The Shining

The Shining FAQ
is an in depth
examination of
Stanley Kubrick's
'epic' horror film.
With first-hand
contributions from
one of its editors
Gordon Stainforth.

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Stanley Kubrick

brief biography

The Shining

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My thanks go to the many people who contributed to this section, I am especially grateful to Gordon Stainforth, who worked as an editor on The Shining, for validated the information (or otherwise) and offered many useful observations and comments on the text.


1/ Full cast and credit details

2/ Why did Kubrick want to make The Shining ?
"I've always been interested in ESP
(1) and the paranormal. In addition to the scientific experiments which have been conducted suggesting that we are just short of conclusive proof of its existence, I'm sure we've all had the experience of opening a book at the exact page we're looking for, or thinking of a friend a moment before they ring on the telephone. But The Shining didn't originate from any particular desire to do a film about this. The manuscript of the novel was sent to me by John Calley, (2) of Warner Bros. I thought it was one of the most ingenious and exciting stories of the genre I had read. It seemed to strike an extraordinary balance between the psychological and the supernatural in such a way as to lead you to think that the supernatural would eventually be explained by the psychological: "Jack must be imagining these things because he's crazy". This allowed you to suspend your doubt of the supernatural until you were so thoroughly into the story that you could accept it almost without noticing.

I think, in some ways, the conventions of realistic fiction and drama may impose serious limitations on a story. For one thing, if you play by the rules and respect the preparation and pace required to establish realism, it takes a lot longer to make a point than it does, say, in fantasy. At the same time, it is possible that this very work that contributes to a story's realism may weaken its grip on the unconscious. Realism is probably the best way to dramatize argument and ideas. Fantasy may deal best with themes which lie primarily in the unconscious. I think the unconscious appeal of a ghost story, for instance, lies in its promise of immortality. If you can be frightened by a ghost story, then you must accept the possibility that supernatural beings exist. If they do, then there is more than just oblivion waiting beyond the grave."

Interview with Michel Ciment Notes
(1) The Oxford Book Of The Mind notes, ESP or Extra Sensory Perception is the phrase coined by J.B. Rein the head of the first university parapsychology department to describe any mental faculty which allows a person to acquire information about the world without the use of known senses.  

(2) John Calley was the production chief at Warner Brothers during the 1970's, now CEO of Sony Entertainment.  (back) 3/ What horror films did Kubrick like?
Michel Ciment asked him this question in 1980. He answered Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist.

He was also reportedly a big fan of David Lynch's Eraserhead. Recently his daughter Katharina told amk, An American Werewolf in London and Silence of the Lambs were two films he admired. 4/ What horror themes and conventions are referenced in The Shining?
David Kirkpatrick writes: I'm as guilty as anyone in the newsgroup of plumbing the depths of The Shining in search and exploit missions of sub-texts, bypassing the obvious horror story on the surface (but what a guilty pleasure it is!). This time, though, I'd like to look at some of the stuff on the surface of what Newsweek called "the first epic horror film", if I'm not mistaken.

Well, one characteristic of epics is an encyclopedic scope. Let's look at way in which The Shining is an "encyclopedia" of horror themes.

(1) Ghost / Haunted House. That The Shining is a ghost story is self-evident, so I'll save my detailed remarks for items below.

(2) Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde. Besides being a story about a haunted house, The Shining is also the story of Jack's descent into insanity. Here, alcohol is the magic drug paralleling Dr. Jeckyl's experimental potion. And as Mr. Hyde reflects a side of Dr. Jeckyl that was already there, but stripped of its impediments, so does Jack's ultimate descent reflect character flaws implied at the start. A related horror sub-genre would be the "doppleganger" (or "doubles") theme.

