Through the Mirrorform: Storeroom? Or Gingerbread House?



As the group moves up the hall from C3, and Wendy quizzes Dick about calling Danny Doc, they only walk about ten feet (if that) before they hit the corner, and right around the corner…

…is the storeroom. Which, as we’ll soon see, is a bit deeper than ten feet. It’s long enough to lay down two Jack Torrances head-to-toe, by the look of it (Nicholson’s 5’8″).

So, as the team was standing in the deep freeze, they were also in the same room as backward Jack was before, talking to Grady. So, again, all this talk about Grady releasing Jack being some pinnacle of the film’s supernatural inexplicability requires a serious degree of comfort with spatial impossibilities and a hotel that can transform itself at will. And if that’s not enough for ya, there’s actually another door, under five feet from the corner, also being some kind of deep freeze (C2).

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is screen-shot-2019-06-11-at-8.44.43-am.png

And this is far from the only pantry oddity

But if we return to the Hansel and Gretel point for a moment, it’s as if Hallorann has shown them the secret back door to the gingerbread house. Don’t just trust that you can lock away the Big Bad Wolf/Candy Witch, and that’s the end of it. You might need an oven (or a frosty maze).

The other cool, contextual thing going on here is Hansel and Gretel is classified by the Aarne-Thompson system as 327A (AKA The Children and the Witch). 327 being a 237 jumble. So, did Kubrick hide any 237 jumbles in here? Let’s find out!

So, as discussed in the documentary intro for this site, the length of time the song that plays over the entire lounge fight, leading to Wendy going looking for the dead snowcat, is 732 seconds (101:18-113:30). But the editor (plus Kubrick) chopped that song, Polymorphia, into three sections so it would play for that long (the version of the complete song from the official soundtrack is actually 9:07, which is a backwards 709, which is the Aarne-Thompson code for Snow White, in fact). One of those chops is impossible to notice, occurring at 105:21, meaning that first passage is 243 seconds. The second chop is at 109:34, making that section 253 seconds. But there’s a second of bleed over between this chunk and the next, so, while Polymorphia finally fades out at 113:30, there’s that extra second from 109:33, making this section 237 seconds.

This 237 chunk is extra fabulous from the perspective of the mirrorform, where this section starts with Danny’s reaction to being offered some Eye Scream, and goes to the point where Hallorann is asking Danny if he’s been shown anything by Tony about “this place…about the…Overlook hotel…?” And urging him to think “real hard” about what it might’ve been. Right at the moment of transition between the 237 chunk and the 253/243 chunks, Danny hard shifts the conversation by saying, “Mr. Hallorann, are you scared a this place?” Which leads to the room 237 conversation, occurring completely in the 253 chunk, while Jack is pushing Wendy toward the literal room 237.

There’s a 24-second gap in the Polymorphia as Wendy runs from the hotel to the dead snowcat (the period of Hallorann’s “eye scream” offer in the mirrorform), and from the second she sees the dead snowcat to the second Hallorann’s rescue cat is seen…237 seconds (113:52-117:49). So, that’s the entire Jack-Grady sequence, along with Wendy finding the dead cat, and the 4pm placard and the following establishing shot.

But wait! There’s more!

Hallorann appears onscreen for the first time at exactly 24:18. 237 seconds later (28:15), Hallorann’s finishing his tour, and Ullmans says, “Hi!” as if marking the finale. (Incidentally, the guy working on the turned-off chandelier back there is standing on the 10th and 11th rungs of a 13-rung ladder. Could that be a reference to Apollo 10 and 11 happening while the Beatles were disintegrating, and Apollo 13 happening (disastrously) just after the band broke up?)

This is followed by a 37-second sequence leading to a crossfade to a 23-second sequence showing us what I call the “end of the tour” in the Abbey Road Tour sense. So that’s another 23-37. And while the connection to Apollo 11 should be obvious by now, with regard to the larger sequence, the mission occurred exclusively during the recording of Abbey Road, so the two are linked by happenstance, if nothing else (actually, at this exact moment in Redrum Road, the album’s transitioning from Here Comes the Sun to Because, a song that took its structure from the Moonlight Sonata).

The sequence between Danny and Hallorann that follows is exactly 297 seconds (29:13-34:10). And 237 + 23 + 37 = 297. So there’s the temporal fact of Hallorann’s epic 10-minute sequence having two perfect halves, and there’s the nature of those halves. In the first half, everything’s rosy and “Hey, I’ll just show you how this place can shift around impossibly, in case you need to run through a labyrinth later that rotates its entrance 90-degrees.” And in the second half, things get a lot more grave and 237y. Danny’s eaten his ice cream, but he’s still got concerns.

So it’s a bit like the gingerbread house is just the warm-up for the big event. Hallorann shows it to Danny, and in their next scene together Danny shows Hallorann 237. We’ve got the famine situation under control? Okay, let’s go to the moon!

But there’s always a danger in being overconfident about your launchpad. You might think having the gingerbread house (civilization?) is enough, but it’s not (hence the great famine of 1315, which may’ve inspired Hansel and Gretel). You need that trail of breadcrumbs (science?) to get back to where you started, you know, in case a cannibal shows up.

Now, let’s get away from the Grimm-centric aspect, and just look at the mirrorformity of this sequence.

