How Kubrick's films can be viewed as
exposing a Nietzschean misogyny
resident in the audience

The Shining - The bottle of red fluid in the bathroom

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).

In Examining the Opening of The Shining in Relationship to the Nietzsche Stone and 2001 : The Influence of Nietzsche's Madness I wrote on how I've wondered if Nietzsche's eventual descent into insanity may have influenced Kubrick, to some degree, in his choice of material, his presentation of HAL's breakdown in 2001, and Jack's madness in The Shining that is undeniably expressed in relationship to an inability to escape repetition through his manuscript being only the same phrase written over and over again.

In the first part I briefly explored Nietzsche's eternal recurrence, and compared it with the struggle of free will and pre-determinism in Kubrick's films. I also touched on Dostoevsky's dream of the horse in Crime and Punishment, from which a character awakes, having experienced all the roles involved with the abuse and defense of the horse, and compared this with the story of Nietzsche's madness upon seeing a horse abused, and Kubrick's depiction of HAL's disintegration subsequent his chess game with Poole. I reserved for this section Nietzsche's views on women, race, and slavery which we perhaps find expressed in Jack though it is Rudyard Kipling who Jack quotes in the Gold Room when he speaks to the "white man's burden".

As I wrote in first section, "I could be wrong, but just because Kubrick referenced Nietzsche in his work doesn't mean he was a proponent of Nietzsche's philosophy (if one would call him a philosopher). Kubrick chose to film A Clockwork Orange but he skewers the author, Burgess, in it. Kubrick chose to film The Shining but he has issues with Stephen King's ultimate approach that are evident in the film. Kubrick multiple times represents pre-determinism, a form of the eternal recurrence, as a horrifying and deplorable violence with which his characters wrestle and to which they sometimes appear to willingly submit, such as with Jack in The Shining. Jack is mad."

So I'm not venturing to say that Kubrick's depiction of women is based upon Nietzsche's philosophy, unless to refute it, just as Kipling's and Nietzsche's views on slavery, colonialism and war run counter Kubrick's ethics as expressed in so many of his films, and specifically in his representation of Jack's madness in The Shining.

"White man's burden", in the novel, refers to the alcohol Jack is ordering after months on the wagon, but the film leaves his statement, "White man's burden, Lloyd, my man, white man's burden", open to other subjects as he and Lloyd immediately progress from the alcohol to discussing Wendy, women, and Danny's disobedience, following Jack having just been blamed by Wendy for Danny's bruising and trauma. He is furious and as he made his way to the Gold Room he was lashing out, thrashing the air like a boxer.

As white man's burden is best understood, it refers to Manifest Destiny and the heavy weight shouldered by the so-called civilized white man in lifting the remainder of the world out of the dark and into the light.

Below is the text of Rudyard Kipling's poem on the white man's burden...

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.

Take up the White Man's burden--
In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
An hundred times made plain
To seek another's profit,
And work another's gain.

Take up the White Man's burden--
The savage wars of peace--
Fill full the mouth of Famine
And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
The end for others sought,
Watch sloth and heathen Folly
Bring all your hopes to nought.

Take up the White Man's burden--
No tawdry rule of kings,
But toil of serf and sweeper--
The tale of common things.
The ports ye shall not enter,
The roads ye shall not tread,
Go mark them with your living,
And mark them with your dead.

Take up the White Man's burden,
And reap his old reward--
The blame of those ye better
The hate of those ye guard--
The cry of hosts ye humour
(Ah, slowly!) toward the light:--
"Why brought ye us from bondage,
Our loved Egyptian night?"

Take up the White Man's burden--
Ye dare not stoop to less--
Nor call too loud on Freedom
To cloke your weariness;
By all ye cry or whisper,
By all ye leave or do,
The silent, sullen peoples
Shall weigh your gods and you.

Take up the White Man's burden--
Have done with childish days--
The lightly proferred laurel,
The easy, ungrudged praise.
Comes now, to search your manhood
Through all the thankless years
Cold, edged with dear-bought wisdom,
The judgment of your peers!

"Why brought ye us from bondage, Our loved Egyptian night?" references the Passover and the emergence of the Hebrews out of bondage in Egypt. The idea of the Passover will return again later. In the poem, those who are being brought out of bondage, by Moses, are resistant.

