Things have changed since my appearance in the documentary Room 237. I moved away from New York to Los Angeles. I got a job there, writing. It was hell. I moved back to New York. I got another job, driving a truck for a moving company. It’s better to be in motion. I am in storage facilities often, and they remind me of the Overlook Hotel. The long, color-coded hallways, numbered doors – the spaces could be anywhere. In fact, in the storage space where the above photo was taken, while I dollied boxes back and forth, a latin couple dressed in ‘Brooklyn’-style sportswear passed me, shocking me into the realization that I was in New York and not some hermetically-sealed Nowhere.
∆ Special focus has been placed on the missing chair in The Shining in critiques of documentary Room 237. While in the doc, professor Geoffrey Cocks merely offers up the possibility that the disappearing furniture could be Kubrick’s dry parody of b-movie haunted house conventions, his observation is invariably touted as evidence that Kubrick researchers place ‘deep meaning’ into insignificant ‘continuity errors’. But the disappearing chair is no random error, despite what condescending former PA comment-section-types might believe. The missing chair motif goes deeper than one might realize at first, second, third glance. Deeper meaning? As usual with Kubrick, no easy answer, but strong evidence of a definite, deliberate intelligence at work…
∆ First, let’s gather the evidence: the chair in question, against the pillar in the background in the ‘Tuesday’ Lounge scene, goes missing for one single shot, pictured above, while Jack says, “What do you want me to do about it?”
∆ But the Lounge chairs disappear again later in the film. As Wendy wakes Jack from a nightmare, the chair-bench combination from the previous shot disappears as the scene cuts to a POV from under the table.
∆ After a shot from a different angle, we return to a second shot missing the bench and chair. Jack speaks of his nightmare, cutting Wendy and Danny “into little pieces.”
∆ After Danny’s entrance into the scene, and Wendy’s accusation of Jack hurting him, the reaction shot of a speechless Jack is also missing the chair and bench, screen right.
∆ As Wendy berates the incredulous Jack, we see a second shot of the missing chair.
∆ And as Wendy leaves with Danny, we see a third shot of Jack with the missing chair. So three POV’s of the missing Lounge chairs .. One shot of the first one, two shots of the second one, and three shots of the third one — 1,2/2,3/3/3 — a pattern too ordered to be a random continuity error. In fact, this is just the kind of pattern that SETI look for to distinguish random information from a signal from an alien intelligence. And, with 4 shots missing the chair against the northern pillar, and 2 shots missing the chair against the southern pillar, we have another instance of The Shining magical number 42.
∆ But what does it mean?
∆ Before the first instance of the missing chair in the Lounge, we see Wendy preparing dinner in the Kitchen. Note there are three settings, but no chair at the head of the table. So a place is set, but there is no expectation of Jack sitting down to a family meal. The accelerating frequency of chairs disappearing in the Lounge track Jack’s accelerating separation from the family.
∆ The next time we see the Kitchen table is when Wendy is dragging Jack by his heels toward the Store Room. Note there are six chairs tucked under the table.
∆ After Wendy locks Jack in the Store Room and kneels down by the Kitchen table, a chair has now gone missing. We can see from the crossbar at the head of the table, that no chair would comfortably fit there, so Jack’s place-setting during the previous Kitchen scene was without expectation that he would ever sit down to a family dinner. His imprisonment in the Store Room makes it final. We never see Wendy and Jack in the same room again.
∆ Of course, there are other missing chairs to be found …
We break from our irregularly scheduled programming to bring you a few select other views of Kubrick recently uncovered…
∆ Crypto-Kubrology explores in fully-animated detail the matrix of timecode mysteries throughout the 13 Kubrick films. Author “Shawnfella” previously created the Shone Report video examining the mysterious repetition of a whispered syllable throughout The Shining. Another video traced visionary sightings of invisible subliminal bears populating the film.
