Track Six: Nürburgring


ROUND ONE: 12 3456789
ROUND TWO: 12 3 45678 9

  • The following track, Nürburgring, which is 2:34 long, plays over the ensuing conversation, which gets into the room 237 business. People who’ve read my thoughts on the time code for 20:34 will appreciate this 234/237 mash-up, though you might not understand that analysis if you don’t read this first.
  • There’s a funny “Joe Friday” kind of tone to the song, as if we’re here for the very dry analysis of some ancient, petty crime. This tone is interrupted for 22 seconds (from 70-92 seconds into the track, or from 32:52-33:14 into the film) where the music gets gets sinister. This happens to cover the whole phase of Jack making his “I’m not gonna hurt ya. I’m just gonna bash your brains in.” mini-speech. It dissipates just as he waves his hands in the arm for the first time, along with this whoosh sound in the soundtrack that’s too perfect.
  • As for how this interlude plays in the documentary, it occurs at 41:03, just as the narration has shifted from describing the viewing habits of common folks, to describing how, “in the old city of Monte Carlo, the Monaco grand prix unwinds through the twisting streets of the city itself. The balconies of the grand hotels and the windows of the houses and pensiones along the way become grandstands. It’s the season’s premiere social event, sanctioned by royalty.” On “royalty” the whoosh sound carries the narrative back to normal, and this struck me as odd, given that the nature of the narration and visuals hadn’t changed very much. Did Du Boc have something against royalty? Monte Carlo? The Monaco grand prix? It might be worth pointing out how it’s right beneath this grand staircase Jack’s chasing Wendy up here that Wendy asked if royalty had ever stayed at this hotel. As for Dick, his dialogue in this passage is “Well, maybe things that happen leave other kinds of traces behind. Not things that anyone can notice. But things that people who shine can see. Just like they can see things that haven’t yet. Well, sometimes they can see things that happen a long time ago.” Technically the last few words carry past the cut-off, but I think the point is worth including. Why? Because this moment would seem to be combining this idea of royalty, a husband killing his wife, and the ability to conceive of the distant past and future. The implications of this could be wide reaching, but there’s at least one royal figure being referenced directly in the film: the one buried in the painting Maligne Lake, Jasper Park. To put it simply, I think that painting is one of the key ways we know that “Great party, isn’t it?” ghost is the real Charles Grady, but it also contains a reference to the Queen Elizabeth mountains. Hallorann is talking about how things that happen leave traces, and also about things that happened a long time ago, and things that haven’t happened yet. Charles Grady killed his wife and kids 9 years ago, and Jack will try to do the same. That painting connects Grady to royalty, so is the point that royalty killed each other a long time ago, and will continue to do so as long as they have the power? Seems like an obvious point, perhaps, but there are still people in this world who think royalty are something special.
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  • The title is derived from a 20km racetrack in a German town named Nürburg, which was nicknamed “The Green Hell” by racer Jackie Stewart after winning a particularly rainy and foggy competition in 1968. And since this album appears in the actual film right as Danny’s about to run into the labyrinth, I think this “Green Hell” business is pretty on point.
  • Nürburg means “black castle”, and sounds an awful lot like Nürnberg, the place where all those Nazi trials took place. Here’s a funny blog post about trying to figure out what the name might have originally meant. In it, the writer wonders if it might be thanks to the Hebrew word for fire (nur), and if so, and if Kubrick was considering that similarity (it’s possible one of the photos in the lounge will prove to bear a connection to the Nürnberg trials), this would mean we’d have a “black castle” and a “fire castle” and the name of track 2 is Black Fire. In any event, the second track on both sides contains a reference to “black”.

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