Arch 443/646: Architecture and Film
Fall 2009

The Shining

The Shining

Discussion Questions:

Please answer the questions below. Use paragraph form. Your answer should be around 400 words. Longer answers are more than welcome. The questions are all graded individually so extra effort in preparing your answer is rewarded.

Email me your responses in Word .doc format to: I will be posting these each week after the class. You should be prepared to deliver your answer in class -- but paraphrase, do not read it. Please only send to my sympatico address as I use this for the film course so that I run less of a risk of misplacing your answers.

Feel free to include internet reference links in your answers.

If your answer includes images, please do not limit your response as an address to the images provided. They are intended to be an example or sample of something that is referred to in your question.

The answers are due in my Inbox on the day that they are presented in class.

updated 02-Jan-2010 10:39 PM


1. Matthew Barbesin

Question: Comment on the choice of the building type (resort hotel) with respect to it manipulation as a source of fright in the film.

shining shining

One of the most terrifying things about The Shining is the Outlook Hotel as the setting of the film. Kubrick masterfully exploits our natural anxieties about isolation and desolation to create a genuinely horrifying experience. A complete sense of isolation of the hotel brings about emptiness and the thought of helplessness. This provides an opportunity to shoot the silence and vastness of the hotel. The eerie silence of the hotel haunts us with the primal fear of the unknown. And when we do see something in the hotel, Kubrick makes sure that is it the furthest thing from natural (i.e. the rotting women, the elevator of blood, etc). The atmosphere of The Shining is manipulated through use of space and place. Kubrick shows us two kinds of space at the Overlook Hotel. There are vast, empty spaces such as the grand hall and the gold room, generally revealed to us in slow zooms. Jack is more often shown in these rooms, and they represent his growing isolation from his family and his detachment from reality. Then there are the winding passages like the corridors and the maze, which Kubrick’s camera explores with steady tracking shots. More often than not it is Wendy and Tommy whom the camera follows through these passages, and this gives us the sense of confinement and helplessness of their situation. In terms of place, The Shining is in a way a journey into hostile territory. The opening credit sequence tells us this right at the start, as we see Jack’s car traveling higher and higher into the mountains, a tiny dot from the helicopter shot. The Overlook Hotel resembles its mountainous surroundings, both in shape and colour. Kubrick’s construction of space and place combine to create the nightmare situation: a place which is in itself massive and spacious, but which is also a prison, cut off from the outside world. It’s a unique take on the “Haunted Mansion” genre. Rather than choosing a stereotypically scary hotel, like “Psycho” or “The Haunting” it creates a big luxurious ski lodge, where the horror is lingering somewhere in the big vast spaces and corridors. In other words, Kubrick creates fear out of an environment we’ve likely experienced, where there’s nothing overtly scary, but covertly, our imaginations due us in. We’ve all been to hotels and motels, and there’s something intrinsically creepy about being in a place with so much unknown history. The imagined horrors are far scarier than anything that could be depicted.


2. Stephanie Boutari

Question: Provide us with some background information on the choice of the Overlook Hotel for the filming of the movie.

The Shining's Overlook Hotel was not a real hotel but in fact a collection of specially made interior sets, all built in Elstree Studios in London, England. The key spaces of the movie - such as the lobby, Colorado lounge and the gold room - were inspired by a number of existing hotel interiors. For example, the Colorado lounge looks almost identical to the lounge of the Alwahnee Hotel in Yosmite National Park, and the gold room and the red bathroom designs were borrowed from Frank Lloyd Wright's Biltmore Hotel in Arizona. Stanley Kubrick and his production designer intentionally wanted the Overlook to look like a fusion of different parts of real hotels, rather than a unified whole with a single design theme.

The exterior views however, were actually views of the Timberline Lodge hotel on Mt. Hood in Oregon. This is why, in the opening scene, these shots do not reveal the maze or any of the exterior hotel grounds - they don't exist in the real hotel. The maze and back facade of the hotel were also built on the set, with the use of polystyrene chips, salt and smoke machines to recreate the cold snowy environment.

Unlike the hotel in the original novel by Stephen King, Kubrick's Overlook is much less supernatural and haunted but creates fear through its sheer size and greater believability - for example, King had moving topiary animals which Kubrick replaced with a maze. The contrast of using such vast luxurious, extravagantly and eclectically designed hotel rooms whilst such dark events were occurring within them made it all the more scary, making the viewer feel uneasy.

One of the key themes in the Shining is America, as Kubrick purposely films icons of American life throughout the movie, and early in the film it is said that the hotel was built on old red indian burial grounds. Stephen King had actually written The Shining after staying at The Stanley Hotel, another inspirational hotel for the Overlook. Located in Colorado as well, it provides panoramic views of the Rockies.  It has been frequented with stories of hauntings and it is said that King came up with idea of The Shining after having been stayed there with his wife when it was almost empty and about to close for a long period of time.



3. Laura Fenwick

Question: Compare the use of the Overlook to the use of buildings of similar types in films of a different genre. Thinking about Dirty Dancing or that type of film where the architecture supports a more traditional “use” of the building.

