

May the 1st, by some contrast, is both May Day and International Workers’ Day. Which seems applicable to Jack’s All Work and No Play concerns. It’s especially interesting because Ullman tells Jack that the hotel’s season runs from May 15th to October 30th, which implies that Jack is no longer needed for the two weeks leading to their official opening. That seems excessive. So I’m wondering if the “May the first!!!” line is another deliberate timescrew from the Kube.

There’s also his line to Lloyd, “I thought they were gonna be there till next April!” (referring to the bills in his wallet) which is not a flubbed line, but it’s perhaps telling that Jack is already seeing himself leave the hotel earlier than his contract was signed for. Despite his conviction that he would stay there forever and ever and ever, some part of him is still envisioning himself getting away. Also, just generally, I think this image is kind of hilarious for the way it suggests the fleetness with which Jack loses his marbles. It’s like, A MONTH LATER. That’s all it took to go from calm, bashful civility to out-and-out carnage. Jack literally dies 44-45 days (depending on when exactly the exposure killed him) after the closing of the hotel, and he starts losing it on the 35th day, so he didn’t even last as long as Noah, though I imagine life on the ark would’ve been similarly tense by day 35.

As elsewhere noted, it seems like the work of Alex Colville may have influenced the film beyond the five paintings that are to be found in the hotel. In the painting May Day (1970), a woman is leaning against a yellow VW Beetle before some coniferous trees. Here we have Jack overlaying with his yellow VW Beetle behind some coniferous trees, about to scream about “May the 1st!” or May Day.

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This is just hilarious. Jack barking at Wendy (3 times, in fact) about whether or not she’s ever had a “single. moment’s. thought.” about his responsibilities to his employers, overlaid with this image of Wendy, the first image we see after Ullman and all the others have left. She’s not only contemplated Jack’s responsibilities, she’s gotten up well ahead of him, to cook him a gorgeous breakfast, and even goes easy on him about waking up at 11:30am. In about 24 minutes of screen time, she will be doing his job for him completely, in fact.

Again, Jack asking “Are you concerned about me?” as if everything we’ve seen Wendy do since being at the hotel wasn’t centred around his well-being.

Also, I recently discovered a network of connections that imply the artwork in the main lobby bears a unified series of connections to the 1976 Olympics. The Olympics were mythically founded by Hercules, so Jack could be asking, “Are you worried that you’re in Hercules Land?” In fact, the painting atop his face right now is Winter Landscape, Laval. And there’s a few paintings and things in the film referencing Mt. Vesuvius, which famously obliterated the people of Pompeii and Herculaneum. And it did that with lava. Lava sounds like Laval in English.

So, just as Hercules Mountain killed the people of Hercules Town, Jack could be saying, “Are you worried that I’m going to commit suicide here, and take all of you with me?”

Jack mocks Wendy for being concerned about the welfare of her son over the welfare of her husband, but in the beginning we see Wendy is allowing Danny to roam free, at 5 years old, around this vast, draughty, old building (with random equipment lying around everywhere), while she cooks and serves breakfast to Jack, alone. This first 37-second shot of Danny performing his loop around the lounge starts exactly beneath room 237. The 23-step stairs to his right here end one floor up, a 3-second walk from 237’s front door. And this loop will end right back here, seconds away from the most dangerous room in the Overlook. Incidentally, this first shot of Danny in the post-CLOSING-DAY Overlook bears remarkable resemblance to the last shot of him in the Overlook, where he’s fleeing from the steel drawer behind the lobby. (It was analyzing this moment that lead me to my theory about 237s that you can read here.)

Also, Wendy will later go sprinting up this same hallway (going opposite to Danny’s direction here) when she hears jack having a nightmare.

So, as Wendy and Jack walk forward-backward in a large W or M or 3 or E shape around the lounge, Danny is performing a perfect loop. At this precise moment, he’s passing the spot where his mother and father are later fighting, right as he passes over a rug with a giant X on it.

Also, we know that this is Danny’s first Lesson, and he’s passing a backward Jack who is perfectly following backward Wendy’s walking-backward retreat. In a second we’ll see that backward Danny is literally shining this confrontation between his parents, but in the mirrorform, First Lesson Danny might be making the connection that his eventual survival will have to do with the fact that Jack is going to follow his retreat exactly, which Jack does, and Danny uses this to ultimately elude him. In fact, the part of Danny’s Escapes that corresponds to this Lesson is the last Escape, which is utterly Danny running out of the labyrinth while Jack is confused and unable to pursue Danny. So, while Wendy does get the high ground on Jack here, there’s a sense that the boy is not repeating his mother’s mistake. Or that he’s making Icarus’ better wings. That said, both mother and son defeat father with the end-point of their respective paths (high ground/snow tracks).

Oh, and speaking of the giant rugs inverting, in Danny’s world the silver rug is south, while Jack and Wendy pass the gold rug at the south. The last time we saw Danny’s trike it was white, and now it’s red. So there’s a parallel colour swap there. And for those who recall that Jack’s typewriter will also do this, that scene will mirror over the lounge fight too in a second.

