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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The Kubrick FAQ
49 of the most
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The Shining

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The Shining part 2

20/ Why are there two Grady's?
In Jack's interview, Ullman refers to a crazy caretaker who chopped up his family as Charles Grady. Later Jack meets a butler called "Delbert" Grady and Jack infers that he was the same caretaker. The deliberacy of the names and their prominence in each of these is crashingly obvious - and would have been also the more so in the case of a film like The Shining, where the shooting and editing processes were particularly painstaking. So, surely it's not a continuity error, and the discrepancy was done on purpose. Why?

The answer to this question is a litmus test of how much thought you want to credit the Kubrick and Johnson for having put into the film. To me, the "inconsistency" is in fact one of those moments (like the more celebrated moment when Grady releases jack from the storeroom, or to look at another Kubrick film, where in the final "hotel room" we see Dave Bowman and an older "future self" seeing each other in the same shot) where, instead of being inconsistent or "wrong" the scene is instead an explicit sign about what is really happening in the story.

Many people have written in amk and elsewhere about the importance "maze" imagery has in The Shining. Indeed, the labyrinth is the primary metaphor of the entire film, influencing both the literal story and its thematic structure. One of the more disturbing developments of this film's labyrinth is that the farther we (and the Torrances) think we have penetrated into The Overlook, the more complicated and confusing our discoveries become. The sum of what we learn refuses to add up neatly - instead, incongruities pile up with the film's insistent mirrorings, duplicity and a general lack of acknowledgement. More specifically, the more we try to make sense of what's happening in the present, the more we're faced with what happened - to the same people perhaps - in the past. This lends credence to the supposition that there is another element of time at work here and another sense of reality in action (again, both literally in terms of the references to reincarnation and repetition in the ghost story, and thematically in terms of many references connecting the family dynamics of the Torrances [or the Gradys] to American history), to a timezone where our notions of "history" and "the present" are somehow (willfully) intermingled.

It's this sense that lends general support to the kind of interpretation - if perhaps not the literal interpretation - found in Bill Blakemore's essay. The Shining does equate choices made by the Torrances - and the impulses those choices serve - with the values of the people who built The Overlook ... "all the best people".

The duality of Delbert/Charles Grady deliberately mirrors Jack Torrance being both the husband of Wendy/father of Danny and the mysterious man in the July 4th photo. It is to say he is two people: the man with choice in a perilous situation and the man who has "always" been at the Overlook. It's a mistake to see the final photo as evidence that the events of the film are predetermined: jack has any number of moments where he can act other than the way he does, and that his (poor) choices are fuelled by weakness and fear perhaps merely speaks all the more to the questions about the personal and the political that The Shining brings up. in the same way Charles had a chance - once more, perhaps - to not take on "Delbert's" legacy, so Jack may have had a chance to escape his role as "caretaker" to the interests of the powerful. It's the tragic course of this story that he chooses not to.


GS adds: I don't think we'll ever quite unravel this. Was his full name Charles Delbert Grady? Perhaps Charles was a sort of nickname? Perhaps Ullman got the name wrong? But I also think that Stanley did NOT want the whole story to fit together too neatly, so you are absolutely correct I think to say that 'the sum of what we learn refuses to add up neatly'.

21/ What is the meaning of things that seem to double in "The Shining"?
In his dictionary of symbols J. E. Cirlot (1) writes, "Every case of duplication concerns duality" balanced symmetry and the active equipoise [equilibrium] of opposite forces. Double images the symmetrical duplication of forms of figures [...] symbolise precisely that." There are two sorts of doubling produced by reflection.

i. Horizontal doubling that occurs when something is reflected by the surface of a lake - as in the opening shot of The Shining.

ii. Vertical doubling that is produced by looking into a mirror where the image is reversed. An example of vertical doubling is when Jack is shown reflected in a mirror when Wendy brings him breakfast.

