Tower of Fable, Part 3: DNA of a Bloodfall



So, in part one we looked at how the “story room” compresses all those Aarne-Thompson fable codes into that one tiny space. And in part two we considered how every area of the Overlook might be intended to overlap like floors in some impossible jigsaw labyrinth box. This final analysis will consider a similar phenomenon having to do with the film’s editing.

Now, we’ve seen how you can do a moment-by-moment analysis of the mirrorform or Redrum Road or the Twice-Folded Shining, and get endless little synchronicities and sewing-card-esque interconnections, but what happens when we zoom out and look at the big picture? Are there larger trends that show how Kubrick kept everything straight?

Because, if you’re like me, you probably don’t have a hard time believing that a total genius could think to put two related things equally distant from the middle second of their movie, but where things become almost absurd in their mind-boggle-ry is when you think that none of the 8484 seconds that make up the film have nothing to say about what’s happening on the other side. How did he pull this off? And why go to such extents?

Well, long before I noticed the sewing card subtext from the Rum and the Red analysis, it occurred to me that the film is 664 shots, with 62 of them being over 30 seconds, and 16 of them over a full minute long. And I’d already noticed how a lot of scenes begin and end within a second of each other, and how a lot of scenes end on the 15, 30, or 60 second mark of any given minute. So, sensing a kind of arch geometry, I thought, why not make a list of each 30 second cluster of action and compare it with whatever’s happening on the other side. I thought it would be simple to just repeat this process as I folded the film again and again, but the 30 second chunks only works for the 70:30 mirrorform. Once you go to the Twice-Folded Shining, the length is 35:15, so you have to go to 15 second chunks. If you fold the film a third time, you have to go to 7-second chunks, and if you want to keep folding, 3 second chunks, and then roughly 2 second chunks. 237. Hmm. Anyway, I didn’t go that crazy, I just went to 7-second chunks, which divides the film into 564 tiny sections.

What you’re seeing here is four sets of forward-moving action against four sets of backward-moving action, as if you’d folded the film three times on itself to create an 8-layered 17:37 version. The colour codes are the same as from my Colour-Coded Mirrorform analysis, but I made a series of duplicates drawing boxes around the various sections to show how continuous the various sections appear throughout the film. This is from the Gold Room/Bloodfall edition, which, as you can see, leaves very little room for any action not taking place in one of these sections. The red boxes correlate to the moments where a bloodfall is happening, and as you can see, there’s one right near the middle, while the two from the first column are almost perfectly distant from the middle.

But before we get to the significance of that, let me just say, this is how I noticed that almost none of the lines of dialogue in the film are muddled by these 7 second demarcations. Let’s just take a minute to appreciate this:

23:00 “And if you feel like spreading out, you have the rest of the hotel to move around in.” “Well, it’s very, uh,” 23:07 “homey” “yeah” “this is our famous hedge maze.” 23:15 “It’s quite an attraction around here. The walls are 13 feet high, and the hedge is about as old as the hotel itself. It’s a lot of fun” 23:23 “But I wouldn’t want to go in there unless I had an hour to spare to find my way out.” “When was the Overlook built?” 23:30 “Uh, construction started in 1907, it was finished in 1909.” 23:37 “The site is supposed to be located on an Indian burial ground, and I believe they actually had to repel a few Indian attacks as they were building it.” 23:45

There’s only around 30 out of those 564 sections where the dialogue ran right through the dividing line, making a clear demarcation impossible to determine, without getting really technical, which I think is largely a natural byproduct of a film script being a film script. Every once in a while, somebody’s gonna have a lot to say. “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?”

So there’s a general supersymmetry that we could go in and nitpick through, but that would take forever, so let me just share the most impressive thing this process revealed.

If we accept the mirrorform as a given, we know that its middle (35:15) is marked by a bloodfall (starting at 35:25).

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So if we imagine that that was our cue to fold the film a second time, what happens?

Now that bloodfall becomes the end of the 4-layered 35:15 movie, and the 4th quarter bloodfall is right in the middle between the first and last. So should we fold it again? If we did, that would create this image, where Danny’s final vision isn’t just between the first and last, but is at the middle of the movie again.

