/ Questions about Kubrick's The Shining (spoilers)

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Blue Straggler 24 Oct 2019

I watched the recent restoration of The Shining, last night. It's the second time I've seen it in the cinema, and I have seen it on television and video a few times over the years, I guess. 

I was reminded of a few questions I've always had, about the film as seen by the viewer. I think these pertain to the longer cut but of course many will apply to the shorter cut too. These are not just minor continuity errors etc, but questionable parts of the story. Some (especially #2 and #5) might be explained away by simple extrapolation or "deleted scenes" or scenes not filmed, but as I say, these are about the film you watch. These are not "artistic questions" either (an example of an artistic question would be "why does Grady first deny killing his wife and daughters, and then openly talk about it, during the same conversation?" - and the answer to that could be that he is "sounding out" Jack).

So:

1) Danny appears to be about 5 or 6 years old. How is it so simple for Jack and Wendy to take him away to the Overlook for five months? Isn't he meant to be at primary school or something?

2) Are the Overlook management actually desperate for a caretaker? They employ Jack with seemingly no background checks, and he doesn't have any caretaker credentials at all. 

3) Why does Wendy chastise Jack for talking about cannibalism in the Donner party, when it was her that brought the subject (which is well known DUE to the cannibalism) up in the first place?

4) Related to q1, are the Torrances in any way trying to home-school Danny? They just seem to leave him to his own devices all day long.

5) Is there any evidence on screen of the Torrances doing any actual "caretaking"? In the interview, duties such as heating different parts of the hotel in rotation, and doing exterior checks so as "the elements can't get a foothold", are mentioned. We see one shot of Wendy in some sort of generator room, with a checklist, and she pushes one green button above a High Voltage lever, and I think that's about it

6) What is going on with the "timescale" captions? I think we get "The Interview", "Closing Day", "One Month Later". So far so good. But then it seems to go: "Thursday" (which Thursday? In the same week as that "One Month Later"? Three months later? Who knows?!), "Tuesday" (assume in the next week), possibly "Wednesday", then it goes to what TIME it is, presumably the same Wednesday...?

7) How long has Jack been sober? There is the story of dislocating Danny's shoulder some years ago, and Wendy says Jack promised he would never drink again, although she doesn't say if this was immediately after that incident. Jack says to Lloyd something about five months of boring sobriety. Is he talking about the NEXT five months in the Overlook where all the alcohol has been removed, implying that he's been drinking in secret in Boulder since the incident with Danny's injury, or is he implying that he's only been sober for five months even though the incident with Danny's injury was well over 5 months ago? (as an aside, I think it's mentioned that his teaching work stopped around 5 months ago). 

8) Wendy seems not to  be experiencing anything supernatural throughout most of the film, unlike Danny, Jack and Dick. Yet during the climax, suddenly she starts to see ghosts and apparitions, which serve no narrative purpose. What's that all about? Seems a mess. 

Post edited at 10:07
GravitySucks 24 Oct 2019
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Answers to q's 1-8

      It's a film !

1
GravitySucks 24 Oct 2019

In reply to Blue Straggler:

Sure did !

1
kathrync 24 Oct 2019
In reply to Blue Straggler:

It hadn't really occurred to me that most of these aren't addressed in the film because they are addressed in the book so I struggle to watch the film without mentally filling in the gaps.  I think some of these things are explored more in the longer cut, but a lot of the nuance was lost in the film compared to the book.  I enjoy the otherworldly weirdness of this film, but there are a lot of holes in it!

> 1) Danny appears to be about 5 or 6 years old. How is it so simple for Jack and Wendy to take him away to the Overlook for five months? Isn't he meant to be at primary school or something?

In the book he is preschool - he hasn't started compulsory schooling yet.

> 2) Are the Overlook management actually desperate for a caretaker? They employ Jack with seemingly no background checks, and he doesn't have any caretaker credentials at all. 

In the book, they have struggled to get caretakers after the Grady incident.  Jack has a connection (who has some financial connection to the hotel and also happens to be a recovering alcoholic) who gets him the job as a favour.

> 3) Why does Wendy chastise Jack for talking about cannibalism in the Donner party, when it was her that brought the subject (which is well known DUE to the cannibalism) up in the first place?

Can't answer this one.

> 4) Related to q1, are the Torrances in any way trying to home-school Danny? They just seem to leave him to his own devices all day long.

See above.  In the book, they take up reading primers and start teaching him to read to give him a head start when he gets to school.  This is used as a minor plot point - Danny is desparate to learn to read because Tony shows him things with signs in his visions and he can't read them.

