These first few images of a snowy pass and a lodge may seem to have nothing to do with the Monarch poster viewed in the game room in The Shining, but they are indeed relevant.

Above: Where Monarch ski trails overlap Highway 237.

Below: Monarch ski trail called Great Divide.

Below: Monarch Mountain Lodge.

Go to TOC for this film ( (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).

Danny is in the seemingly windowless game room playing darts. His sixth sense tells him to turn and he views the two girls from his vision. They stand just inside a doorway. On screen right of the double door is a figure of a cowboy on a bucking horse, while further over are images of snowy scenes. On screen left of the door is a poster titled Monarch that shows a skier in silhouette, the sun behind. As the Overlook is closed for the winter, one may wonder why all these posters advertising winter sports.

The Shining - The two girls appear in the game room

One path of interpretation that people take is that the Monarch poster refers to a government mind control program that some attest to having existed, called Monarch, named for the butterfly, a part of Project MKUltra that is known to have existed from 1953 to 1973. This isn't where my head goes.

If we are looking at Monarch as signifying the butterfly then from a cross-analysis point of view, my first impulse is to look back to Lolita and Nabokov, who was a lepidopterist and did much of his road research for Loliita while seeing America on cross-country butterfly trips with his wife. Nabokov had even written himself into the screenplay as a lepidopterist encountered when Humbert and Lolita are on a steep road in the mountains and their car stalls. Humbert approaches the butterfly collector and asks for directions to Dympleton. This didn't happen in the film but Kubrick did show at Camp Climax a small framed collection of butterflies on the wall. The wings of a butterfly are highly symmetrical. Kubrick uses symmetry, not just out of a preference for single-point photography and aesthetic purposes, but because he works into his films a great deal of mirroring, doubling, just as we have present in this scene with the appearance of the two girls standing within the frame of the double doors. The next time Danny sees them will be in a vision before the locked double doors of room 237, so Kubrick twice associates them with double doors. The last time Danny sees the girls there will also be another reinforcing image of doubling that occurs with them.

Another path of interpretation would be what I saw in the Monarch poster when I first saw the film when it came out, and for which I have been greatly mocked via the film Room 237. And that is my seeing a version of the Minotaur in the figure of the skier. The lodge is associated with the maze, and in myth the Minotaur lives at the heart of the maze. A maze-like sensibility occurs in a number of Kubrick's films, and Killer's Kiss opens with Minotaur Productions appearing on the screen over Davey, the brawny boxer, pacing.

The poster is, indeed, of a skier with the sun behind, but the body is wrong, the chest seems too large, and the legs seem odd. Though a skier is inferred, it is only an inference as well, for with the way the picture is cropped we don't have a clear view of poles or skies or a person skiing. We have the suggestion of it, and because this is the mountains and there are images of snow-capped peaks all around, a skier is seen. As the picture is deep in shadow and not overtly obvious, this seems to me a way of leaving it open for purposes of interpretation, and it simply seems to me also suggestive of the minotaur with the overbearing exaggeration of the upper body, legs that remind me of those of a bull, relatively short in relation to their torso's bulk, ending in hooves, and a dark something at just the right position for a tail.

More than anything else, what we see in the poster attracts too much attention. It seems off. Not quite right. Why would our eye be attracted so forcefully to this poster and away from the central focus of the girls? There is a reason.


The Shining - Monarch poster

Picasso represented the minotaur in a number of drawings. For those who can't visualize the minotaur in the figure, below is one of Picasso's minotaurs.