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A fourth fold puts the fourth quarter bloodfall 10 seconds from the new end of an 8:48 movie. And as you can see, the first and last have come almost perfectly together (they’re 7 seconds apart). Also, the below graphic isn’t perfect, I made it by flipping half the above image and making it see-through. But a proper version would go to 3-second chunks, with 16 layers side-by-side, as I stated. I just wanted to give you some idea of how this would look.

Folding it a fifth time (making a 4:24 film of 32 layers) will bring the ones at the beginning and ending together so that they both start exactly 10 seconds into the film.

Also, the first and last from the first column would be a mere 2 seconds from the new middle (2:12). So if that’s our invitation to fold everything a 6th (2:12) and a 7th (1:06) time to make a 66-second-long movie, with now 128 layers of action all happening simultaneously…the first bloodfall would start falling at 2 seconds in, while the last one would end 17 seconds before the end. 217. The evil room from the novel. And on page 172 of the novel, Danny is attacked by an evil fire hose that hangs across the hall from 217. Here’s the passage that relates to this, edited to emphasize my point: “Danny looked around the corner. The extinguisher was there, a flat hose, folded back a dozen times on itself…Above it was an axe in a glass case…with white words on a red background…Danny could read the word EMERGENCY. Emergency was fire, explosions, car crashes, hospitals, sometimes death.” “He didn’t like the way the word was used in connection with that long, flat hose.” And what horseman of the apocalypse does the bloodfall symbolize? None other than Death itself.

But is this how Kubrick got the idea to do this? A many-folded fire hose with an association to death made him want to structure a film that could be folded seven times back on itself to arrive at a 66-second 128-layered movie? What would be the point of going to all that trouble?

Actually, something I left out is King writing how the word EMERGENCY reminds Danny of one of his favourite TV shows, and what’s the first thing that appears beside Danny after the first bloodfall? His Emergency! brand lunchbox and Thermos.

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The show featured two paramedic firefighters, who coordinate between an ER and a fire station, so I’m guessing Danny’s love of his fire engine, the fire engine sticking out beside his Winnie-the-Pooh here…

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…speaks to, and possibly foreshadows, his interest in becoming some similar sort of figure. And this fire engine would therefore be right off screen behind him when he gets his final bloodfall vision. The one with the REDRUM door interrupting here…

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…a door Jack will take down…like a firefighter. Fun fact: Nicholson is said to have demolished over 80 doors during shooting thanks in part to his experience as a volunteer firefighter.

As for the other two bloodfalls, the one starts in the mirrorform immediately after Ullman references the town of Sidewinder, “Oh it sure would be, the problem is the enormous cost it would be to keep the road to Sidewinder open. It’s a 25-mile stretch of road, gets an average of 20 feet of snow during the winter, and there’s just no way to make it economically feasible to keep it, uh, clear. When the place was built in 1907, there was very little interest in winter sports. And this site was chosen for its seclusion, and scenic beauty.”

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And the other comes right before Jack references the nearby town of Boulder. “I could really write my own ticket if I went back to Boulder, couldn’t I? Shovelling out driveways, working in a car wash, would any of that appeal to you?”

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As I’ve covered elsewhere, Sidewinder and Boulder seem to be ways of making us think about the beginning and ending of the old and new testament of the bible, but in the 217 context, we get a powerful barrier that mysteriously opens to reveal a risen dead person inside (Lorraine Massey), and we get a scary serpent figure (the fire hose).

So, death is obviously terrible, but we have these ways of dealing with it: medicine (Emergency!) and mythology (the bible).

And if we zoom in on the seconds from just these bloodfalls, and these gaps, it goes 2 seconds no blood, 17 seconds for Wendy’s vision, which includes Danny’s shorter visions, 7 seconds of just the third vision, 23 seconds for Danny’s first vision, and then 17 second no blood outro.


And it might sound corny, but, since we’re talking about blood here, is it not fair to imagine that Kubrick was saying these numbers, these mashups of 217 and 237, were the “DNA” of his movie? Just note how cleanly the three major visions line up with each other, the second and third starting at the same moment, the first and third trading off in the same split second.