> 5) Is there any evidence on screen of the Torrances doing any actual "caretaking"? In the interview, duties such as heating different parts of the hotel in rotation, and doing exterior checks so as "the elements can't get a foothold", are mentioned. We see one shot of Wendy in some sort of generator room, with a checklist, and she pushes one green button above a High Voltage lever, and I think that's about it

Again, in the books Jack does some repair work on a roof (during which he comes across a wasps nest, which is used as a metaphor through the rest of the book) and they talk extensively about the heating rotation.  In fact, the boiler is a major plot device in the book which doesn't make it into the film.

> 6) What is going on with the "timescale" captions? I think we get "The Interview", "Closing Day", "One Month Later". So far so good. But then it seems to go: "Thursday" (which Thursday? In the same week as that "One Month Later"? Three months later? Who knows?!), "Tuesday" (assume in the next week), possibly "Wednesday", then it goes to what TIME it is, presumably the same Wednesday...?

I suspect this is probably more confusing than originally intended, especially in the shorter cut which is missing at least one of these captions.

> 7) How long has Jack been sober? There is the story of dislocating Danny's shoulder some years ago, and Wendy says Jack promised he would never drink again, although she doesn't say if this was immediately after that incident. Jack says to Lloyd something about five months of boring sobriety. Is he talking about the NEXT five months in the Overlook where all the alcohol has been removed, implying that he's been drinking in secret in Boulder since the incident with Danny's injury, or is he implying that he's only been sober for five months even though the incident with Danny's injury was well over 5 months ago? (as an aside, I think it's mentioned that his teaching work stopped around 5 months ago).

Again, this is explored more in the books, where Jack breaks Danny's arm as a young child, carries on drinking, hits a child at the school he works at while under the influence and gets fired, and is then involved in a late-night drink-fuelled car crash (with his contact above) where they both get freaked out after hitting a child's bike.  They both stop drinking at that point.  His contact gets him the Overlook job some months later.

> 8) Wendy seems not to experiencing anything supernatural throughout most of the film, unlike Danny, Jack and Dick. Yet during the climax, suddenly she starts to see ghosts and apparitions, which serve no narrative purpose. What's that all about? Seems a mess. 

In the book it is really the Overlook itself that is the villain.  It is described as being weak and only able to manifest visions to those who are susceptible at the beginning of the book, but through the course of the book it is effectively feeding on Danny's energy and grows strong enough to enable anyone, including Wendy to see these things too.  Not well explained in the film, which focuses more on Jack than the hotel itself.

Post edited at 10:24
Blue Straggler 24 Oct 2019
In reply to kathrync:

Thanks. It is interesting that you need to refer to the book to fill in these huge holes  

Regarding the last point, and here I can give the film some praise (not that this thread is meant to be about its overall merits or otherwise), I always got that the Overlook was the "villain", regardless of how vague its motives might actually be (clumsy allusion to the "Indian burial ground" at the start...?) and that Jack was only a part of a longer and broader narrative. 

Did you ever see the 1997 version?

kathrync 24 Oct 2019
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> Thanks. It is interesting that you need to refer to the book to fill in these huge holes  

> Regarding the last point, and here I can give the film some praise (not that this thread is meant to be about its overall merits or otherwise), I always got that the Overlook was the "villain", regardless of how vague its motives might actually be (clumsy allusion to the "Indian burial ground" at the start...?) and that Jack was only a part of a longer and broader narrative. 

I really hate that Indian burial ground thing - it's just awkward and lazy.  No illusions to burial grounds that I remember in the book, more the hotel feeding off the greed and avarice of guests which include politicians, movie stars and the mob.

> Did you ever see the 1997 version?

No, I don't think so.  

In reply to Blue Straggler:

Speaking of Kubrick, saw 'paths of glory' a while back, would recommend to anyone it's a great film. 

kathrync 24 Oct 2019
In reply to kathrync:

> No illusions to burial grounds that I remember in the book

*allusions.  Gah!

Hardonicus 24 Oct 2019
In reply to Blue Straggler:

The fact that Danny rides a tricycle in the film suggests he is younger than 5/6.

Blue Straggler 24 Oct 2019
In reply to Hardonicus:

> The fact that Danny rides a tricycle in the film suggests he is younger than 5/6.

It's been established that he has had his childhood disrupted and is socially "retarded" (in the proper sense of the word). Wendy alludes to him not really attending nursery/school. So he could be a bit behind. We never even see him read. 

Also, his tricycle seemed to be to just be a way to get around the massive hotel more efficiently. 

Also, I could not ride a proper bicycle without stabilisers before I was 6 or 7. 

So I don't think the tricycle is significant at all. 

