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TOWER OF FABLE – SKIP TO A SECTION
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“The set was very deliberately built to be offbeat and off the track, so that the huge ballroom would never actually fit inside. The audience is deliberately made not to know where they’re going. People say The Shining doesn’t make sense. Well spotted! It’s a ghost movie. It’s not supposed to make sense.”
~Jan Harlan, Executive Producer (in 2012)
After finally identifying the two Nicholas de Grandmaison paintings in the halls outside Suite 3 last week–as Starlight: Indian Papoose and Chief Bear Paw–it occurred to me that the Overlook contains another Chief in the painting of Walking Buffalo that hangs in the Colorado lounge. And that painting is significant for how Jack is standing directly above it when he gets clubbed by Wendy.
And thanks to the shot below, we know that the Suite 3 apartment is just up and two to the west of the lobby entrance.
Which means that the hallways outside Suite 3 would all be above the lobby, right? Well, thanks to the Overlook floor maps created by Juli Kearns, we can overlay these areas like a stack of blueprints, to see what Chief Bear Paw is above.
So, the first thing I did was make this little graph. The ghostly blue square (Section E-I and Section 1-6) is the halls outside Suite 3, as they would float above the main part of the lobby, and Suite 3 itself is floating ghostly above the path to the Gold Room. The exact placement of the Suite 3 region is off because Kearns didn’t factor for the difference between where the door to Suite 3 starts, and where the main part of Suite 3 begins, but I also made the mistake of not correcting for that when I placed the rings to mark the artworks. Anyhow, it makes little difference.
But yes, Chief Bear Paw, the red ring at E3 roughly, is exactly above the pillar where Jack is hiding to kill Hallorann. So that’s Chief Walking Buffalo beneath an almost murdered Jack, and Chief Bear Paw above a fully murdered Hallorann.
Obviously, that would be an insane coincidence. Especially since buffalos are associated to Jack in the Four Directions analysis, and bears are associated to the protection of Danny (mainly in the form of Wendy, but I like to think Dick shares some energy there, since it’s a giant bear on screen in the mirrorform when he’s taking the axe).
Another insane coincidence would come from the fact that, in the Twice-Folded Shining, Lloyd is saying, “Your money’s no good here” (13:02) seconds away from Hallorann’s murder (12:38) (note how 2, 3, and 1 appear in those time codes). And if we think of Chief Walking Buffalo as the “good” chief, his real name, Tatânga Mânî, sounds like “money”. So it’s like he’s saying “Your Mânî energy won’t work a second time, boyos.”
(Another fun Twice-Folded fact: the two chief portraits both only appear in one scene apiece, and they’re onscreen together at 21:01-21:04 (Danny tilts away from the twins at 21:03). This happens to coincide with Ullman saying, “We had four presidents who stayed here.” Also, Wendy cracks Jack atop Mânî at 31:58, which does look like a 12:38 jumble. And perhaps I should mention that she gets the storeroom open at 30:51 and that the shot of Jack ruined at the bottom of the stair starts at 31:50. So there’s quite a bit of 231 energy flowing around these events in the Twice-Fold.)
Now, if you know anything about the Overlook’s wonky architecture, like how Suite 3 has a bay of windows all along its west side letting sunlight in, as though it were a corner apartment, when it’s clearly not…
…you probably also know that there’s never a visual moment when a character is seen physically passing from any of the following areas to any of the others listed:
- The Lobby/Ullman’s office
- The Colorado Lounge/Room 237
- Suite 3/Staff Wing Halls
- The Games Room
- The Gold Room/Bath Room
- The Boiler Room
- The Bloodfall Hall
- The Blowjob Well
- The Twinhall
- The 2nd Entrance/Exterior Grounds/Garage
- The Labyrinth
That’s a lot of guesswork for the our collective noggins. But of course, we put the pieces together easily enough, and accept that:
- The Gold Room is probably west of the lobby, since they have the same carpet
- The twinhall is probably east of Suite 3, since they have the same wallpaper, and there’s a similar-looking T-junction in each
- The Gold Room is probably close to the bloodfall hall since they have very similar colour palettes
- The boiler room is probably close to the Colorado lounge since Wendy can hear Jack’s screams from there
- The games room is probably close to the lobby since they have the same couches
- The BJ well is probably close to Suite 3 since they’re stylistically identical
But where is the games room exactly? And what side of the Gold Room is the bloodfall hall on? And how in the hell do you get from anywhere to the Colorado lounge? There’s shockingly little evidence to support any theory for any of these notions, and as Kubrick’s brother-in-law Jan Harlan points out, these rooms were designed to confuse, and to not match the building’s exterior.
So it was while staring at all the Kearns maps laid out together that an idea came to me. You know how when Jack and Grady go into the Gold Room bathroom, they’re technically walking in an impossible curve, leading back into the room they came from, as evidenced by the bloodrug…?
…well, what if the entire hotel is meant to be like that?
What if the reason every region can’t be seen connecting is because the Torrances are constantly not realizing that they’re re-entering the same space? I’m not suggesting there aren’t passages that connect these spaces, but perhaps they’re more byzantine than we ever see enough to realize.
If this sounds like a stretch, consider what you already know: the stairwell just outside Suite 3 should burrow down into the lobby. See that white square around H3? That’s the stairwell that should be right behind Ullman when he suggests they go “have a quick look at [their] apartment, and then get started straight away.” It’s the stairwell that basically everyone in the movie but Danny should bump into at one point or other.
It’s the stairwell that should be right in the way as Jack tests out the y-axis with the tennis ball, before testing out the x- and z-axes. Did the Torrances really never use the stairs just outside their apartment? In 44 days of living there, did they really never notice those stairs don’t lead anywhere? Or can’t?
Anyway, yeah. So I guess this idea also made sense to me because of how similar the shapes of various parts of the hotel are. Like, the Gold Room, the lobby and the lounge all have their window bays at the south end, so I figured they should probably all orient that way. Suite 3 and the 237 floor are no-brainers, and the kitchen I put where I put it for a few reasons of synchronicity, which should become clear through the ensuing analysis, but the main thing is how it’s L-shaped and has an elevator at the north end. That’s significant because this means it fits snugly within the same space as the manager’s quarters and the back halls of the lobby. Which, if you remember the Four Horsemen analysis, you know means that it’s same set as the bloodfall hall, which would have a certain bloodfall elevator in the same region.
Kearns didn’t do floor maps for the Boulder apartment, the bloodfall hall, the boiler room, the 2nd entrance, the blowjob well, or the games room, but I have an idea of where I think most of these would factor. Before we get to that, here’s the way I think all the layers were meant to pancake atop each other. And just for the record, to save me from having to copy and paste it a million times, it’s probably best if you right-click the image, download it, and keep it to the side for easy reference.
Also, I just want to say, I have no idea if all of Kearns’ dimensions and proportions are exactly right, but I think we can proceed as if they are, because tiny errors would still allow for most of what I’m saying to be exactly accurate. And where they would be slightly inaccurate, you’ll still realize how close these things are.
LEGEND FOR THE SYMBOLS
- Red Box = Canadian painting
- Light Blue Box = French Canadian painting
- White Box = British painting
- Yellow Box = Dutch painting
- Dark Blue Box = American painting
- Purple Box = Indigenous artwork by indigenous artist
- Orange Circle = Indigenous-themed artwork by non-indigenous artist
- Dark Blue Circle = Grady Twin Painting
- Orange Star = German artwork
- Dark Blue Star = Photography
- Light Green Star = A television
- Dark Gold Star = The Gold Room billboards
- Light Green Star = The CAMERA WALK billboard
- Light Purple Star = As-yet-unknown artist
- Dark Purple Star = Artwork impossible to see/cut out by shot framing
- Encircling White Hoop = Artwork disappears
- Elongated Red Box = denotes where an elevator definitely or likely exists
- Large Green Arrow = A ladder is seen here
- Red Star = A mirror
- Yellow Star = A phone
- Black Star = Fire protective equipment
- Grey Star = A vending machine
- Thick Dark Red Box = Red Couch
- Black Circle = Clock
- White Star = Object that disappears (sometimes for good, sometimes not)
- Encircling Light Blue Hoop = A ghost appears here (I didn’t bother with the ghost ball or skeleton ball for hopefully obvious reasons)
- Brown Star (in Gold Room) = Marks the tables where Hallorann first appears and the 237 ghost last appears
If you know the film like I do, you know there’s a few key types of things I’m leaving out here, but I wanted to get as much in as I could without it becoming visually confusing, and this felt right on the border to me.
More recently (Sept. 2020) I made a version of the map that attempts to combine much more of what the analysis below will get into. In this version, every area of the hotel is shown where evidence suggests it’s meant to appear (the only place where I slapped something arbitrarily is the boiler room, which I put in the bottom left corner, just because it was the only part of the map that didn’t have anything in it, and it was the only internal room left to plop somewhere). I’ve also run the letters and numbers backwards and forwards across both sides because I’ve found evidence suggesting this could be the way we’re meant to think of everything. I’ve silhouetted the various areas in colour bars that refer to the areas like so:
- Red = Lobby
- Orange = Gold Room
- Yellow = Kitchen
- Green = Lounge area (main level)
- Purple = Lounge area (room 237 level)
- Light Purple = Bloodfall Hall
- Dark Blue = Staff Wing/Suite 3
- Light Blue = Conquest Well
- Brown = Games Room
- Grey = Boiler Room
- Black = 2nd entrance
- White = Impossible Gold Room Bathroom
I then made a few alternate versions of this to see if I could learn anything I didn’t know already, to little avail. Like here’s three maps I made that show the paths along which the three main characters move throughout the film. Red arrows for Jack, white arrows for Wendy, blue arrows for Danny. Stars represent when someone is stuck in a single spot during an entire sequence. The one grey arrow is Wendy in the boiler room, which wouldn’t have shown up against the white.
