by Jay Weidner
July 20, 2009
The Shining is surely
most misunderstood masterpiece.
I use the word 'masterpiece' guardedly because I have never really
thought that The Shining was a very good film.
At the time, in 1980 when I first saw it, I didn't like it at all.
The way that Kubrick threw out so much of Stephen King's great
source material and replaced it with a lot of things that just
didn't seem to make any sense, really bothered me.
Hopefully, before I am finished with this essay, the reader will see
it is only when Kubrick dramatically alters the script from Stephen
King's novel that we can begin to understand what Stanley Kubrick is
trying to tell us in his version of The Shining.
It should be understood from the beginning that The Shining is
Stanley Kubrick's most personal film (outside of, possibly, Eyes
Wide Shut). Before we are done here it will be easy to see that
Kubrick was only using Stephen King's novel as a launching pad
(excuse the pun) to be able to tell a completely different story
under the guise of making a film based on a best-selling novel.
did this for a very important reason - mainly to save his life.
Let's not get too far ahead of ourselves.
In fact, let's start at the beginning.
There are two main characters in the film, Jack Torrance (played by
Jack Nicholson) and his son Danny (played by Danny Lloyd).
It is important to understand here that Jack and Danny are two
aspects of Stanley Kubrick himself. Jack is the practical, pragmatic
guy who wants to be a great artist. And he is, apparently, willing
to do anything to accomplish his goal of being an artist (writer).
Jack, like Stanley has black hair, he is idiosyncratic and even
smokes the same cigarettes as Stanley (Marlboro).
Danny is the other side of the great director. He is the child-like
Kubrick. It is Danny who is actually the real artist.
The Danny side of Kubrick side is psychic, youthful and sees things
that no one else sees. Danny also has a tendency to tell people
things that should be kept quiet.
The first part of the The Shining is probably the longest, most
boring, 58 minutes in Kubrick's career.
The opening of the film takes place with us witnessing Stanley's
pragmatic side, Jack, cutting a deal with the Manager of the
The deal between Jack and the Manager of the Overlook is that Jack
can write (that is - create) all that he wants as long as he "takes
care" of The Overlook.
One other important point is that the Manager of The Overlook tells
Jack that the previous caretaker went crazy from the stress of the
job and killed his wife and two girls.
Jack says he is "intrigued" but takes the deal anyway.
The Manager of the Overlook Hotel is wearing red, white and blue.
Jack's wife Wendy (played by Shelly Duval) and his son Danny also
wear red, white and blue for almost the entire first hour of the
In this symbolic interpretation the Overlook Hotel is AMERICA. It
was built, just like the Manager says, on the graves of Indians.
Even when walking on the floor of the Overlook Hotel, one finds
oneself trampling over various Native American symbols.
The Overlook Hotel itself is America.
Like America, the Overlook Hotel is new and shiny. It is
ostentatious, corny and architecturally boring.
As the Manager tells
"All of the best people stayed here".
But there is something very deep happening. Kubrick brushed
the elite of the world. He knows what is going on.
We have to begin to understand Kubrick's story from his use of
symbols. As I like to say: if a picture is worth a thousand words,
then a symbol is worth a thousand pictures. For it will be through
the use of symbol that the real story of The Shining can be
The Manager of the Overlook, while interviewing Jack, has an
American Eagle right behind his head.
It is as if "The Eagle" is the
power behind the Manager.
Not only is the Eagle the symbol of America but it should be noted
that the Lunar Lander of the Apollo 11 mission was called "The
To the Manager's right on the desk is an American flag.
Symbolically the Manager (played by Barry Nelson) is the face of the
government of the United States. Jack has cut this deal with the
government to be the "caretaker" of the Hotel.
The Manager tells Jack that his main job is to prevent the Overlook
Hotel (America) from appearing like it is decaying. The Manager
reiterates that this is Jack's primary responsibility.
On their first day in the Hotel, Danny has a vision of the previous
caretaker's daughters, and he sees that they are twins. The previous
caretaker's daughters were not twins in the Stephen King novel. This
discrepancy between the book and the film will grow in importance as
Jack, Danny and Wendy also meet Dick Halorann who is the cook for
the Overlook. He befriends Danny and it is through him that Danny
discovers that he is not alone when it comes to psychic ability.
