Well it only took me 34 years, but last night I finally watched the Shinning all the way through. As an admirer of Kubrick’s work, I have no idea why it took me so long to finally sit down and watch the move from start to finish.
Well, what can I say? The film is a masterpiece, and works on so many different levels, as all of Kubrick’s films do. I need to watch the film several times over before I can really begin to grapple with the message that Kubrick was trying to communicate, but for now, I will share my initial observations and interpretations:
As Jay Weidner has asserted on many occasions, the film is replete with references to the Apollo moon landings. Danny’s jumper is adorned with an Apollo rocket, the carpet patterns in the hotel distinctly resemble Apollo launch pads, and Kubrick even changed the number of the mysterious hotel room from 217, as it was in the King novel, to room 237 – the moon, of course, being a distance of some 237,000 miles from the earth. Did Kubrick use the character of Jack Torrance as a metaphor for his own fragile mental health? Was Jack Torrance’s descent into madness and violence symbolic of the pressures that Kubrick’s complicity in the staged Apollo moon landings placed on his marriage and his family? Are some of the films stranger moments, such as those in the exclusive Gold Room, a reflection of his personal revulsion towards the dark inner sanctum of the global elite with whom he briefly rubbed shoulders?
The film is also replete with references to the supernatural and the occult. The character of Jack Torrance clearly becomes possessed by the evil resident in the hotel, whilst his son Danny has an invisible friend called “Tony”, who often takes centre stage when Danny is in a state of fear; clearly a reference to dissociation and multiple personality disorder, a theme that weaves itself through many of Kubrick’s films. The theme of child abuse is also broached, as the recurring motif of the teddy bear would seem to attest to, and it is also implied – but never demonstrated unequivocally – that Jack in his possessed state has also physically and sexually abused his own son.
But what really hit me was the reference to weather modification, given that this film finished production in 1978 (the same year the ENMOD Treaty was ratified). In the extended edition of the film, it is made quite clear that even the weathermen are startled by the sudden and abrupt change in the climate, from a temperature autumn climate, to a severe snow storm in a matter of hours. Miami, meanwhile, continues to enjoy extremely warm sunshine. The rest of the film is set against the backdrop of an intense snow storm, which shuts down major roads and airports.
I am probably reaching a little bit on this last point, but given how known elite insiders do indeed seem to have a knack of making startlingly accurate predictions about the future direction of humanity – take Dr. Richard Day as an example – I would not bet against Kubrick having been privy to a great many secrets, amongst them weather modification programmes.