I'm not saying that the poster is literally of a minotaur. No. Kubrick periodically has in his films images that can be read alternative ways, that can be suggestive of other things, and he has another poster in this film for which there can be alternative readings. With the skier I think we have the same and that on the other side of the Game Room's double door we have a clue as to how to interpret this poster. On that other side is the poster of the man riding the bucking bronco. One can think of it the horse and man as representing also a hybrid, complementing the skier-minotaur image. In my analysis of Kubrick's first film, Fear and Desire, I write on how it borrows from Shakespeare's The Tempest, and how the horse in the credits relates to Caliban who is at one point in The Tempest is confused with something like a centaur, imagined as a hybrid of man and animal. He is also referred to as a moon-calf, which Shakespeare links with the Minotaur in Midsummer's Night Dream. Indeed, Caliban, which is thought to have been made up from the word "cannibal", may be the reason that cannibals are discussed on the drive up to the Overlook.

We've the same hybridization with the picture of the American Indian in the horned buffalo (bull) headdress in the hall behind the Colorado Room, under the grand staircase, a merging of human and animal spirit.

The Shining - The buffalo headdress

As they were passing the painting of the American Indian in the buffalo headdress, Wendy asked if royalty had stayed there, and Stuart had somewhat evasively replied the best people had. Now in this game room scene an answer is provided with the minotaur as Monarch, who in myth was the son of Queen Pasiphae and a Cretan Bull that King Minos was supposed to sacrifice to Poseidon but had instead elected to preserve. Pasiphae, daughter of the Sun, Helios, and wife of Minos, fell in love with the bull and copulated with it. The result of the union was the Minotaur, who Minos secreted away in a labyrinth built by the great architect and craftsman, Daedalus.

The temperament of the Minotaur perceived as passion unbridled by human reason, the 7th circle of hell in Dante's Inferno housed the violent and was guarded by the Minotaur. To approach this hell, one went through a mountainous region. Through a valley below ran a river of blood.

Passion unbridled by human reason sounds very much like Jack, at least the character into which he fully transforms as the movie progresses. The mountainous region recalls the mountains in which the lodge is situated, and the river of blood recalls the river of blood which pours out of the elevators.

CANTO 12 The place where to descend the bank we came Was alpine, and from what was there, moreover, Of such a kind that every eye would shun it.

Such as that ruin is which in the flank Smote, on this side of Trent, the Adige, Either by earthquake or by failing stay,

For from the mountain's top, from which it moved, Unto the plain the cliff is shattered so, Some path 'twould give to him who was above;

Even such was the descent of that ravine, And on the border of the broken chasm The infamy of Crete was stretched along,

Who was conceived in the fictitious cow; And when he us beheld, he bit himself, Even as one whom anger racks within.

My Sage towards him shouted-:"Peradventure Thou think'st that here may be the Duke of Athens, Who in the world above brought death to thee?

Get thee gone, beast, for this one cometh not Instructed by thy sister, but he comes In order to behold your punishments."

As is that bull who breaks loose at the moment In which he has received the mortal blow, Who cannot walk, but staggers here and there,

Thus down we took our way o'er that discharge Of stones, which oftentimes did move themselves Beneath my feet, from the unwonted burden.

Thoughtful I went and he said:"Thou art thinking Perhaps upon this ruin, which is guarded By that brute anger which just now I quenched.

Now will I have thee know, the other time I here descended to the nether Hell, This precipice had not yet fallen down.

But truly, if I well discern, a little Before His coming who the mighty spoil Bore off from Dis, in the supernal circle,

Upon all sides the deep and loathsome valley Trembled so, that I thought the Universe Was thrilled with love, by which there are who think

The world ofttimes converted into chaos; And at that moment this primeval crag Both here and elsewhere made such overthrow.

But fix thine eyes below; for draweth near The river of blood, within which boiling is Whoe'er by violence doth injure others."


The girls were coupled with a river of blood in Danny's initial vision of them in Boulder.

Now for a third way of seeing the image. Danny was playing darts when he felt the entrance of the girls. This image below is what he would have seen, facing the dart board. One will see at the bottom of the dart board the numbers 2 - 3 - 7.

There is a Monarch Lodge ski resort in Colorado, which opened in the 1970s, and this would be the place to which the poster refers, though I've not yet found a vintage poster of this type for the Monarch. Old Monarch Pass is located on the Continental Divide, just as I've established that the Overlook is located on the Continental Divide via the approaches to it in the Shining Mountains in Montana. Monarch Mountain/Pass is off Highway 50, and is accessed by County Road 237, which also crosses the Continental Divide.