(3) Werewolf. Jack descends not merely into madness, but into something subhuman - his speech deteriorates into grunting at the end. Consider these potential "werewolf" references: "Hair of the dog that bit me." "Little pigs, little pigs" - followed by what is to my ear an imitation of Richard Nixon: "not by the hair of your chinny-chin-chin?" Interestingly, Nixon had possibly the most famous five-o'clock shadow in history (in his debate with Kennedy) and Jack's five-o'clock shadow seems to deepen throughout the film. I can't pinpoint one, but there is probably an image in the film that might connect Jack with 2001's Moonwatcher. (4) Frankenstein. The most overt connection between The Shining and Frankenstein might be the fact that both end in ice. An interesting behind-the-scenes connection is that The Shining co-stars a Shelley and Frankstein was written by Mary Shelley. (Interestingly, Mary Shelley was the daughter of an important early feminist or proto-feminist, whereas Shelley Duvall, by this stage of her career seemed to be always playing women who were pre-feminist in their awareness. However, a more profound Frankenstein connection can be found via the McLuhanistic (1) interpretation of The Shining , according to which the Gutenberg Printing Press technology is the horror personified by Jack (he is the one who types "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy") and the "shining" represents the disturbing telepathic powers unleashed by the next major technological epic, the electric age. The connection between McLuhan and Shelley's Frankenstein myth becomes more obvious when you consider that McLuhan's first book was entitled The Mechanical Bride, after a Fritz Leiber SF story of the same name. Fritz Leiber's most famous novel is probably "Conjure, Wife", which brings us to point (5).

(5) Witchcraft. In The Shining, it seems to be males who have the power to "shine", a supernatural ability which could be likened to witchcraft. Witch stories, of course, can go either way - they can be sympathetic to the victims of evil witches or to the unfair victims of witchhunts - pagans and various unpopular eccentrics. Arguably, The Shining plays it both ways - Jack persecutes Danny because Danny "shines", but Jack's hallucinations or communication with the spirit world also designates him as evil sorcerer. The fate of North America's first "pagans" hangs over the film's proceedings providing an important context, if not a subtext.

(6). Vampires. Well, I don't mean to judge a book by its cover, but take a look at Lloyd the bartender! Here the reversal is that it is the vampire doling out fluids. When Delbert Grady tries to recruit Jack as his successor, this strikes me as akin to the epidemic dynamic that seems to be central to vampire stories. If ghost stories find horror in death, werewolf stories in our animal nature, Frankenstein stories in technology and witchcraft in other religions (i.e. magic, secret knowledge, unfamiliar science), then vampire stories find horror in disease. The remoteness of the Overlook Hotel echoes that of Dracula's castle, with the reversal that it has the sense of being in to the west, not the east.

(7) The Devil. "I'd sell my goddamn soul for a glass of beer." Jack makes a Faustian bargain with the Hotel.

(8) Oedipus. The horror associated with the conflict between father and son. Danny messes up Jack's papers (Gutenberg complex?), Jack breaks Danny's arm, Danny's emotional problems incriminate Jack, Jack tries to kill Danny, Danny in effect engineers his father's death by escaping.

(9) The Psychopath. A more modern theme: Stephen King complained that Kubrick changed Jack Torrance from a good man destroyed by alcoholism into someone who was bad from the start. But the other side of this is there is one more layer to the onion. To find that one's spouse or parent is hollow - there is a basic kind of horror associated with that.


(1) See question 12 in this section for more on Marshall McLuhan.  

5/ Who was Kubrick's co-writer?
After rejecting King's own efforts at turning his novel into a screenplay Kubrick turned to Diane Johnson, an American novelist and critic who published a number of novels which Kubrick admired, including "The Shadow Knows" which he considered making into a film

As Johnson tells it: "Kubrick was thinking of making either the Stephen King or my novel, "The Shadow Knows." And, you know, he ultimately decided on the King. "The Shadow Knows" had some problems like being a first person narrative, the only other one that I've done actually . . . well, almost . . . and, but anyway, he and I, in talking about it got along better than he and Stephen King, I guess. (Laughs). So, he just . . . he would call me up for about a week or two. It's very much a story that other of his writers tell. You know, you get these calls from Kubrick and then he proposes a meeting, and then he proposes you come in and write a script. And, so I did. And I spent, oh, I don't know, a couple of months . . . I guess eleven weeks all together, so almost three months in London, working everyday with him." (2)

Kubrick was also interested in Johnson because he learnt that she was giving a course at the University of California at Berkeley on the Gothic novel and could bring a scholarly knowledge of literary horror to the script. He called her the ideal collaborator for The Shining . Note
(1) See question 16 of the FAQ for more information on the Shadow Knows.