Released on December 21, 2012, Crypto-Kubrology takes Kubrick research to extreme levels of numerological detail. Famous Kubrick ‘magical numbers’ like 237 and 42 are now joined by 351, 153, 811, 151, and others. All manners of subliminal sexual deviancy are explored. It’s super-dense and might crash your computer … or your mind!
∆ Tumblr site Kubrick’s Keys takes a microfocus look at The Shining and especially the final July 4th Ball 1921 photograph to unveil a hidden narrative uniting Nazi occult group The Vril Society, alien intelligence contact, secret moon missions, papal assassination plots, Sumerian mythology, and other high weirdness as evidenced in even the slightest smudge and shadow of a single frame of The Shining.
A bizarre tale not easily followed, but beautifully executed in bold graphics.
∆ Jack launches yellow ball at horizontal monolith movie screen analog. Jack forms minotaur as he jumps to meet bison head wall hanging. With bent knee Jack assumes form of Tarot 4 The Emperor and Tarot 12 The Hanged Man.
∆ Stargate sequence of travel through colorful hallways. Scenic artist Ron Punter describes painting not only the leaves, but the grass specific shades of green per Kubrick directive.
∆ Jack launches yellow ball at horizontal monolith movie screen analog. Danny’s Big Wheel at Hallorann sacrifice spot points north-east towards green hallway hiding place.
∆ Jack notices the baseball bat he’ll be beaned with later.The green square of the maze model at Jack’s right hand recalls the green tables on the right of the Twins vision in The Games Room.
For the past two KDK12 installments, The Table and More Table-Gates, we’ve been exploring instances of “stargates” in other Kubrick films and how they are often preceded by scenes involving tables, horizontal rectangles (or monoliths) and stories of a “woman in trouble.” Here’s a few more examples, from pre-2001 works Paths Of Glory and Lolita and the oddly “off-canon” Barry Lyndon:
∆ In Paths of Glory, Cpl. Paris looks through a periscope at the Ant Hill, providing us with our cinema metaphor and collection of horizontal monoliths.
∆ Immediately after, we are shown a table.
∆ In the scene immediately following, we travel down a ‘colorful’ hallway.
∆ And are thrust into the visually dazzling ‘stargate’ sequence of misty and dangerous travel.
∆ Just like in 2001: A Space Odyssey, the absence of any overt “woman in danger” narrative in the table-gate sequence heralds the presence of a Kubrick relation in the most significant female role in the film. Here in the epilogue, Kubrick’s wife Christiane plays a German POW forced to sing for the rowdy French troops. [NB: Critics who claim Kubrick as ‘un-emotional’ have either not seen this scene or have no heart.]
∆ In the first post-credits shot in Lolita, we see a vehicle driving through a misty environment.
∆ In a motif familiar to students of The Shining, a car arrives to a castle-like mansion, then a dissolve into the interior.
[NB: Legend says it’s Kubrick himself running offscreen to the right in the fade.]
∆ As HH enters the mansion, he crosses a painting leaning horizontally against the foyer wall, providing our movie screen metaphor.
∆ And then onto our table.
[NB: Those in the know will note that Peter Sellers, master of impressions, is ‘doing’ Kubrick in this role.]
∆ HH chases Quilty up the stairs to shoot him, and we find the painting that minutes before was sideways in the foyer is now upright on the balcony.
[NB: The tiger on the bottom left, we’ll find in the ‘kidnapping’ shot in Eyes Wide Shut.]
∆ HH’s bullet perforating both Quilty and the painting provide our “woman in danger” motif. In fact, the entire film of Lolita is about a woman in trouble.
∆ The immediately after, we are suddenly in flight … a repetition of our ‘stargate’ travel sequence.
∆ The image of the bullet-riddled painting is repeated at the end of Lolita, with the epilogue announcement of HH’s death.
∆ Barry Lyndon has many table and travel scenes, but no strong horizontal monoliths, until the very last scene pictured above, with the melancholic Lady Lyndon glumly writing Barry a check on a rectangular table with the dark painting behind. [NB: The main narrative of Lolita also ends with a sorrowful act of check-writing]
∆ Instead of a ‘stargate’ sequence immediately after, we cut to another death-announcing, on-screen text epilogue.