Then I made a series of maps showing where all the various object types appear (as well as absurdities and ghost locations), and overlaid that with the movements one, and again, learned very little. Besides the fact that I think it’s neat how complex the design of the hotel really is.
The one graph I made that I think really does show something interesting is the one that shows the way artworks and things move throughout the hotel. This is a chronological chart, so in the case of artworks that move two times, the swoop is showing the proper sequence of movements from start to finish. But yes, what I learned from this is, as you can see, almost everything moves from east to west. The only exceptions are two of the Dorothy Oxborough paintings of indigenous children (blue lines), Crying Boy and Native Girl with Pigtails. And Trapper’s Camp moves from Ullman’s office (D3) east to the bloodfall hall (G2), and then west over to the Conquest Well (E7) (I accidentally put the start of this line in D4, oops!).
The yellow arrows show the movement of the bloodrug and waverug, while the brown arrow (E4-to-E9) shows the movement of Danny’s Winnie-the-Pooh doll, the white arrow shows the movement of one very obscure photo (F3-to-E8), and the dark purple arrow shows the movement of a John Webber etching, which I can’t be totally sure if it’s the one I think it is, in both locations (C2-to-G6). The red arrows are all other artworks.
There’s a tonne of other things that move throughout the hotel, like the wall photos and certain floor rugs, and toys and objects that are sometimes laying around and sometimes being carried by characters, but I didn’t want it to get too confusing. It’s interesting that the objects moving west, moving against the grain of the ordinary flow of Overlook objects, are objects highly associated to the death of Dick Hallorann. And the two Oxborough portraits move right off the board into the 12th zone. I forget if I already mentioned this, but I don’t count that zone mainly because no one is ever seen moving in it, just as we know there’s a rooms that extend to the west from the entire western wall of the board, but no one is ever seen walking around in them. But if you insisted on counting that 12th column, it would mean we had a 7 x 12 board, which is like a backwards 217, King’s evil room. And then you could regard the 237 bathroom as being in the 7/12 zone, which would be cool, I’ll admit.
Actually, perhaps the other reason we shouldn’t count it (not to mention how it would completely throw off several of the fascinating analyses that follow) is because “Crying Boy” could refer to Danny, and Native Girl with Pigtails does have one strong connection to Wendy, in the sense that we first see it when the ball rolls up to Danny outside 237, which he thinks was rolled by Wendy. Danny and Wendy will escape the hotel, so why not a couple paintings with associations to them too?
I’m going to break with my usual way of doing things and just list observations randomly by bullet point in the order they occur to me. I’ll do larger patterns in greater detail afterward, and as well as the regions we don’t have maps for here, how I think they factor.
Also, a caution: this section, more than certain others, I think, would greatly benefit from a general knowledge of all my basic positions about Kubrick’s techniques. So, if you think you’ve got a grasp of everything from the intro to the site, you’ll probably be fine not to follow the links throughout. I’ll do what I can to keep it clear and brief.
Bearing in mind how the stairs outside Suite 3 are impossible (in the C7-C8 region), consider this: the Scientific American with the Tower of Babel painting on the cover, appears at B7 in the lobby, C7 in the lounge, and C9 in Suite 3. So while none overlap perfectly, it’s like they’re lassoing the impossible stairs.
- The two disappearing golden bowls in the lounge (C7.5) and the kitchen (C2.5) are on the same C longitude.
- Similarly, there’s two pieces of bog oak that disappear in the lounge (C6) and lobby (C2) which are perfectly in line.
- There’s also a red couch that disappears from the lounge (C9) and one that appears in the Gold Room (C4) (ignore the spacing of the couches in the Gold Room–that was to make room for the stars).
- There’s also a chair and table that disappears behind Jack’s head when he’s first flipping out on TUESDAY for one shot, at the lower edge of C8.
- I wonder if all this disappearance energy along the C longitude has to do with the disappearing Hallorann corpse at C5. Like, one thing I didn’t mark was all the things that disappear with some evident reason (the gold bowl that gets replaced by Jack’s typewriter is the only one that wouldn’t have required major assistance), but if we included stuff like that, there’s also a bunch of band equipment that disappears at C8 in the Gold Room, which is all right behind Dick’s head as he saunters up to the group. There’s also a giant laundry hamper on wheels behind him (C5 – Hallorann’s kill spot), being pushed by one of the cleaners, and there’s one just like it outside room 242 (E2) when Danny first encounters 237 on TUESDAY, which is gone when he’s back 9 days later on WEDNESDAY. E2 is also the location of the steel drawer Danny hides in at the end. E2 is also the spot in the kitchen where a bunch of knives dangle over Danny before he heads into the story room. For these reasons and all the ones I explain at the bottom of this link, I think the Overlook wanted to put Danny’s soul in room 242.
EAST WIND VS. WEST WIND
- Hallorann walks in all four directions, ultimately, but the main one seems to be west. He goes from D5 to D4 in the Gold Room (to join with Ullman), C3 to C1 and D5 to D3 in the kitchen (to join with Ullman), and finally from C9 to C5 on his final death march (to join with death/Ullman?). You might recall how the Torrance apartment has a reference to the “East Wind” and how his Florida apartment has the Car and Driver magazine with the “Zephyr” car, which was the Greek name was the West Wind. So I guess Hallorann really is a “west wind”. And perhaps the “East Wind” is a reference to Jack killing him from the east. Jack also begins his assault on Suite 3 from the east. Perhaps the fact that he chases Wendy from the north, south and west in the lounge is why that doesn’t work out for him. Similarly, when he busts into the Suite 3 washroom, he’s coming from Wendy’s north side, and that’s when she slashes him.
THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE DEATH!!!!
- The spot where Jack lands at the bottom of the stairs (C4.5) overlaps with the spot where Hallorann takes the axe. Which is the spot where the middle red couch appears in the Gold Room during the ghost ball, which features the woman in ruby slippers and her friend in the emerald headpiece. I have this big theory called There’s No Place Like Home which deals with the fact that the photos on the pillars behind Jack in the lounge (C9) add up to 20 and 34 and how 20:34 is the time code for when Jack first steps into the lounge, but it’s also 20:34 to the end of the film when he hits the bottom of the stairs. Oh, and the red couch that disappears in the lobby (once photo Jack has appeared in his new “home”) is in line with the one that appears in the Gold Room (C9 and C4). On a related note: the elevator he’s emerging from at 20:34 (C9) overlaps with the spot where his photo hangs.
HALLORANN’S DEEP FREEZE
- The walk-in freezer that Hallorann takes them in (E5) only to have them magically come out on the other side of the hall (D5) is in line with impossible Gold Room bathroom door (E5)–the one that would have Jack walking out through Lloyd’s mirror wall (E4). And the room Hallorann brings them out of has a mirror across from it (E5 – red star). Also, it’s right in line with room 238, his murder room (E5.5) and his kill spot (C5). I also like how the spot he’s standing when we first see him is the same as the deep freeze (D5). This is also the spot where Jack’s hurling the ball in the lounge eleven times; as it hits the wall, it’s banging against the backside of room 238.
A MAN (AND WOMAN) FOR ALL ROOM NUMBERS
- The table the 237 ghost is sitting at during the Ghost Ball (D5) isn’t in line with room 237 (E6.5), but is in line with the etching hanging just outside 237 called A Woman of Unalashka. The woman in the painting was from the Fox Islands, and of course there’s fox paintings just outside the 237 bathroom.
- But A Woman of Unalashka also hangs outside room 236, which would put it right above the square where Wendy is most isolated in the film (the reception area radio room, where she can’t get a call to link to the outside world), not counting the Suite 3 bathroom when Jack’s attacking her, but that’s way off to the side. So perhaps 236 was meant for Wendy’s spirit.
- On that note, Hallorann’s death spot (C5) is right in line with the etching up the hall from there called A Man of Nootka Sound (E5).
- The other clearly visible John Webber etching is, A Woman of Prince William Sound (E8) and I have a theory about these two woman carrying heavy luggage upstairs on CLOSING DAY in the lounge (going from B8 to A9) being the spirits of the real Grady girls, so perhaps they live in room 234. Danny does get a vision of the fake twins from touching 237, which is a square away from there.
- There is, however, a painting that would be right in line with all the southern rooms called Battle of Sisters Creek (D11). As well as a painting of ducks/geese (D9) that also appears in Susie’s office (D4.5), right beneath one of two (twin?) ducks swimming together, reflecting in a pond.
- There’s also A Man of Van Diemen’s Land outside room 242, which, as I explore in my analysis of that etching, probably indicates the hotel’s desire to absorb Danny into that room. The fact that we can never make out that etching in perfect detail probably indicates the hotel’s failure to capture Danny, though it is worth noting how it appears in the exact same square as when Danny hides in the steel drawer of the lobby.
- Then there’s the idea that Jack’s spirit might end up in room 231, for reasons that occurred to me while writing the script for the video version of these findings. First of all, we know he ends up in the 11th of the final 21 photos. And in the analysis focusing on those photos, we know that they have these values:
- And these values all added together equal 231. Then there’s the fact that this room would open almost right onto the room 237 bathroom, which Jack arrives in front of at 72:31, and there’s the fact that Danny’s lesson key is being reflected into that space backwards by one of the 237 mirrors…
- …as if suggesting the way Jack won’t understand these patterns later, which is how Danny traps him, and how the hotel absorbs him. It’s also the door most easily visible during Danny’s third lesson other than 237, and it’s seen in conjunction with Sisters Creek, and of course Jack quotes the Grady twins at Danny.
- And the mirrorform here is neat, since, as the 231 door appears at 41:32, the Wendy on the other side is pulling Tony’s attention away from the Roadrunner and Coyote show, as if blocking him from the idea that he will have to be the one to put Jack away in this shoebox of a hellscape.