William Stewart (2) observed that "a mirror reflects what is in front of it and is the only way we can see ourselves. It is the instrument of self contemplation [...] in some magical way looking though the door of the mirror [reveals] hidden truths." Mirrors also are discussed in Freud's essay "Das Unheimlich" (3). identifying the original function of the 'double' as an insurance against the destruction of the ego, and energetic denial of the power of death' Freud quotes Otto Rank observation that "probably the immortal soul was the first double of the body. [..] but when the double reverses its aspect. From having been an assurance of immortality, it becomes a the uncanny harbinger of death."

French critic Michel Ciment pointed out in his book 'Kubrick' that Danny's response to Jack's violence against him was to invent Tony "a little boy who lives in his mouth." (this may be a variation on the above observation s by Freud and Rank). As Jack descends into madness Danny becomes entirely possessed by Tony and tries to warn Wendy through mirror writing, suggesting that Tony is the mirror of Danny. Other notable doublings of the protagonists in The Shining are Jack and Grady the former caretaker who's fate Jack seems hopelessly destined to repeat, and the two Grady girls that at first seem identical but on closer inspection are not physically alike at all. Some things double twice, as in the two pairs of two girls that Ullman says goodbye to while showing the Torrences around. Other things double by changing, and changing again, as is the case with the woman in room 237, who changes from a young beauty into a diseased hag when reflected in the bathroom mirror and then into a much older woman floating in the bath tub.

Mark Ervin wrote, "The Shining is a film which penetrates our awareness with disembodied items of reality which clash with expectation. Doubling and mirroring symbolism serves a higher purpose of 'expectation shock.'

Expectation depends on processes by which the mind "normalizes" events into memory traces. The film is a non-stop parade of disintegrating memory traces. The doubling back of time in "The Killing" has been revised into a doubling back on reality. If the mind is unable to sort out what was incomplete or irregular then these traces are lost and forgotten. No surprise that Danny's escape is to retrace his steps and that Wendy talks of leaving a trail of breadcrumbs. Jack, as we are, is trapped in circle of evil he does not understand, a labyrinth created of memories which have proven unreliable and pathways that are then forgotten." (4)


Sources for information
(1) "A Dictionary of Symbols" by J.E. Cirlot.  (back)

(2) "A Dictionary of Images and Symbols in Counselling" by William Stewart.  (back)

(3) "Das Unheimlich" by Sigmund Freud For a short summary of Freud's essay go to  (back)

(4) See also Murray Craft's essay, "The Duality Motif" at (back)

22/ What do people mean when they talk of hidden eyes in The Shining ?
They are talking about a perceived human faculty for finding meaning in random arrangement of things such as a house with two windows and a door in the middle being representative of a face. Kubrick plays on this faculty filming the overlook hotel in such a way that at times it seems to be looking at us. Examples of this are when Jack smashes out two panels of the bathroom door or the boilers in the hotel basement that Wendy tends. (1)

The hidden eyes represent the presence of an unseen entity watching the protagonists, recalling the widespread fears of the all seeing evil eye in many cultures. For instance Greek fishermen paint an eye on the bows of their boats to ward off danger. Freud (2) named this phenomena the 'omnipotence of thoughts,' after a description offered by one of his patients, this idea, according to Freud, harks back to the animistic belief held by children and non-literate peoples that the universe is alive, and therefore capable of observing us.

Examples of Hidden eyes can also be found in other Kubrick films, especially 2001.


(1) GS: "... I find this frankly absurd. I think Stanley would have found this reading of bathroom door and the boilers very amusing! I would love to have heard his reaction to this."  (back)

(2) Freud reference taken from Das Unheimlich (the Uncanny)  (back)

23/ Why did the room number switch from 217 in the novel to 237 in the film?
The Timberline Lodge had a room 217 but no room 237, so the hotel management asked Kubrick to change the room number because they were afraid their guests might not want to stay in room 217 after seeing the film.

from Michel Ciment interview

24/ What is the purpose of number games 'The Shining
"I think it is definitely true that Stanley was very interested in riddles connected with numbers. I remember talking to him once about the Fibonacci series, and how it related to the Golden Section, (1) and I had the distinct impression he had never come across it before. He was certainly very, very interested by it."