∆ White-on-black text also makes up the final image of The Shining, itself signifying, if not death, then at least an end of forward movement.
In our previous installment, The Table, we observed a pattern in Kubrick films in which the presence of a horizontal monolith or table, combined with the idea of a woman in danger, results in the following scene being a trip through a colorful hallway. In our rush to publish, we forgot to included a few more occurrences of these ‘table-gates’, here now presented:
∆ In the above scene in A Clockwork Orange, a woman is about to be raped by a gang of hooligans. Note the horizontal monoliths present in the form of pink mattresses both on the wall and the floor.
∆ And here is our table, the presence of which Alex underlines by smashing it to bits with a flying kick.
∆ And the scene immediately following is our ‘stargate’ sequence with Alex and droogs piloting a sports car in front of a stylized rear projection process plate.
∆ In the above scene from Full Metal Jacket, we have our obvious table, plus horizontal monoliths in the form of the purple tinted-windows. [Side note: the yellow fan appears to be ready to launch into the purple beyond, a bit like the yellow Beetle in The Shining.]
∆ Punchline news that “Anne Margaret’s not coming” provides our “woman in trouble” narrative, along with big-picture understanding that everyone is in trouble here.
∆ The scene immediately following is our ‘stargate’ with the helicopter appearing to ‘jump’ over our local star, the morning sun.
∆ Heading rapidly south in a ‘colorful’ journey.
∆ The table is simply the writing desk, upon which Kubrick takes a skeleton story (woman in trouble) to the movie screen (the horizontal monolith) through a visually dazzling journey of the imagination (the stargate).
For the masters of filmmaking, a woman in danger is just shorthand for cinema, or even storytelling itself.
The “woman in trouble” trope is curiously absent from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Aside from various stewardesses and scientists, the most significant woman in 2001 is Kubrick’s own daughter Vivian, who delivers the famous “bush baby” line.
Kubrick had a falling out with Vivian some time during the making of Eyes Wide Shut, and one can’t help but wonder if this inspired him, for the final scene of his final film, to include a subliminal kidnapping of a daughter.
∆ In The Shining, Wendy prepares dinner in the kitchen of The Overlook Hotel while the television broadcasts news of a missing woman. Note the large, black, horizonal monolith dominating the upper-right corner of the screen.
∆ In the scene immediately following, we travel down a colorful hallway.
∆ In Eyes Wide Shut, Bill visits the morgue to view the body of Amanda Curran. The layout of the morgue closely resembles that of the Overlook kitchen. Note the horizontal, monolith-like tables in the foreground.
∆ In the scene immediately following, we travel down a colorful hallway.
∆ We even pass by a couple of monoliths as Bill checks the time.
∆ In 2001: A Space Odyssey, as David floats among the moons of Jupiter, a horizontal monolith rotates into view.
∆ In the scene immediately following, we travel down a colorful hallway.
∆ Alice and Bill’s daughter Helena reads aloud from Robert Louis Stevenson.
I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.
The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow—
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-rubber ball,
And he sometimes gets so little that there’s none of him at all.
He hasn’t got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close beside me, he’s a coward you can see;
I’d think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!
One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.
Wendy: I found something that belongs to him.
Mrs. Darling: And what’s that?
Wendy: His shadow.
∆ Other than Helena’s dark-clad parents, the most prominent shadow in the room is that projected by the bed-side lamp onto the red-framed blackboard. Notice the blue and red dancing clowns are echoed by the blue and red white figures on the white cube of paper. A bear on the left and eye-wear on the right, 3D-glasses and a party mask. Twin princesses in red occupy the corners. In the north right outer corner is a red indian face, (or is it a carriage?) and below him, curiously a white tortoise. Also mysterious is the ambiguous animal floating directly above the white square (which we can assume as a symbolic stand-in for the projected movie screen) … is it a sleeping tiger?
