by Alex Colville
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Seen behind Wendy (in two separate shots), hearing about Jack’s new job, moments before Danny’s blackout.
Colville is arguably the most recognizable Canadian artist featured in the film, his works almost flouted (compared to others), all of them taking up major positions in major areas of interest.
Colville called this his Madonna and Child (where a more significant child (Jesus) eclipses its mother (Mary)). So pairing it with this moment where Tony has prophesied Jack’s phone call, we stop seeing Wendy as a figure as significant as the one who just predicted her movements through the world. It’s based on Raphael’s Madonna of the Chair, which Nathaniel Hawthorne considered the most beautiful painting in the world. As discussed in the section on the Ana Cross of Spaunton Moor, The Shining was inspired by The Masque of the Red Death, which was itself inspired by Hawthorne’s short story, Howe’s Masquerade. And the Ana Cross would be right across from this piece.
Also, there’s at least one other Raphael in the film: Nicholas Raphael de Grandmaison, whose paintings Starlight and Chief Bear Paw were how I figured out the Tower of Fable subtext. In fact, the first mirrorform appearance of Starlight comes 57 seconds (11:14-12:11) after Woman and Terrier has vanished from the film (while Danny on the other side has blacked out from his first bloodfall vision).
On closer inspection, the woman stands, cradling this terrier, on an airfield. In the deep distance behind her is an airliner, and it appears to be a continental, same as the airliner that brings Hallorann to the aid of Wendy and Danny, who are The Shining’s Madonna and Child. The reason Dick will catch the continental airliner is because of Danny’s bruises.
As I discuss in my special section on Colville, there are numerous instances of parts of the movie resembling various Colvilles that are not in the movie. But of the five that are in the movie, this one gets the most obvious visual reproduction in the scene where Wendy can’t get Danny to respond about the bruises on his neck (Moon and Cow also gets a pretty similar reproduction). Also, this reproduction moment comes exactly 11:11 after the last appearance of Chief Bear Paw (50:45-61:56). And Chief Bear Paw hangs outside Suite 3 directly above the spot where Jack will spring out to kill Dick Hallorann.
Also, an anonymous fan of the site recently identified the painting of mums in room 237 as being by the mother (Nadia Benois) of the one actor Kubrick directed to Oscar gold, Peter Ustinov. Benois’s father, Leon, was famous for a few reasons, but a major one is thanks to his having owned what became known as the “Benois Madonna” (proper name: Madonna and Child with Flowers), a painting Leonardo da Vinci started in 1478, and which was thought lost for centuries until Benois unveiled it to the public in 1909 (the same year the Overlook Hotel was opened to the public). As noted by Wikipedia (by way of Larry J. Feinberg’s The Young Leonardo), the main theme of that piece was the notion of sight, with Mary delighted by the sight of her child, Jesus, seeing her hands before his own eyes. In room 237, the first time we see Benois’s flower painting, we don’t know who’s eyes we’re seeing through. It could be a memory from Danny, or it could be a vision Danny is showing Dick, or it could be what it turns out to be: Jack walking through the room himself. So, for Kubrick, sight is not the delight it was for baby Jesus, but something more like the animalistic endurance test exhibited by Colville’s dog, and a shell-shocked Danny. A few moments after Woman and Terrier leaves the film (30 seconds; 11:13-11:43 – with a 7-second shot of Jack and a 23-second shot of Danny interrogating Tony), Danny will get his first sight of the Overlook Hotel in the form of a bloodfall vision from Tony.
It’s probably worth noting too how the horror of Danny’s 237 experience is not relayed to the audience through anything but sight. In King’s novel, we read about Danny getting a more hands-on treatment, as Lorraine Massey spins him around to “stare into that dead and purple face” at the end of page 218. But in Kubrick’s film, the horror of Danny’s bruises is conveyed through Wendy’s seeing them and her helplessness at gaining any additional information. Once she’s jabbering frantically at Jack about what Danny does tell her (off-screen) about the room, there’s no fear in the moment, in part thanks to Jack’s cartoonish chat with Lloyd. It’s not until we’re in the Jack’s-eye-view movement through the space that the fear begins to ratchet up again. A sequence that begins with Danny beaming into Dick’s head visions of his own entry. In fact, the sequence of Dick in bed features the two slowly-revealed, giant posters of foxy naked ladies – a scene that would feel very different to a blind person. Kubrick is subtly making us think about what we’re seeing. By the time Jack’s 237 horror is realized, it is, of course, not through words, but through what he sees in the mirror behind the corpse woman that he achieves real terror. And this is intercut with Danny’s shine visions of the naked corpse woman lifting slowly (without looking into Danny’s face) out of the water. We’re seeing what he saw, and what we see him see seems to have nothing to do with the bruises on his neck. The ghost is simply lifting into the air. A moment, incidentally, that happens to resemble a Colville painting that doesn’t appear in the film: 1973’s Woman in Bathtub.
It’s also worth noting that this painting appears above a TV playing Carson City. The dialogue in this scene features the main character telling his boss, “We ought to be punching through here in a couple of days,” (meaning blowing a hole in the mountain for the railroad), and his boss replies, “That’s not all you’ve been punching lately.” He’s referring to a drunken brawl our hero was involved in. But The Shining has a deep river of context dealing with the notion of holes, and this painting is done in circular fashion, like a giant hole of art.
The painting mirrors over two shots: the one of Jack spying out the mouth of the Overlook to spot Danny’s hiding spot…
…and the moment of him passing Flock of Loons, the Oxborough paintings (Crying Boy and Native Child), the painting of the Alsatian’s/German Shepherd’s head, and the waverug.
So, the first of those features another of the very few Jack’s-eye-view shots in the film, which involves him seeing the snowcat as it mirrors over Wendy hearing about him getting the job. Danny is hiding behind the snowcat, so it’s a bit like an inverse of the Woman and Terrier composition, with “Child” being obscured by the “Madonna”. This drew my attention to the fact that Wendy is here sitting with the album One By One by Stomu Yamashta’s East Wind directly behind her stomach, as if she’s pregnant with it. Yamashta was a child prodigy percussionist, and this was the soundtrack to a documentary about Formula 1 racing drivers, and how frequently their occupation leads to their untimely demises. Jack says the words “One by one” to Lloyd in the line, “You set em up and I’ll knock em back, Lloyd, one buh one!” which mirrors over the moment of him fleeing room 237, backlit by the light up the hall.
I mention the backlighting, because the mum flowers in the Benois painting are backlit, which is unusual for a still life of flowers, which are lit from the front or side 999/1000 (I can tell you from anecdotal experience of having sifted through literally hundreds of thousands of such paintings). If you follow that last link, you’ll get all the info you can handle on backlighting, and how I see that influencing the film’s subtext.
But also, Jack is ordering Jack Daniels bourbon from Lloyd, which means that “one buh one” refers to how he’s going to put a drink named after himself and his son down his throat into his belly. So Jack and Wendy both have “one by one” images associated to their stomaches, and both have a connotation to suicide and their son. Danny is called “Doc” and One By One is a doc (in English, a documentary can be called a “doc” which is the same as Danny’s nickname).
And Danny is playing with a Formula 1 race car right before he enters room 237, so this death wish is associated to him too.
Next art reference: December Afternoon
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