Two Niagara Falls Postcards – 1907-1959

Valentine’s Postcard of Niagara Falls from Oakes Garden Theatre (1907-1915)
Maid of the Mist Under the Horseshoe Falls (1959)




On Dick’s tour, from 27:02-27:19. And then from 110:00-110:10 as Wendy is dragging Jack to the store room, and from 110:26-110:29 after she gets the door open. Then from 110:58-111:02 as she locks the door behind her, and recoils. She comes back over at 112:27-112:32, and then it glimmers for a split second at 112:43 before it’s gone for good. That’s 38 seconds, basically.

As for the mirrorform timing, it’s only 1:27 from the end of the one (27:20) to the beginning of the other (28:47). Which means that every appearance occurs across 4:28, though I’m not sure if that’s significant.


I never thought I’d get these, but some recent success with getting some obscure photos made me take a crack at it.

I’m less certain about having the right-hand one of all three falls (American, Bridal Veil and Canadian/Horseshoe) be the exact photo that’s in Hallorann’s office. The pot-and-handle shape of the land above the falls seems to be slightly dipped low, and the shadowy bits below seem less smooth than the one in the film. Though it may just be a trick of the light and the hang of the photo on the wall. Suffice to say, after an hour of pouring through many, many hundreds of postcards, this is the one that best resembles the right-hand one in the film. And since the photographer wasn’t credited in either of these, I’m guessing that’s not the point anyway. The only difference my being right would make is that 1907 happens to be the year the Overlook was built. And it was built on an “Indian burial ground”, so Dick having a photo of a waterfall with an Iroquois legend about it (we’ll get to that), from the year Americans despoiled the land the Overlook was built on, and hanging that photo approximately directly beneath where the bloodfall happens later (we’ll get to that too), would be rather apt, given the significance some have associated between the issue of “manifest destiny” and the Overlook’s bloody elevator. It might even be a mild jab at Hallorann for working for such a place as this.

The left-hand one I would say is definitely the same image, this time featuring the Canadian/Horseshoe Falls exclusively, with the Maid of the Mist cruising underneath.


As for what these could mean, I’m almost scared to wonder; the implications are fairly wide-ranging. On the most basic level, these falling torrents of liquid seem to represent a benign version of what Danny’s already seen in one foreboding vision (a vision which seems to speak to many of the worst floods in herstory). But unlike the bloodfall, Dick’s dual falls are running clean and clear. Does this suggest the purity of his spirit? I also discovered a pattern in the photos that hang throughout the hotel that seems to let us know in what relation the hotel’s areas lie from one another, which would put the bloodfall somewhere just above the kitchen. So perhaps these falls are meant as an extension of the bloodfalls. In any case, it’s interesting that our two “falls” icons would exist so close together. I wonder if Wendy discovering the bloodfall was part of her trying to access the kitchen, to see if Danny was hiding in the pantry.

As for the photos’ contents, we’ll start with the simpler, left-hand photo. Here we’ve got Canadian/Horseshoe Falls and the Maid of the Mist. Since Dick’s murder is intimately intertwined with the painting Red Maple, a Canadian painting of a Canadian river with a name practically describing the Canadian flag, perhaps this “Canadian Falls” is an allusion to Dick’s later fall by Jack’s axe. Dick’s death is also featured prominently in the four horsemen of the apocalypse analysis, so this “Horseshoe” could be an ironic reference to that. Especially since horseshoes are considered objects of good luck. Also, a horseshoe appears in the reception area radio room, which would put it mere metres from where Dick takes the axe.

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The Maid of the Mist is a tour boat that takes people into the Horseshoe falls to get sprayed, and become engulfed in the majesty of all its rainbow-generating glory. There’s a disputed idea that the name of the ship derives from an Iroquois legend about a beautiful Ongiara maiden, Lelawala, who desired to be with the god of thunder, He-No, who lived beneath the Horseshoe falls, instead of being married off by her father to a king. So she paddled a canoe to the falls, went over and down, and was caught by He-No who took her to his cave, where their spirits live to this day. The Shining makes a few notable references to father and son deities Odin and Thor (the days Thursday and Wednesday are named for them), which I’ve linked to the relationship between Jack and Danny. If Danny is Thor, Thor was a god of thunder like He-No. So this could expand the idea that arises out of Wendy showing Danny Summer of ’42 (an R-rated sex drama), that she desired some enhanced sexual connection to her son (an idea that she confronts during the Conquest phase of the Four Horsemen Trials). Wendy could be the Maid of the Mist (these photos show up behind her while she drags Jack to be locked away as well).