(2) Quote taken from Diane Johnson interview in the New York Times

6/ How does Stephen King feel about Kubrick's adaptation of his book?
Initially King was flattered that Kubrick was going to do something of his. Later he expressed disappointment in the film. "There's a lot to like about it. But it's a great big beautiful Cadillac with no motor inside, you can sit in it and you can enjoy the smell of the leather upholstery - the only thing you can't do is drive it anywhere. So I would do every thing different. The real problem is that Kubrick set out to make a horror picture with no apparent understanding of the genre. Everything about it screams that from beginning to end, from plot decision to the final scene - which has been used before on the Twilight Zone"

King had the chance to "do everything different" with the I997 TV movie adaptation of The Shining which he wrote and produced. However the TV Shining was poorly received and generally considered to be vastly inferior to the Kubrick's version. Friction between Kubrick and King was probably further exasperated because Kubrick refused King the rights to release his version of The Shining on video.

Recently it has emerged that King used to be an alcoholic, and that parts of The Shining are, if not autobiographical, then very personal for the author. King was annoyed because Kubrick's adaptation, in his eyes, marginalised the book's most important theme, that of an good father can be turned into a monster through alcohol abuse.

7/ How long did the film take to shoot?
"The Shining" took an estimated 200 days to shoot, according to production charts kept by Variety. However Gordon Stainforth, who joined the production just after the end of photography, says that he thought the shoot had taken the best part of a year.

8/ Why are there two versions of The Shining? What was filmed but cut out?
The two version of The Shining are the US cut with has a running time of 144 minutes and the international version which is 20 minutes shorter. Both versions have the status of "director's cuts" as Kubrick made the cuts himself.

In November 1980 Monthly Film Bulletin ran a piece itemising the differences between versions (1) . Here is a summary of that article:

Scene cut from the US version during 1st run:

(1) A two-minute sequence was deleted from the end of the film in the first weeks of its run. A coda to Wendy and Danny's escape (which followed the shot of Jack frozen in the maze). This showed Wendy being visited in hospital by Ullman, and his complimenting her on having survived. (2)

After playing to what Movie Comment calls "generally bad reviews and erratic box-office in America," the film was preview-tested before its opening in London and a further twenty-five minutes were cut.

Scenes cut from the international version:

(1) Part of Jack's interview at the Overlook Hotel.

(2) Danny's examination by a doctor (Anne Jackson)

(3) Part of the tour of the Overlook with Ullman, Jack and Wendy, including the dialogue in the Colorado Lounge and The beginning of the scene where Ullman shows Jack and Wendy the hotel grounds and the scene leading up to Dick Hallorann's first appearance where Ullman shows off "The Gold Room"

(4) Part of Danny's conversation alone with Hallorann

(5) The end of the Torrances' first scene in the hotel, when Wendy brings Jack his breakfast

(6) Immediately after the scene in which Wendy and Danny explore the maze, a sequence has been cut in which Wendy is seen working in the kitchen while a TV announcer talks of a search in the mountains for a missing woman

(7) THURSDAY title card

(8) Wendy and Danny watching the Summer of '42 on television.

(9) dialogue from the middle of the scene in which Jack first goes to the Gold Room

(10) Wendy is seen crying and talking to herself about the possibility of getting down the mountain in the snowcat, and of calling the Forest Rangers

(11) Dick Hallorann again tries to get through to the Overlook by calling the Ranger station.