- And she’s pulling his attention away ostensibly to tell him not to worry, that she’ll be the one to deal with the “how do we lock up Jack” problem. Tony’s “totally over it” expression here seems to speak to the way he knows this is not the way things work out for the ol’ Torrances. Also, 22:31 is Jack walking into Suite 3 while Ullman lists the rooms, and 23:10 is Wendy saying, “Yeah” after Jack calls the apartment “homey” at 23:08 (the two numbers for the two people who do make this their new home, it seems). And 2:31 is Jack driving toward Heaven’s Peak, while opposite side Jack thrashes to his death.
- Also, fun fact: the first line on page 231 of the novel is Jack saying, “When I’m on my deathbed you’ll lean over and say, ‘It serves you right, remember the time you broke Danny’s arm’” Is 231 that deathbed? Since page 224 is the middle page of the novel, page 231 is therefore opposite page 217, where Danny enters room 217, the novel’s most openly evil room.
- And I also like how this would put Jack on the same north side of the hall as the other nogoodnik ghost, lurking in room 237, while all our more good-hearted characters would go on the south side.
Time’s (Spatial) Arrow
- This is something I realized right after the above bit about Jack ending up in room 231. The film is 143 minutes, right? And the Overlook is 11 squares wide, right?
- Well, 143 can be divided by 11 to get 13. So I started to wonder if each square of hotel might have some symbolic connection to each 13-minute chunk of movie. And the first thing that occurred to me is this: when Jack gets clubbed down the stairs, he lands at C4. Well, as Wendy enters the lounge to fight Jack, the mirror moment is the aerial shot of the labyrinth, with its pattern that echoes the form of the lounge’s Grand Stair.
- It’s possible that, just as Wendy clubs Jack to the landing between the top 23 and the bottom 7 stairs, the Jack who freezes to death in the labyrinth might do so between the 7 zig-zags and the 23 layers of maze that extend up from there. The mirror moment for the appearance of the aerial shot is Wendy passing the Grand Stair on her way to fight Jack, lasting the full span of her passing from the stair to Jack’s typewriter.
- The maze shot begins at 39:46, 32 seconds into the 4th of these 13 minute time gobs (the movie itself begins at 0:14, after the Warner Bros. logo, so I’m saying the first gob is 0:14-13:14, followed by 13:14-26:14, and so on). So in this 4th gob of movie, we’re seeing for the first time, for sure, the spot where Jack dies his final death. And again, when Jack is clubbed to the bottom of the stairs, he lands in the “4th” column of the 7×11 Overlook board. But the time for Jack actually getting clubbed and landing at the bottom of the stairs is 1:49:19-1:49:26, which would be midway through the 9th gob of 13 minutes (1:44:14-1:57:14), and the “9th” column of the Overlook board (C9) is where Jack’s 1921 photo hangs at the end, right? So that could speak to how, by clubbing Jack, Wendy rendered Jack as good as dead, and killed the nature of their former dynamic. From that point to the end of the film, Jack is a different man, an agent of the hotel, effectively, and little more. But he does technically survive, in the physical sense, all the way to the end of the temporal movie, into the 11th time gob, dying his final physical death in what would be the “11th” column of the Overlook board, which is where we find…the door to room 231 (among other things). In fact, in the mirrorform, as Jack’s making the death face he makes after drinking his first drink in “five miserable months” (66:22), the Jack on the other side is making out with the 237 ghost, also in the 11th column. Which I suppose links Jack’s booze suicide (boozicide?) to his cheating on Wendy with the hotel.
- This might end up being the best evidence that the Overlook Game Board is 11 squares wide, and not 12.
- I must say, I loooooove this theory. But it seems like it could possess depths that would make it worthy of a much larger review than I’ve done here. There’s things we might extrapolate from this that tie to the fates of all the characters, but I think I’m gonna leave that for another analyst. If that’s you, have fun with it! Let me know how it goes!
THE CORRECTION IN OUR STARS
- I was fiddling with the opacity on a lobby/lounge overlapy, and I noticed that the walls that have photos on them on the west side are all overlapping perfectly, while all the areas on the east side don’t, but what they do is come together to create a flowing wave. Note too how the photos that appear in both the Gold Room to the lounge are on opposite faces of a division (the line between B8 and B9).
- There’s a similar thing with all the appearances of ladders (the green arrows), which, when you overlap all four areas where they appear, create a sort of ladder shape (B1-C5-D7-C8-A8) (the second one in the Gold Room starts at C8 and gets carried down to D8 before disappearing, hence the marking on the legend). And the ladder that would make the top rung of these ladders, is the one we see best, which is the one in the first crossfade into the hotel (D7), at the start of the tour, and in that crossfade the ladder syncs up perfectly with the shape of the Overlook in its establishing shot (sorry, I’m using the mirrorform image, which makes the establishing Overlook impossible to see).
REACH OUT AND TOUCH SOMEONE DEAD
- There’s three phones in the lounge’s back hall, beneath room 237. The one (E4) is directly below where Danny encounters the ghost ball. The second (E6) would be right outside 237’s front door, and the third (F7.5) is directly below where Jack is standing in the first shot inside 237, which is about the same as where he’s standing in the last shot of him recoiling in terror.
- I noticed while marking all the vending machines that some advertise donuts, along with the coffee (E5-lobby, A5/D7-staff wing, E7 lounge). In Summer of ‘42, which is the first thing Danny is doing after the conclusion of his 4th lesson, the woman in the film, Dorothy (at 51:51), says the line, “Ooo! Marvellous donuts. Help yourself.” In racing terminology, a donut is basically to drive in a tight circle. And one of these donut machines is right next to him at the start of his first lesson (E7), right below him at the start of his third (E7), and again there’s one right where he’s seen at the start of his fourth in the lobby (E5), and another one he would’ve just passed outside Suite 3 (D7) when it cuts to the end of the fourth lesson. Though he passes yet another one in the shot (A5). In fact, the only other vending machines we see (disused and empty) are at A3 in the kitchen, behind Danny, Dick and Wendy at the start of that tour, and a cigarette machine in the games room. A sign that Danny’s education has begun?
WICKED WITCHES NORTH AND SOUTH
- The Suite 3 and 237 bathrooms are at opposite ends of the building (A11-G11), directly north and south of each other. For the record, I think Kearns’ maps are a little off here, and that the Suite 3 apartments should extend completely over into the 11 latitude. (I’m increasingly less certain Kearns was wrong, but I’m gonna keep this here for now.)
THE OVERLOOKED CHESS BOARD
- And speaking of 11, I keep meaning to note how my letter/number designations are essentially arbitrary. Like, according to my arrangements, the maps are eleven sections wide and seven high, but no one area is those dimensions in and of itself. The lounge comes closest at 11×6, but we only ever witness characters physically within a range of 9×5. This is why I don’t count the hall with the two Dorothy Oxborough paintings at the far east end of the lobby in the number system, or room 230 at the far west of the lounge, because we never see anyone walking there. So I’m tempted to say we were meant to see it as 7 by 11, especially since 711 is referenced in the novel twice in the novel. Once in the line “I thought they had 711s on the fucking moon!” (pg. 239) and once in the line “Seven-come-eleven, die the secret death and win a hundred dollars.” (pg. 327) Both are basically Jack talking to himself. The expression “seven-come-eleven” is what craps players might whisper to their dice in the hopes of getting a good roll, so it’s about gambling. One thing that’s crossed my mind a lot about this many-layered Overlook is that, given Kubrick’s fondness for chess, and given the way chess moves are often described by similar letter/number sets (“move A5 knight to C4”, etc.), did he think of these half dozen layers of building like a giant chess board? Is that why characters move in such discernible, repeating patterns as they go? Also, note how, even if I had the numbers and letters backwards, there’s only two squares from any level that would touch any of the four corners created by this alignment: A1 of the lobby and G11 of the 237 level. Given the fact that Danny wears an Apollo 11 shirt into room 237, perhaps that means I’ve got the letters upside down, and that was the A11 room. Whoops! Oh well. I really don’t care enough to correct for that, sorry.
- But there’s two chess references in the film that could help us understand this more deeply. The first of which is fairly basic: there’s two horse heads in the Boulder apartment acting as bookends, which look to be giant knight pieces.
- The second is that there’s a copy of Scientific American (Vol. 238), which I already mentioned moves from B7 to C7 to C9 around the spot where the stairs outside Suite 3 should be burrowing down into the lobby, right? – that’s true with or without the larger Tower of Fable concept. Well, one of the first articles is called Mathematical Games, and it reviews the work of Raymond M. Smullyan, a puzzle master who created Chess Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes, and Chess Mysteries of the Arabian Knights. Of course, it’s Arabian Nights, not Arabian Knights, but “Knights” for Smullyan, as the reviewer describes, are those who “always tell the truth”—unlike “knaves” who “always lie” and “normals” who do both. And as one Goodreads reviewer describes the book: “all you really need to know are how the pieces move, no strategy”. Kubrick was a chess master who famously shut down production on The Shining in order to have a day of games with Tony Burton, upon discovering he was a fellow enthusiast, leading to one of my favourite behind-the-scenes stories. To quote Burton: “My contract was for a week. I just had two short scenes in the movie. I stayed for six weeks because Stanley and I were playing chess… Stanley was a stronger player than I but I was strong enough to give him sufficient struggle to where he enjoyed it. I beat him in the first or second game we played, and then I didn’t win any more after that, but it was always a tight struggle. That’s what he loved; I guess there was no one else around that played strong.” But yeah, this magazine, talking about Arabian Knights, where all that matters is how chess pieces move and not their strategy, and Knights being those who always tell the truth, moves from B7 to C7 to C9. What chess piece moves in a 2×3 L-shape? A knight. And does Scientific American always tell the truth? Well, I suppose that depends on how well they post corrections. But perhaps the key is in how the cover story is about how Pieter Breughel the Elder’s painting of The Tower of Babel gives us an insight into the technological standard of the mid-1500s, when the painter composed the piece. Breughel’s painting depicts anachronistic construction methods, but also suggests how the reason for the tower’s collapse was as much scientific as supernatural. The lower floors, while seeming to adequately buttress the upper floors by being wider, are cracking and crumbling because the builders built in too much of a hurry. They didn’t come back to finish and secure the foundations.