During Danny’s whole ride through the room where Jack and Wendy are fighting, they’re talking about Wendy’s idea that Danny should be taken to a doctor. Which is perhaps interesting because Danny will be emerging from this point, after receiving his wounds from the nude ghost. This brings to mind Jack’s staying in his seat while Wendy is screaming at Danny about the bruises on his neck.

On Danny’s first lone ride (that we know of) he loops past two James Fenwick Lansdowne bird paintings. On the left, a glaucous-winged gull (basically a seagull of the Pacific coast of Canada), and on the right a bird known as Cooper’s Hawk. Its alternate name is chickenhawk, which is also a political term meaning one who speaks out in support of war, but avoids military service themselves. Since Danny makes four left turns in this scene, this might be a subtle jab at being a chickenhawk.

It could also be a knock on Jack’s condemnation of Wendy for not showing him the proper level of concern, when he has, at this point, going backwards in the plot, shown next to no concern for his family, and has lied about the presence of malevolent forces in the hotel.

This moment is Wendy first saying Danny should be taken to a doctor, and it’s true that she had the opportunity to do this the night before when she was plotting her escape while Jack had his tryst with Grady. That would’ve been the perfect moment to pick up Tony-Danny, get him dressed, and get him in the snowcat. Her wristwatch in this moment shoes 10:15 (see below). Jack kills the radio at 11:46, 91 minutes later. She had time. So she’s like the inverse of a chickenhawk, advocating for peace but not pursuing it. Until it’s too late. Forcing her to prepare for war.

Through the Mirrorform: The Midway Mark, or, Through the Looking Glass’s Looking Glass

At this point in my original analysis I conducted an investigation into what possible significance there might be to this moment, being the point exactly halfway between the start/end of the movie, and the middle of the mirrorform. Click here if you’d like to read that analysis now. I’ll put a link at the bottom of this page as well in case you’d rather carry on with the straight mirrorform analysis.

Jack asks what should be done with Danny, and Wendy replies, “I don’t know”. This first moment of seeing sleepy Jack in the hotel seems to reflect that. What’s to be done with slacker Jack? Wendy doesn’t know.

It might be worth calling back to mind the fact that the stained glass windows have didrachm shapes in them and that the Suite 3 blanket has this star-surrounded-by-other-stars shape, two things that connect to the minotaur, partially overlapping here.

As backward Danny gets his final REDRUM warning from Tony, the glinting light off a drifting table shines repeatedly over the standee in Suite 3 of the butterflies. Another good example of the butterflies’ connection to murder and violence.

Also, that halo-shaped landscape overlays with December Afternoon, the painting that seems to suggest Jack’s death day. Meanwhile Trapper’s Camp, which includes an image of a man cooking, overlays with Wendy bringing in the bacon and eggs. Maybe this is why December Afternoon appears to Jack only after he kills Hallorann, because once that’s done, the hotel’s done with him, and he’s free to go die. Both of his final indoor scenes after killing Hallorann involve him passing it by. So maybe that’s the proof that Tony’s first vision to Danny, of the bloodfall with these two paintings across from each other–and which appears 24 mirrorform seconds after the one that accompanies Jack’s exit from the hotel, and which disappears 9 seconds before the one that appears after Hallorann’s murder–is really saying, your father and your future father figure will die this day.

Also, Danny tells Hallorann that Tony’s shines are like a dream, and here Danny receives his last shine from Tony while Jack dreams.

He awakens just as backward Danny gets his last REDRUM shine. So this pairs nicely with the fact that, in the backward, Jack and Wendy have just been talking at the spot in the lounge by the typewriter where Jack had his dream about murdering her and Danny. This is like the soft version of that. In fact, of Jack’s three natural wake-ups from natural sleep (see below), note how the one overlays with REDRUM, the second looks almost like he’s looking in mortal terror at the man he will murder, and the third overlays with Hallorann listing off the 191 bags (I counted) of dead meat. And note the relationship between the first and third overlay: in the first forward action, Jack is about to be served some of that dead meat, and in the third forward action, Jack is in the place he’ll be released from when Tony/Danny starts writing REDRUM.

Jack is making his first threatening advance on Wendy (not counting his aggressive speeches), which will all end in confessions of redrumitude. Just as sleeping Jack here has his date with redrum destiny.

Also note the way that Wendy will see REDRUM in this very mirror from the very spot that Jack is now seeing himself, and that this door has the word spelled as REDRUM. So it’s a bit like Jack is seeing the backwards word (redrum?) and thinking it’s nonsense (just as Big Bad Wolf Jack apparently thinks nothing of it as he approaches the door). Or you could look at it like, this Jack is opposite of the Jack that will try to murder his family.