∆ The famous “bear man” shot in The Shining is 13 seconds long, with a zoom into a close up 10 seconds into the shot.
∆ The zoom occurs at exactly 130 minutes into the film.
∆ At exactly 13 minutes into the film, Danny, with a bear-shaped pillow behind his right shoulder, says “Mommy said wake up, wake up.” Note the bear’s single right eye.
∆ At exactly 13 seconds into the film, the screen is dark in between the Warner Brothers logo and the first image of the mirrored mountain lake surface.
All the 13’s above signify an awakening, an opening of the eye.
∆ In The Shining Forwards and Backwards experiment, The “bear man” scene occurs while Danny is talking to Tony in the bathroom mirror at The Boulder Apartment. Note the lamp is matched with Danny’s right eye in the mirror’s reflection, while the bed is matched with Danny’s mouth. Recall Tony is described by Danny as “a little boy who lives in my mouth.”
∆ As Tony puts Danny into a trance to show him a ‘shining’ vision, in the overlay we see Wendy’s open mouth matched with Danny’s right eye, though perhaps better identified as Danny’s left eye appearing as his right eye in reflection.
A vision, or epiphany is thought to be the right and left hemispheres of the brain flooding into each other, so this image of the eye and mouth uniting is an apt metaphor of the visual, deep memory right brain colliding with the verbal, waking consciousness left brain.
Philip K Dick referred to this experience as anamnesis, or “loss of forgetfulness” and uncannily, referred to his own personal visionary experience as 2-3-74.
Or you could call it remembering. And recall, Wendy describes the traumatic experience of Jack dislocating Danny’s arm. So, Danny had to literally be re-membered by his arm being placed back in its socket. And socket, relates to the eye socket and we’re back to vision again.
∆ Exit sign in the north right. Wendy’s right eye is illuminated while her left eye is dark. Note the thin pillar of of light screen right from Wendy’s ‘shining’ knife. When we overlay frames with the two 13’s graphically represented in the film, we see a pillar of light bisecting the Colorado flag. And as shown in KDK12 essay The Games Room, the Colorado flag is a visual metaphor for the story of The Shining itself, as a narrative of cosmic enlightenment.
∆ Our initial view of the “bear man” evokes early childhood. The “bear man” suit resembles the old-fashioned “drop seat” pajamas. The bannister resembles a crib. The light shining from the bottom of the stairwell, casting the railings’ shadows across the wall, emphasize this as an image projected from a baby’s point of view. Metaphors for cinema and evocations of the Freudian “primal scene” combine here.
∆ If we superimpose the last frame of Wendy’s ascent up the stairs and the first frame of the “bear man” shot, we get the above image. Note Wendy’s phallic knife is inserted into the receptacle of the water cooler, adding to the already sexually charged scene an element of alchemical symbolism. In Tarot, the Sword is the Knight, or Son; the Cup is the Queen, or Mother. The incestuous implications are reversed as in a mirror.
Note that in the overlay it seems as if Wendy is leaving Room 105 to approach the crib. Numerlogically, 105 is 15, The Devil card in Tarot. Just like Jack in The Lobby on Closing Day, (reading an article on incest in Playgirl magazine no less) Wendy has The Devil behind her.
∆ And come to think of it, we’ve seen that water cooler before.
∆ If we superimpose the “bear man” scene over the view of the Twins in the Games Room, the two water coolers overlap. In fact we have a number of tidy overlays. The Twins are snugly framed by the “bear man” doorway. The door to 105 neatly frames one of Jack’s photographic death grids. And of course, the lamp perfectly illuminating the left-hand(ed) Twin. On the right side, we have green cubes extending from the crib projector towards the double water coolers and phone booth, perhaps indicative of child Danny using the Green Room 237 to contact help.
Note that the head of the “bear man” is in the exact center of the frame.
∆ With the reference to The Games Room, let’s talk card playing.
∆ Specifically Blackjack, or “21” … one half of mystical Shining number 42. And 21 is 12 reversed, just as in KDK12 essay, The Fallen Balloon Party, we observed how in a shot heavily encoded with the number 12, time seemed to slow down, stop and reverse.