- Also, there’s at least two references to Arabian Nights in the SKU numbers from the Story Room: 131 (Bird of Truth – seen only beside Jack) and 561 (Aladdin – seen beside Hallorann and Jack and Wendy).
A11 WORK AND NO MOON
- It occurs to me that with the letters and numbers running up and down each side, we’ve got four potential codes for sixty of the seventy-seven squares. Four squares could be an A11, an A1, a G1 or a G11.
- And I’ve long thought that the “All” in “All work and no play” looked kinda like A11 work, as in Apollo 11 work. That pairs beautifully with the 237 room being one of the A11s (where Danny’s Apollo 11 sweater gets choked half to death (72:01-75:52), but what about the other three?
- The upper right corner is only seen once in the film (41:30-41:31), right as Danny’s making the LRRR turns from his third lesson. And the only (other) thing I can find that uses this acronym officially is the Laser Ranging Retroreflector, a device that was placed on the moon by the Apollo 11 crew, and is the thing that lets us know that the average distance between the earth and the moon is over 238,000 miles. Which, as you probably know, is the room that opens its jaws behind Danny a moment later, when he discovers room 237.
- The lower left corner is one of my biggest guesses: the boiler room. At the end of the day, the whole Tower of Fable way of stacking the floors is guesswork (with the exception of the floors we know to be on top of each other). But the boiler room is especially so. It just seemed to me that there wouldn’t be three empty squares on Kubrick’s game board, and the boiler room was all that remained to be placed. Every other placement was based on a specific clue or production factoid. The corner of the room that would be A11, is actually a giant service elevator that Wendy passes while approaching Jack’s screams, seen from 59:07-59:13. The song Dream of Jacob is playing at this point, having started at 57:10, over Danny playing with his toys outside room 237. That means that as Wendy passes the elevator, the song has been playing 117 seconds, a number associated with the Tower of Babel. So that’s our two main biblical references concerning Genesis figures climbing or ascending into the heavens, crossing over, and at the appearance of an elevator.
- The upper left corner is the most complex of these, since it appears four times. It first appears at the very end of the Abbey Road Tour (29:05-29:15), then as Jack is storming away from Wendy toward the ghost ball (80:42-80:52), when Jack is emerging into the lobby area to kill Hallorann (126:48-126:54), and when Wendy is coming toward finding Dick’s corpse (132:19-132:26). Actually, damn. As I’m analyzing this I’m realizing there’s material here enough for a potentially major analysis.
- There’s a glass case at the end of the hall during the Abbey Road Tour ending, that becomes a different glass case when Jack passes, and then disappears entirely.
- In fact, the Tour one is later seen in the spot where Ullman’s impossible window should be shining upon the great outdoors (while Wendy flees the GREAT PARTY ghost – and while opposite side Ullman is asking Jack if he knows anything about the “tragedy” they had “during the winter of 1970”), and the ghost ball one has vanished by the time Jack comes for Dick.
- When Wendy herself passes through the space (not showing the glass case spot), the time code on the opposite side of the film (Ullman has just finished the Grady story: “…killed his family with an axe”) is 9:07, a backwards 709, the AT code for Snow White, which is why I suspect these glass cases to reflect the “glass coffin” that Snow was trapped in when she was brought back from the dead in certain versions of the story. If they are “glass coffins” isn’t it interesting that there appears to be strange, lumpy rocks and pieces of petrified wood in them? Could these be meant to symbolize moon rocks? If so, one of the rocks brought back in 1971 was called the “Genesis Rock“, which would go nicely with all the Babel/Jacob stuff. Going into 237 is like Danny eating the poisoned apple and losing his speech, and Hallorann’s death is like the dropping of the glass coffin that revives Snow. And Danny goes into 237 armed with his Apollo sweater, but doesn’t seem to achieve flight until Jack finds his tracks in the maze after Dick’s death. In fact, Danny’s trick on Jack is complete 7:11 after the axe strikes Dick (128:39-135:50).
- Another cool interconnection is how Jack is passing through A11 to kill Hallorann at 7611 seconds into the film (126:51), and the second exactly opposite that is 14:39. This is the moment where the doctor assures Wendy she has nothing to worry about regarding Danny’s health. And as axe Jack overlays with the towering stack of books there, there’s also a large triangular stone with a hole in the centre. It might simply be an enormous cup holder, but it might also be what’s called an “Adder Stone” or “hag stone”, which is any river stone found to have a hole worn through it, and believed to be formed by snakes or witches, hence the name (the doctor’s sitting form reveals it at exactly this moment, in fact). Legend holds that the stone must be found during “a certain age of the moon” and is also understood to be a “serpent’s egg” (note the little egg-shaped toy by the stack of books containing The Tower). I like this for several reasons, but especially the 14:39 connection. That’s the number on the side of the box when Jack gives his “word” that he’ll kill his family (see below). And he gives that “word” at exactly 23:59, which is 1439 seconds. So what I’m wondering is: does this “hag stone” imply that Anne Jackson’s doctor character is connected to the 237 ghost. In the novel, the doctor is a guy named Bill Edmonds, and he appears on page 137, which would be 2:17 expressed as time. He helps Danny discover something that helps Danny survive in the end (just as room 237 gives Danny the lesson key), but he also dismisses the insane accuracy of Danny’s psychic abilities (he reads Wendy’s thoughts on page 141), such that Wendy and Jack won’t take the boy seriously (or as seriously as they should) throughout their hotel stay. He also makes little issue of Jack’s confession of violence against Danny, and almost seems ambivalent on the matter. And his chapter ends at page 151, which would be 2:31, the room movie Jack gets sucked into. Movie doctor appears at 12:12, which is 732 seconds, and her scene ends at 17:37 (1057 seconds: 157 being 2:37) and she will do the same basic thing, dismissing Danny’s abilities, and giving a concerned face, but saying nothing as Wendy unfolds the history of violence.
- And of course, Jack has that TANG over his head at 1439. Another moon mission connection.
- Oh, I also noticed from doing this that Anne Jackson mirrors over the AY Jackson painting Red Maple quite a bit. First at 12:30 (another 231 jumble), as backward Jack stalks back to the kill site, and Jackson comes back from putting her doctoring equipment away to form a kind of house shape over Danny. I’ve long interpreted this as her shielding him from the gruesomeness of what’s happening through the mirrorform, and maybe it still means that. But maybe that hag stone business implies what this image also kind of implies, since on that black letter board overlaying her hair is an advertisement for the Overlook SWEET SHOP. As in Gingerbread house. As in Hansel & Gretel. Actually, the doctor has a book coming out of her head in a minute called Angell, Pearl and Little God, and what the names “Hansel” and “Gretel” mean is “God [something]” and “Pearl” respectively.
- Then from 12:37-12:42, as Jack gloats over his victory. I’m sure I don’t have to point out the significance of those numbers. In fact it’s during the “2:42” that the shot cuts to Danny wondering if he saw “anything at all strange”.
- A sliver of it overlays her from 12:52-12:56 as she asks, “What’s the next thing you remember, after you started brushing your teeth?” This might be somewhat incidental, since it is just a silver of the image. But we might consider that she’s steering the conversation toward the notion of Tony and the vision he just received. Things that get us away from the notion of “Jack’s son” Danny, and more toward something else.
- It makes one more pass over her for a split second (nevertheless managing to include both 14:37 and 14:38) as she sits amidst the Torrance library. So it happens one second away from the 1439 moment.
- When ghost ball Jack is passing the spot, opposite Jack is confessing his murder nightmare to Wendy, and has just finished saying “I must be losing my mind”. Jack’s looniest pre-nightmare moment was his zombie self confronting Danny on MONDAY, a day that means “Moon Day” or “Dies Lunae” in the ancient Greek. So, someone who is losing his mind could be described as a lunatic.
- And the opposite action to the end of the Abbey Road Tour is 112:17-112:27. Need I say more?
- And speaking of the broad way that characters move, Ullman’s part in the Abbey Road tour makes an interesting case study for this. Actually let’s look at his whole existence. He’s met in D3, his office, and then he’s standing behind Jack when he calls Wendy about getting the job (C6). Then he crosses from C3 to C8 to greet Jack at B8 to start the tour, they then move into the C8 square again as the shot fades. The lounge tour starts at C9, but quickly moves up C8 into B8, where they stay to the end at B3 before turning north, and crossing to D3 (right above his office). The Suite 3 tour starts at B8 moves down to D8, crosses in to D11, then moves up to A11, though Ullman doesn’t step into the room himself, so he would only go to B11. The scene then fades into the outside world, which I haven’t had a mind to map, honestly. But if we imagine the Suite 3 map as something like a shrunken version of it, with the maze being the huge light blue blob in the middle, the tour would do another B8 to D8 sort of thing before crossing the other way, along the D longitude toward the snowcat, which would be around D3 again, wouldn’t it? In fact, it would be, going by the hotel’s exterior, which shows that the snowcat garage is north of the A1-A3 wall of the lobby. The Gold Room tour starts at B8 and moves up to B3 before turning down to between D3 and E3 as the characters fan out. Ullman then moves back toward D3 as the shot fades. His next appearance is coming up the kitchen from B3 to D3 where he stops to talk to Dick, then retraces his steps as he leads Wendy away. This means that both times he’s talking to Dick they’re right above his office. Finally, the last curve around the lobby starts at E6, goes to E1 then turns and goes to C1. So that’s:
D3 C6 – Interview and Phone Call
C3 C8 – Approaching Jack
B8 C8 – Tour Setup
C9 C8 – Lounge Entry
B8 B3 – Lounge Cross
B3 D3 – Under the Stairs Cross
B8 D8 – Staff Wing Cross
D11 B11 – Suite 3 Cross
B8 D8 – Hedge Maze Cross
D8 D3 – Exterior Cross to Snowcat
B8 B3 – Approaching Gold Room
B3 D3/E3 – Gold Room Cross
B3 D3 – Kitchen Approach
E6 E1 – Lobby Back Hall Cross
E1 C1 – End of Tour
So that’s a whole lot of 1s 3s and 8s, eh? Is it only coincidence that it should happen to involve a bunch of 3s and 8s (like 238)? The only outliers are the C6/E6 (but those are right at the beginning and end, really), and the C9 (and the movie does have a certain preoccupation with the year 1969). And there’s a cool thing where you’ve got Cs and Es in the first and last four moves, and a whole lot of Bs and Ds in the middle 7, with the 11s happening right in the middle. So I guess this is just one phenomenon I’ve noticed so far that helps us see that we’ve got these layers lined up fairly well. Fitting that it would correspond to the man giving the tour, and the job.