Actually, Jack in the novel never figures out REDRUM, always thinking Danny is saying “red drum”, until the doctor corrects the mistake at him (pg. 151), resulting in no reaction from Jack. The racist musical that Jack will sing at the beginning, Bombo, is named after the Spanish word for “drum”.

Which brings to mind the fact that, while the three main characters don’t not have arcs, their arcs are more conceptual than plot-driven. Jack barely wrestles with the temptation to kill his family, and the impetus of that impulse is almost nothing. Jack’s arc is “I’ll take the job! …and now I’ll probably kill my family, I guess.” Wendy’s arc is “Is my husband trying to kill me? He is! Should I do something about it? Maaaaybe…” And Danny’s arc is, “Should I go into 237? (Hallorann: No!/Tony: Bad idea!) Okay, I’m going!” Almost everything Jack does in the film post-TUESDAY feels utterly wacky and left-field to the guy we knew before. Almost everything Wendy does is reactionary, even taking up Jack’s slack (and if you think, “well, she took the bat to fight Jack,” technically she was still under the impression that a “crazy woman” was on the loose). And almost everything Danny does is not explained by dialogue, and the major lesson he learns is, don’t trust your dad not to murder you. Obviously I’m reducing everything to very simple terms, but I think this is what Kubrick means when he says that translating a story to screen is like “codebreaking”, because a strong story depends on all the form and function we’ve been talking about, not simply characters having clear motivations, and every gun going off in act three that appeared in act one. Characters can have unclear motivations that force you to go off and think about what you just saw. And if a gun appears in act one that doesn’t go off in act three (for instance, many early audiences thought Danny was like a Linda Blair or a Damien child until acts 2 and 3 got under way), or doesn’t go off the way you thought the story was telling you it would (I’m reminded of one reviewer’s notion that the Yei/Zapotec mural characters would jump off the wall and start attacking the family), that’s not the same as “bad storytelling” or “bad screenwriting”.

This appearance of REDRUM is exactly five minutes to the second after Wendy told Tony-Danny (on the bed Jack’s waking on) she’d be “back in about five minutes” on her way to fight for child and country (1:40:41-1:45:41). So Danny getting zapped with the REDRUM here is doubly psychologically poignant. Tony’s hitting him with the fact that mom’s not back when she said. In fact, the next time we see them together, she’ll be asleep, and Tony-Danny will be saying and writing REDRUM in four clusters of eleven repetitions.

Wendy’s tells Jack it’s “around 11:30”, and it’s 11:44 between the mirrorform middle (23:46) and the Redrum Road middle (35:30).

One of the first things Jack does after waking is check out his tongue. Sticking out his tongue like a snake is something Jack does all throughout the film, as we’ve already discussed, but he only does it once before selling his soul for a glass of beer. So, again, the overlay gives the impression that Danny had this knowledge with him from his first shine. And like any of the great heroes of myth who foresaw a coming flood, Danny’s mounting horror that this is really happening is hitting him hard here.

Also, Danny is sitting in the same spot of the same bed as tongue Jack, which gives it a mild flavour of What You Are I Was, What I Am You Will Be.

Note the garden gnome(s) wrapped in plastic by the mirror. This harkens back to Danny’s first shine, where a sticker of Dopey (a dwarf) was seen on his bedroom door. And speaking of What You Are I Was, etc., Snow White is basically about that. The queen hates Snow exactly because of how supplanted she feels, and we love Snow because of how she makes us believe that she won’t turn out like the queen, despite being similarly endowed. Snow breaks the cycle, and so does Danny.

There’s something to be said for Jack’s STOVINGTON EAGLES shirt here, as well. I probably don’t need to make this point by now, but it’s been claimed by some who worked on the film that the things different people are wearing are all probably just coincidences, and not thematically meaningful. However, Stovington is a fictional school where book Jack abuses one of his students, and loses his teaching job. This shirt had to have been fabricated, not that that’s a big shocker for the film industry, but it sets a precedent.

The button on Danny’s red undersweater here, on close inspection seems to just be a round button, but in this shot, it always looks like a maple leaf to me. Again, recall that a major percentage of the artwork in the hotel is by Canadian artists, and that Hallorann is murdered under the watchful eye of AY Jackson’s Red Maple.

Wendy asks Jack if he’s had any ideas, and he replies, “Lots of ideas. No good ones.” This overlays with Jack stamping his one-sentence Great American Novel with pride, and asking “What do you wanna talk about?”

There’s also a connection here between Jack’s eagle shirt and the eagle on his colour-shifting Adler typewriter (we’ll see the eagle up close a little ways ahead of here). Perhaps this is the connection that lets us know that Jack will turn from light to dark, since the typewriter shifts colours, and the Stovington Eagles shirt will invert after 82 lengthy seconds, when we switch to the reverse view.

There’s an awesome synchronicity here, where Jack goes from grinning mockingly at Wendy…

…to scowling at her.