(12) 8AM title card

(13) Hallorann asks a stewardess what time they are due to land in Denver; she tells him 8.20 and he checks his watch. Jack is seen typing in the lounge of the Overlook. Hallorann's plane lands at the airport. Larry Durkin (Tony Burton), a garage owner, answers his phone and talks to Hallorann, who asks for a snowcat to get up to the Overlook.

(14) GS: "A whole scene where Danny is watching TV (a Roadrunner cartoon). After talking to Danny (I think telling him to stay there) Wendy picks up the baseball bat and exits (on her way into the Colorado lounge). I was particularly proud of the way I 'choreographed' the cartoon music on the TV with Wendy's movements. There was then a long dissolve, as the cartoon music faded, to Wendy entering the Colorado lounge. After a pause I then gently faded in the start of the Penderecki music as Wendy walks towards Jack's desk." (15) The beginning of the scene in which Wendy finds Jack's type-written pages covered with "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" (GS: This then is really cut (14), i.e. the second half of the dissolve plus a few more seconds of Wendy walking into the Colorado lounge)

(16) A tableau in which skeletons are sitting at a table with a champagne bottle and glasses. Notes
(1) You can read the whole article at on-line at
Stanley Kubrick 1928-1999 (back)

(2) GS thinks Ullman's hospital visit was cut out after a preview in America, just before the film was released.  (back)

9/ Is it true that The Shining holds the record for the most takes of a scene in a film?
Well, according to the Guinness book of records it does. They claim it took Kubrick 127 takes to capture the scene were Shelley Duvall climbs the stairs near the end of the film. But Gordon Stainforth contests this, "I'm sure Shelley never had to repeat a scene 127 times (I think the most takes on one scene was Scatman in the kitchen which was something in the order of 75-85 takes). The scene of Shelley backing up the stairs with the baseball bat was NOT all about acting, it was a very technically difficult piece of Steadicam camera operating as well. Loads of things can and did go slightly wrong on that kind of take. (If my memory is correct it was something in the order of 45 takes.)"
10/ Where were the Overlook hotel exteriors filmed and is it a real hotel?
The establishing shots of the Overlook Hotel are of The Timberline Lodge located on the slopes of Mount Hood in Oregon.
The Overlook, as seen in the film, doesn't exist in real life, the interiors of the Timberline Lodge are different to Kubrick's sets, however it is true to say the Overlook is an amalgamation of bits of real hotels located in the USA. For example, the blood red men's room was modelled on a men's room in a hotel in Arizona designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and the Colorado lounge was modelled on the lounge of the Ahwanee Hotel in the Yosemite Valley (1) . Kubrick conceived the hotel with designer Roy Walker. Walker travelled around the USA photographing hotels which might be suitable for the story. Then they spent weeks going through the photographs making selections for the different rooms. Using the details in the photographs, working drawings were prepared from which small models were built.

A mock up of a facade of the rear of the Timberline Lodge complete with hedge maze was constructed on a back lot in Elstree Studios, England. The real Timberline does not have a maze.

Kubrick and Walker wanted their hotel set to look authentic rather than like a traditionally spooky movie hotel. Kubrick believed that the hotel's labyrinthine layout and huge rooms would provide an eerie enough atmosphere. A realistic approach was also followed in the lighting design, and in every aspect of the hotel's decor. Kubrick took his inspiration from Kafka's writing; his stories were "fantastic and allegorical," but his writing was "simple and straightforward, almost journalistic."

Adapted from Michel Ciment interview Notes
(1) To see a photo of the lounge of the Ahwanee Hotel go to

Thanks to Bryant Arnett for the link (back)

11/ Were all the pages of Jack's "all work and no play" novel actually typed?
Yes they were, although Johnson has said that Kubrick used an electric typewriter with a small built-in memory capacity to type the pages. The typewriter could be fed with a phrase and left to repeat it ad infinitum.

