AKA Man of Everest, by Tenzing Norgay and James Ramsey Ullman
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Perhaps the most interesting factoid connecting this to Kubrick’s larger weave is how the album Abbey Road was almost titled Mount Everest, after a brand of cigarettes by the same name.
Ullman interviewed Norgay, and then credited Norgay as the author, which, not to soften old-school racism, is fairly selfless, as these (1955) things go. That said, Norgay is one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century, so maybe Ullman simply thought better of trying to take credit. Basically I’m just trying to establish that I don’t think this James Ullman is being implied to have the same negative qualities as story Ullman (although story Ullman is to be found at the top of a mountain…). Just like how the supposedly Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired bathroom (which would help carry the essence of “Lloyd” into the Grady tryst) isn’t meant to imply that Wright was a ghost-god-demon. This book, which appears 197 seconds (3:17) after the last time we saw movie Ullman and leaves the movie 135 seconds (2:15) before Ullman’s next appearance (17:26-19:41), helps give the scene an Overlook essence. And in the sense that Ullman and Lloyd are the only two characters that this happens to, I would say that it draws a thread between them as demonic entities.
The book tells the story of the first two men, Edmund Hillary and Norgay, to set foot on the summit of Everest. So, aside from being a book by a guy who shares a name with a character we’ve already met in the Overlook, it shares a big similarity with the Apollo 11 imagery; the idea of pioneers going to places never before seen. Kubrick’s work in general speaks to an admiration for explorers and truth-tellers. Ullman was shining a light on the other side of this famed expedition and on the universe of the Sherpas, who had never been properly portrayed to the world at large before. This heightens the movie’s adherence symbolically to indigenous cultures, overlooked.
(Also, how about this! The actor who plays the bloody head ghost is Norman Gay. Nor-Gay. And the river of blood down his face looks like the path up the mountain to the Overlook. My theory about that ghost is that he’s the actual Charles Grady of Overlook history, so this could be another chip in that pile: “Ullman” is telling us the story of “Nor(man) Gay”.)
It’s interesting too that, since tigers in the film are associated to Tony, the transition from Tony back to Danny at the end of the film might be as Danny slides out of the Suite 3 window into the snows outside. But the closest these two scenes come to overlapping in the mirrorform is 38 seconds after the end of the doctor scene, here, while forward Danny reports his hunger.
And since I’m on the subject, and I know I haven’t addressed this elsewhere in full, I’ll address it here. The evidence for Danny’s transition to Tony is as follows: Wendy grabs a REDRUMing Tony before seeing MURDER in the mirror; during the first slams of Jack’s axe, there’s no response from Danny, who is carried almost lifelessly to the bathroom.
Danny hides his face in his mom’s robe the entire cross to the window, and only several seconds later, after she’s hammered open the window a crack, do we get this close-up reaction shot of his face whipping around which starts out looking like general wonderment and ends in terrified concern. I won’t pretend that this doesn’t seem like a return to normal Danny. But it seems strange that it would happen here, his return to himself. It doesn’t seem like there was a special catalyst of any kind. Like, if the initial axe blows didn’t do it, did the frosty night air do it?
By the time he’s in the freezing winds, panting in relative terror, it feels to me like the OG Danny has returned. Tony, in all of his scenes, is generally a slower, more subdued manifestation of Danny’s quality. But then I think we would have to take the earlier moment as the return. But again, I’m not quite sure I understand the catalyst. If it was the frosty air, that could play with the Tiger of the Snows bit. Is it really just that?
Next literary reference: Young Jethro
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