Wendy says, “You know, when we first came up here, I thought it was kinda scary” and laughs at herself sheepishly. Meanwhile, her backward husband has just scared the daylights out of her, both before he showed up, with his insane writings, and upon arrival, with his eerie calm. She’s finally witnessing the full extent of her husband’s ability to shift.

And right behind her in this shot, out of focus, is our first taste of Paul Peel’s After the Bath, which features twin children nude before a fire. And of course, Wendy is wearing what might be a bath robe, here. This is the first time Wendy or Jack has appeared on screen with human twins, and this is the first time Wendy is meeting a redrum-ready Jack, who is something of a twin to his former self. And in the forward action, we’re about to go from the Jack we were seeing only in the Suite 3 mirror, to the Jack we’re seeing right-way-round.

Actually, that reminds me: going by what we’ve seen of the lounge, and the direction Jack’s shadow emerges from, it’s most likely that he’s come from down the winding stair that leads up to room 237. So Jack might be coming from another tryst with Lorraine Massey in her bathtub. This might be…after the bath. But even if it’s not literal, it could simply be saying that evil Jack is largely the result of bathroom-based events.

Here, Jack is saying, “We all have moments of déjà vu, but this was ridiculous. It was almost as if I knew what was going to be around…every corner.” The backward action shows the fourth and final time (going forward) that we’ll see the Colorado lounge from this perspective. Not exactly this angle, but still.

And the déjà vus won’t end there. Jack is eating bacon and eggs here, and later, in this very spot he’ll say, “Little pigs, little pigs, let me come in!” Also, the drink Grady spills on Jack’s red jacket (the same red jacket he’ll be wearing at the end) is advocaat, an egg-based drink.

Backward Wendy is spinning around, terrified with a weapon in her hand, and she’ll do that again with the GREAT PARTY ghost, near the end. Actually, there’s a bit of an absurdity here, because we’ve just seen Wendy rifling madly through the pages, looking for some sign of a joke, or some bottom to the madness of her husband, and when he speaks from behind her, she shrieks and spins around, with the bat in her hands. But we saw her hunched with the papers. So she either moved lightning fast, or…magic. But you know, that does kinda speak to the way Wendy flips around on the GREAT PARTY ghost without hearing or seeing him behind her.

There’s a sports connection here, between the Eagles shirt and the baseball bat.

And check out the colour similarity between Wendy’s robe and the Navajo mural: blue, pink, white and yellow/tan. Perhaps Jack’s green shirt here, overlapping with backward Wendy’s green shirt, indicates the willingness to get work done. The other thing about the mural overlapping with Wendy, the red and blue figures overlay with her face, and of course her face will alternate between blue and red dimensions during the Four Horsemen trials. In that sequence, Wendy will experience déjà vu when she runs into the same area twice, with very different results.

Also, about Jack’s earlier claim that he knew what would be around every corner: for starters, Jack goes around corners that are physically impossible, like going behind Ullman’s office, which should tell anyone that Ullman’s office window is impossible. So if he had that sense of perpetual déjà vu, that could explain why he doesn’t question what he sees. Perhaps Kubrick is saying, like the Wachowski Sisters were saying in The Matrix, that déjà vus are not to be overlooked. And here, in the mirrorform, Jack is coming upon Wendy, as if he expected her to be there.

Actually, this moment is a lot like how Jack springs on Hallorann. A lone protector of Danny was moving slowly through the vast hotel, and Jack was hiding behind a pillar, ready to pounce. He lunges out at Dick at 2:08:37, and he causes Wendy to spin around at 37:20 in the mirrorform.

Here is the one overlay we get of the two different typewriters on screen at the same time. Again, forward Jack is all smiles and fun times. Backward Jack, with his grey typewriter is another story altogether.

This marks the first appearance of Marlboro cigarettes, which bear Julius Caesar’s famous phrase “Veni, vidi, vici”, “I came, I saw, I conquered”. It’s hard not to wonder if Kubrick felt this way about this project (did he know of any more complex film?), as if he had indeed, as one of the Room 237 theorists puts it, conquered the cinematic landscape. In the Making Of documentary, we see him hammering out pages of something on a typewriter not unlike this one.

In the mirrorform, the Caesar smokes overlay with Wendy Torrance. That could allude to her victory in the lounge fight. She came, saw Jack, and conquered him.

You can’t make it out, but here is an overlay of a super close-up of the shadowy picture wall that Jack is creeping out from behind. The pictures here are rearranged from how we see them in other shots of this wall (see below). And the darkness of that shot allows for the images in this shot to come straight through, so the white typewriter is one of the very few things in the movie (because there’s very few dim shots in the movie) to get this kind of highlight. Both the photo arrangement, and this typewriter, are gonna change.

I also wonder if this might be a nod to the fact that Jack didn’t realize he was writing the All Work papers. Like, if the photos can change, and typewriters can change, why not words on a page?