GS adds: I am sorry to disagree with Diane Johnson, but I think this is a complete myth. I have clear memories of Margaret Adams, the production secretary, telling me how she and several other typists had to type all those pages out.

According to the internet movie database, several foreign language versions of Jack's novel were also typed out. Although GS states this is incorrect too: "To my knowledge these different versions were simply used in the subtitles for the foreign versions." However Vincent Pappalardo writes: In the French version, there actually is the shot of pages typed in French (with a different sentence typed). I don't know about other versions, but I guess it wasn't just done for France. And Francis Catellier-Poulin adds: The translation for "All work and no play..." is "Un tiens vaut mieux que deux tu l'auras." In English it can be roughly translated as: "One certainty is better than two possibilities."

Andrea Ronza writes: The phrase in Italian is "Il mattino ha l'oro in bocca", which literally translates as "The morning keeps gold in its mouth". The meaning is something like "You have to start your day in the right way, because the morning is the most propitious moment". This has resonances to the themes in the film;
- gold: the golden room,
- mouth: Tony lives in Danny's mouth;
- morning: maybe 4 am & 8 am, or Jack trying to work every morning but is actually awake very late.
12/ Are there any connections between The Shining and Marshall McLuhan?
Marshall McLuhan was a Canadian professor of English Literature who wrote a series of books examining the effect of communication technologies on the human psyche as well as on culture. McLuhan believed that media created new environments which in turn impacted on human behaviour in profound but largely unacknowledged ways. He is perhaps most famous today for coining the phrases "The medium is the message" and "Global Village."

McLuhan's definition of media was broad, it was any technology that extended human physical and sensory capability: the wheel was an extension of the foot, clothes of the skin, weapons of teeth, books of the eye, radio of the ear, the computer of the brain, etc. He was especially interested in how technologies differed from one another and the way in which they amplified, integrated or isolated different senses (creating different sensibilities). McLuhan viewed history in terms of the effects on humankind of the invention of the phonetic alphabet, followed by the printing press, and in the 20th Century by electronic communication and information media.

Here is David Kirkpatrick's McLuhanesque analysis of The Shining. In it he pays particular attention to his 1962 book "the Gutenberg Galaxy - The Making of Typographic Man" (Johan Gutenberg was the inventor movable type which allowed for mass reproduction of printed texts) For more information on McLuhan and his ideas, a very good introduction is provided by Philip Marchand's biography: "Marshall McLuhan: The Medium And The Messenger."

My first impression when I saw it in 1980 was that there was a Marshall McLuhan subtext to The Shining. What grabbed me was what for me was the climactic, most horrifying moment of the film: when Wendy discovered Jack's manuscript with nothing but "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" repeated on it. To someone who's read a lot of McLuhan, this is the perfect visual metaphor for the horror of the "Gutenberg era" legacy. (1)

Wendy, Danny and later Halloran are all seen watching television -- they are all comfortable living in the electronic age. Wendy is also shown greatly enjoying the use of the CB radio and the human contact it affords. Danny and Halloran's "shining" gift emulates the empathy-enhancing properties of the television-dominated world. "Telepathy" is what we experience when we effectively communicate with each other by non-verbal means.

Jack is associated with the age of print both by his connection with his typewriter and having been a school-teacher. (Reading and writing has to be taught.) Jack is also associated with linear "left-brain" abstracting-rather-than-integrating "rationality" by his unhinged tirade against Wendy after she sees his "assembly-line" manuscript. "Do you know what a contract means?!", I think is one of the lines he used.

1. The climactic discovery of Jack's "All work and no play..." manuscript can be taken as a metaphor for the horror of Gutenberg technology - the typographic mass production of words on a page. 2. Television and other electric forms of communication appear through film and are associated with Wendy, Danny and Hallorann whereas Jack lives with his typewriter. Wendy, Danny and Hallorann watch TV, Hallorann uses the telephone twice and Wendy seems to particularly enjoy using the two-way radio. For the good guys, communication is community-preserving, whereas for Jack it is a way of establishing identity, even isolation - if he can succeed as a writer, then he afford to live the lonely life of a writer.