By the way, if I had the room, I would totally draw out every scene by the way characters move across the maps. Alas. The best I could bring myself to do is show all the areas where Jack, Danny and Wendy move through the hotel, but this reveals very little in the broad strokes of it all.
KING TAKES JACK
I haven’t put much thought into this (so feel free to skip to the next section), but it occurred to me that if the characters were meant to be seen as game pieces, we might be able to glean something from how characters might at times occupy the same square on the board at any given moment in the mirrorform, or the Twice-Folded Shining. Here’s what I’ve discovered so far.
- Purple number = when a crossover only happens thanks to the mirrorform.
- Blue numbers = when a crossover only happens thanks to the Twice-Fold.
- Green numbers = when crossovers happen in both mirrorform and Twice-Fold contexts.
- Red numbers = crossovers that happen right at the end of the Twice-Fold, causing the crossover to feel arbitrary (how could the characters not be in the same squares at these points?)
The following time codes are for the Twice-Fold, and don’t count the opening 14 seconds of Warner Bros. logo.
ARRANGED BY APPEARANCE
- Around 6:42-6:44 – Bloodfall Wendy passes through E4, which is where Gold Room Jack is giving his “goddamn soul for just a glass of beer”
- Around 7:00 – Gold Room Jack walks backwards through D3, the same square as interview Jack is talking to Ullman. Interview Jack is saying, “Well that sounds fine to me.”
- 7:32 – Angry Gold Room Jack is passing through B5 at about the same moment that we see some skeletons there at the Famine Party. That seems pretty pointed, that it happens right at 732.
- 11:01 – Nightmare Wendy is backwards racing through D7 at the same moment as Interview Jack is standing there giving Wendy the news about getting the job.
- 11:09-11:30 – Conquest Well Wendy arrives backward at C8, the same spot nightmare Jack is screaming from.
- 12:44-13:36 – Danny playing with his toys and Jack having his chat with Lloyd are both happening in E4. Jack and Lloyd do most of the “No charge” exchange.
- 15:37 – Hiding Danny runs backwards through E4 of the lobby back hall as Grady is cleaning Jack in the same spot. Grady has just denied having been the caretaker, and Jack is inspecting him in the mirror. Danny is running past the twin pillar punch clocks here.
- 15:47-15:48 + 16:08-16:25 – Jack is hearing Hallorann arrive to the rescue from his spot in B10 while MONDAY Jack talks to Danny about having too much to do, and not being able to sleep. The second phase covers MONDAY Jack saying he wants Danny to like it here.
- 16:43-17:28-18:07 – Same as last time, only now it’s the part where REDRUM Jack is attacking and MONDAY Jack is losing Danny. I put a break in the time code to show where the camera whips back to Danny, seeing zombie Jack. I figure, Jack’s still in B10 all throughout this sequence, but off-screen. I think that’s basically fair to say.
- 20:27-20:55 – The bloody Grady Twins and the Grady/Jack tryst are both happening at D4/E4 Grady is explaining how he corrected his family.
- 20:50-21:00 – The Abbey Road Tour passes through B4 at the same time as Danny’s parked there, regarding the Grady twins. Ullman is saying how the Overlook’s had an “illustrious past” and how “in its heyday it was one of the stopping places for the jet set”. And Danny is stopped before the twins. Also, the portraits of Chief Bear Paw and Chief Walking Buffalo are onscreen at the same time here.
- 21:03-21:23 + 21:42-21:47 – Escape Plotting Wendy and REDRUMing Tony/Danny are in B10 together.
- 22:32 – Wendy and Tony/Danny are touching the same edge between B and C and 9 and 10.
- 23:31-23:41 – Radio-killer Jack is passing through Susie’s office (D4) at the same time as pantry Jack is talking to Grady (D4), giving his word to kill his family.
- 24:07-24:17 – The Abbey Road Tour passes through D4 at the same time as Jack is in the Story Room. Wendy does her jig and says about having a good time, and Ullman says they should’ve brought their own supply. Backward Grady is saying how he thinks “dealing with” Wendy and Danny in the harshest way possible is the only thing to do.
- 24:47-24:57 – Susie brings Danny through D4 as pantry Jack is still in there. Susie says she found Danny outside looking for his parents, and Jack asks if Dan’s tired of “bombing the universe”. Grady is doubting if Jack has the “belly” to kill his family.
- 25:09-25:10 – Jack, Watson and Ullman walk into D4 while pantry Jack is grabbing his head. Grady is expressing his wonders.
- 27:57 – Another close call of Wendy and Danny leaving D4 at the same time as the shot cuts back to Jack trapped in there.
- 28:09-28:37 – Backward Wendy appears in D3, outside the Story Room at the same time as Ullman is asking to take Wendy away. Ends when the tours go their separate ways.
- 28:58-30:28 – Hallorann appears in D3 as backward Wendy walks back and crouches in the same spot. Ends when Wendy is back inside the story room for a moment.
- 29:13-29:14 – Danny trikes through B9/10, which is where Wendy and Tony/Danny are sitting on the other side.
- 29:30-30:07 – Wendy’s fruit salad news-watching dinner is happening in D3 along with the other two kitchen sequences happening here. Hallorann’s speech here is the “shining” speech, which includes the bit about other people not knowing and/or not believing they can do it. That goes well with Wendy watching the news – information coming at her from a long way away, and Wendy being the other low-level shiner in the film.
- 30:30-30:37 – Lounge fight Wendy walks through D4 at the same time as she’s dragging Jack into D4.
- 30:37-31:46 – Wendy drags Jack through D3 to lock him up while Dick and Danny have their chat. Ends when Danny asks him if he’s “scared of this place”.
- 33:20-33:37 – Jack emerges behind Wendy finding his papers in B9 while breakfast Jack is lying in bed in the same square, talking about how he’s “been here before”.
- 34:07 – Breakfast Wendy passes through B9 at the same time as Jack is having that breakfast one floor up. She’s telling him in the other scene that it’s just about getting in the habit of writing every day.
- 34:17-34:20 – Breakfast Wendy pushes the cart through the lobby at C8, just as Jack stands at his papers asking her what she’d like to talk about.
- 34:36-34:48 – Again, Danny seen having his shine is sitting on the same bed as Jack, in B9/B10. Jack reacts to it being “around 11:30”, and agrees he’s been staying up too late, and sticks his tongue out.
- 34:42-34:43 – Lounge Danny triking through B9 as breakfast Jack reacts to it being “around 11:30”.
- 34:45 – Danny triking between backwards Wendy and Jack in the lounge at B7. Wendy is saying “As soon as possible?”
- 34:54 – Danny’s vision of the REDRUM door is in B10 with Jack and Wendy, Jack awakens in this moment.
- 35:07-35:16 – The two lounge fight Jacks converge at C7, while the two breakfast Wendys converge at D8. You could call this a natural consequence of the Twice-Fold, but it’s still true.
ARRANGED BY SQUARE
B4 – 20:50-21:00 – The Abbey Road Tour passes through B4 at the same time as Danny’s parked there, regarding the Grady twins. Ullman is saying how the Overlook’s had an “illustrious past” and how “in its heyday it was one of the stopping places for the jet set”. And Danny is stopped before the twins. Also, the portraits of Chief Bear Paw and Chief Walking Buffalo are onscreen at the same time here.
B5 – 7:32 – Angry Gold Room Jack is passing through B5 at about the same moment that we see some skeletons there at the Famine Party. That seems pretty pointed, that it happens right at 732.
B7 – 34:45 – Danny triking between backwards Wendy and Jack in the lounge at B7. Wendy is saying “As soon as possible?”
B9 – 33:20-33:37 – Jack emerges behind Wendy finding his papers in B9 while breakfast Jack is lying in bed in the same square, talking about how he’s “been here before”. 34:07 – Breakfast Wendy passes through B9 at the same time as Jack is having that breakfast one floor up. She’s telling him in the other scene that it’s just about getting in the habit of writing every day. 34:42-34:43 – Lounge Danny triking through B9 as breakfast Jack reacts to it being “around 11:30”.
B10 – 15:47-15:48 + 16:08-16:25 – Jack is hearing Hallorann arrive to the rescue from his spot in B10 while MONDAY Jack talks to Danny about having too much to do, and not being able to sleep. The second phase covers MONDAY Jack saying he wants Danny to like it here. 16:43-17:28-18:07 – Same as last time, only now it’s the part where REDRUM Jack is attacking and MONDAY Jack is losing Danny. I put a break in the time code to show where the camera whips back to Danny, seeing zombie Jack. I figure, Jack’s still in B10 all throughout this sequence, but off-screen. I think that’s basically fair to say. 21:03-21:23 + 21:42-21:47 – Escape Plotting Wendy and REDRUMing Tony/Danny are in B10 together. 22:32 – Wendy and Tony/Danny are touching the same edge between B and C and 9 and 10. 29:13-29:14 – Danny trikes through B9/10, which is where Wendy and Tony/Danny are sitting on the other side. 34:36-34:48 – Again, Danny seen having his shine is sitting on the same bed as Jack, in B9/B10. Jack reacts to it being “around 11:30”, and agrees he’s been staying up too late, and sticks his tongue out. 34:54-34:54 – Danny’s vision of the REDRUM door is in B10 with Jack and Wendy, Jack awakens in this moment.