Linked with the burden is the firm belief in one's righteousness, and that whatever the methods one uses, in bringing the remainder of the world into the light, are essential and necessary. Recollect that the lodge itself is given as having been erected on an American Indian burial ground, established on land forcibly and deceitfully occupied ostensibly for the cause of right American ideals.

Kipling was an imperialist, a colonialist.The poem was written for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, and rewritten to encourage American colonization of the Philippines during the Spanish-American War.

Via the film The Bandwagon, Kubrick seems to have also referenced Kipling's poem, "The Vampire", in Killer's Kiss. That poem seems to be about how women take a man's years of work and tears and throw him to the side.

There are obviously intended to be multiple levels of interpretation to this scene, as we find with all of Kubrick's work. But because of Jack's quoting Rudyard Kipling, we are immediately referred to Kipling's colonialism and misogyny. And as Jack's writing expresses the eternal recurrence as an inescapable state for him, it makes sense to look at Jack's prejudices in respect to Nietzsche as well.

Martin Ruehl writes in his article In defence of slavery: Nietzsche’s dangerous thinking:

In 1864, at the height of the American Civil War, the 19-year-old Nietzsche submitted a valedictory thesis on the Greek poet Theognis of Megara. Extremely learned and at the same time subtly partisan, it was a sympathetic reconstruction of Theognis’ staunchly aristocratic world view, including his racist, segregationist views on forced labour. Slaves, Nietzsche remarked, hailed from "useless and harmful stock" and belonged to an altogether different and invariably subordinate species. Approvingly he cites Theognis’s "very accurate" poem:

Never do the enslaved go upright
But the crooked necked are ever gnarled
Just as a squill does not bear roses or hyacinths
A slave woman does not bear a free child.

These comments echo the arguments of Southern apologists of slavery like William Harper, who insisted on the inherent physiological and psychological differences between Africans and Europeans. In his Memoir on Slavery, Harper maintained that "the Negro race, from their temperament and capacity" were "peculiarly suited" to hard labour, not least because they were significantly less susceptible to physical pain than white men. Nietzsche was convinced that Africans, whose constitution he believed closely resembled that of "primeval man", felt less pain than white people, especially the white "cultural elite". In Daybreak he pondered the possibility of importing Chinese workers to Europe to carry out menial tasks, because their "modes of life and thought" made them suitable "industrious ants".

Like George Fitzhugh, the South’s preeminent pro-slavery theorist, Nietzsche frequently invoked Ancient Greece to argue that slavery belonged to "the essence of a culture" and that in order for there to be a "fertile soil for the development of art", the "overwhelming majority" had to be "slavishly subjected" in the service of a "privileged class".

In stark contrast to most German philhellenists, including his own one-time friend, mentor, and artistic model Richard Wagner, Nietzsche believed that slavery was the sine qua non of the cultural glory that was Greece. Even if it were true that the Greeks had been "ruined because they kept slaves", he mused, "the opposite is even more certain, that we will be destroyed by the lack of slavery".

Though Jack appears to be himself a slave to the lodge and the eternal recurrence, he is also elevated within the parameters of the lodge as its caretaker. He castigates Wendy for not grasping his responsibilities to the lodge. When she wants to take Danny down the mountain for medical help, he lambasts her and says she wants him to fail. He must correct those who are too "willful" and go against his desires, his desires being those of the lodge. Grady--who is also Jack--expresses his racism in obvious terms, connecting Wendy and Danny with Hallorann in their insubordination. They need to be disciplined in the harshest terms if Jack is to prove himself as wholly devoted and capable.

Jack's devotion to the lodge has nothing to do with his actual tending of it, instead having everything to do with how he controls those around him. Wanting to be free to write, he has appeared to relegate all menial tasks to Wendy. Just as in A Clockwork Orange, the writer, Alexander, relied upon his wife to take care of everything so that he might write. When Alexander speaks of her death, it's not in terms of the grief over having lost a loved one, instead it's more anger over at having lost an excellent servant, who he has replaced with the weight lifter.

There is nothing about Kubrick's characterization of Wendy that resonates with Nietzsche's writings on the inherent nature of women as vain, superficial, petty and cunning. Nor does she fit with Nietzsche's abhorred feminists who he describes as masculinized, defeminized, intellectualized.

What is truth to a woman! From the very first nothing has been more alien, repugnant, inimical to woman than truth -- her great art is the lie, her supreme concern is appearance and beauty.

Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
Woman wants to be independent...this is one of the worst developments in the general uglification of Europe. Woman has so much reason for shame; in woman there is concealed so much superficiality, petty presumption and petty immodesty – one needs only to study her behaviour with children!

Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

Nietzsche even had a few words for women as cooks. Food was a woman's work and despite generations upon generations of food preparation they were unable to even do that right because, according to Nietzsche, women were just that stupid. Women, as Nietzsche protests, don't think.

Stupidity in the kitchen; woman as cook; the terrible thoughtlessness with which the feeding of the family and the master of the house is managed! Woman does not understand what food means, and she insists on being cook! If woman had been a thinking creature, she should certainly, as cook for thousands of years, have discovered the most important physiological facts, and should likewise have got possession of the healing art! Through bad female cooks--through the entire lack of reason in the kitchen--the development of mankind has been longest retarded and most interfered with: even today matters are very little better.

Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

I already go into Wendy's character at length in The Real Horror of The Shining : The Misogyny of the Audience for Wendy Torrance and won't replicate that here, but she is a fairly complex character in that she seems crafted to expose the misogyny of the audience for women who can't be identified with many of the things we see in the Nietzschean ideal woman that is an ideal for many men.

Wendy is depicted as comfortable with her own personhood, enduringly "Wendy" rather than a stereotype. She is also conflicted, negotiating Jack's abusive history, hoping for him to keep his promises, expectant that as long as he's not drinking he won't be abusive, perplexed by the bad times that follow the good, confounded when weeks of nice Jack will be followed by a Jack who turns hostile and emotionally abusive. She likely would be an independent individual if not married to Jack, but within their relationship some of the independence she exhibits is a matter of her having to take on his responsibilities. Such as with the lodge. Wendy watches the news, until they are cut off, to see what is going on and thus knows a storm is coming. Wendy is the one who tests the switchboard and calls the forest rangers. Wendy tends the boilers while Jack naps.

Just as Jack blames Wendy for his problems, so too does a good portion of the audience look at Wendy and say, "Well, you're not my definition of the desirable woman." Which sets her up as being a victim deserving of mocking abuse.

Nietzsche's following apophthegms for women are classic male chauvinism. (Coincidentally, these parts of Beyond Good and Evil are numbered 237 and 237a.)


Seven Apopthegms for Women

How the longest ennui flees,
When a man comes to our knees!

Age, alas! and science staid,
Furnish even weak virtue aid.

Sombre garb and silence meet:
Dress for every dame--discreet.

Whom I thank when in my bliss?
God!--and my good tailoress!

Young, a flower-decked cavern home;
Old, a dragon thence doth roam.

Noble title, leg that's fine,
Man as well: Oh, were he mine!

Speech in brief and sense in mass--
Slippery for the jenny-ass!


Woman has hitherto been treated by men like birds, which, losing their way, have come down among them from an elevation: as something delicate, fragile, wild, strange, sweet, and animating--but as something also which must be cooped up to prevent it flying away.

Wendy would never be allowed to fly away because she is property, as is Danny. One doesn't free slaves that seek independence: one breaks their will, one brings them wholly under one's control. The owner can't conceptualize release of that property. We have already observed this in Lolita, as I've described in Shot 67 of Lolita and the why of the choice of Dover as an establishing shot for the location of Ramsdale (the story of the caged starling. Lolita is Humbert's captive, his slave, though he pleads that she has enslaved him. Lolita opens with Quilty--who makes no excuses for sharing the same predilections of Humbert's, for which reason he is Humbert's nemesis as conscience--rising from beneath a sheet as furniture come alive, which is significant for he later tells Humbert he knows people he can use as pieces of furniture. Appearing from beneath the sheet, he asks Humbert if he has come to "free the slaves". This opening is reframed in the last shots of The Shining when we return to the lobby and see that its furnishings too now are draped as were those in Quilty's mansion, only the photo on the wall depicts an Independence Day, 4th of July party.

Nietzsche's misogyny falls in line with his racism, with women as property.