Dick warns Danny to stay away from Room 237.
Jack, Wendy and Danny have now fully moved into the Hotel. There is
a long cold winter ahead of them. At first Jack loves the hotel but
he is having problems with his writing. Also he cannot sleep.
Meanwhile Wendy and Danny are having fun.
Jack is not writing. Instead he is throwing a tennis ball at the
wall in the room where his typewriter sits.
On the wall, which is
being struck by the tennis ball, is a Native American artistic motif
that looks suspiciously like a group of rockets about to be
Jack throwing the
ball at the rocket/arrows on the wall.
Apollo was the god of Archery. Jack is playing ball with Apollo's
Finally the ball bounces away from Jack and disappears into the
darkness of the hotel.
Jack walks over and looks down at the model
of the maze. He sees Wendy and Danny caught in the middle of the
maze, totally unaware of the nature of the deal that he has cut with
A cold winter storm has now blown over the Hotel.
The oncoming storm
is a symbol of the Cold War between Russia and the United States. Of
course the Cold War is also one of the driving forces for the entire
reason for faking the moon landings. It was necessary to hide the
advanced U.S. saucer technology from the Soviet Union.
living in a very dangerous world and it was shrewd to hide our
advanced technology from the Russians. This is the reason for the
bears that are seen all over The Shining.
The Russian Bear, and its
competition for the race to the Moon, was a driving force behind
having to fake
the Apollo Moon landings.
Jack, his family, and the Overlook Hotel, are trapped in the Cold,
just as America was trapped in the Cold War with Russia.
bears, seen through out the film, are the Soviet Empire's symbol.
Symbolically the Bears seen through the film are also the
representation of the pressure that the Russians put on the USA to
get to the Moon. They had to fake the moon landings and cover up
real truth behind the flying saucer craft and machinery that the US
government actually has created and employed since World War Two.
Danny is riding his bike through the halls of The Overlook when he
comes upon the twin daughters of the previous caretaker.
at Danny and together they say:
"Come play with us Danny. Forever
Danny turns and wheels it out of there.
At this point in the film we graphically discover the nature of the
deal that Jack really cut with the Manager of the Overlook:
It is the most crucial scene in the film. Danny is in a hallway
playing with his trucks. Suddenly, out of nowhere, The Project, the
Overlook Hotel, rolls the tennis ball, from nowhere, at him.
It is a
gesture that says:
It is here that we discover what
happened to Jack's tennis ball that was previously swallowed up by
the darkness of the Overlook.
We also discover what game it is that
the twin daughters of the previous caretaker were inviting Danny to
Mystified by where the ball came from, Danny stands up, and the
audience finally sees what the nature of the Project really is
As Danny stands up, the answer is revealed in an instant. Danny is
wearing a sweater with a crudely sewn rocket pictured on the front.
On the rocket clearly seen on Danny's sweater are the words: APOLLO
The audience watching the film literally sees the launch of Apollo
11, right before their eyes, as Danny rises from the floor. It isn't
the real launch of Apollo 11, it is, of course, the symbolic
launching of Apollo 11. In other words - it isn't real.
What happens next is crucial to understanding everything else that
happens in the film.
Danny, bewildered, walks down the hallway. He sees that Room 237 -
the room that Halorann warned him about - has a key in the lock and
the door is wide open.
It is important to note that the room in question was numbered
in the Stephen King version of The Shining. For unknown reason's
Kubrick changed it to 237.
Those unknown reasons are about to be come known.
Danny is literally carrying a symbolic Apollo 11, on his body, via
the sweater, to the Moon as he walks over to room 237.
Why do I
Because the average distance from the Earth to the Moon is 237,000
The real truth is that this movie is really about the deal that
Stanley Kubrick made with the Manager of the Overlook Hotel
(America). This deal was to get Kubrick to re-create, in other
words, to fake, the Apollo 11 Moon landing.
Danny represents the artistic side of Kubrick. Because of the
complexity of the artistic realization of the manner in which the
lunar landings needed to appear, Kubrick needed to trust his
Room 237 represents the fake lunar set that Stanley had to create to
make the lunar landings appear factual. But really, on this set, and
in this room, nothing is real.