The reoccurrence of certain numbers in our lives produces and uncanny effect. Certain numbers form the basic of popular superstitions, 13 for instance is considered unlucky. Freud underscored the unsettling nature of reoccurring numbers in the Uncanny: "We naturally attach no importance to the event when we hand in an overcoat and get a cloak room ticket with the number, let us say; 62 or when we find the cabin on our ship bears that number. But the impression is altered is two such event, each in itself indifferent, happen close together - if we come across the number 62 several times in a single day, or if we begin to notice that everything which has a number - addresses, hotel rooms, compartments in railway trains - invariably has the same one, or at all events one which contains the same figures. We do feel this to be uncanny"

The critic Thomas Allen Nelson's in his book, "Kubrick: Inside a Film Artist's Maze," pointed out some number games in The Shining. Here are a few of his with a few others which I have added.

Danny wears a shirt numbered 42, and watches 'Summer of '42' with Wendy, the sum of the numbers of room 237 when multiplied together equals 42 (2 x 3 x 7 = 42).

42 is 21 doubled and 24 mirrored. The picture of Jack is dated July 4 1921 and is one of 21 pictures arranged in three horizontal lines on the gold corridor wall). The sum of adding the numbers in the date 4 July (7th month) 1921 adds up to 24 (4+7+1+9+2+1=24)

The number 12 is also a mirror image of 21, the Overlook's radio call number id KDK12, and the screen titles in part three (8am and 4pm) add up to 12. The sum of adding the numbers 237 together also adds up to 12 (2+3+7=12)


(1) For information on Fibonacci numbers provides a good introduction.  (back)

25/ Where was The Shining edited?
Gordon Stainforth writes: "Even within the studio Stanley was very secretive. He didn't want the film to be cut in the normal cutting rooms, but wanted everything (except the production offices at the front of the studio) to be under one roof, including his office. Also, as I have said elsewhere, for a short time, one big room in this warehouse was used as an archive. It was absolutely stuffed full of props and memorabilia, dating right back to 2001. I know because I was once sent there to retrieve something. It was all very secret and heavily padlocked. I think in about the summer of 1980 it was all moved to Childwickbury, so I guess that's where it all still is.

This 'cutting room block' at Elstree was used for cutting the main picture between about April- August 1979, and then we all moved to Childwickbury until about the end of April 1980, the Elstree 'cutting room block', as we called it, being the Elstree base for the film, and also where all the out-takes/'spares' were stored. We then moved back some time in April 1980 during the dubbing of the movie (though all the sound editing people were already established in the normal Elstree cutting rooms), and this was where I did the music editing and track-laying. This was also where I cut 'The Making of The Shining ' with Vivian Kubrick in the summer of 1980."


26/ How can I see Vivian Kubrick's "Making The Shining" documentary?
The film was originally shown as part of the BBC's Arena arts programme (discontinued in the mid 1980s) Making The Shining is included on the DVD release of the film.

27/ I've noticed a lot of continuity errors in The Shining , are they mistake or is there some other explanation for them?
There are definitely a lot of continuity errors in The Shining (some of the major ones are listed below). Whether they are deliberate or accidental is an issue that sparks strong feelings on amk. Contributors to this debate have argued passionately on both sides, listing many plausible instances from the film to support their differing points of view.

Points against
The thrust of this argument is a distrust of reading too much into the film. Any number of accidental happenings could account for the continuity errors.

(1) The high number of takes Kubrick demanded in the film would make continuity errors more likely (cigarettes burning down too quickly, furniture moving etc.) leading to what Garret Brown referred to as the forces of entropy taking over. GS: A point which I have made several times on amk and The Shining forum is a simple one which is often overlooked. That is, that in the process of editing a long scene, when the action gets greatly compressed, so-called 'continuity errors' are almost bound to occur. A good examples of this is the piece of paper in Jack's typewriter in the early 'why don't you get the fuck out of here' scene. In the full version of the scene I am certain that Jack reloaded the typewriter just before continuing his typing.