To be mistaken in the fundamental problem of "man and woman," to deny here the profoundest antagonism and the necessity for an eternally hostile tension, to dream here perhaps of equal rights, equal training, equal claims and obligations: that is a TYPICAL sign of shallow-mindedness; and a thinker who has proved himself shallow at this dangerous spot--shallow in instinct!--may generally be regarded as suspicious, nay more, as betrayed, as discovered; he will probably prove too "short" for all fundamental questions of life, future as well as present, and will be unable to descend into ANY of the depths. On the other hand, a man who has depth of spirit as well as of desires, and has also the depth of benevolence which is capable of severity and harshness, and easily confounded with them, can only think of woman as ORIENTALS do: he must conceive of her as a possession, as confinable property, as a being predestined for service and accomplishing her mission therein--he must take his stand in this matter upon the immense rationality of Asia, upon the superiority of the instinct of Asia, as the Greeks did formerly; those best heirs and scholars of Asia--who, as is well known, with their INCREASING culture and amplitude of power, from Homer to the time of Pericles, became gradually STRICTER towards woman, in short, more Oriental. HOW necessary, HOW logical, even HOW humanely desirable this was, let us consider for ourselves!

Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

Women are to be conceived of as possessions, a confinable property, predestined for service. That is not a misreading. This is how Nietzsche thinks a "man who has depth of spirit as well as desires, and has also the depth of benevolence which is capable of severity and harshness" must approach women.

Nietzsche was not being modern and ironic in his writings on women, just as Kipling was not being ironic about colonialism when he wrote on the "white man's burden". What Kipling wrote can sound ironic to the modern ear, but Kipling meant what he was writing, which was for a specific audience, to embolden and praise them.

Nietzsche says, in fact, a woman must fear men. When a woman no longer fears men then she has deteriorated as a woman.

239. The weaker sex has in no previous age been treated with so much respect by men as at present--this belongs to the tendency and fundamental taste of democracy, in the same way as disrespectfulness to old age--what wonder is it that abuse should be immediately made of this respect? They want more, they learn to make claims, the tribute of respect is at last felt to be well-nigh galling; rivalry for rights, indeed actual strife itself, would be preferred: in a word, woman is losing modesty. And let us immediately add that she is also losing taste. She is unlearning to FEAR man: but the woman who "unlearns to fear" sacrifices her most womanly instincts. That woman should venture forward when the fear-inspiring quality in man--or more definitely, the MAN in man--is no longer either desired or fully developed, is reasonable enough and also intelligible enough; what is more difficult to understand is that precisely thereby-- woman deteriorates. This is what is happening nowadays: let us not deceive ourselves about it! Wherever the industrial spirit has triumphed over the military and aristocratic spirit, woman strives for the economic and legal independence of a clerk: "woman as clerkess" is inscribed on the portal of the modern society which is in course of formation. While she thus appropriates new rights, aspires to be "master," and inscribes "progress" of woman on her flags and banners, the very opposite realises itself with terrible obviousness: WOMAN RETROGRADES. Since the French Revolution the influence of woman in Europe has DECLINED in proportion as she has increased her rights and claims; and the "emancipation of woman," insofar as it is desired and demanded by women themselves (and not only by masculine shallow-pates), thus proves to be a remarkable symptom of the increased weakening and deadening of the most womanly instincts. There is STUPIDITY in this movement, an almost masculine stupidity, of which a well-reared woman--who is always a sensible woman--might be heartily ashamed. To lose the intuition as to the ground upon which she can most surely achieve victory; to neglect exercise in the use of her proper weapons; to let-herself-go before man, perhaps even "to the book," where formerly she kept herself in control and in refined, artful humility; to neutralize with her virtuous audacity man's faith in a VEILED, fundamentally different ideal in woman, something eternally, necessarily feminine; to emphatically and loquaciously dissuade man from the idea that woman must be preserved, cared for, protected, and indulged, like some delicate, strangely wild, and often pleasant domestic animal; the clumsy and indignant collection of everything of the nature of servitude and bondage which the position of woman in the hitherto existing order of society has entailed and still entails (as though slavery were a counter- argument, and not rather a condition of every higher culture, of every elevation of culture):--what does all this betoken, if not a disintegration of womanly instincts, a defeminising?

Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

We certainly see Wendy afraid of Jack. Does that fear make her look any more womanly? More attractive as a woman?

At the end of Paths of Glory, the French soldiers taunt the German songstress. Our sympathy has gone out to the soldiers and their predicament as fodder for the cannons, blithely handed over to death by the elite. Who is lower than them? This woman. This German woman. They enjoy her fear and laugh at it. The audience, fully attuned to the men through their plight, might even sympathize with them as they taunt the woman, but the disturbed response of the lawyer who defended three of them lets the audience know this is wrong even before she sings her song.