What’s more, there’s four moments where shots of bloodfalls are interrupted by some little blip of other visuals. In the Wendy moment (yellow star on the graph), it’s her reaction face, which goes from 11 to 13 seconds into this 66-second Shining, meaning the second and third bloodfalls come in at just the right moment to keep the blood flowing.

In the third vision, it’s the REDRUM blip (dark red star), which occurs at the 21 second mark, meaning the blood does stop flowing for a split second, but only to show us “red rum”.

And Danny’s first vision is interrupted twice, first by the Grady twins at 42 seconds in (light blue star), and then by his own screaming face at 45 seconds in (black star).

So one cool thing is that the EYE SCREAM and the REDRUM are both 21 seconds from either side, giving this a nice little micro-mirrorform effect.

But what probably jumps out at any Hitler experts out there is how if we thought of these numbers (11, 21, 42, 45) not just for their significance to the film but as years from the 20th century, 1911-1913 were the years Hitler struck up his most significant creative partnership with Samuel Morgenstern, a Jewish glazier who became an early collector of young Hitler’s paintings, before the First World War swept the young painter in a much different direction. And 1921 is the year he ascended to the position of Führer, 3 weeks after the date in photo Jack’s photo. And 1942-1945, are of course the years that he battled America in the war. I’m sure you don’t need a link for that.

So the DNA of the bloodfalls in the 7-times-folded Shining point to significant years in the life of one of our species most famous strong man murderers: his artist years, and his Führer years.

And did you ever notice how there’s this lump that’s created when the blood falls, as if it’s rushing over some mass? As if someone’s body slumped out the doors after they opened, and the blood is now rushing over it?

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I’ll admit this was not something I noticed myself, but in the writings of theorist Juli Kearns, and she admits that it could be what I assume it is, a piece of essential machinery, to help guide the blood the way it was meant to splash out of the elevator. But since the film’s DNA could be laced with these Hitler years, might this be his corpse? Let’s quickly run through all the Hitler-based facts connected to the film.

First, The Shining was produced by Martin Richards and Robert Fryer, who are both most otherwise famous for producing the 1978 film The Boys from Brazil, a movie that derives its inspiration from the conspiracy theory that Hitler escaped to South America after world war 2. If you’ve seen Room 237, you’ll recall the moment when it’s suggested that the crossfade between the two shots of Jack at the end give the giant face Jack a little Hitler moustache.

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And remember, according to my Redrum Road theory, the postcards on the window edge beside Wendy’s face are referencing that final shot of the film, and we’ve also covered the fact that the painting hiding behind the radio directory is by Alois Arnegger, a graduate of the same art college that rejected Hitler in 1907 and 1908. And when we apply a phi grid to this shot…

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…the golden spiral that starts at the Arnegger piece (upper right) flows through the truck of American phonebooks behind Wendy at the end of its curve, cutting through a phone book for…

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…Buenos Aires, Argentina, the very country many were afraid Hitler had fled after the war. Hitler’s suicide has since been thoroughly verified, but again Kubrick was palling around with the producers of this film, and he was making a horror movie. What could be more frightening than the creeping feeling that one of history’s greatest monsters was lurking in the shadows of the world? Or that your husband/father shared his ambitions?

Also, to expand on an earlier point, Hitler became the official Führer of the Nazi Party on July 29th 1921, after resigning on the 11th, one week after the day Hitler Jack is stuck in forever and anon. On the day Jack is stuck in (July 4th), the National Socialist German Workers Party, which would become the Nazi Party, was on the brink of either collapse, or merging with another political party, and so it was that in late June that Hitler returned from a fundraising trip to try to settle the matter. On this day, the future for Adolf Hitler was very uncertain. So photo Jack will live forever on the edge of the untipped coin, on a day when the smallest actions could’ve wrought a very different 21st century. And isn’t this what the hotel is always promising? The opportunity to exist forever in a place where the theory of evolution is just a couple paintings on a wall, and where nothing ever has to really change, and where all the worst things that ever could happen are just dreams waiting to be forgotten.