(2) Part of the Overlook sets were destroyed and had to be rebuilt after a fire at the studio. The fire damaged one shooting stage, which contained the big lobby/Colorado lounge set. The fire destroyed many of the archive photographs on loan from Warner Brothers. Fortunately this happened just AFTER the all scenes which used them had been completed, according to GS rumours that Kubrick ordered the sets to be rebuilt are absolutely false. (1)

(3) Many other filmmakers choose not to adhere to the strict rules of "absolute" continuity, or a perfect, flawless, seamless flow of continuity. For instance Francis Coppola and Martin Scorsese, who is a master at making use of (and intentionally creating) continuity flaws to create an edgy sort of "hyper" rawness to a scene

Point for
(1) Kubrick's famed perfectionist tendencies and love of paradox makes us question the significance of mistakes in his work.

(2) Continuity errors create a temporal and spatial dislocation, giving rise to a sense of menace in the hotel.

(3) Objects disappearing changing colors or being moved fits in with Freud's definition of the Uncanny being something that was familiar but now alien, which Kubrick used as a starting point in the scripting of the film.

(4) Some of the errors fit in with the theme of doubling in The Shining , (see question 21 in this section) for instance there are two typewriters, two panels knocked out the door when Jack attacks Wendy with the axe and two walk in freezers in Hallorann says to Wendy and Danny: "Now, right here is our walk-in freezer's tour of the Kitchen.


Here is a list of the major continuity errors with theories to account for them in brackets:

* The amount of sandwich that Danny has eaten:

(doubling motif)

* The position of the freezer doors changes:

During the tour of the kitchen Hallorann says to Wendy and Danny: "Now, right here is our walk-in freezer" He turns his head away from the camera as he opens the freezer door on the left side of the frame. When we see him as the freezer door opens, he is holding the door with his other hand. The next cut after that shows them exiting a freezer on the opposite wall from where they entered.

GS: Yes, this is fascinating. Ray (Lovejoy) and Stanley cut this before I was involved in anyway with the cutting of the picture so I cant help you on this. BUT it has nothing whatever to do with the fire. The kitchen scenes and the freezer were not shot in a normal sound stage at all, but in a nearby warehouse several hundred yards from the other stages ... this was the very warehouse which was used immediately after principle photography as the main Shining cutting room block. (see q. 20 editing The Shining )

(Doubling and mirroring - an attempt to disorient the viewer.)

* Danny's hands in relation to the ice cream bowl. Danny and Hallorann talk about "fantastic" things. Danny's hands appear in front of the ice cream bowl in some shots, and behind in other shots.


* Jack's typewriter changes colour:

There is a switch from a white typewriter (as seen in the slow zooming out from the typewriter to the wider angle of Jack throwing the ball up against the lounge wall), to a bluish typewriter seen in the later scenes of Jack and Wendy in the lounge.

(Doubling and a possible reference to the Overlook Hotel being a metaphor of the USA [See Bill Blakemore]. The white and blue of the Stars and Stripes with the blood providing the red).

* The paper in Jack's typewriter:

Jack has already removed the sheet of paper that he was typing on. He whips it out when Wendy arrives, since he doesn't want her to see exactly what he is typing. After he "politely" asks her to leave, we see her walking away, then we cut to the angle of Jack at the desk, and there is a fresh piece of paper ready to go in the typewriter.

(The hotel has instantly provided Jack with another piece of paper) or ( see GS's explanation in the introduction top this question)

* The Maze

The hotel maze, the sign outside, and the 3D model in the lobby all look completely different.

(the maze is an archetype it is not one isolated maze but every maze - a labyrinth symbol in other words - (see question 11, for more on the significance of maze imagery in The Shining)

* Position of chairs at the bar:

When Jack walks into the Gold Room after being accused of strangling Danny, he turns on the lights and we see six chairs at the bar, all equidistant. Cut to a side shot as we track with Jack moving up to the bar and 2 chairs have moved to the right, allowing Jack an entry point to the bar, and turning the chair numbers to 4 and 2.