The captive woman in Fear and Desire is certainly afraid. The poster art for the film sexualizes that captivity, the idea of her being a wild creature. But the audience finds the poster has nothing at all to do with the situation the movie presents them. The lieutenant who has been talking about honor makes sexual jokes about the captive girl that even discomfit some of his men while he enjoys her fear and confusion. The captive girl has three things in mind. She wants to not be raped. She wants to escape. She wants to live. She escapes and is killed. She isn't on screen to serve as a sexual object. She's not furniture to be manipulated in service of one's desires.

If Kubrick's women have trouble escaping from what binds them, it seems to be because of societal restrictions. Even Lady Lyndon, freed of Barry, is depicted as shackled by three other men, including her son, who are dependent on her for their livelihood. One of their primary concerns with Barry and his mother, aside from their not being nobility, was their running through Lady Lyndon's wealth, and finally cutting off from Lady Lyndon those who objected. Yet we have the impression at the end that Lady Lyndon likely does not find her life without Barry any more free than her life with Barry. She is ruled by her son who disliked Barry and with good reason. But her son also is controlling.

A woman who is not afraid is the sharpshooter in Full Metal Jacket. This is different from the book in which the sharpshooter was a man. Kubrick has made the sharpshooter a woman, and the only other female relationships the men have are with prostitutes who sexually flatter in their attempt to make a living. However, war and violence had been sexualized throughout. The personal rifle was the faithful girlfriend, while women in general were only objects of contempt, a sexual necessity, and equated with weakness. When the men confront the sharpshooter, finding that it is a man, this adds a surprising and unexpected complexity to the dynamic. There is disbelief. Confusion. There is a redoubled sense of hatred. Female has escaped being a sexual object and is such an expert shot that the soldiers have believed they were being killed off by a man, it never occurred to them the shooter might have been a woman. If she weren't dying we would have no idea how they might have treated her in this story, what horrors they might have committed against her. But she is dying. "No more boom-boom" for her says one of the soldiers, only able to relate to her sexually. Making her an object again. She begs to be shot. Sometimes she strikes me as every woman in Kubrick's films, betrayed by sexism and society, going to war. She is woman-as-Vietnam saying get the fuck out of here. She may die, but the audience already knows that Vietnam is a done deal and these soldiers will be soon going home.

So much, also, for Nietzsche's subservient "Oriental" women who serves as a model for suppression.

Another prostitute was Domino in Eyes Wide Shut. Once Bill is in her home it becomes obvious she is a student and does this for money. As in the book, she too is a victim, not only of sexism but also of wealth inequality, and contracts HIV.

Certainly, there are enough of idiotic friends and corrupters of woman among the learned asses of the masculine sex, who advise woman to defeminize herself in this manner, and to imitate all the stupidities from which "man" in Europe, European "manliness," suffers,--who would like to lower woman to "general culture," indeed even to newspaper reading and meddling with politics. Here and there they wish even to make women into free spirits and literary workers: as though a woman without piety would not be something perfectly obnoxious or ludicrous to a profound and godless man;--almost everywhere her nerves are being ruined by the most morbid and dangerous kind of music (our latest German music), and she is daily being made more hysterical and more incapable of fulfilling her first and last function, that of bearing robust children. They wish to "cultivate" her in general still more, and intend, as they say, to make the "weaker sex" STRONG by culture: as if history did not teach in the most emphatic manner that the "cultivating" of mankind and his weakening--that is to say, the weakening, dissipating, and languishing of his FORCE OF WILL--have always kept pace with one another, and that the most powerful and influential women in the world (and lastly, the mother of Napoleon) had just to thank their force of will--and not their schoolmasters--for their power and ascendancy over men. That which inspires respect in woman, and often enough fear also, is her NATURE, which is more "natural" than that of man, her genuine, carnivora-like, cunning flexibility, her tiger-claws beneath the glove, her NAIVETE in egoism, her untrainableness and innate wildness, the incomprehensibleness, extent, and deviation of her desires and virtues. That which, in spite of fear, excites one's sympathy for the dangerous and beautiful cat, "woman," is that she seems more afflicted, more vulnerable, more necessitous of love, and more condemned to disillusionment than any other creature. Fear and sympathy it is with these feelings that man has hitherto stood in the presence of woman, always with one foot already in tragedy, which rends while it delights--What? And all that is now to be at an end? And the DISENCHANTMENT of woman is in progress? The tediousness of woman is slowly evolving? Oh Europe! Europe! We know the horned animal which was always most attractive to thee, from which danger is ever again threatening thee! Thy old fable might once more become "history"--an immense stupidity might once again overmaster thee and carry thee away! And no God concealed beneath it--no! only an "idea," a "modern idea"!

Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

For Nietzsche, the beautiful woman was a dangerous cat. A cunning carnivore. Which may cause one to wonder if Kubrick was partly commenting on Nietzsche's cat women with his depictions of women associated with cats. In Burgess' book, A Clockwork Orange, the cat woman, who was Alex's downfall, was old. Kubrick instead made her middle-aged, athletic, the keeper of a health farm. Unlike Alexander's wife, she's leery of Alex. Unable to get in through her front door with his fake story, he must go through the window. Still, rather than respond with fear, she is enraged. She tells the little shit to get out. She refuses to be intimidated. He taunts her, not taking her seriously, and she hits him with Beethoven's bust. He kills her, yes, but not out of any sense of joy. He has been injured, which makes him momentarily fearful. And he's enraged. He's out of control. She was not what he had expected.

But someone might say, as she was middle-aged, that instead of Kubrick working against one of Nietzsche's types, she was instead one of Nietzsche's old female dragons as described in his Seven Apopthegms for Women. If she is viewed as such by the audience it's only because she was ferociously and ably defending herself, and astute in her suspicion of Alex.

Alice, in Eyes Wide Shut, is young, so let's look at her. She is a wife and a mother. She is foremost a person who is annoyed and distressed that her personhood has been set aside for the identities of wife of Bill and mother of Helena, a fate she had been seemingly able to forestall as long as she was also working, and which doesn't mean she doesn't love them. Bill, on the other hand, is Bill, not just husband of Alice, father of Helene. He looks upon Alice as wife of Bill and mother of Helene and doesn't comprehend her anger at being taken for granted. He's not physically abusive, so unlike Wendy she isn't afraid of Bill. Nor is Bill emotionally abusive. She is white, middle-class, and very well off, so Alice's principle injustice and complaint is one of sexism.

At the time the movie came out, people were a little perplexed by this picture of strife in the relationship of Bill and Alice. It was even found quaint, old-fashioned. Feminism had taken us far afield of such things. But, in reality, feminism hadn't. Alice wasn't Bill's equal. Domino wasn't. Amanda wasn't. #Metoo was still in the closet, partly because of gains that had been made and not wanting to upset them. Society was still dismissive of women's stories. And I think there was, too, an unwillingness on the part of many women to admit injury, because women were supposed to be strong, and injury was interpreted as weakness and not possessing power. Women had accomplished much, yes, but this also could mean a shutting out of women who hadn't made great gains--who had been harassed, assaulted, abused. To take all that abuse seriously perhaps was felt to slow the momentum of success. But then women too have been taught to not take their abuses seriously. They have been taught to not confess or complain about the abuses they've suffered. They've been taught to think of such abuses as being their fault. It's taken a while to realize harassment, abuse, assault, violence and sexism isn't their fault.

Bill has his own insecurities and social class walls with which to deal in the movie, but, unlike the book, Traumnovelle, in which the main character had a sense of superiority and entitlement to his wife and other women that in some respects went unchallenged, the book instead dealing with (among other things) the psychology of his looking for his wife in all other women, Bill does also confront certain social realities concerning women that don't feel fully explored in the book (or at least not to my memory). The movie adds a little extra weight to his visiting lower class apartments of student-prostitutes, to the girl pimped out by her father and Bill's own confused silence, to Bill's finding himself associated with women whose dreams of success translate into becoming beauty queens who become models and prostitutes who are destined to have their "brains fucked out" and overdose and die. One very nearly does inconveniently die in Victor's bathroom, a wealthy individual who Bill had wanted so greatly to impress at the film's beginning, to whom Bill had felt he was a social equal minus a few privileges of wealth, then discovered how mistaken he was. There are a number of other interpretive layerings as well, but this human story of relationships and problematic inequalities and -isms is there as well. Alice essentially says, "I'm a person, Bill, who is both logical and illogical. I'm more than your idea of wife and mother." And Bill goes out and meets a variety of women who are in troubled positions. He even nearly oversteps his professional bounds with a patient's daughter. Indeed, with all the women, exempting the girl, he nearly becomes sexually involved, but something always intrudes so this doesn't happen, and because it doesn't happen he ends in not surpassing a physical boundary that Schnitzler and Kubrick must have deemed as essential to his integrity and ability to reflect on the meaning of these encounters.