As the film will soon reveal, Room 237 has to be lied about. It
cannot be understood at all… ever. Nothing real ever happens in room 237.
For a moment, in the film, it looks like Danny is actually going to
enter Room 237. But we are never sure.
In the next scene Jack has a bad dream while he is working. He tells
Wendy that in his dream he has killed Wendy and Danny.
Meanwhile Danny enters the scene and it is obvious that some
mysterious force has physically hurt Danny.
This mysterious force
has also torn his Apollo 11 sweater.
Wendy, horrified, thinks that Jack did it.
In a way she is right because Danny got hurt because of the deal
that Jack cut.
Frustrated, Jack goes to the bar located in the Gold Room. Obviously
stressed, Jack whispers to no one that he would sell his soul for a
It is then that Jack meets the real manager of the Overlook Hotel. A
mysterious man suddenly appears behind the bar.
His name is Lloyd
and he is the bartender of the Overlook Hotel.
Clearly Stanley Kubrick shows Lloyd in a Satanic light.
Lloyd seduces Jack with a drink.
Jack has sold his soul to the Project, to being the caretaker of the
Jack and Lloyd's conversation is interrupted by Wendy's entrance.
Lloyd and Jack's glass of Scotch suddenly disappear. Wendy tells
Jack that someone else is in the hotel.
Jack then goes to Room 237 and sees the manifestation of a young
woman into an old woman.
Because Room 237 is, symbolically, the Lunar Set for Apollo 11, Jack
has to lie to Wendy about what is going on in the room. He tells her
that nothing is going on in Room 237. It is apparent that Danny must
have hurt himself.
It is true, Danny did get hurt because of Jack. Danny is the side of
Stanley that knew of Stanley's secret project. Somehow he got into a
situation where they (The Overlook Hotel - America) hurt him.
After this Jack begins to go to hell physically.
He is growing an
unkempt beard and is not combing his hair - two things that Stanley
Kubrick was known for doing, or not doing, himself.
Now Jack (Nicholson) is looking a lot like Stanley Kubrick.
Especially as he began to appear under the stress of the twin
productions going on at once:
2001: A Space Odyssey
Apollo 11 landings.
It should also be noted that Jack and
Stanley are about the same age and they have the same hair color.
2001 - A Space Odysey Production photos show a youthful and
un-bearded Kubrick with combed hair, looking quite handsome. But
photos taken four years later - near the end of the production of
2001: A Space Odyssey - show that Kubrick was a physical wreck. The
de-evolution of Stanley Kubrick's appearance during the production
of 2001: A Space Odyssey is disturbingly close to Jack Torrance's
(Jack Nicholson's) appearance in The Shining.
Despite his disheveled appearance Jack has started writing again.
Wendy, (who is really supposed to be Kubrick's wife Christina),
wants to read the book that Jack is working so furiously on. She
asks to see what he is writing. Jack is surprised by her entrance
into the room where he does his writing. Angrily he rejects her. He
tells her to stay out of the room where he is writing.
It is clear that Wendy, Kubrick's wife, is not allowed to know
anything about the Project.
But what is this book that Jack is writing?
Wendy soon finds out what is in the book that Jack is writing. It is
then that we get the clincher that proves that this essay is the
correct interpretation of Kubrick's The Shining.
Wendy sneaks into Jack's writing room. Slowly she begins to read the
book that Jack has been working on.
This scene is totally original to the movie. It is not in the King
novel. Although it is mildly terrifying, it is not that horrific.
Yet it is the centerpiece of the film and arguably the scariest
scene in the movie.
Because every single one of the hundreds of pages that Jack has been
furiously writing is a variation of only one sentence:
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy".
Incredibly every page has this exact sentence.
And it is written
over and over.
Truly it is scary enough to think that Jack has just
been sitting there, day after day, writing the same sentence, over
and over. Wendy face reveals her fear over the discovery.
What does it all mean?
May I humbly suggest that the word "All" in this repeated sentence
actually stands for "A11" that is: "A-One-One", or Apollo 11?
"A11 work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."