6
krikoman 24 Oct 2019
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> 1) Danny appears to be about 5 or 6 years old. How is it so simple for Jack and Wendy to take him away to the Overlook for five months? Isn't he meant to be at primary school or something?

He's big for his age.

> 2) Are the Overlook management actually desperate for a caretaker? They employ Jack with seemingly no background checks, and he doesn't have any caretaker credentials at all. 

How do you know they didn't do background checks?

......

krikoman 24 Oct 2019
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> We never even see him read. 

We never see anyone go for a shite either, are we to assume they've not got arseholes?

Post edited at 12:21
1
kathrync 24 Oct 2019
In reply to Blue Straggler:

In relation to Danny's age, Danny Lloyd (the actor) was 6 at the time of filming.  I suspect they would have struggled with a younger actor.  They don't broach the subject of the character's age in the film, so going purely on appearance alone, it is not that surprising that you thought Danny (the character) was older.

Flinticus 24 Oct 2019
In reply to Blue Straggler:

1, 2, 4 and 5

Never questioned these. I got the movie I wanted, not one on pre or home schooling children or twiddling knobs on a heating system and repairing fences. 

1
Blue Straggler 24 Oct 2019
In reply to kathrync:

Also the drunken incident in which his arm was dislocated, was said to be three years ago iirc. I am no expert on toddler behaviour but I would think he have to be at least 2.5 years old just to have the motor skills to scatter Jack's school papers around as described. It's a bit of an odd story anyhow, as Jack is said to have arrived home 3 hours late, around 9 or even 10pm, and Danny is still up....

ANYWAY the question was about squirreling him away in the Overlook for a whole five months. Isn't that a bit odd even if he were four years old?

1
pasbury 24 Oct 2019
In reply to krikoman:

lol

1
Blue Straggler 24 Oct 2019
In reply to krikoman:

> How do you know they didn't do background checks?

I used the word "seemingly" in order to ward off questions like this but since you ask - at the interview, they don't even know his prior work record, they have to ask him, yet he gets the job straight away (almost before the interview starts, when Ullman invites the other "interviewer" in and already says that Jack is going to be looking after the place)

Blue Straggler 24 Oct 2019
In reply to kathrync:

>so going purely on appearance alone, it is not that surprising that you thought Danny (the character) was older.

I was actually going more on dialogue than appearance!

aln 24 Oct 2019
In reply to Blue Straggler:

As an aside, has a sequel been made? I caight the end of an advert on my mum's TV last night. Something to do with The Shining but it wasn't Nicholson looking through the axe hole in the bathroom door. 

kathrync 24 Oct 2019
In reply to Blue Straggler:

In the book Danny is said to be 2 when his arm was broken. And my 2 year old nephew is certainly up at 9 or 10 on occasion, notably when he has been allowed to wait up for Daddy (who works shifts) on a Friday night so I don't have any particular problems with that aspect of things.

The books sells the idea of the time in Overlook as healing time for the family after the problems they have experienced with Jack's drinking and losing his job.  I haven't really thought about it in any depth - it's a somewhat palatable reason for them to be up there together, but then I get distracted by what happens next!

Blue Straggler 24 Oct 2019
In reply to aln:

Yes. King wrote "Doctor Sleep" in 2013, which follows Danny Torrance as an adult, using his psychic powers to help police or something (I have not read it). 

A film adaptation is coming out on 31 October, starring Ewan McGregor and, I think, Rebecca Ferguson. This may be why a few cinemas are showing The Shining, but apparently there has also been a 4K restoration this year (it certainly looked good last night and the sound was REALLY good)

kathrync 24 Oct 2019
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> I was actually going more on dialogue than appearance!

Well that too - pragmatically, I don't know how easy it is to coach a 6 year old to regress their speech to the level of a preschooler, although obviously the writing has a role in this too.  In the book, Danny is described as somewhat precocious in terms of his ability to express his thoughts, so maybe that fits.

Post edited at 12:50
aln 24 Oct 2019
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Thanks. 

DubyaJamesDubya 24 Oct 2019
In reply to kathrync:

> *allusions.  Gah!

I knew what you meant but this is UKC!

Post edited at 13:20
kathrync 24 Oct 2019
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

> I knew what you meant but this is UKC?

I am fine with glossing over peoples' typos and mis-spellings,  but I just can't let my own go when I spot them!

DubyaJamesDubya 24 Oct 2019
In reply to kathrync:

> I am fine with glossing over peoples' typos and mis-spellings,  but I just can't let my own go when I spot them!