I think it’s pretty interesting that we’re seeing backward Wendy aghast at the severed heart of the snowcat, which overlays Danny, who has a bunch of knives hanging over him in the forward sequence, not to mention the fact that forward Wendy is looking at the one other (real) thing (Hallorann) she’ll later look at in mortal horror.

And this will require a longer explanation, but we just left the scene of backward Jack waking up in the storeroom, right? Well, 21 seconds later, Hallorann enters the storeroom. And when they all leave the storeroom is the moment backward Wendy gets back from the dead snowcat, and we see backward Jack laughing maniacally, trapped inside the storeroom. These are the only three scenes inside the storeroom in the entire film (almost the only kitchen scenes too), and the backward one fits perfectly inside the forward one.

Building on that, as Hallorann says his next line, “Now this is the storeroom”, Hallorann lingers on the word “store” making it sound like it has two syllables. When I noticed this, I listened to the clip about two dozen times to see if I was imagining things, but when I went back into my memories of replaying this scene in my head throughout my life (I do this a lot with a lot of movies) I realized that I would’ve added that second syllable myself, even if I was saying it aloud. I’d always heard it, but I’d never thought to think of what it meant. Well, on close, repeated listening, it clicked that he wasn’t necessarily saying, as it says in the script, “Now, this is the storeroom” but rather, “Now this is the storyroom”. Say the word storeroom to yourself (with an Indianan accent, if you like). Does it sound like you’re saying storrrrrroom? Or stor-ruh-room? It’s hard to confirm what Scatman Crothers is saying here because the sound of him pulling the handle back starts right on “stor—”, and we know from an intense study someone did of the soundtrack of the film that Kubrick’s sound guy manipulated the way some of the Penderecki songs are supposed to sound. So I don’t think it’s crazy to think he might’ve taken two takes of Crothers talking and mangled it for the effect I’ve noticed. It’s not critical that I be right about this, and I considered not mentioning it, but I think it puts an interesting spin on what’s coming up, which is provable.

The boxes you see around the storeroom in the CLOSING DAY section are about opposite to how they appear when backward Wendy’s dragging Jack in later.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is screen-shot-2019-05-02-at-1.18.43-pm.png

If this is the “storyroom”, then perhaps SK’s using the play on words to say a few things about how he conceived of his story.

  • 1) You should look at it backwards and forwards, as we’re doing now; that’s why the boxes switch sides.
  • 2) This story is going to seem supernatural and impossible. That’s why the two deep freezes overlap with the space of the storeroom.
  • 3) When you look at the movie backward and forward, you’re going to find things that interlock. Symmetries and cycles. That’s why the Hallorann storeroom moments come right between the two Jack storeroom moments. The future and the past are both couched in the present.
  • 4) This story of The Shining, is like the storeroom that could allow you to “eat up here a whole year and never have the same menu twice”, it’s about what happens when you have everything you need to survive, forcing your mammalian brain out of the usual Darwinian nature of existence. There’s no need for conquest or war to get what we need, famine is a non-issue, and death is but a distant dream, thanks to all this storage (and on a personal note: I’ve been watching the film several times a day, in a sense, for 13 months, and I still haven’t run out of things to discover, which has constantly reshaped my view of the narrative–I rarely have the “same menu” twice). As Ullman says, Jack’s job is not “physically demanding”; he exists here so that the “elements can’t get a foothold”. And when Hallorann emerges from the story room, he’s basically stating the thesis of the film (or one of them). “You know, Mrs. Torrance, you gotta keep regular, if you wanna be a-happy.”

(In case you’re expecting this to build up to the Aarne-Thompson findings, I discovered those way after writing this page, and since they have their own page, you might as well just head there to read all about it.)

And just so I don’t not mention this: I’ve had some people ask me, well, do you think the cast and crew knew about this, or could this be like an H.H. Holmes thing, where he made the production so confusing that nobody would’ve noticed his chicanery? Well. Danny, Dick and Wendy are all seen walking out of the deep freeze. They were inside, and then they walk out. But this door had to physically open on the actual storeroom, which we see from the context of the larger kitchen 3 or 4 times. So the actors had to have seen that they were walking out of an impossible room, here. Maybe it was explained to them in some clever way…but they knew.

Now, before we go forward, we have to go back, to pick up on something I had to skip over. Here is the last of our backward placard overlays, 4pm. This is interesting for one major reason. There are only two moments in the entire film when the flow of time in the hotel, according to the clocks and watches around the hotel, don’t follow what we’re being told. In other words, if we look closely at Wendy’s wristwatch from scene-to-scene, throughout the course of a day, it always matches what we see on the wall clocks, and the time never jumps around, it’s always about as far ahead or behind in time as you would expect, as indicated by the light outside, or by the preceding and proceeding events. I’ll go into it in more detail in a little bit, at a moment where we see the evidence of both time jumps overlaying each other; I just wanted you to see that this is where we hear about 4pm.

As a general note about the number 4, touching Hallorann here, it’s associated with death in a lot of cultures, so it has that going for it. Funnily, though, both Jack and Hallorann collapse at 5:25/6:00, and 5 is often associated with the family. Grandparents, parents, child. Hence 4 meaning death. Someone’s gone.

Click here to return to where you were in Through the Mirrorform, Part 3: Closing Day

Or click here to continue on to Through the Mirrorform, Part 4: A Month Later