I understand the painting of a cat in the hall of Bill and Alice's home was a portrait of one of Kubrick's beloved cats. We may still be reminded of Nietzsche's cat with the large portrait of a calico in the hall of Bill's home, and the plush tiger that Domino has on her bed. But none of these women are Nietzsche's women. Most of them become more personal than people-as-furniture. With Alice's challenge and Amanda's death Bill begins to grasp more fully that the world is larger than his ego, his desires, and that people aren't decorative accoutrements to a lifestyle, one's ambitions, and mannequins with which to fulfill one's desires.

Of course, I could be wrong about Kubrick and Nietzsche and one day someone will drag out evidence that Kubrick thought Nietzsche was great. But, for me, it just doesn't fit. For example, Nietzsche loved war, and I simply do not see where this fits with Kubrick's Fear and Desire, Paths of Glory, Dr. Strangelove, and Full Metal Jacket.

We "conserve" nothing; neither do we want to return to any past periods; we are not by any means "liberal"; we do not work for "progress"; we do not need to plug up our ears against the sirens who in the market place sing of the future: their song about "equal rights," "a free society," "no more masters and no servants" has no allure for us. We simply do not consider it desirable that a realm of justice and concord should be established on earth (because it would certainly be the realm of the deepest leveling and chinoiserie) [concluding poem, Beyond Good and Evil: "nur wer sich wandelt bleibt mit mir verwandt" (Only those who keep changing remain akin to me)]; we are delighted with all who love, as we do, danger, war, and adventures, who refuse to compromise, to be captured, reconciled, and castrated; we count ourselves among conquerors; we think about the necessity for new orders, also for a new slavery--for every strengthening and enhancement of the human type also involves a new kind of enslavement. Is it not clear that with all this we are bound to feel ill at ease in an age that likes to claim the distinction of being the most humane, the mildest, and the most righteous age that the sun has ever seen? It is bad enough that precisely when we hear these beautiful words we have the ugliest suspicions. What we find in them is merely an expression--and a masquerade--of a profound weakening, of weariness, of old age, of declining energies. What can it matter to us what tinsel the sick may use to cover up their weakness? Let them parade it as their virtue; after all, there is no doubt that weakness makes one mild, oh so mild, so righteous, so inoffensive, so "humane"!

The "religion of pity" to which one would like to convert us--oh, we know the hysterical little males and females well enough who today need precisely this religion as a veil and make-up. We are no humanitarians; we should never dare to permit ourselves to speak of our "love for humanity"; our kind is not actor enough for that. Or not Saint-Simonist enough [i.e., not a utopian socialist], not French enough. One really has to be afflicted with a Gallic excess of erotic irritability and enamored impatience to approach in all honesty the whole of humanity with one’s lust!

Humanity! Has there ever been a more hideous old woman among all old women--

Nietzsche The Gay Science

I read individuals stating this was all allegory and that Nietzsche himself says he wrote himself to be misunderstood.

But I have to side with Bertrand Russell in his assessment of Nietzsche:

It is obvious that in his day-dreams he is a warrior, not a professor; all of the men he admires were military. His opinion of women, like every man's, is an objectification of his own emotion towards them, which is obviously one of fear. "Forget not thy whip"--but nine women out of ten would get the whip away from him, and he knew it, so he kept away from women, and soothed his wounded vanity with unkind remarks...It does not occur to Nietzsche as possible that a man should genuinely feel universal love, obviously because he himself feels almost universal hatred and fear, which he would fain disguise as lordly indifference. His 'noble' man--who is himself in day-dreams--is a being wholly devoid of sympathy, ruthless, cunning, cruel, concerned only with his own power. King Lear, on the verge of madness, says:

I will do such things--
What they are yet I know not--but they shall be
The terror of the earth.

This is Nietzsche's philosophy in a nutshell.

It never occurred to Nietzsche that the lust for power, with which he endows his superman, is itself an outcome of fear...He holds that the happiness of common people is no part of the good per se. All that is good or bad in itself exists only in the superior few; what happens to the rest is of no account. The next question is: How are the superior few defined?...

October 2018. Approx 6255 words or 13 single-spaced pages. A 48 minute read at 130 wpm.

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