∆ In the game of Blackjack, Aces count as either 1 or 11.
And the zoom into the “bear man” occurs at exactly 130 minutes into the film, which can also be written as 2h10m, so we have another 21.
[For more on the 21 enigma, we refer to seminal Shining decoder Johnny53.]
13 … Either 11 or 1 … 21 being 12 reversed.
All avoidances of 12, midnight.
As the old pederast joke goes, “When the big hand meets the little hand.”
All the focus on numbers just an avoidance of the brutal truths of abuse.
∆ Even in the primal image of the “bear man,” the sex act is avoided. The mask has no mouth hole, so the oral sex implied is only an off screen pantomime. And though we assume the “bear man” is a man, there are no clues as to the gender of this figure.
∆ The bear man’s ear is reflected in the lamp, forming a ghost-like image. With the zoom in, we go deeper into very early childhood as we hear long before we see.
∆ The bear man’s mouth is in the form of an X. Among other things, X is the 24th letter of the alphabet. 42 reversed, the 24 hour day. The substitute cross for Christ. The sacrificed child of God.
And who does the black shape formed by the bear man’s nose and mouth resemble? With a signature bowl cut? With arms extended as if riding a bicycle?
∆ Another superimposition and we’re back to the Twins … are they the beast’s eyes?
∆ Do you see the invisible head suggested by the hallway. Is an ear suggested by the double double doorknobs to the right? Just as the bear man’s left ear is reflected in the lamp? Is this the eureka moment?
∆ And those green eyelids … do they look familiar?
∆ Above is the first frame of the first shot inside the Overlook Lobby. Note Jack is first seen having already entered. Note the design on the floor looks like both an arrowhead and a fountain pen.
∆ The first frame of the second view of the Overlook Lobby. Note the entrance is now covered with a black shroud. In contrast, a woman in white floats by for a second before disappearing behind a red column. Kubrick likes to hide mysterious details on the sides of frames and in the first or last frames of a shot.
∆ We do not see the black shroud in any other scene. And no, these are not “continuity errors.” You don’t leave 12-foot black towers in scenes by accident. And if a curtain were drawn across the entranceway, as seen in the frame above, its dimensions would resemble that of a movie screen.
∆ In the next view of the entrance, we notice the closed dark doors, that are never seen opened.
∆ The entrance doors are seen briefly in Jack’s ball-throwing jaunt through the lobby, but they are obscured by the overlay of Danny and Wendy in the Maze.
∆ We don’t get much of a glimpse of the entrance as Jack observes the Maze Model, but note how blackness shrouds the lower half of the entrance door to the Gold Room. Also notice how wall lights frame both the entrance and the passageway to the Gold Room, but are dark near the maze. The television’s doors are closed in this scene.
∆ As we see Wendy walk through the Lobby, the dark lower half of the Gold Room entrance is now lit red by the couches lining the wall. We only see the main entrance door for a second, the same second Wendy step onto the floor disk pattern upon which Hallorann later meets his fate. Hallorann’s death provides Wendy her chance to escape the Overlook, which this scene foreshadows.
∆ A few frames later, we notice TV is on … perhaps foreshadowing Hallorann’s ‘shining’ scene and this next scene in which we see the entrance…
∆ Notice we see only two of the five window panels above the entrance door, emphasizing how perspective can be used to hide even very large objects. The line of a chandelier cuts across the left hand window above the entrance, forming an exclamation mark or upside-down “i” form. We see this “i” form later on atop the Gold Room bar, and when Hallorann walks the Lobby to his death, he steps along an illuminated “i” form shaped by the single lit chandelier and its reflection on the floor. The “i” or “!” form itself is the cutting short of a line. Think of the Monolith of 2001, with the eclipse above.
∆ In the above three shots of the entrance, notice how the wall-mounted lights change in every set-up, with the wall lights off in Hallorann’s scene and the two wall light shifting from framing the TV area in Jack’s initial view, to framing the entrance as Jack passes by with the axe.