What’s more, the photo that overlays with the typewriter (orange box below) was seen behind Ullman during the interview. I’m not sure the significance, but it is odd. (Update: I’ve since discovered two incredible phenomena. There’s a language to the way photos move around the hotel, and the two behind Ullman have their own special relevance. So, the other thing that Ullman’s Eye was overlapping here was that copy of The New York Review of Books, with the articles hating on President Jimmy Carter.)

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Here, Wendy is pouring through the All Work pages, and we get an overlay of the Scientific American on the couch right by her lower lip, there. Recall that this is the issue that deals with the Tower of Babel, and the word Babel comes from the Hebrew verb bilal, which means “to jumble or to confuse”.

And we’ve got a recurrence of the Carter Collapse issue of The New York Review of Books, which makes reference to Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, and the Glamour issue with the ClairMist ad (which promises to make your hair “shine”), which is what we’re seeing here. With regard to Caesar, that play, like all Shakespeare’s plays is written in a poetic style, with relatively even lines descending down the page in a block; compare that to one of Jack’s All Work pages, which feature similar arrangement of lines. And with regard to Glamour, the next time we see that, Jack’s slamming his axe into Suite 3.

It’s also neat that Wendy’s centre framing (conjoined to the typewriter’s centre framing) makes it look like she’s still over the typewriter, but she’s actually flipping through the box to the left of it.

Contrary to Jack’s great writing here, it seems that all play goeth before the dull.

Also, the spot that Jack is throwing the ball here, the film later shows us, is the approximate point at which Danny is playing when the pink tennis ball comes rolling up. Danny is playing with his cars at that moment, and the ball seems like an invitation to come play some more. At that point, Danny has just dodged the effects of the Grady Twins’ invitation to come play with them forever and ever and ever, so it’s strange that he would make the mistake of following the pink ball then. That said, it follows that play is what made Danny a dull boy, in the sense that he’ll become catatonic for the remainder.

There’s also an interesting relationship between the format of what’s on the page, and what’s going in the mirrorform. So, the first three pages are Shakespeare-style, and that goes with the shot of Jack pointing at the east, and showing the Caesar-referencing newspaper. This north-pointing shot (see below), switches to a more prosaic style for two pages (with the typewriter gone from the shot). Then, as the shot begins to transition to Wendy and Danny running for the maze we get two more Shakespeare-esque pages. Then there’s the page we’ll look at in the next cluster of analysis, where pyramidal form-poem style writings seem to curve perfectly with the shape of the exterior building. Then three more Shakespeare-style while Wendy and Danny run up the path to the road. Two more prose style while they cross the road. Two more Shakespeare while they run along the hedge maze wall. And finally one more prose as they enter the maze.

So that’s 3-2-2-1-3-2-2-1, or five prose and eleven poetry style. I’m not sure if there’s a strong thematic sequence of connections there (maybe the 90-degree turns between the two shots of Jack throwing ball foreshadows the future 90-degree turn of the maze?), beyond the obvious, but it’s neat that the pattern would be consistent like that (3221/3221), and it’s neat that these transitions in form pair with transitions onscreen. I realize that findings like these suggest mind-boggling foresight and planning, but even I find it hard to believe at times, and especially at times like this, when the potential deeper purpose seems elusive.

Actually, remember the bit about the 1/3 and 3/4 marks appearing in these pages? The 1/3 mark appears on the 8th page of this sequence, right before the pyramid page. That means it’s the first page to appear as Wendy and Danny are running for the maze. And there’s a set of two postcards in the maze kiosk that connect to the radio room postcards, which appear at the 1/3 mark. While the 3/4 mark appears on the second last, or 15th page of this sequence, 200 seconds exactly before the 3/4 mark (whatever that might signify).

By the way, it’s only the 8th and 15th pages of this shot. They’re the 10th and 17th pages total that Wendy has inspected. And that looks like another 117 to my Tower of Babel-obsessed eye.

But yeah, that could be the link. The All Work pages could simply be pointing the way to looking at the film in terms of its fractions. You know, I actually had that thought when I first discovered them, months ago, but didn’t make the connection.

As we forward crossfade into the race for the hedge maze, we’re seeing the start of the second Lesson, which, while playful, becomes like a sort of work, in the sense that the lesson will save Danny. In fact, all of Danny’s Lessons are like this: his play is transformed into work, and the work saves his life.

I might also note that Wendy flips through 11 pages during the whole sequence where ball-throwing Jack is on screen (counting one very faint moment), and ball-throwing Jack throws the ball 11 (audible) times. When Danny stands up in the tennis ball hallway later, he’ll be wearing an Apollo 11 sweater. And of course there’s a slew of 11 shapes above Wendy when she’s finding the All Work papers. And, just for fun, I have to admit I love the idea that “All work” can be interpreted as “A 11 Work”, as in “Apollo 11 work and no play” (not my original concept–I believe that’s Jay Weidner’s).