(Doubling and number games; 42 is double of 21 - question 24 in this sections deals with number games in The Shining)

* The dead woman in 237:

The one that rises from the tub looks about 90 and has white, short hair, while the one Jack is stunned to discover he's kissing looks about 60 and has long brown hair.

(The changing woman disorientates the viewer, she is not one women but an evil presence that takes on a women's form.) GS reckons it's simpler than that. "It's simply a progression from young beauty to old, rotting hag."

* Wendy holding Jack's arm and knee:

After Jack wakes up from his nightmare, Wendy's hands are on different places on Jack's body in different shots, and sometimes not on him at all.

(Kubrick wanted to create a sense of the irrational, to show the breakdown of Jack's mind, as well as Wendy's lack of ability to comfort him.)

* Wendy pulling Jack into the pantry:

(The pantry again) In the angle from the floor of Wendy dragging Jack into the pantry, we can see Jack's arms and hands going through the door. Then we cut to the angle of Jack as he is dragged, and his arms and hands go through the door pantry doorway again. Later Grady unlocks the pantry door for Jack. Here we see an intervention of the Hotel that cannot be explained by Jack imaginings.

(Perhaps the continuity errors in and around the pantry are the first indications of the hotel's ability to playing physical tricks with its occupants. Or the lack of definition to the physical space may lend credence to a purely psychological explanation for the ghostly phenomena?)

GS writes: No, this is simply a typical 'overlapped' cut. Done an enormous amount in movies. Often time has to be stretched to make a cut work, which is exactly why live video cutting between extremely different camera angles often does NOT work at all well.

* The pictures on the right side of the lobby:

When Jack stands at the end of the lobby, and sees balloons on the floor, we can see a picture on each side of him, effect. When Wendy finds Hallorann's body, the picture on the right is gone

(Hidden Eyes)

* The axed door panels:

Jack knocks out the right door panel with the axe, then we cut away for at least 15 seconds to Hallorann approaching the hotel in the snow-cat. We cut back to the door, and now the left panel is also gone.

(Hidden Eyes)

GS: This was simply because of the vast length of the original scene, as shot, and the amount of material that was shot (about 15-20 doors were axed over a period of about three days!) and it was quite impossible to cut a brisk version of it that did not have 'continuity errors' (I put that in quotes deliberately).

* Front Doors

When Hallorann comes to the rescue, one of the Overlook's entry doors is ajar and he uses that one. When Danny escapes from Jack leaving through that door, both sides are open.

(Disorientation and doubling)


GS writes, The really important point about all these so-called 'continuity Errors' is that Stanley was never very concerned about continuity in the Conventional sense (take a look at Barry Lyndon!). No film artist ever has been. (other more important considerations of rhythm and effect always come first). Film editing is not about continuity. It's about creating a psychological world out of a series of a juxtaposition of disparate images that has much more in common with the world of dreams than with ordinary life. This is the very heart of the art of the movie. Two or more shots edited well always add up to more than the sum of the parts. It's also to do with stretching, compressing and fragmenting time. It is certainly true that pedestrian Hollywood and TV movies have often lost sight of this (see: Pudovkin, Eisenstein, Welles, Bunuel, Bergman, Fellini, Hitchcock etc)

I don't doubt that some of Stanley's 'continuity errors' may even have been deliberate. Almost as jests to get the pedants excited. e.g. the typewriter changing colour! (But I don't remember him ever talking about this). Also to create the dream/nightmare ambience of the film (despite it's deliberately 'realistic' and well-lit, superficial appearance). Another key point, similar to the continuity one: people have tried to work out the geography/layout of the Overlook Hotel, without success, and without realising that they have missed the point completely. This is not a real 3D place, but a place which exists in the viewer's imagination. Each person who sees The Shining builds up their own personal image of the hotel from the disparate fragments they are provided with. The real geography of the hotel does not work, nor was it intended to. It was merely suggested from a composite of images shot on about 10 different stages. The exterior of The Overlook in winter, shot on the backlot at Elstree, was a masterpiece of illusion: a flimsy facade covered in white paint and salt on the ground to look like snow, smoke machines to create 'fog', polystyrene chips falling from above to look like snow flakes, and a line of mock fir trees in the background hiding a whole housing estate just the other side of a flimsy wire fence. All this shot in a cramped space in a heavily built-up area on the outskirts of London.