A pattern is set up: the television initializes a sacrifice, and opens a gateway.
Don’t worry, Mom. I know all about cannibalism. I learned about it on television.
Note the strange, white light illuminating the upper-right corner of the window above the entrance door.
∆ The final glimpse we have of the Lobby entrance is during Wendy’s third night vision. Note both the TV area and the entrance gate are darkened, in contrast to the other windows.
It’ll be like nothing ever happened!
The female skeleton on the right seems to be drifting away. She has lost the grip of the “double-fisting” skeleton to her right. In fact, she seems to have lost her arms entirely, just a head on a body, just like our “i” … floating away towards the entrance.
Note that the dominant color here is indigo.
Don’t you want to go where the rainbow ends?
∆ The entrance is one of the more mysterious locations in the Overlook. Even in the survey above, we only get a look inside of it for a second at the beginning of a travelling shot, then its interior merely suggested for the rest of the narrative.
∆ Here’s a close-up view above. Inside, there seems to be something vaguely like a piano, with a bench underneath … but it can’t be, with a strange, white potted plant on where the keyboard would be. And why would a piano be in a foyer anyway? (Not that any of the pianos in the Overlook get used much.) And what exactly do we see through the large mirror above? Seemingly reflecting a tall light source beyond the black doorway …
∆ In the above view of the entrance, we see the space extends behind the large column support to the left of the foyer, with framed artwork above another potted plant on a table facing the back of the column, suggesting perhaps a passageway to the portico outside.
∆ The above close-up view on ‘Closing Day’ contradicts the view seen as Wendy crosses the Lobby ‘One Month Later. Here the column support seems to extend much further into the foyer, with a framed picture we do not see in the later view.
Were the dimensions of the entrance reconstructed for every shot?
Notice how Jack turns his back on the entrance every time he’s seen near it …
∆ And for one final detail … who is that lurking on the threshold?
∆ Superimpositions of Wendy in flight, ball throwing, shoulder flames and death grids.
∆ The Thursday Sequence of The Shining slowed down to make out the verbal exchange between Wendy and Danny as they play fight in the snow.
What do you hear them saying or does adding printed text to the sound conform your understanding to ours?
Do we believe our eyes or our ears?
∆ When Wendy and Danny run across the Overlook exterior we see the red Snowcat outside of the garage.
∆ Due to the shifting perspective of the moving camera, it appears as if the Snowcat moves backward across the screen, traversing the garage before disappearing off screen.
∆ The next Thursday, when Hallorann arrives with a new Snowcat, the film cuts just before the vehicle reaches the door of the garage.
∆ We then see pictures of Jack reacting.
∆ When the film cuts back to the Snowcat, it has already moved past the garage.
∆ Later, when Wendy and Danny drive off in the Snowcat, the film cuts away just before it reaches the edge of the garage door.
∆ Cutting to Jack ost inside the maze.
∆ Then cutting back to the Snowcat after it had traversed the garage.
∆ Does the rescuing Snowcat skip over the Overlook garage door to avoid being ‘eaten’ by the devouring mouth of the Hotel and, in turn, Jack the mad cannibal?
Does the reversing red Snowcat reflect Danny’s survivalist act of moving backwards or does the Snowcat’s red color, matching Wendy’s snow jacket, suggest that she is complicit in Danny’s abuse at the hands of his father, compounded by their garbled utterances referenced above?
First in a series of daily thoughts on the days of the week in The Shining in collaboration with Joe Brintnell.
Stephen Crane wrote a story called “The Blue Hotel.” In it you quickly learn that the central character is a paranoid. He gets involved in a poker game, decides someone is cheating him, makes an accusation, starts a fight and gets killed. You think the point of the story is that his death was inevitable because a paranoid poker player would ultimately get involved in a fatal gunfight. But, in the end, you find out that the man he accused was actually cheating him. I think The Shining uses a similar kind of psychological misdirection to forestall the realization that the supernatural events are actually happening.