One more major thing about this: see the way the words on this sheet have that downward triangle shape? I couldn’t help but see a similarity between that and how some people can illustrate a Fibonacci sequence (see below). Well, my thoughts on Fibonacci’s role in the construction of The Shining are wide-reaching, but note that exactly 11 seconds from this moment, going forward (no joke), the soundtrack starts playing Bela Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, which, it has been theorized, was composed according to the flow of Fibonacci. So that could be the connection there. Honestly, the only onion in the ointment is that All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy has only ten words, which just feels like a near-miss for the overall aesthetic of this moment. It could’ve been “very dull boy” or something, and we could’ve had those 11s. Though you’d lose the Bridge on the River Kwai connection in its exactness.

Also, check how nicely the words slide along the Overlook’s front awning there, and how they never touch Danny and Wendy. Was Kubrick just showing off? When the shot reverses on Wendy’s reaction, there’s pyramids in the ceiling beams. So perhaps the way these line up so perfectly with the building alludes to the secret pyramid inspiration in its construction. Also, the second pyramid of text lines up pretty perfectly with where the pyramid of snow will be when Danny rides it to freedom.

Wendy is chasing Danny and goes “And I’m gonna getcha! You better run fast! Dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun! Look out! I’m coming in close!” Of course, this foreshadows Jack’s final pursuit of Danny, but in the overlay, it underscores Wendy’s obliviousness to her own vulnerability here. It also underscores how Jack didn’t try to get the drop on her. Some part of him was genuinely curious what she thinks about his writing.

The song playing over backward Wendy at this point (and for all of the lounge confrontation, actually) is Krzysztof Penderecki’s Polymorphia, which means “many forms”. In the mirror world that seems to refer to Jack, who seems to have a symbolic connection to several mythological creatures, and religious figures. But in this mirrorform it speaks to the metamorphosis of the labyrinth (which will actually rotate 90-degrees for in its final scene, as we’ve seen), and it underscores the simplicity of Jack’s madness. In the literal, non-subtextual way of reading Jack, his madness is fairly basic. There’s nothing complex about his inner workings, or, perhaps, the effect of the hotel on him. Because we don’t really know how cognizant Jack is of his All Work pages. He might have been thinking to himself that he was writing something else, as he was typing, and this is the hotel’s shine effect on him. He doesn’t, for instance, react with anything but dazed horror after awakening from the murder dream; he doesn’t scramble to bury any evidence, even after Wendy gets him up into his chair, seated before all his “work”.

For the record, I tried typing a page worth of “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”, and I type around 60 words per minute, generally, but that process was so soul sucking, that it took 15 minutes to complete a single page. It’s shockingly difficult to do without it sapping some percentage of your happy feeling. It feels like you’re doing nothing, like you’re inviting your soul to be drained out of your body. And that was what happened to me after just one page. Imagine typing out two dozen such pages, let alone the hundreds that story Jack is supposed to have accomplished. If 15 minutes per page was average, you could only make 96 pages in a day without sleeping, eating, or taking any kind of break. There’s no way he could’ve done what we see without it probably taking every spare moment of his time since his writer’s block broke.

Oh, I guess I forgot to mention that it’s cool that Wendy would be finding the results of Jack’s lifted writer’s block during the reverse scene of him struggling against the block.

The hedge maze map here matches the one forward Jack is about to study in the lobby, but neither matches the actual labyrinth, which we’ll see in an aerial shot, with its own, much larger and more complex design.

Finally, Wendy and Danny keep saying “Keep America Clean” at each other (there’s three repeats), which is a phrase printed on all the Overlook garbage cans (there’s three visibly marked cans). Even if this wasn’t a reference to Keep America Beautiful, it still has that MAGA ring of an empty slogan, designed to be repeated by tractable adherents, without leading to measurable, identifiable change. MAGA means whatever you want it to mean (for some it’s about keeping out foreigners, for others it’s about making sure the stock market doesn’t collapse), and Keep America Beautiful certainly hasn’t stopped the MAGA folks from doing their damages. Probably because that term is equally ambiguous.

The All Work pages (for their literal value) are like the Jack’s Brain version of Keep America Clean. An empty slogan, signifying nothing, intended only as a placeholder. But of course, the way our minds can warp this phrase to apply to several of the surface-level themes of the story, as I just did with the bit about Danny’s play becoming his work, is similar to how someone hears “Keep America Clean” and wonders, “Is it not clean? Oh, it might become not clean, and it’s our job to keep it clean. America could never become unclean…unless some unclean people make it unclean…” If God’s on our side, who could be against us, etc. But I wonder if the point isn’t about how this slogan behaviour isn’t just the hobby horse of lunatics, but of sympathetic figures as well. Perhaps it’s a warning against allowing yourself to indulge too much in the “things we tell ourselves”, as it were.