The maze was likewise shot in three different locations. Exterior on back lot, interior summer at Radlett aerodrome about 5 miles away, and interior winter shot indoors on one of the Elstree stages.


(1) GS: contrary to some stories the following film booked in at Elstree, "Raiders of the Lost Ark," did NOT have to be accommodated elsewhere, in fact the fire was to their advantage, because they had that stage rebuilt with the roof some 10 -15 feet higher, making it one of the tallest sound stages in London, and this was the where they built the Egyptian tomb (the one full of snakes) immediately after The Shining was completed.  (back)

28/ Who opened the pantry door?
Kubrick told Michel Ciment: "As the supernatural events occurred you searched for an explanation, and the most likely one seemed to be that the strange things that were happening would finally be explained as the products of Jack's imagination. It's not until Grady, the ghost of the former caretaker who axed to death his family, slides open the bolt of the larder door, allowing Jack to escape, that you are left with no other explanation but the supernatural. [...]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 realisation that the supernatural events are actually happening.."

GS disagrees he says, "Stanley was very careful here NOT to make this rely on a supernatural explanation. All we hear is the SOUND of Grady's voice and the bolt being released, which could easily be Jack's imagination. We never see how Jack gets out of the larder. The supernatural explanation is only one of several possibilities. It is possible that Jack broke his way out in some way i.e. in a rage managed to lever the door open, or that Wendy had not locked the door properly (even though she appears to earlier) BUT we don't see her padlock it properly. I think Kubrick wants the supernatural explanation, but he does NOT want the audience to see the door being opened on film."

29/ What is the music used at the end called?
It is a popular English dance tune of the twenties, "Midnight, the Stars and You", played by Ray Noble's band with an Al Bowly vocal. GS: This of course was also used earlier in one of the great moments of the movie, when Jack enters the Gold Ballroom in the middle of the Ball (just before meeting Grady).

30/ Why can't I buy the soundtrack album on CD and what is the track listing?
The Shining soundtrack was released on vinyl around the time of the films first cinema outing in 1980. It was subsequently discontinued and is now a rare and collectable item. If you are keen to own a copy it occasionally comes up for sale on-line at places like The soundtrack has never been available on CD for copyright and legal reasons. Except for a Japanese bootleg which you used to be albe to purchase through Screen Archives for $28, but it is not showing up on their site anymore. It's a direct LP to CD transfer but the sound quality is apparantly very good.

The track listing for the soundtrack album is as follows:-


1. The Shining (Main Title)
(Wendy Carlos & Rachel Elkind)

2. Rocky Mountains"
(Wendy Carlos & Rachel Elkind)

3. Lontano
(György Ligeti)

4. Music For Strings, Percussion and Celesta (movement III)
(Béla Bartók)

5. The Awakening of Jacob
(Krzysztof Penderecki)

6. Utrenja - Ewangelia
(Krzysztof Penderecki)

7. Utrenja - Kanon Paschy
(Krzysztof Penderecki)

8. De Natura Sonoris No.1
(On the Nature of Sound)
(Krzysztof Penderecki)


9. De Natura Sonoris No.2
(On the Nature of Sound)
(Krzysztof Penderecki)

10. Polymorphia
(Krzysztof Penderecki)

11. Masquerade
(Jack Hylton and his Orchestra)

12. Midnight, the Stars and You
(Ray Noble & his Orchestra, Al Bowlly vocal)

13. It's All Forgotten Now
(Ray Noble & his Orchestra, Al Bowlly vocal)

14. Home
(Henry Hall & the Gleneagles Hotel Band)



31/ Were the people in the end photograph extras?
No it was a real photograph from 1921. Kubrick originally planned to use extras but it proved impossible to make them look as good as the people in the archive photograph he found, Kubrick said that every face was "an archetype of the period." So he photographed Nicholson, carefully matching the lighting and shot him at different distances so he could be sure of matching the film grain exactly. Kubrick's photograph of Nicholson's face was then airbrushed into the original photograph.