3. Jack represents book culture not only as an aspiring writer but also as a former schoolteacher. His disdain for television is shown in the sarcastic way he says (in the car) "It's OK, he saw it on television!" By contrast, he makes a sanctimonious appeal to a "written contract" when Wendy suggests that they should leave the Overlook Hotel in order to get help for Danny.

4. The theme of telepathy is central to the story; McLuhan often said that the non-verbal communication afforded by electronic media was a kind of telepathy. Communication with images instead of words.

5. Another central theme is reincarnation. The Indian Burial Ground motif is one that Kubrick added to the story. Bill Blakemore has drawn connections between the murders in the hotel and the genocidal heritage of the Americas, but parallels between the Native American notion of Vision Quests and modern day ESP are suggestive of McLuhan's "Global Village" notion of electric technology "re-tribalizing" man after Gutenberg technology has created nations of individualists.

6. The title "The Shining" can be taken as a metaphor for electronic media. The name of the Overlook Hotel is suggestive of McLuhan's theory of sense-ratios and how media affect them - Gutenberg technology makes us over-look and under-listen.

7. The yellow poster (and album cover) for the movie resembles the dot-matrix of a television screen. McLuhan made much of the low-definition image aspect of television.

8. McLuhan's detachment versus involvement theme: Jack relates to the maze only at a visual level whereas Wendy and Danny immerse themselves in it; when Jack chases Danny through the maze, he is essentially "reading" the footprints. Danny's escape by using multiple senses - hearing his father always just behind him in the maze he recognizes that his footprints give him away, he retraces his steps and then visually follows them back out of the maze. McLuhan often cited the ending of Poe's Descent into the Maelstrom as an appropriate fable about salvation through detached understanding of media we take for granted, and Danny's escape is a similar insightful dodge from the linearity of doom.

9. Even if McLuhan's theories did not inspire deep subtexts in Kubrick's filming of The Shining, (2) the film unquestionably has built into its plot the basic themes of community versus isolation and communication versus secrecy. Communication is a central theme, so different communications theorists might find their own ideas illustrated in the film.

DK Notes
(1) See McLuhan's book the Gutenberg Galaxy for his theory about the far-ranging social effects of the printing press.  
(back) (2) There is no doubt that Kubrick admired McLuhan. Philip Marchand's biography recounts a story of Kubrick taking the trouble to arrange a special private screening of 2001 for him in New York. Unfortunately his admiration was not reciprocated; McLuhan detested science fiction and his daughter Teri had to prevent him walking out ten minutes into the film. Twenty minutes in the Strauss waltz on the soundtrack was punctuated the sound of his snoring.

13/ What aspect ratio was The Shining filmed in?
The entire negative was exposed, meaning that there was no in-camera hard matting so the film was effectively shot in Academy 1.37 but it wasn't intended to be shown in cinemas that way. The film was shot and conceived for 1:1.85 ratio screening (and the camera viewfinders had the 1.85 framelines marked on them) This is the standard ratio that widescreen films in the US are projected in. The 1:185 crop was achieved when the film was projected onto cinemas screens.

DM, GS Notes
See the note at the bottom of question 11 in the
FAQ for more information on aspect ratios

See Martin Hart's American Widescreen Museum site for more information of film formats.

14/ What are the references to Native Americans and what do they mean?
In 1987 Bill Blakemore published an influential essay called "The Family of Man" in the San Francisco Chronicle. Blakemore argued The Shining wasn't really about the murders at the Overlook Hotel. But about the murder of the Native American race

He makes a number of interesting observations to support his case. You can read the entire essay on-line by visiting The Kubrick Site, but here are a few salient points:-

(1) The profusion of Indian motifs that decorate the hotel, and serve as background in many of the key scenes represent the fate of the Indians in the USA, woven into the very fabric of the country although denied a voice.