Perhaps this partly explains why some of Danny’s Lessons (2nd (maze) and 4th (twins)) are inverted during the Escapes (1st and 3rd). Because you shouldn’t just parrot what you saw before, you should also know how to adapt and evolve what you’ve learned. This also makes a nice metaphor for converting a novel to the screen. Don’t just slop the book into a shot-for-shot movie (unless it truly calls for it, like No Country for Old Men or Shutter Island, which was originally a screenplay), look for ways you can use your position in the present to advance what this novel of the past was doing.

This frame, from a second later, seems to really drive home a few of the last points. Wendy is seeing the simplicity of Jack’s labyrinth. Or, perhaps, the (false?) map of his madness.

Right here, as Wendy’s seeing the first All Work page, forward Danny says, “Dead end” and the two turn around and retrace their steps. This seems like an apt description of Jack’s work.

In case you’re aware of The Rum and the Red, let me point out how, even without the twice-fold, I love the idea of “Dead end” pairing with this moment. Jack’s ambitions to be a writer were a dead end for him, but the hotel really made it a dead end. And perhaps this moment (the first of us seeing his insane babble) is the moment that we’re to know the old Jack has truly died. In the twice-fold, this moment syncs up with Jack being clubbed to the bottom of the stairs, so it’s like the first hint that he’s dead…and he will die again…and again.

11s appear regularly throughout the film, and I wonder if that’s because of the idea of twins. Here, Wendy has 9 11s above her head, and I don’t know if the 9 is significant, but recall that there were 11 audible ball-throws from Jack, a moment ago. I suppose the 9 could refer to the nine left-rights Danny and Wendy will make during this, the second Lesson.

To be fair, there’s only 7 full 11s, so maybe that’s another nod at the Tower of Fable.

Here, forward Jack is about to whip a tennis ball down the corridor, and right at the rear side of backward Wendy, who’s holding a baseball bat. So it’s reminiscent of the part when Jack comes up behind Wendy in a moment, and spooks her.

Wendy is also regularly associated with Winnie-the-Pooh, and here the two overlay a little bit, though not in this particular frame. In fact, we’ll see shortly that Wendy picked up the bat next to Winnie-the-Pooh on the Suite 3 couch.

Actually, Wendy will club Jack across this room, pointing the other way, and so will Jack axe Dick across his room, pointing the other way. That’s neat.

Here, Jack notices the baseball bat that backward Wendy is wielding. Again, Friday is named for Frigg, the wife of Odin, and symbolizes marital bliss, basically. This Wendy doesn’t know she’ll be cracking Jack’s skull in 7 minutes and 20 seconds, and that Jack doesn’t know this bat has a date with his face. All is well.

That is, however, a Frederick Horsman Varley painting overlaying her face, so maybe her sense of unease is justified. The first time she stood beside Jack at that typewriter she was trying to warn him about some “stormy weather” coming.

Also, note the way the model labyrinth is hovering atop the All Work pages behind Wendy. Jack will start typing those pages right after studying this false map.

It’s hard to make out, but the CAMERA WALK poster, which is behind backward Wendy in this shot, is hovering right over the model maze here, which is exactly where the CAMERA WALK poster was when Jack first entered the building (see below) for the interview (him grabbing his head here almost says, “What was it that used to sit right here…? Seemed important for some reason” — and recall that the image on the poster was the “summer” photo of Mt. Hood, which corresponds to Paul McCartney in the Let it Be analysis, who corresponds to Jack, so it’s as if Jack can’t find himself anymore, and what’s in its place is this liar labyrinth).

Going forward, Danny and Wendy are out in the maze right now, carrying cameras. So, that’s a small thing, perhaps, but I think it speaks to something Kubrick wanted to suggest about the cure for the effects of the labyrinth, and mirror worlds. Photography is an art. Frequently, it’s the art of capturing the true form of things. So you arm yourself with the tool of the camera to capture the reality of even, or especially, those things that scare you or confuse you. And you’ll come away, hopefully, with what you need to best your confusion.

Jack’s art is writing, and writing should be used to capture the truth, but in some ways it’s a much more subjective art than photography (this is usually trumpeted as its great strength by readers, who’ll proclaim, “Well, the Jane Eyre in your head is so much better than this fancy waif up on the screen” or whatever). Though, of course, in both arts, context is key.

Speaking of context, the painting hovering over the labyrinth here is Stormy Weather, Georgian Bay, by F. H. Varley. This painting is interesting for a few reasons: 1) George Hatfield is the name of the student Jack abuses, losing himself his teaching job (and who is also secretly the subject of the play Jack’s trying to write), and 2) Stormy Weather is a classic Billie Holiday song, and Wendy sings a bit of a Billie Holiday song to herself in the novel, I Know You Rider. “Lovin’ you baby, is just like rollin’ off a log/But if I can’t be your woman, I sure ain’t gonna be your dog”. Billie Holiday’s life was a tragic one, in many ways, and this painting spies on Jack, as he lurks to slaughter Hallorann.

Also, the painting Jack just passed, Winter Landscape, features a log and a dog. Coincidence?

