AN IN-DEPTH ANALYSIS OF STANLEY KUBRICK'S FILM THE SHINING - THURSDAY

Go to Table of Contents of the analysis (which has also a statement on purpose and manner of analysis and a disclaimer as to caveat emptor and my knowing anything authoritatively, which I do not, but I do try to not know earnestly, with some discretion, and considerable thought).

The most important thing which must be kept in mind with Kubrick's films is there is the surface or principle story and then the internal or sub-story. In many of his films, if we're really paying attention, set elements pretty much immediately destroy the surface naturalism. One may not notice this destruction the first, second or third time one watches the film. Through constructive disorientation and disconnectedness, and sleight of hand as to where our eye focuses, Kubrick, the magician, intentionally obfuscates these elements that destroy the overt and naturalistic story line. The surface story lines are the principle ones, and this is maintained and supported by the intentional obfuscation of the deconstructive elements which keep them sub rosa. At the same time, these deconstructive elements are plainly there, alongside his tremendous effort to make things look real and believable, and once we bypass the disorientation and his purposeful refocusing they become a puzzle, annihilating the sense of reality. This destruction of the film's naturalistic story line is difficult enough to conceive of and accept that most people stop at this point and decide these puzzling aspects of Kubrick's films are errors when they are not. They are part of the art of a director cleverly designing the overt story line to be unimpeded by an internal story that tears it apart. Indeed, the sub rosa elements of the internal story may be discreet but they are enough in evidence to complicate the surface story with an aura of attractive, indefinable mystery, which is one of the reasons viewers return to Kubrick again and again. To work with the "reason" and "why of the internal story line is to try to settle into Kubrick's sensibility, examining how these internal stories form a dialogue in his oeuvre with repeating themes and ideas, elaborated upon from film to film. The internal stories haven't a "plot"; they aren't that kind of story. Instead, you have to be willing to deal with comprehending the themes and ideas represented in them as instead ultimately forming a different terrain for the setting of the surface story, guiding and interacting with the overt story and giving it a new form.


SUBHEADERS FOR THIS SECTION:

JACK SHINES IN THE COLORADO LOUNGE AS WENDY AND DANNY PLAY OUTSIDE

SHINING, DOUBLING, AND THE USE OF LIGETI's LONTANO

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Thursday - Well, the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful, lah, lah, let it snow

JACK SHINES IN THE COLORADO LOUNGE AS WENDY AND DANNY PLAY OUTSIDE

209 Title. Thursday. (46:00)

210 Exterior studio set lodge. (46:03)

The "Tuesday" section was the last time we will see the mountain. The snow having arrived, from now on out we only will view the lodge. The opening shot of this section is different from the others as we don't have a distant shot of the hotel from down the mountain, instead viewing only a portion of it and Wendy and Danny playing before it. From the direction of the hill over which they'll later escape in the Snowcat, Wendy and Danny run right to left from the hill past the garage. The conditions are near white out. They pass a pyramid of snow resting against the lodge and the high piercing tone begins which we'd heard, for instance, in the game room when Danny had turned and seen the twins while throwing darts. But Danny and his mother are tossing snowballs at each other. Danny is not shining.

The Shining - Wendy and Danny play outside in the snow
Fig. 1 - Wendy and Danny play outside in the snow, running right to left from the right hill.

DANNY: You!

WENDY: I know you've got some!

Danny throws a snowball and she laughs.

WENDY: Missed! (This is what the subtitles states is said.)

They run a little further.

DANNY: Don't ask! (The subtitles give Danny as saying, "Don't have.")

WENDY: No fair anymore!


She turns and throws a snowball at Danny as he closes in, and he tosses another at her.

211 MS Jack interior lodge. (46:23)

Cut to Jack standing in the Colorado Lounge, a fire blazing in the fireplace behind him, he to the left of it, a moose head with large antlers on the wall behind him.

Jack has a peculiar expression on his face as he stares, simply stares. Looking at what?

The Shining - Jack in the Colorado Lounge on Thursday
Fig. 2 - Jack in the Colorado Lounge

He raises his left eyebrow so that we see both of his pupils brightly illuminated by what we take to be the natural conditions due the exterior white out, but we just saw that most of the ground windows of the hotel have been covered over by snow which means it would be dark inside.

The Shining - Close-up of Jack in the Colorado Lounge on Thursday
Fig. 3 - Jack in the Colorado Lounge

One could say his eyes are shining.

There's that moose head on the wall behind him. Did you know that the word antler comes from a French word meaning something like horns before the eyes? I didn't, but I wondered about that moose head and looked it up. Why have the moose head behind him? I figure it's a very spare scene and maybe that information is something which begs attention.