We should note, though, that these photos hang in Hallorann’s office, and while I don’t think there’s any evidence to suggest a sexual connection between Dick and Danny, Dick does go to considerable extremes to save the life of this relative stranger child, ending in his plunging over the falls, so to speak. In fact, the painting he’s obscuring when Jack pops out to strike him down…is called Mist Fantasy. And that painting features two empty canoes floating in a river.

As for the right-hand photo, this one also contains American Falls, Luna Island (the land separating it from Bridal Veil Falls), Bridal Veil Falls (which conceals the Cave of the Winds, named for the Greek god of the winds, Aeolus), Goat Island (the land separating it from Canadian Falls, and the part of Canada where the Oakes Garden Theatre would eventually sit. I say eventually because if this is a shot from 1907-1915, that garden wasn’t built until 1937.

Side note: believe it or not, it just hit me thanks to this (May 2020) that Kubrick probably felt it necessary to include all these images of torrents because of the family being named Torrance (Torrance sounds exactly like “torrents” in English).

But yes, I love that the three falls are separated by a Luna Island (so named for the tourist’s ability to witness “lunar rainbows” from there), and a Goat Island (there’s a Goat Mountain in the first shot of the film), which used to be called Iris Island (Iris being the Greek goddess who helped cause Herakles to murder his family, and wife of Zephyrus the West Wind (there’s a Zephyr on the cover of an issue of Car and Driver in Hallorann’s Miami apartment)). Wendy is often associated with moon imagery, while Jack is often associated with horned animal imagery (not to mention Herakles).


There’s something to be said for the falls as a curio of suicide/daredevil herstory. There have been numerous occasions of people dying and not dying while attempting to go over in barrels, or to tightrope walk across the falls, or to end their lives in a moment of…who knows? Mind-numbing terror? I mention this because of the film’s connection to Formula 1 racing, a daredevilish career whose death rate is so high that participation is practically a form of elongated suicide. But also because of the suicidal impulse that starts with the tale of Charles Grady, and ends with Jack’s first drink. And also Hallorann’s rescue mission, which, again, was rather daredevilish in a death wish kind of way.

As for Oakes Garden Theatre, I wonder if we should count it, since it might not really be in the shot. It’s mainly of interest since the man it’s named for was a gold mine owner who was famously murdered, and afterward, his daughter moved to Cuba to be near Ernest Hemingway, whom I’ve at times suspected of appearing in some of the photos throughout the hotel, though I haven’t had any hard matches yet. Possibly this has nothing to do with anything. I mainly like it for the “Oak” reference. Thor was the god of oak, among other things, and oak features elsewhere in the film. But we already had one Thor connection with He-No, so we don’t really need another.

Also, there’s a striking number of instances where a river is invoked by the imagery throughout the film, and a number of rivers invoked by the subtext which divide two large countries from one another, so this one dividing America and Canada is pretty major. My general feeling about this is that it signifies the theme of separation and divorce, and the hurt feelings that occur in as small a unit as a family, or as large a unit as a nation, when things like that happen. Dog, Boy and St. John River hangs inside room 237 and features another river that divides America and Canada, seen from who knows what side of the divide. The St. Lawrence River is closely connected to a number of the French-Canadian paintings, and while the Niagara River connects Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence connects Lake Ontario to the Atlantic Ocean. Hallorann’s friend who gets him the snowcat is Larry Durkin, Larry being the short form of Lawrence. So the two men who save Wendy and Danny more than any other are associated to the two rivers creating the Great Lakes. For the record, the other rivers that connect the Great Lakes are Detroit River (connects Erie and Huron/Michigan) and St. Mary’s River (connects Huron and Superior). I don’t have a Detroit reference yet, but the movie opens on St. Mary Lake. Also, Hallorann is killed directly north of Frederick Horsman Varley’s Stormy Weather, Georgian Bay, which depicts the largest part of the Great Lakes that isn’t its own lake.

Next art reference: Mystery Kitchen Art