And that brings me to the Al Bowlly track, It’s All Forgotten Now, first recorded on…July 11th, 1934, at(!)…Abbey Road studios…one month before Hitler became the Führer of all of Germany. The song that plays over giant face Hitler Jack—Midnight, the Stars, and You—also Bowlly’s, also recorded at Abbey Road, came out two weeks after Hitler became ultimate Führer. Al Bowlly was from Mozambique in Southern Africa, the child of Greek and Lebanese parents, who died in 1941 at age 43 when a German Luftwaffe parachute mine detonated outside his window, blowing his apartment door off its hinge, and destroying the man’s skull. So you could say Hitler killed the South African Bowlly. What’s more? The last song Bowlly ever recorded was, When That Man Is Dead And Gone, a satirical song about Hitler written by Irving Berlin.

Also, while there’s a few books in the Torrance collection worthy of mention for our purposes here, let me just zoom in on The Manipulator by Diane Cilento, who was not so much an author as an Oscar-nominated actor, who, in one of her final roles, played an aviator with affection for the ailing Führer in 1973’s Hitler: The Last Ten Days, starring Alec Guinness…

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…and Philip Stone, AKA Delbert Grady, as General Jodl, one of the high officers advising Hitler in his bunker.

Finally, there’s something from the novel worth mentioning here. Page 237 features Jack approaching the place where he’ll have his first Lloyd encounter, and as he does, he wistfully reminisces about what it must’ve been like when Horace Derwent assumed control of the Overlook in August of 1945, two weeks to the day after atom bombs dropped on Japan, but he doesn’t think about that. Instead he thinks about the “particoloured Japanese lanterns” that hung about the full length of the hotel’s drive.

Then on page 273 he’s having a dream in which he’s beating the ghost of the school boy he pummelled (George Hatfield) that lost him his teaching position. And he realizes he’s doing this with his father’s cane, which transforms into a roque mallet, the same mallet he uses to almost kill Hallorann and Wendy…when the boy transforms into Danny, but by then he can’t stop himself, and he murders his dream child.

On page 327 he’s in the boiler room, realizing that the boiler has reached 212 pounds per square inch of pressure, but before he can bring himself to dump the pressure he has a reverie about the hotel blowing to smithereens, followed quickly by a sweet memory of his father showing him how to use smoke from a fire to daze all the wasps in a wasp nest, to make it safe to remove. After the reverie he realizes the boiler’s reached 220, meaning it passed 217 while he was daydreaming.

On page 372, after Wendy’s Treasure Island reference, Jack mumbles a line from the earlier daydream, one of his father’s instructions, to grab a gas can.

So, while Kubrick’s 237 jumbles have their kaleidoscope of meanings, King’s seem to be connecting the suicide of Hitler (pg. 237) with Jack’s near suicide by boiler (pg. 327), with Jack’s desire to live up to a father whom he feared (pg. 372), and the quasi-suicide of killing one’s own child (pg. 273).

But the first reference to his father’s cane comes on page 223, after Jack daydreams about how his father and he used to play an “elevator game”, where Mark Anthony Torrance would sweep little Jacky-boy up deliriously through the air, sometimes hurting, sometimes exhilarating, depending on the older man’s sobriety. Here’s a passage, again, edited to make my point, “In those days…it had not seemed strange that his own love should go hand in hand with his fear: fear of the elevator game, which might end in a splintering crash any given night…Love began to curdle at nine when his father put his mother into the hospital with his cane.”

As we’ve covered, the hallway leading to the bloodfall is actually the exact same set as the hall behind the lobby, redressed to look like it connects to the gold room.

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So, when Wendy comes up to see the bloodfall, it’s not simply that the same three paintings (Red Maple, Mist Fantasy, and Beaver Swamp) are in the same three spots along the left wall.

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It’s literally the same set, which means that these…torrents…that pour out of this elevator, are falling on the same spot where this man…

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…and this man…

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…are seen next to this painting, by Paul Kane.


So, while there’s no Mark Anthony Torrance in the movie, there is another father figure who inspires Jack’s passions. And who does Jack bring his cane down on in the film? A certain “outside party”? A certain…”great party”? Is that whose body is trapped under this massive torrent of blood? Dick Hallorann?

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Honestly, I don’t really know if it can ever be said for sure, and I think that’s the point. Dick was a man, but he’s also something of a poster child for all the outsiders who ever paid the penalty of just trying to be.

Alright, that does it for the Tower of Fable. I hope that wasn’t too mind-boggling, but really, who am I kidding?