C7/D8 – 35:07-35:16 – The two lounge fight Jacks converge at C7, while the two breakfast Wendys converge at D8. You could call this a natural consequence of the Twice-Fold, but it’s still true.
C8 – 11:09-11:30 – Conquest Well Wendy arrives backward at C8, the same spot nightmare Jack is screaming from. 34:17-34:20 – Breakfast Wendy pushes the cart through the lobby at C8, just as Jack stands at his papers asking her what she’d like to talk about.
D3 – Around 7:00 – Gold Room Jack walks backwards through D3, the same square as interview Jack is talking to Ullman. Interview Jack is saying, “Well that sounds fine to me.” 28:09-28:37 – Backward Wendy appears in D3, outside the Story Room at the same time as Ullman is asking to take Wendy away. Ends when the tours go their separate ways. 28:58-30:28 – Hallorann appears in D3 as backward Wendy walks back and crouches in the same spot. Ends when Wendy is back inside the story room for a moment. 29:30-30:07 – Wendy’s fruit salad news-watching dinner is happening in D3 along with the other two kitchen sequences happening here. Hallorann’s speech here is the “shining” speech, which includes the bit about other people not knowing and/or not believing they can do it. That goes well with Wendy watching the news – information coming at her from a long way away, and Wendy being the other low-level shiner in the film. 30:37-31:46 – Wendy drags Jack through D3 to lock him up while Dick and Danny have their chat. Ends when Danny asks him if he’s “scared of this place”.
D4/E4 – 20:27-20:55 – The bloody Grady Twins and the Grady/Jack tryst are both happening at D4/E4 Grady is explaining how he corrected his family.
D4 – 23:31-23:41 – Radio-killer Jack is passing through Susie’s office (D4) at the same time as pantry Jack is talking to Grady (D4), giving his word to kill his family. 24:07-24:17 – The Abbey Road Tour passes through D4 at the same time as Jack is in the Story Room. Wendy does her jig and says about having a good time, and Ullman says they should’ve brought their own supply. Backward Grady is saying how he thinks “dealing with” Wendy and Danny in the harshest way possible is the only thing to do. 24:47-24:57 – Susie brings Danny through D4 as pantry Jack is still in there. Susie says she found Danny outside looking for his parents, and Jack asks if Dan’s tired of “bombing the universe”. Grady is doubting if Jack has the “belly” to kill his family. 25:09-25:10 – Jack, Watson and Ullman walk into D4 while pantry Jack is grabbing his head. Grady is expressing his wonders. 27:57 – Another close call of Wendy and Danny leaving D4 at the same time as the shot cuts back to Jack trapped in there. 30:30-30:37 – Lounge fight Wendy walks through D4 at the same time as she’s dragging Jack into D4.
D7 – 11:01 – Nightmare Wendy is backwards racing through D7 at the same moment as Interview Jack is standing there giving Wendy the news about getting the job.
E4 – Around 6:42-6:44 – Bloodfall Wendy passes through E4, which is where Gold Room Jack is giving his “goddamn soul for just a glass of beer.” 12:44-13:36 – Danny playing with his toys and Jack having his chat with Lloyd are both happening in E4. Jack and Lloyd do most of the “No charge” exchange. 15:37 – Hiding Danny runs backwards through E4 of the lobby back hall as Grady is cleaning Jack in the same spot. Grady has just denied having been the caretaker, and Jack is inspecting him in the mirror. Danny is running past the twin pillar punch clocks here.
General reactions: I think it’s neat that the crossovers in the Suite 3 and typewriter squares (C8/B9/B10) make that 237, but I’m not sure what that would mean.
One thing these notes don’t show is how many times the action on both sides came within heartbeats of a crossover. Like how at 22:32 Wendy and Danny are standing at the edge of B9/10 and C9/10, but where those characters touch the same square before the one disappears, in too many other instances to name, individuals, or groups start just on the other side of each other and head in different directions.
The crossovers escalate across the 10-minute chunks. 00:00-10:00 has 3 crossovers, 10:00-20:00 has 7, 20:00-30:00 has 14, and 30:00-35:16 has 12, but that last section is half the length of the others, so it’s as good as 24.
Also, unless we count the lounge and the 237 level as the same area, there’s no one area where every square that has a crossover occurs.
ONE BY F1
Since Formula 1 racing is a subtext of the film, I wondered if any of the potential F1 spots would connect to that business. The upper right corner features only Danny making his third lesson 3 turn on the trike. The upper left corner is where Jack scatters some goblets, Wendy passes to see dead Hallorann, and where the Abbey Road Tour vanishes into Hallorann’s skull. The lower left corner is where Wendy passes, hearing nightmare Jack’s screams. And the lower right is the entrance to room 231, which is where I theorize Jack’s soul ends up at the end. So, since the F1 racing subtext seems to do with suicide, I’m guessing this is a comment on how Jack’s status as a family killer is partly an act of suicide. Something that comes up in a lot of the other analyses.
LEAVE A TRAIL OF LITTLE PIGS
The two most overt references to fables are Wendy’s Hansel and Gretel (C1) and Jack’s Three Little Pigs (B11) references, right? Well, these happen on opposite sides of the layout, and almost directly across from each other, longitudinally. I just thought that was neat.
DISCOVERING THE GAMES ROOM
So, you’ll have to use your imagination a little here, but basically I think the games room is north of the lobby, occupying roughly the same space as made by the gap beside room 237, where room 239 would be. Here’s why:
First of all, it’s got the same couch outside as the north end of the lobby.
But we also know it’s supposed to be physically north of the lobby because when Ullman makes to follow Watson along the C longitude after announcing the start of the tour, Jack says, “I better collect my family first.” And Ullman turns around the other way and heads from B8 to C8 because he’s heading for the portal that connects D7 and E7, from there, he and Jack could turn left or right to move along the E longitude. I suspect they’re heading for the doors at E3, across from the back of Ullman’s office. This would open onto the hall that you see behind the twins when Danny sees them. So if we imagine the games room filling the space between G5 and G6 (with the outer hall running along the F longitude), then the girls would be standing at G5 when he sees them, and then they would leave by way of F5. How would we know it’s there and not some other square?
Well, there’s these two time card punching stations at E5 in the kitchen and at E4 in the lobby back hall. In this Tower of Fable way of looking at things, when Hallorann takes Wendy and Danny into the walk-in freezer, he’s taking them into a space that would be right across from the lobby time punch. But when they come out, they’re coming out from the same space as where the accountant’s office with the twin plovers painting would be. And we can see there’s a time punch there, with a giant mirror in the middle of it. If it was in the lobby, that mirror would be reflecting the twin plovers.
Now, Danny’s last vision of the twins happens for sure at F4-E4-D4 of the staff wing. E4 when they’re whole and holding hands, and they spread out to the borders between D and E, and E and F as they become bloody. In other words, they’re right above lobby time punch, and touching both walls where a time punch would be. And don’t the time punch stations themselves look like twin pillars holding hands? And remember, the bloody vision is happening directly above these pillars no matter how you look at the movie. The staff wing is supposed to be up from there.
So, yeah, I figured it would only make sense that the other live vision of the girls would be not above the mirrorless time punch, but through the wall from the one with the mirror. Because that mirror would reflect the twin plovers into the space where Danny sees them. And what would be on the games room side of that mirror? None other than the Denver Flood poster.
Also, as the games room twins move up into F5, and head east, they would practically be moving into position for the staff wing scare at F4-D4. Of course, Danny gets a flash of them in between these moments, from touching 237 at E7, but I’ve always debated whether that was from the hotel or Tony, and maybe this makes it Tony.
The other thing to note here is how Delbert Grady enters the film from E5, crashes into Jack at D4, takes him back to E5, at which point they loop through the impossible bathroom entry at F5 and F4, and walk back up through Lloyd’s mirrors (which are one square east of the time punch mirror) to stand around at D4 again to get cleaned up. The next we hear from him, he’s standing outside the story room at D3, but really, there’s no need for him to be corporeal, he could just be the voice Jack’s hearing from his position at D4. This would mean that the entire “Fake Gradys” action of the film would take place between these seven squares: D/E/F4 and D/E/F/G5.
As for the “Real Gradys”, Charles appears at B2 of the lobby, while the daughters appear at B8 of the lounge, and move through B9 to ascend the stairs at A9. So maybe they’re not on speaking terms. But also, remembering that the bloodfall set is the same as the lobby set, this would imply that they would overlay completely, which means that the bloodfall would occur around A2-to-B2, so perhaps that’s why Danny’s first vision is interrupted by a flash of the twins, to make a perfect box out of “Real Gradys” phenomena.
Also, there’s an elevator beside Danny playing at E4. So, when the ghost ball from room 237 rolls up, he’s in the middle of where he saw the bloody girls, next to an elevator.
This is making me think a lot about a certain other phenomenon, so we’re gonna go to that, but keep this section in mind as we proceed.
STAIRCASE TO NOWHERE REVISITED
So, we’ve considered the games room, the bloodfall hall, and the exterior/garage (and the boiler room is almost certainly through the lounge doors at F9, meaning it’s somewhere beneath room 237, which is apt, since it’s coated with pornography of some kind), so that just leaves the blowjob/Conquest well.