(2) the insertion of two lines, early in the film, describing how the hotel was built on an Indian burial ground.

(3) The Calumet baking powder cans, in the food store, with their Indian chief logo that Kubrick placed carefully in the two food-locker scenes. (A calumet is a peace pipe.)

(4) Blakemore calls these observations "confirmers" such as puzzle-makers often use to tell you you're on the right track. He goes onto say, "The Shining is also explicitly about America's general inability to admit to the gravity of the genocide of the Indians -- or, more exactly, its ability to "overlook" that genocide. Not only is the site called the Overlook Hotel with its Overlook Maze, but one of the key scenes takes place at the July 4th Ball. That date, too, has particular relevance to American Indians. That's why Kubrick made a movie in which the American audience sees signs of Indians in almost every frame, yet never really sees what the movie's about. The film's very relationship to its audience is thus part of the mirror that this movie full of mirrors holds up to the nature of its audience."

Reaction to Blakemore's essay on amk had been mixed over the years. Some posters think he has some important insights, others that he is completely wrong, there are still others who take the view that he is partially right, but the film ends up being distorted through the lens of his prose.

15/ What is "White Man's Burden?"
When Jack is talking to Lloyd the barman he refers to white man's burden, (which seems fairy non sequitur at the time, although the line also appears in King's novel). "White Man's Burden" is the title of a poem by Rudyard Kipling
(1), written in 1889 at the height of the British Empire; at the time, the title became a well-known expression.

Take up the White Man's burden
Send forth the best ye breed
Go, bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need;
To wait, in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild
Your new-caught sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child.
The expression was the British equivalent of the American term "Manifest Destiny," a concept used by (mostly) European settlers to justify their occupation of what is now the United States of America. To define both concepts briefly: they assert the God given duty of the "civilised" Christian men of Europe to civilise and baptise the heathen aboriginal peoples of the world.

History has shown, however, that in the carrying out this 'sacred duty,' settlers invariably made a mockery of the Christian values they were trying to teach. (2) Although Kipling's poem mixed exhortation to empire with sober warnings of the human cost of colonialism, anti-imperialists in the United States latched onto the phrase "white man's burden" as a euphemism for imperialism, and Kipling was accused of justifying the policy as a noble enterprise. Notes
(1) For further information check out the website
The White Man's Burden" and Its Critics (back)

(2) To find out about the history of the persecution of native Americans by white settlers read Dee Brown's classic account, "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee."  (back)

16/ How did Kubrick do the shot where Jack looks down at a model maze to see Wendy and Danny walking in it?
Stephen Pickard who worked as one of the assistant editors on the film wrote.

"When Ray Lovejoy, the editor, first introduced me to Stanley he was shooting the insert on the hedge maze. It was a large miniature which stood upright and the live action of Wendy and Danny was a VistaVision plate. The 35mm 4-perf camera shutter speed was synchronised with the VV projector shutter, similar to a traditional rear-projection set-up."

17/ What's the significance of the maze?
The hotel maze suggests a number of mythological and psychological associations prompted by mazes and labyrinths. In Greek mythology, the Labyrinth of Crete was a dungeon of inter-connecting maze-like tunnels derived from the elaborate floor plan of the Palace at Knossos. In the myth, the architect of the Labyrinth was the Athenian craftsman Daedalus, who designed it for King Minos.

The Labyrinth was so skilfully designed that once a person was incarcerated there it was impossible for them to find their way out again. They would then become prey for the Minotaur (1) - a half-man; half-bull that lived in the Labyrinth. Daedalus revealed the secrets of its construction only to Ariadne, daughter of Minos, but she in turn told her lover, Theseus who used the knowledge to slay the Minotaur and escape.