On an autobiographical note, and just to stress how uncanny so much of this process has felt: a good deal of the time I spent making the visuals for this site I was listening to podcasts to pass the time (that process took six weeks). I was constructing a heap of the graphics involving this very scene as I was listening to a podcast clip describing Billie Holiday’s life in gut-wrenching detail, so much so that I was beginning to associate her story with this moment from the film, and I totally didn’t make the connection until weeks later. It had never occurred to me before that Stormy Weather was Holiday. I think of it as a Frank Sinatra song, thanks to a line from a Cake song.

It’s hard to tell if Jack is studying the labyrinth, or just appreciating the model’s cuteness, but he ultimately doesn’t get anything out of it. He never studies the real thing, which I think makes him helpless against it. This is especially ironic, because, if the hotel is a mirror version of the labyrinth, every time we see him “working”, he’s got the giant scrapbook of the hotel’s history beside the typewriter, but this history is illusory. It can’t describe the real nature of the hotel, because the hotel has polymorphia. You can’t take just one road into its mercurial heart. It’s by necessity that you understand it from every angle. And in the sense that the labyrinth is a metaphor for life, how true is that?

It’s also neat that Jack’s last sane act is to stare at a representation of the place where he’ll be ultimately defeated, and in the motion of the backwards action, Wendy appears to be doing a long, straight backwards walk, which is what Danny does to create that defeat.

And backward Wendy is coming here prepared to fight Jack, just as Theseus went in to club the minotaur and slit its throat (Wendy clubs Jack, then slits his hand). If you need more, consider that Wendy has already walked this path through the Gold Room, when she’s racing to nightmare Jack’s side. So, she’s retracing her steps, here.

Oh, also, Wendy is mirroring over The Solemn Land (1921) and Log Hut on the St. Maurice (1862). So that’s a combo of the year of Jack’s eternal imprisonment and the reason he gets to have that imprisonment (the murder of a black man).

What’s probably too exact to be coincidence is the way the lounge stairs have 7 steps to the first landing, and 23 to the top. As you can see in my crude drawing below, the hedge maze has seven “steps” to where the zig-zags end, and 23 layers of maze to the top of the screen from there. So, which was more important? That Shelley Duvall be 30 years old? Or that the steps be 23-7?

You’ll only know what I mean here if you’ve read the Tower of Fable analysis, but this is one of the coolest moments from my Avenue of the Dead analysis, since backward Wendy is passing from the “Pyramid of the Moon” (the 23×7 staircase) to the “Pyramid of the Sun” (the typewriter where a golden bowl first sat).

I drew the box around the middle since that’s where Danny bests Jack, and the top of the stairs is where Wendy bests Jack. Does he die in one of the paths between the 23 and 7 marks?

And finally for this section, here’s backward Wendy going for the bat that she’ll club Jack with, while forward Wendy and Danny stand in the spot where Jack will be confused unto death.

What’s really neat is that backward Danny’s fire engine is right behind forward Danny’s head. This fire engine has a large yellow ladder extending from it. Some have seen this as a phallic symbol for the Winnie-the-Pooh bear, and I don’t know, maybe that’s part of the joke (Forward Wendy does say “I didn’t think it was gonna be this big. Did you?”). But I think what’s more interesting is that when backward Jack reaches the end of Danny’s trail and sees that his tracks simply end, it’s as if a heavenly ladder came down (or, like, a rescue chopper) and allowed him to ascend.

Also, Danny goes searching for the fire truck on Monday. Monday comes from “moon day”, and here, the fire truck might be associated to Danny lifting off magically into the sky.

Some will probably find it deeply ironic for me to mock the moon landing people…so here’s one last thing, to bring us back down to the earth of my own crazy obsessive analysis: that Winnie-the-Pooh there? It appears 47 seconds away from this one forward Jack just passed. These are its only two appearances (not counting the bear mask). And Wendy will get stuck in the nearby bathroom window, just like Pooh gets stuck at Rabbit’s house after eating all the honey. Which is why she doesn’t end up with Danny in the heart of the maze later. Coincidence…?

Actually, I just noticed that the Pooh bear appearances occur across 2:44 worth of film (39:16-42:00) and so that 47-second gap means that Pooh’s only in the film for 117 seconds total. Tower of Winnie, bitches!!! Actually, the Suite 3 Pooh bear is inches away from where the Tower of Babel will appear, and the lobby Winnie is right next to a giant red pillar from the same row as the where the first Tower of Babel appears. So that’s probably no joke.

Oh man, the amounts of time that each Winnie appears is 10 seconds (39:16-39:26) and 107 seconds (40:13-42:00), and 107 is the number on the door behind Wendy’s head when she’s seeing the Pooh-bear-style mask in the Conquest well. That’s a number I’ve associated with the CSM-107, the rocket ship that brought the Apollo 11 astronauts to the moon.

Click here to read about The Midway Mark, if you skipped it earlier

And click here to continue on to Through the Mirrorform, Part 5: Tuesday