If you examine the map of Monarch Mountain, you'll see highway 237, that it runs beneath a ski run called Sidewinder, and another one called Great Divide.

The old Monarch Pass was built in the 1880s. The new one opened in September of 1921 (at the end of this film, we see Jack in an old photo of the Overlook, dated July 4th, 1921). Google Maps states it takes about 3 hours to get to Monarch Pass from Boulder. Jack had driven from Boulder to the Overlook in 3 hours, and with one of the routes one passes through the Eisenhower tunnel, that same tunnel mentioned on the radio when Dick makes his ascent to the Overlook. The Overlook is closed for the winter, but its sibling or counterpart seems to be set up to be this Monarch Pass.

Monarch was originally the name of a mining camp in the area, and the name carried over to the pass. How it acquired this name isn't known, and is suggested it could have either come by way of the Monarch butterfly or gold miners hoping to live like royalty.

Coincidentally, a Rainbow Route, for a time, in the 1920s, was connected with Monarch Pass.

A section of road, referred to as the Rainbow Route, connected the Front Range and Western Slope running from Salida across Monarch Pass and into Gunnison. That road, known today as U.S. 50, continued from Gunnison along the Gunnison River Valley, crossed Cerro Summit and dropped into Montrose.

Source: https://www.montrosepress.com/the-rainbow-route

I read the Rainbow Route initially opened in 1916, and that in 1921 it reached the Continental Divide at Old Monarch Pass. By the 1950s U.S. 50 had incorporated it.

There was also once a Monarch-Agate Pass that was built through pioneer graveyards.

The Monarch-Agate Pass road was built with some protest from citizens on the eastern slope of the pass. The highway engineers had decided that the highway had to be built above the towns of Arbourville and Garfield to catch more of the sun’s rays. This meant the highway had to be built over and through their cemeteries.

Frank Gimlett, a former proprietor of the Salida Opera House and writer of a series of paperback books called Over The Trails Of Yesterday, was greatly disturbed about the highway department’s decision. He claimed in one of his books (Book Six) that the highway department with “fiendish glee” dug up and crushed the bones of departed pioneers in the middle of the night. The highway department, Gimlett claimed, did not want to bother with careful removal and relocation of the cemeteries. Gimlett proclaimed the Monarch-Agate Pass highway to be “The Ghost Highway Of The Rockies.”

Cozine.com, How US 50 came to pass through Central Colorado

The Monarch Lodge, built in the 70s, is an unappealing place in comparison with older resorts built by WPA laborers. I can see why Kubrick would have looked elsewhere for inspiration, but I wonder if we see the stone pillars of its porch, which was perhaps not always enclosed, in the studio design of the Overlook.

The Shining - The maze and the lodge on Closing Day

I've been unable to locate a Monarch skiing poster, but a 1960s one for Vail, if flipped horizontally, is very similar. We can tell from it that the white cloudiness in the background of the Monarch poster would be a puffy cloud of snow left by the skis.

1960 Vail poster compared with The Shining's Monarch poster

Below is the location of Monarch Mountain and its passes on Google Maps.

One ends with several plausible interpretations for what the Monarch poster could symbolize: the symmetry of the butterfly; the minotaur of the maze; and a connection drawn to 237 with the Monarch representing a sort of sibling/counterpart of the Overlook, it being even coupled with the number 237, the idea of the rainbow (which is seen both in Boulder on Danny's door and at the Overlook in its Colorado Lounge), both being also on the Continental Divide. With the Continental Divide (or the Great Divide), this brings back in the mirror symmetry of the butterfly, and the world maze with its heart at the center of mirrored halves.

Sept 2018. Approx 1907 words or 4 single-spaced pages. A 14 minute read at 130 wpm.

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