32/ What does the ending mean?
"I hope the audience has a good fright, has believed the film while they were watching it and retains some sense of it. The ballroom photograph at the end suggests the reincarnation of Jack"

Stanley Kubrick

Here's a section of Jonathan Romnay's essay on The Shining from the August '99 edition of Sight and Sound.

Amid the quiet - broken only by the ghostly strains of a 20's dance tune - the camera tracks slowly towards a wall of photographs from the Overlook's illustrious history. It closes in on a central picture showing a group of revellers smiling at the camera and the in two dissolves, reveals first the person at the centre of the group - Jack himself, smiling and youthful in evening dress - and then the inscription, "Overlook Hotel, July 4th Ball, 1921" Cue credits, cue shudder from the audience.

Just what makes this chilly pay off so uncanny? It appears to reveal something, the final narrative turn of the screw, or perhaps an explanation of the stories ambiguities - but really it reveals nothing for certain. What's more the last thing we see is not an image but and inscription hardy the chilling coup de theatre we expect from a horror film. But The Shining is a film that, while it uses written language sparingly is most concerned with words: not just words of the literary chef d'oevre Jack attempts to write, but also the film's frequent intertitles, and the fetish word REDRUM (murder in mirror writing that preoccupies Danny,

The closing inscription appears to explain what has happened to Jack. Until watching the film again recently I'd always assumed that, after his ordeal in the haunted palace, Jack has been absorbed into the hotel, another sacrificial victim earning his place at the Overlook's eternal the dansant of the damned. At the Overlook , it's always 4 July 1921 - although God knows exactly what happened that night [..]

Or you can look at it another way. Perhaps Jack hasn't been absorbed - perhaps he has really been in the Overlook all along. As the ghostly butler Grady tells him during their chilling confrontation in the man's toilet. "You are the caretaker, you have always been the caretaker Perhaps in some early incantation Jack really was around in 1921, and it's his present day self that is in the shadow of the phantom photographic copy. But if his picture has been there all along, why has no one noticed it. After all its right at the centre of the central picture on the wall. and the Torrances have had a painfully drawn our winter of mind numbing leisure in which to inspect every corner of the place. It is just that, like Poe's purloined letter, the thing in plain sight is the last thing you see. When you do see it, the effect is so unsettling because you realise the unthinkable was there under your nose - overlooked - the whole time.

However you interpret the photographic evidence with which the film singularly fails to settle its uncertainties, this strikes us as an uncanny ending to an uncanny film. One of the texts Kubrick and his co writer Diane Johnson referred to when adapting Steven King's novel was Freud's 1919 essay "The Uncanny." The essay defines uncanny as the class of the frightening which leads back to what is known of old and long familiar. Or as Freud put it, quoting Schelling, the uncanny is "something which out to have remained missed but which is brought to light. [...]

The Overlook doesn't want a neat caretaker, let alone a resident writer. It likes to reduce clever people to menials: look at Grady the butler, clearly a cultivated man through and through. the Overlook wants Jack as a clown, an entertainer for the bored spooks wintering up there alone, The privilege Jack is accorded (Tolerance from Lloyd the sepulchral barman, limitless credit from the management) are the sort of deals given to the in-house cabaret act. The ghouls are assembled to watch Jack wrestle with his demons and lose: this is effectively Kubrick's second gladiator movie, after Spartacus (1960).

Hence Jack's reward after his defeat: a central place among, who knows how many other doomed variety acts on the Overlook's wall of fame. He's added to the bill on the Overlook's everlasting big night back in 1921. And having done his stuff, he deserves an acknowledgement from us too as we get our coats and leave. And that's exactly what he gets. The last thing we hear in the film after the echoing strains of midnight with the stars and you is a round of polite applause over the end credits, which then dies down as the ghouls leave the theatre.

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