Well. If you’ve read my section looking at all the known and unknown art, you know I’ve been considering for a long time the way these artworks stack atop each other. And I always assumed it the well was in some random other area semi-connected to the “staff wing”. Near Suite 3, but not anywhere we’ve ever seen. But dig this. You see all those question marks I put along the F and 8 sections of the staff wing map? That’s because we never see those regions with our own eyes. There’s really no reason to think they connect in the way Kearns made the map, it’s simply the most logical thing for there to be that path, or something like it. Now, remember how the staff wing stairs sink into the middle of the lobby? That means we’re dealing with impossible stairs right off the bat, so I don’t see why these can’t be overlaying those stairs, like some kind of magic Penrose stairs.
And the room beside Suite 3 is Suite 5, right? And as Wendy ascends the Conquest well, the two doors most clearly seen are Suite 15…
…(sorry, that’s the best shot I could get quickly, but I assure you it is legible at some moment) and Suite 105, which is right above 15…
…so is it possible, I wonder, that the blowjob bear room is meant to occupy the E8 square, where it would sit right between the bloody twins (E4), and Danny’s bedroom, with its bear art (E10). If I’m right that the artwork in there is some obscure William Holbrook Beard drawing (possibly a page from the book Humor in Animals), the painting beside the twins at E4 is definitely by William Henry Bartlett. That would be two artists with the same three initials, and a last name that contains the letters for “bear”.
Also, the wall that would be beside Wendy as she sees the bear mask has two Oxborough paintings of Bearspaw children.
And the wall right beneath the bear room has two more (one of which is right beneath the piece depicting muskox).
So these four Oxboroughs wouldn’t overlap each other, which begs the question, what would the ones outside Suite 3 overlay?
Well, I haven’t fully ID’d three of the pieces concerned, but I want to mention the one of the obscure Naples/Vesuvius scene again. My research into this piece has revealed that it could be by the descendant of a successful artist (Abraham Pether) who painted similar scenes. His sons Sebastian and Henry took up their father’s style to lesser effect, though never to my knowledge quite as unpolished as the anonymous piece in the film. But the Pether family seems to have uniformly come to ignoble ends thanks to financial misfortunes, and so I think Kubrick is invoking them here to suggest the way that incest, even innocent as the sort Wendy was plotting, can lead to family disintegration. If it turns out this is some lost Henry Pether painting, perhaps completed towards the end of his life, there’s definitely the William Henry Bartlett piece nearby.
Another cool thing about this impossible stairs phenomenon: as the tour of Suite 3 begins, Ullman bids farewell to two women who say bye to him (C7). It occurred to me that they resemble two women who appear elsewhere in the film. The first resembles Jennifer O’Neill, the costar of Summer of ’42, which plays on the lobby TV (B6).
And the other resembles Christie Brinkley, who appears on the cover of a Glamour magazine that is later seen in the lounge (C7) while Jack throws his ball, and again right on the table here when he starts axing Suite 3.
So Brinkley descends right into the same spot of the lounge, while O’Neill is one diagonal square away. Another sign that no one ever really leaves the Overlook?
MY GOD, IT’S FULL OF STARLIGHT
The other thing to note about the Conquest Well overlay is how there’s this door behind Wendy as she passes Moon and Cow, which we never see the number for, but context clues would suggest it’s 11, since it’s on the other side from room 15, and they’ve got a doorway in between them, and the door going up the other way is 17 (sorry, you’ll have to take my word, or check yourself).
But why that’s extra cool is that it would be directly up from where there hangs a portrait of a child named Starlight. The thing that the Apollo 11 was bathing in on its way to the moon.
And when Wendy finally decides to flee the sex ghosts, she runs backward up the hall, and goes to the left, which would be A8 in the staff wing. That means she’s running into the same space where Danny’s final lesson begins, which means that whoever the portrait behind her here (B8) is of (my best guess is something by Thomas Eakins, but it could be almost anyone, really), it’s straight through the wall from the Starlight portrait at B4 in the staff wing. Wendy’s Conquest experience begins and ends with Starlight.
Oh, and the one would be at B4 and the other would be at D7. Those would add to 11.
THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE FINAL 21 PHOTOS
The first thing that hit me, believe it or not, once I began looking for ways the Tower of Fable could interconnect (after the Chief Bear Paw thing) was that the door to room 19 of the staff wing would take you into a room right above Ullman’s office at D4.
Then I thought of my F21 theory, where 19 is symbolic of time.
In my Four Horsemen theory, I consider that the four horsemen of Conquest, War, Famine and Death could correlate to four of the five major principles of existence–Gravity, Matter, Energy and Time, respectively. That leaves Light, which I suggest could be the “Fifth Horseman”, which would correlate to the Shining.
So first of all that’s cool because the Time/Death horsemen portal is Wendy encountering the bloodfall, and as you can see on your Tower of Fable map, there are elevator doors at C/D3, but there’s no room for them to exist. Ullman’s office sits in the way, suggesting that the interview takes place inside the ghost of a giant elevator. In fact, there’s a hilarious moment in the mirrorform where Ullman is getting the blood all over him while he’s saying, “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.”
That reference to time (1907) is also a reference to death, since he’ll later inform us that the building occurred on a burial ground, and involved “repelling” the attacks of the indigenous people. And again this interview is taking place inside a ghost elevator.
So, if room 19 is the Time/Death room, does this logic extend?
Well, the other rooms in the staff wing that we see the numbers for are 3, 5, 9, and 2. And in the F21 photos, these are “Jack’s Abuser Status”, “Murder”, “The Grady Murders” and “Danny’s Abuse”. These already have a kind of Four Horsemen-ness to them.
Now let’s consider the four spots Wendy’s standing when she’s reacting to the Four Horsemen portals: C8 (Conquest), C2 (War), C8 (Famine), and D2 (Death). So she’s right outside room 5 (Murder) when she’s seeing Conquest and Famine, and she’s on opposite sides of the Time Room when she’s seeing War and Death. But she starts her Conquest climb right beneath room 2, and ends it by running past room 9. And 2 + 9 = 11. And the room 11 of the Conquest Well is directly beneath room 2, while room 17 of the Conquest Well would be right beneath room 9.
So, here’s what I’m wondering: since 3, 5 and 19 are for sure, could 17 and 11 account for the other horsemen? Could the centre X of the F21 photo wall refer to the five horsemen? In which case, Famine is obviously 5/Murder (and there’s a refrigerator right behind where the room 5 door should open), Conquest would obviously be 3/Abuser Jack for all the reasons I was citing in the last entry, which would leave War for room 17/Twinship. And room 17 is literally right behind Danny’s face as he’s reacting to seeing the bloody twins. And he’s right above where Jack’s hiding to kill Hallorann, whose corpse is the centrepiece of Wendy’s War experience. The Shining would then be a combination of 9/The Fake Gradys and 2/Danny’s Abuse. I like that because the fake Gradys are our main mechanism through which we understand the hotel’s ability to shine, and Danny’s abuse created Tony, which is the main mechanism through which we understand Danny’s ability to shine. And as for the 11th photo symbolizing Jack’s enslavement, doesn’t that perfectly capture the dark side of shining? Jack is not a shiner himself, but the desire to be part of the hotel’s shine was enough to make him betray everything meaningful in his life. As for a possible room 11 near Suite 3 (so, not counting the Conquest Well version), the only place one could be would be at A7 of the staff wing, and what’s the only other A7 square? The entrance to the lobby, which is the first place we see Jack moving in the film. So Jack truly was always the caretaker here. Or, to put it another way, he was shined from the start.
Also, I just have to point this out: the blowjob bear room would be room 103, right? That means room 13 would be beneath it, and the F21 property for 13 is “The Beatles At Their Best”. And doesn’t the BJ bear look like a reject from the Magical Mystery Tour cover?
And doesn’t that cover appear in another Kubrick film?
Was this Kubrick’s favourite Beatles album?
ELEVATORS ACROSS THE BOARD
Just wanted to point out how there’s an elevator at almost every latitude in the hotel. The bloodfall one would be at 2, the one overlaying Ullman’s office is at 3, the one beside Danny playing with his trucks as well as the one in the kitchen is at 4, the one Wendy brings breakfast on could be anywhere between 5 and 7 (sorry, I made the red box too small on the map–it should extend the full width there), the lobby one from the Gold Room path is at 9, and the lounge one fills 10. That just leaves 1, 8, and 11. And the only elevator we haven’t considered is the one at the 2nd entrance. That one is right in line with the entryway.
Could that be a nod to the fact that it should overlay with the 8 latitude? To give us a perfect wall of elevators?
As I’m considering this, other proofs are occurring to me, like how there’s a mirror on the wall of the lobby entrance (A7) that would touch the wall of the 2nd entrance (A8), and which would throw the image of whatever that shadow creature in the mystery art is there…into the space where Jack will stand later, looking for a son to murder…
…and how all the artwork in the 2nd entrance is earlier (or later in the case of the wall rugs) seen in the lobby. Especially interesting is the matter of the Krieghoffs that sit opposite each other in the 2nd entrance: these would be in the same rough position as the one behind Jack’s head in the above shot. Only the one behind his head in the lobby is on the opposite wall in the 2nd entrance. Check out my research on that painting for why that could be important.
But for some reason, I don’t want to invest much more thought on this theory. I think my brain is starting to melt out of my face holes.
Oh, shit, except the elevator would probably have the doors at the bottom of B8, meaning the car of the elevator would sit at C8, the spot in the Conquest Well where, in the mirrorform, Danny starts getting his first bloodfall vision. That’s pretty cool.
