And You Thought You Understood What Was Going on in The Shining



There is an entire documentary, called Room 237 (not a sequel to Room 222, which starred the delightful Michael Constantine of Big Fat Greek Wedding fame, as well as Karen Valentine, who I had a crush on, not as big a crush as I had on Valerie Bertinelli, but big enough that had I not been 9 at the time, probably could have constituted some kind of violation of her civil rights), which explores all the unsettling continuity errors that constitute “hidden meanings” and “deep thoughts,” usually about Germans, in Stanley Kubrick’s overcelebrated adaptation of Stephen King’s mediocrity of a horror novel The Shining.

What’s funny is, not one particular [thing] can be indefinitely explained away. [Film historian] Geoffrey Cocks talks about this when he’s discussing the chair, something that might have been a mistake on set would almost certainly have been something he noticed in edit, but he decided to leave it in anyway. If you look at something like that typewriter [changing color] or Danny’s position on the carpet, those are things that are harder to get wrong, often, than to get right.

The toys would have had to have been picked up and rearranged and rebuilt in exactly the same order in a different part of the room. Someone either had to bring in a different typewriter, or they painted this typewriter after it had already been shot. So the fact that it would look different couldn’t possibly be a surprise to them. The typewriter itself is very interesting and we barely touched upon it except to highlight the weirdness of it [Edit Note: for example the typewriter is a German model which could represent the systematic and mechanical genocide that happened during the Holocaust]. But if can spring off in a couple different ways. Cocks talks more about the implications of the changing colors of the typewriter in his book The Wolf at the Door [and in the documentary]. The Shining is full of twins and doubles. Even the typewriter has a double.

I remember this kind of onion peeling when 2001: A Space Odyssey came out. In fact, I was taken to see it as a kid at Radio City Music Hall and was so fascinated about what was “really” going on, I bought a paperback called The Making of 2001 a couple of years later that I read over and over and over and over and over and over and over, fascinated by how a simple movie could become an obsession for people.

Not people like me, mind. But people people.

Take a gander at this article about a hallway in the Overlook Hotel that speaks volumes about . . . I’m not exactly sure. Which is what makes it all so fascinating!

Here’s a preview of Room 237, coming soon to a theater near no one. (Don’t let the scary music unsettle you.They do that on purpose. It’s like a thing with them.)


3 thoughts on “And You Thought You Understood What Was Going on in The Shining

  1. The first time I saw The Shining (about 6-7 months ago), I had no idea what to think. So I did a few searches, and I found this:

    It changed every single scene in that movie from the obvious to something completely the opposite and entirely contrived. I spent way too long reading that website. It’s a lot more mindblowing than the movie was (even the bathroom scene. Ugh, I hated that).

    That website’s tl;dr: Everything supernatural (LITERALLY everything) is just Kubrick mocking those who would take the supernatural scenes literally.


    1. Kubrick was so wicked smart that you could spend the rest of your life watching his movies trying to figure out not only whether the joke was on you — but WHICH joke was on you…


  2. Yeah, even STEPHEN KING has come back and said that the movie was not only a relatively poor adaptation of his book, but that people are reading junk into it that’s just not there.

    Hotel built on ancient Indian burial ground, Indian spirits posses hotel, hotel possesses caretaker, caretaker tries to kill family. That’s basically the whole thing.


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