If you know sculpture, you know Michelangelo sculpted Moses so that he had two horns. This is because after his communion with God on the mountain, when he descended with the two tablets of the law, Moses' face was given as shining, and the the horns somehow represented this. As we later have Jack kind of connected with Moses, and he's shining so brightly here, standing before the moose with its antlers/horns, I figured it might not be inappropriate to note this, that qaran was the word used for Moses' peculiar "shining" and does mean to shoot out horns, as rays. A similar word, qeren, from which this comes, means a projecting horn, an elephant's ivory tooth, ray of light, peak of a mountain...

If Kubrick is intending this juxtaposition, it fits in with not only Kubrick exploring free will versus fate, but ideas of enforcing law, such as Jack's concern, which will begin now to consume him, with getting Danny and Wendy in line, with ensuring they act according to the will of the lodge, even if it means killing them. It's not too unlike A Clockwork Orange in which Alex's droogs pulled him down from his leader roost, after which he realized "the oomny ones used like inspiration and what Bog sends...it was lovely music that came to my aid. There was a window open with the stereo on and I viddied right at once what to do." What he viddied was attacking his droogs as it was not a democratic organization they had, he was ruler and had to get them back in line. For Jack, not only does he see Wendy and Danny as interfering with his work but he has visions in which he's told he must exert extreme, even deadly, control over them. Awareness of these visions seems absent him, however, even as if he is two different people.

Danny had said that his conversations with Tony were like being talked to in his sleep and he didn't remember everything when he woke up. The viewer begins to have the impression, with this scene, that something similar is occurring with Jack. It is also likely that he remembers almost nothing when he "wakes up".

SHINING, DOUBLING, AND THE USE OF LIGETI's LONTANO

The music that was playing in the scene where Danny shined the girls, which we heard again in the C1 "story" locker where he shined with Dick, was Gyorgi Ligeti's Lontano, which means "distant". Lontano is used here as well.

Doublings are throughout Kubrick's work, and we find in Lontano that there are a number of doublings. Program notes for Lontano given by the San Francisco Symphony state the score "calls for four flutes (second and third doubling piccolo, fourth doubling alto flute), four oboes (fourth doubling English horn), four clarinets (third doubling bass clarinet, fourth doubling contrabass clarinet ad libitum), three bassoons and contrabasson, four horns, three trumpets, three trombones, tuba and strings."

Ligeti had to say of Lontano:

The crystallizations of harmonies have several layers: within the harmonies are enclosed interior harmonies, and more interior harmonies within those interior harmonies, and so on. There is not merely one process of harmonic transformation, but rather several simultaneous processes going on at different speeds, which shine through one another, overlain one upon the other, and by means of various refractions and reflections make perceptible an imaginary perspective. This process unfolds itself gradually on the listener, rather like what happens when you step from sharp sunlight into a dark room and gradually begin to notice colors and outlines become more and more perceptible.

Ligeti further had to say of his music:

I favor musical forms that are less process-like and more object-like. Music as frozen time, as an object in an imaginary space that is evoked in our imaginations through music itself. Music as a structure that, despite its unfolding in the flux of time, is still synchronistically conceivable, simultaneously present in all its moments. To hold on to time, to suspend its disappearance, to confine it in the present moment, this is my primary goal in composition.

In light of what Ligeti related of the layerings and reflections, the doublings, it's easy to see why Kubrick would have thought this appropriate music to accompany certain shinings in the film.

In review, what has Kubrick given us in this section?

Snow.

"Ah c'mon, can't Jack just be looking out the window? Being crazy, yeah, but just looking out the window?"

Yeah, sure.

But have you considered that there may not be any real windows in Kubrick's The Shining except the bathroom window out of which Danny crawls? By design, the only seeming possible real windows we have in the hotel are those in the lobby and the Colorado Lounge. But have you seen any exterior windows that are anything like those we find in the lobby and the Colorado Lounge? I mean, not that Stanley had an exterior set built on lot and not like he didn't already have those big stained glass windows from the Colorado Lounge already on tap which could have found a home in that exterior set...

The Food for Thought?

I'm serious. I don't think there is any real window in the Overlook except for the bathroom window. Rather than saying of the exterior set, "well, it may have been too much trouble to give the Colorado Lounge or the lobby a home in it and make it look like they even possibly exist", why not instead say of it, "why the hell did Kubrick make the exterior set in such a way that it couldn't possibly be the facade of either the lobby or the Colorado Lounge?"

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