The Labyrinth and Minotaur in Greek Mythology can be read as symbols of the dark side of humanity, the Minotaur represents the 'Beast' in the human psyche that we hide away in the 'Labyrinth' of the unconscious mind. As Kubrick said: "One of the things that horror stories can do is show us the archetypes of the unconscious: we can see the dark side without having to confront it directly." The structure of a maze allows for just such an indirect confrontation of these dark forces.

Michel Foucault (2) articulated this characteristic of the maze in his 1962 essay 'Such a Cruel Knowledge' "To enter the gates of the maze," Foucault said "is to enter a theatre of Dionysian (3) castration, is to undergo a paradoxical initiation not to a lost secret but to all the sufferings of which man has never lost the memory - the oldest cruelties in the world."

When Jack Torrence is trapped in the maze he ultimately takes on the characteristics the Minotaur thus any specificity attached to his murderous actions is removed of context, and occupies instead in the universal space of myth. Symbolically the maze transcends physical time and space, and the roar of Torrence's rage echoes down its myriad pathways to connect right back to the origins of rage itself.

Foucault called the Minotaur the very near and yet also the absolutely alien - the emblem of the unity of the human and inhuman. All the imagery of 'the Shining' is suggestive of Labyrinths, the long mountainous roads that lead to the Overlook, the corridors of the hotel and finally the maze itself, its as if we are being drawn deeper and deeper into the mystery and yet at its heart what do we find? A demon? Something unknowable and alien to us? No, we find an insane man stalking his child. Kubrick seems to be saying that the evil beings that inhabit our collective memories, Satan, the Minotaur, etc.. are just projections of our evil selves: whilst the devil, if he exists, resides in the ordinary, the banal, the everyday. (4)

RM Notes
(1) Kubrick's first production company for Fear and Desire and Killer's Kiss was called Minotaur productions 

(2) Michel Foucault was a celebrated and controversial French philosopher (he died of AIDS in 1985). In his work he tried to uncover the mechanisms of power in society especially when applied to the control of 'deviant' behaviour. Notable books include: "Madness & Civilisation" - a history of mental illness and a critique of Society's efforts to treat it and "Discipline & Punish" - a similarly structured critique of societies handling of criminals.  (back) (3) Dionysian comes from a Nietzschean categorisation of two opposing types of human behaviour which he named after the Greek gods Dionysus and Apollo. Apollonian describes characteristics of searching for order in chaos and the control of irrational and emotional impulses within ourselves, whilst Dionysian describes the relinquishing of control and the celebration of passion and emotion. These characteristics were later modified by Freud as the basis for his definitions of the Ego (Apollo) and the Id (Dionysus) although Nietzsche's terms are not completely synonymous with Freud's.  (back)

(4) GS: This seems, frankly, an incorrect reading. To identify the 'dark side of human nature' with 'evil' is far too simplistic. I have always taken the Labyrinth in various myths to be relating to what Freud later termed the Unconscious. We see it again with Virgil's Aeneid (Orpheus' descent into the Underworld) and later in Dante, with his descent with Virgil through the Circles of Hell. Nietzsche develops the theme superbly and subtly in Also Sprach Zarathustra, where he talks at length of this need to 'Go Under', as opposed to being a religious ascetic, as a part of a necessary journey in 'overcoming' one's baser animal desires. But all this seems a long way from the maze in The Shining!  (back)

18/ Why did Jack arm himself with and axe in the film, in the book he carries a roque mallet?
According to William Stewart and his 'Dictionary of Images and Symbols,' the word labyrinth originally meant house of the double axe: labyrinths and doubling feature extensively in The Shining.


19/ What is meant by Kubrick's having Wendy read "Catcher in the Rye"?
It seems unlikely that the content of the novel has any bearing, but the front and back cover of the paperback (printed in the same way for decades) are exactly the same--another doubling/mirroring element. The covers are red with gold lettering, as in "redrum" and "goldroom." Red is color that signifies blood and thus death, gold is related to the goldrush of the American westward expansion.


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