May I suggest that the nickname, or the
code name, for the faking of
the Apollo Moon Missions was A11?
Accepting that this is true we can see what Stanley is really
'"Apollo 11 work and no play makes Jack (Kubrick) a dull boy."
If you think that I am stretching things here I would like to point
out the patch that NASA had created to symbolize the Apollo program:
There are other 'A's' in the film also.
The Overlook Hotel has
several A's' built into its construction when viewed from the
Stanley has used these A's before also.
Here is the cover of A
Clockwork Orange with Alex menacingly coming out of the 'A' with his
It is clear from the evidence presented in the film that Kubrick's
wife (Shelly Duval) had discovered that he (Stanley Kubrick) had
made a secret deal with the Manager of the Overlook, (i.e.) with the
rulers of the USA.
Shelly Duval (Christina Kubrick) also discovered that what she
thought was one thing actually turned out to be another. What Mrs.
Kubrick discovered was that - instead of making a science fiction
film called 2001: A Space Odyssey - her husband was really working
to create the fake Apollo moon landings.
At this point the film finally gets really interesting. Frightened
by this revelation Wendy (Stanley's wife) wants Jack (Stanley) to
quit the Project.
Jack (Stanley) angrily replies:
"That is so typical of you! … I've
made an agreement … I have obligations to my employers!"
Danny uses The Shining to contact Dick Halorann in Florida (which I
might add is where Apollo 11 was launched). Dick laboriously travels
from Florida to Colorado.
In another abrupt break with the novel, Jack Torrance kills Halorann
as soon as he arrives at the Overlook (so much for Halorann's
While I think this scene is very disturbing and I doubt if I can
ever prove this but I think Stanley Kubrick is telling us something
very definite with this alteration to the King novel.
I believe that the naïve side of him, represented by Danny, told
someone that he, Kubrick, was faking the Apollo missions.
even have told this person that he was faking the lunar landings for
NASA while also appearing to produce
the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Hallorin is the representation of the person that Kubrick mistakenly
revealed this most secret of all information. Because of that,
Hallorin, or the person who Stanley told, had to die.
The secret must remain safe.
This also explains why Kubrick had to
hide all of this crucial information inside the construct of the
King novel. Kubrick wanted the story to get out, but he was also
afraid for his life. Kubrick had to fake the making of the Stephen
King novel so that he could reveal that he was involved in the
faking the moon landings!
The truth is that The Shining is the story of how Stanley Kubrick
cut a deal with the U.S. Government to fake the Apollo moon
It is also the story of how Kubrick may have accidentally told
someone what he had done and how that person had to be killed. The Shining is also the story of how faking the Apollo moon landings
almost sacrificed his relationship with his wife.
Finally it is the story of how Stanley Kubrick barely escaped alive
to create another day.
The Shining is the story of how a part of Stanley Kubrick was killed
by the agreement that he made with the U. S. government to become
the "caretaker" of The Project called A11 or Apollo 11.
It is also the story of the history of NASA.
This explains why the previous "caretaker" was so pressured and
stressed that he had to kill his TWIN daughters.
Because the previous NASA missions before Apollo were named Gemini!
There is much more in this film than can be discussed here. I am
sure that much more will be discovered.
I present this tidbit of an interpretation to show not only that
Stanley Kubrick directed the Apollo moon landings but also to ask
NASA to release all of Kubrick's Apollo moon landing footage in
their original, glorious 70 mm film.
It is time to shed the lies. But also it is time for the world to
view, uncensored, Stanley Kubrick's greatest unknown masterpiece. I
ask NASA to release all of the footage directed by Kubrick for the
faked Apollo landings.
May I also suggest that NASA use the millions of dollars made from
this surely successful movie release to fund another mission to the
I mean it has only been 35 years!
Also - may I suggest a title for this new Kubrick film?
Never A Straight Answer? (NASA)
The books in Jack’s apartment reflect the dual nature of Stanley
The book on top is entitled “The Wise Child” represented in
the film by Danny
and the book below is entitled “The Manipulator”
which is represented by Jack.
Seven Apollo missions went to the moon, but only six landed.
crates of 7-up.
Thanks to Shawn Montgomery for igniting my interest in "The Shining"
through his great research.