SPECIAL: THE AVENUE OF THE DEAD
There’s one large-scale piece of evidence for the Tower of Fable I realized while writing the final episode of my YouTube series, which is not on YouTube yet, or mentioned anywhere else on this site yet. The indigenous mural above the lounge fireplace could be a Navajo design, but it could also be a Zapotec design, a people who called themselves Be’ena Za’a, which means “The Cloud People” (c. 700 BCE – 1521 CE). They believed that their elites, for whom they built large pyramids, would return to the sky after death, to the cloud realm (and pyramids were often seen as ways to communicate with the heavens). And I’m not the first to point out how the Colorado lounge’s grand stair resembles such pyramids, nor how Wendy’s clubbing of Jack from on high seems to echo the human sacrifice thought to have occurred atop many such Mesoamerican pyramids. But I am the first that I know of to point out how both the stair and the labyrinth have a 7- layer set and a 23-layer set.
So Jack’s near-death clubbing and real-death freezing occur probably right between the 23 and the 7 parts. And in the mirrorform, the forward movement of the maze zoom makes it look like we’re coming down from the sky realm to land at the spot where Danny lays the trap that leads to Jack’s death. And this shot perfectly lines up with Wendy’s cross from the Grand Stair to Jack’s typewriter, as she’s clutching the Louisville Slugger. So as she’s heading toward actually cracking his skull, the maze zoom is in reverse, as if we’re lifting back into the cloud realm.
Her discovery of the All work papers becomes like a prophecy of Jack’s doom as the maze’s (false) map slides into view. Note too how the ceiling beams above her head feature red and blue pyramids.
But also, the 11th page that she flips through features “All work and no play” written out as fading, upside down pyramids (one of which seems to slide right along the Overlook’s front awning). The mirror moment is Jack throwing his 11th ball throw against the Zapotec mural, which happens to be right through the wall from where Danny will be sitting in his Apollo 11 shirt when the ghost ball rolls up to him.
And remember how the film can be broken into those six sections of 2370, 1100, 1430, 210, 1921, and 1430? Well, the 1100 section starts at the very first frame of this shot of the maze zoom, and ends with Danny taking Apollo 11 into 237. There’s a lot more “moon” stuff going on in this section (like the entirety of the MONDAY part of the film (a Norse name meaning “Moon Day”)), but basically, yeah, I was already starting to connect the labyrinth/grand stair events to the general moon imagery.
What’s more, Tatânga Mânî’s portrait is the only art that hangs on this Grand Stair pyramid that we know of, and “Máni” (pronounced like “money”) is the name of the Norse Moon god – Norse mythology being something that is only subtly referenced throughout the film. So I wondered if Kubrick thought of this as the Pyramid of the Moon, which, it turns out, is the name of a real place, the second highest pyramid in Mesoamerica, in fact. Right down something called the Avenue of the Dead from the highest pyramid in Mesoamerica, the Pyramid of the Sun. Here’s a map and tell me if it doesn’t remind you of something.
Apologies for the sideways factor – I have to conserve space on the site now and I wanted you to see it with this alignment and these name markers. But yes, the layout vaguely resembles our Tower of Fable, with Kubrick’s 30-stair moon pyramid (C4) appearing right across from where the 37-stair Conquest Well would appear at C7/C8, and Hallorann dies between them at C5…on the Avenue of the Dead?
Also, every encounter with the fake Grady ghost family occurs within a really tight box of squares in the D/E/4/5 region (as well as F/G5 if my games room theory is correct). And if you refer back to the Avenue of the Dead map, you’ll note this Grady zone would be the “Palace of the Quetzel-Butterfly”, which I’ve seen written on other maps as the “Court of Columns”. So on the one hand, the Gradys are associated to butterflies, and on the other, I see the Grady twins as connecting to the Pillars of Hercules, and Delbert Grady as connecting to the law, in part for the way he spills “advocaat” on Jack, a name that means “advocate” as in “lawyer”, for the way lawyers drank it before a trial to help soothe their orating throats.
As for the Pyramid of the Sun, while the Conquest Well (C7/C8) mainly features overt moon imagery, C8 in the lounge is where a golden bowl sits before being replaced later by Jack’s colour-changing typewriter.
A different golden cup is also sitting in the kitchen at C3, which also disappears later.
And the first time we know the second cup disappears is as Jack’s being drug through the spot where it should be (C3)…right after being clubbed down the Moon Pyramid (C3-C4) (which is the last shot of the lounge). And in this incredible crossfade, we’re seeing both spots where golden bowls used to be, the first missing one obscured by the iron chandelier, the second one obscured by the close focus on the floor-sliding Jack.
And a golden cup is what Herakles rides to fetch the cattle of Geryon after creating the Pillars of Hercules. And this golden cup was gifted to him…by the sun god, Helios, as a reward for Herakles having the audacity to shoot him with an arrow, enraged by the sun’s intense heat while crossing the desert toward Geryon. So, just as both these honourary pyramids have moon imagery, they would both have sun imagery through these bowls.
But there’s also the Temple of Quetzalcoatl at the far right, a third pyramid just past the San Juan river. San Juan is Spanish for St. John, and there’s a painting just inside room 237 (F7) called Dog, Boy, and St. John River. Quetzalcoatl, a “feathered serpent man” was basically the Christ figure of the Aztecs (he’s believed to be a manifestation of Christ by modern-day Mormons, in fact), and is considered the “good twin” to his twin brother Xolotl, a dog-man. So, perhaps the temple being located in the Suite 3 region means that Danny and Jack have a kind of Quetzalcoatl/Xolotl twin relationship. They certainly have a Goofus and Gallant dynamic. In any case, Suite 3 has a lot of subtle (and not so subtle) twins in it.
And let me say, before we move into the final phase of this analysis, that just as the Tower of Fable gives us one floor built upon the next…and just as Ullman tells us that a decorator from Chicago (Frank Lloyd Wright?) was brought in “just last year to redecorate” the Gold Room, suggesting a kind of soft burying of the Overlook’s history…these pyramids were often built upon older pyramids, as the Pyramid of the Moon was. Or, as depicted by this cross-section of the Pyramid of the Magician, some were always intended to be like this.
Now, the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon in particular were considered staircases to heaven, and were built atop underground springs which were considered portals to the underworld. So there’s a heaven/hell thing going on as Jack pushes Wendy toward room 237. How you define it depends on whether you’d like to populate the Overlook forever or not, I guess. But there’s a name for things like this, that have this heaven-and-earth connection: axis mundi – a latin phrase that means, “hub of the world”. Other examples of an axis mundi would include the column of smoke rising from a calumet pipe, like the one seen in the Story Room at D4; a taiji (or yin-yang, if you like), as I believe the Kubrick twins at D4 in the Gold Room represent, or a palmette symbol as we see on the rump of the ghost who spins Grady off his axis at C4; a caduceus, like the one held by Hera’s messenger Iris, when she offered Herakles his own special brand of EYE SCREAM, causing him to murder his wife and children – a twin vision of which seems to appear to Danny at D4 and C4 of the staff wing; a crucifixion cross, like the one Jack imitates in the Gold Room’s imaginary bathroom (D4). And finally, Jacob’s Ladder is considered an axis mundi, a song playing while characters move all over the hotel, but which happens to be playing as Wendy screams Jack’s name at D4 while running through the lounge. This would only leave D4 of the lobby, which is Susie’s office, with its twin caduceus-style spears, with their fleur-de-lis tips, standing sentinel at the door, and the twin pillar punch card towers on its E4 backside. I guess what I’m saying is: D4 appears to be the axis mundi, the hub of our Tower of Fable.
And of the six “rooms” that have a D4 square, the one is a sizeable minority of the total room (the Gold Room bathroom) and one is the entire room (the Story Room). Since the Gold Room bathroom is where Jack’s internal narrative about the nature of reality is the most openly (and successfully) manipulated by the hotel, I think it’s fair to say that “story” is the true axis mundi of The Shining. It’s what traps the Torrances, and it’s what sets them free.
And if all these axis mundi images were meant as confirmation that the layers of the Overlook are meant to be layered and regarded in the way I’ve laid them out, what else could that be telling us?
Well, going back to what the mirrorform does to the aerial shot of the labyrinth: making it seem like, as Wendy passes between the Sun and Moon pyramids, heading toward the first killing of Jack (her clubbing him), we’re lifting off from the axis mundi, lifting off from the bridge between heaven and earth, just as Jack’s soul will seem to lift off from here, and end up in the 11th F21 photo…
…well, the film is 143 minutes, right? Which is 13 divided by 11, and we have 11 squares crossing the Overlook.
This aerial zoom starts at 39:46, which would be right at the start of the fourth set of 13 minutes (39:14)…while Jack’s clubbing, resulting in him landing at C4, happens at 109 minutes, which is halfway through the 9th set of 13 minutes, and sure enough the 9th square is where we see his final photo. But Jack survives this clubbing, and lives to the end, right? Well, recall that where he more likely ends up…is in room 231, which happens to be right above room 237…in column 11.
I don’t know which of the preceding points I love the most, but consider that even the physical linearity of the Tower of Fable could be a sequential metaphor for the unfolding of the story’s events. I haven’t looked deep into this possibility for other examples (like Hallorann’s corpse landing in C5 – could that have to do with Danny entering 237 in the 5th 13?), but I suspect we’d find some amazing patterns if we looked.
Alright, if you read all that, bless you heart. I hope you enjoyed it. I think I’m gonna stop myself there, but there’s possibly many, many more cute little overlays and synchronicities we could talk about. And if I find the energy, I will come back and update. I’m simply aware that this is by far the most non-linear way of analyzing the film, and I didn’t want to strain my brain to try to see things that were hard to notice, because what did emerge (however easily in the broad sense) was still fairly difficult and pretty exhausting to try to explain in linear fashion. And there’s no way of knowing when you’ve emptied a well like this. There could be dozens of things I’m not noticing, and I’d just rather not tax myself further.
There is one more part of this analysis to go, and I think I might be able to keep it relatively simple. He said knowingly…
Click here to continue on to
Tower of Fable, Part 3: DNA of a Bloodfall
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