15 years ago today, we lost Stanley Kubrick, whose extent of cinematic brilliance can hardly be articulated, let alone surpassed.
In his honor, we dug our nails into one of the most mind-bending, meticulously crafted films of all time, and hoped to scratch its surface. Here are 8 times Kubrick's subtle complexity gave rise to the technical and conceptual masterpiece that is The Shining.
We'll start off nice and light:
1) Kubrick DOES have a soft side - he was highly protective over 5-year-old Danny Lloyd and made sure he had NO idea he was in a horror movie.
He didn't find out until he was 17.
2) He even had Wendy carry a life-size dummy dressed as Danny, to keep him from knowing he was ever actually being chased for his life.
Danny was conveniently in a catatonic state so it all worked out.
3) But as for cinematic perfectionism, Kubrick was ruthless as ever and demanded that every image be framed in a 1.66:1 ratio.
There were lots of arguments with cameraman Garret Brown over maintaining the exact cross-hair placement for all 40 takes it took, on average, to complete a single shot. Which leads us to...
4) It took 50 takes until Kubrick was satisfied with tennis ball rolling into Danny's toys.
...which is when things REALLY start to get wild:
5) When Danny gets the ball, he stands up, and the carpet pattern reverses:
Some say it's a mistake. But considering the shot took 50 takes to perfect, it seems...hard to believe.
Instead, let's take note that the path, on which the tennis ball travels, no longer leads toward Danny, leaving him trapped in the hexagon...right before he gets engulfed by this:
Um...isn't there someone else whose entrapment in the very same doom is also represented on a two-dimensional surface?
Yes. Yes there is.
6) The hotel layout is spatially impossible.
For example...see where it says "impossible window"? According to the layout, it should open up to a hallway. But instead...
And all those hotel rooms Danny whizzes by on his tricycle?
...are all doors to nowhere. The layout is broken up by so many hallways there's no way any rooms could fit in the tiny bit of remaining space.
And Kubrick totally knows it:
“We wanted the hotel to look authentic rather than like a traditionally spooky movie hotel. The hotel's labyrinthine layout and huge rooms, I believed, would alone provide an eerie enough atmosphere.”
7) See Dopey, from Snow White, stuck to the door?
Moments later, Danny has his first "vision":
He passes out and then...where's Dopey?!
Continuity error? I don't think so. Rather...Danny has OFFICIALLY started shining! Unlike his ignorant parents, he is no longer a DOPE.
8) And finally...there's the hunched-over, bearded witch-figure with ski poles.
We see her for the first time in the game room, hung to the right of its door:
And then...she's a painting in the lobby?
So it's a summer resort, closed for winter, with (at least) two portraits of a witch on skis. The images are blurry, but so bizarre wouldn't you think someone would...um...notice? Particularly the countless people who stroll right by it in the lobby? Unless they'd already encountered someone similar...in Room 237!
There's no cinematic "error" here. This is a movie about a series of adults who take a very distorted, haunting setting for granted, and...pay. Dearly. To me, Kubrick wants us to WAKE UP, and start to observe our surroundings with a fraction of his own obsessive detail, because no matter who or where we are, there's always something to miss, and one day it might just be a witch.