Spotted one of my own (Doh!)

krikoman 24 Oct 2019
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> > 

> I used the word "seemingly" in order to ward off questions like this but since you ask -

I didn't see him filling out his driving licence application form, so I'm assuming he's driving without a full licence and is therefore, not fully insured, if at ALL!!

I conclude from this he deserves all he gets, for putting other road users in danger.

1
Blue Straggler 01 Nov 2019
In reply to Blue Straggler:

10) Did the Torrances take everything they needed for a five month winter stay, in the VW Beetle?

The “closing day” scene does have Ullman ask about their luggage and Jack refers to a an enormous pile of luggage that you can see, but I assumed that that was mostly luggage belonging to departing guests, and the Torrance’s stuff was somewhere near it. Either that, or the Beetle is a TARDIS.

graeme jackson 01 Nov 2019
In reply to Blue Straggler:

People have circumnavigated the globe in an old beetle. Carrying enough stuff for a few months in a cosy hotel would be nothing in comparison.

Blue Straggler 01 Nov 2019
In reply to graeme jackson:

> People have circumnavigated the globe in an old beetle. Carrying enough stuff for a few months in a cosy hotel would be nothing in comparison.

I agree that people have circumnavigated the globe in an old Beetle (and less) but this is a family with a young child looking to live in relative comfort and familiarity, as opposed to dirtbag adventurers out for a big epic escapade. The kid's toys alone would take up a fair bit of space.

Post edited at 15:17
2
mullermn 01 Nov 2019
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> I agree that people have circumnavigated the globe in an old Beetle (and less) but this is a family with a young child looking to live in relative comfort and familiarity, as opposed to dirtbag adventurers out for a big epic escapade. The kid's toys alone would take up a fair bit of space.

Spending 6 months in isolation with a young child and no entertainment could fully explain Torrence's descent in to madness. I think you may be on to a new theory here.

Blue Straggler 01 Nov 2019
In reply to mullermn:

The hotel had a games room. 

JB 01 Nov 2019
In reply to Blue Straggler:

This thread is crying out for an appearance by Gordon Stainforth (of this parish) who I believe worked as an editor on the film...

Blue Straggler 01 Nov 2019
In reply to JB:

I believe he is deliberately abstaining. In fairness none of my questions pertain to technical aspects or the actual production, and those are the areas of his expertise. He doesn’t often comment on the actual content. 

Gordon Stainforth 01 Nov 2019
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Your comment is absolutely spot on. I'm keeping out of this thread because it's all about interpretations/puzzles with the script, which I'm moderately interested in, but am in no privileged position to shed any extra light on. My extra knowledge is all about the craft that was involved in putting the movie together. The job of the critic is so different from that of the creators. 

Blue Straggler 01 Nov 2019
In reply to Gordon Stainforth:

Thanks for confirming my thoughts. I did get to wondering what your opinion of the finished film was, as a stand-alone piece of storytelling, but I don’t know if you are able to have a true “audience” view on the thing .

I may drop you a line about this later in the week if I have time to compose it appropriately 

FactorXXX 02 Nov 2019
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> Yes. King wrote "Doctor Sleep" in 2013, which follows Danny Torrance as an adult, using his psychic powers to help police or something (I have not read it). 

I've had the misfortune of reading 'Doctor Sleep' and have to say that it is complete rubbish. 
How they can make a film from that dirge is beyond me. 
 

2
Blue Straggler 02 Nov 2019
In reply to FactorXXX:

Did you like The Shining as a novel, when you were an adult ?

Blue Straggler 02 Nov 2019
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> Did you like The Shining as a novel, when you were an adult ?

Not sure what I am replying to here! Looks like it’s to do with someone watching Kubrick’s The Shining as a child but what this has to do with FactorXXX I don’t know. Sorry folk! 

krikoman 02 Nov 2019
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> The hotel had a games room. 


and a maze

Gordon Stainforth 03 Nov 2019
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> Thanks for confirming my thoughts. I did get to wondering what your opinion of the finished film was, as a stand-alone piece of storytelling, but I don’t know if you are able to have a true “audience” view on the thing .

No, you can't really. That's why the great directors are great because, despite being incredibly close to the movie, saturated by it, they can still judge how the audience will react. It was always fascinating to me to see the first preview in the studio (usually to the company directors of the 'major', e.g. Warners, and their wives and associates.) That's when you first got a good idea of how the film was going to work with an audience. Then there were previews with the general public. I remember going to see The Dresser for the first time in some preview theatre just off Piccadilly, and the audience reacted really well throughout. I got straight on the phone to Ray (the editor) back at Pinewood to tell him (wte), 'You can tell Peter (Yates) that he's got a huge success on his hands here.'


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