Exteriors of the Overlook hotel were shot at the Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood in Oregon although all the interiors where shot at Elstree Studios in London, England. The use of the hotel in this psychological thriller can be compared to other horror and thriller films where there are numerous examples. One such example is The Poltergeist series where the plot revolves around the haunting of a suburban family home that is suspected to be the work of poltergeists.  In both these films it is apparent that the building is essentially another central character in the film and not just a simple backdrop or setting. In The Shining this is established when the hotel chef is talking to Danny about “the shining” and he explains that he and his grandmother had the shining and so too does the hotel. This immediately infers that the hotel is something more than just a normal building and this works to personify the Overlook making it another character in the film.

As is also apparent in The Poltergeist series, the film further cements the character of the hotel by using ghosts and other paranormal occurrences to communicate with the central characters of the film. This is apparent when Danny sees the twins and the woman in 237 as well as when Jack sees the party scene in the ballroom and talks to the old groundkeeper in the red room. The hotel also shows its character in other ways such as leaving doors open or producing visions such as the lift pouring blood scene. All these occurrences work to further personify the hotel.

This is most apparent when comparing the use of the Overlook to the hotel used in Dirty Dancing. Dirty Dancing was shot at the Mountain Lake Resort in Pembroke, Virginia. The use of the hotel in this film is a more traditional use of building.  The hotel is more of a set and doesn’t have a particular character. If the hotel had no characters in it would merely be an empty building without threat whereas the Overlook remains in its character solely as it is. In fact when looking at the website for the Mountain Lake Resort it blatantly advertises that this is the hotel where Dirty Dancing was filmed and encourages visitors to experience the Dirty Dancing experience. Whereas if you look at the website for the Timberline Lodge there is no evidence of the Shining being filmed there, inferring that the hotel may think visitors would associate the hotel too much with the nature of the movie and discourage them to visit.



4. Li Ting NOra Guan

Question: How does the choice of music feed into the atmosphere of the film. Compare the choice of music in this film to the use of music in any of the other films we have viewed this term.

Movie the Shining utilizes the power of silence and isolation to create a malefic atmosphere of the hotel. Its music score is perfect in adding to the overwhelming feeling of the frightening and impending doom. This movie combines all the element of intellectual thriller, such as the ice-cold soundtrack and a sense of dehumanization. Frightening because of the use of long shots to create feelings of isolation as well as carefully scored music, which bring the tension of thrill to virtually unbearable levels.

The music is also very powerfully used in the film to change the mood. The strange voices are used within the title music and unsettling music is played to show all the abnormality of the hotel. For example, when Danny is approaching room 327, the unsettling music becomes louder and louder. It gives a warning that Danny is going to see something scary and terrifying. The unsettling music also gives the audiences the feeling that there are “traces” everywhere in the hotel of previous lives. Another example, at the beginning of the movie, an unsettled music is played with an extremely long shot of the car traveling in the wilderness. It gives audiences a sense of going into the unknowing world and foreshadows evil things will happen after.

Many of the soundtracks are post-war compositions influenced by the horror of WWII. One of the music is originally associated with the horrors of the Holocaust. With the disturbing and gory images, the incredibly scary music brings the audience into an extreme malevolent horror.

Unlike the Shining, the music in Lisbon Story is brought into the front of audiences and performed in the movie. The strikingly original-sounding band confirms Lisbon Story’s desire to be free of the traditional dramatic story constraints. Winter just wanders into a rehearsal and is instantly attracted by the leading singer. The band does exceptional role without playing anyone particular. This unusual method of casting shows a sense of real and unreal and gives the movie a sleepy, dreamy like atmosphere. Moreover, Winter plays a sound game with the kids as he demonstrates his “tools”. This scene explains how the sound is made and how it can bring silent pictures to life.

In contrast to the scary music in the Shining, the music in Lisbon Story has a totally opposite tone that is played to deliver a mood of slippery, puzzling and relaxing. The haunting music from the local Portuguese band is equally integral to the film. Director also uses music to reveal the appearance of the city. Winters gleeful treasure hunt for sounds is mixed with the larger discovery of the charming city.



5. Matt Hartney

Question: How do the sound effects feed into the manipulation of the depiction of the spaces in the film? Are the sound effects singular in their creation of fear?

In The Shining sound effects are used to convey feelings of foreboding and terror, provoke a sense of the vastness and isolation of the films setting, and to signal the malevolent influence of the Overlook Hotel. These effects are achieved through dynamic intensity and the tone or emotive quality of the sounds.

The use of high pitched, wailing sounds creates an uneasy atmosphere from the opening credits, where sublime mountain ranges and verdant forests are imbued with an ominous life when paired with a sparse, plodding score.  Here, as in a scene immediately following where Danny receives a premonition regarding the hotel, the effects are very high in the mix, in the latter scene they form the entire audio track, saturating our ears, as the elevators release a torrent of blood.

The influence of both the hotel and Tony (or the ‘shine’) on Danny and Jack is often accompanied by a piercing whistle, like an endlessly boiling kettle, which increases in both pitch and intensity, as a normal situation such as playing darts in the lunch room or strolling through the kitchen take on an evil presence. As the low piercing sounds become higher and more all-encompassing, the audience feels the growing evil of the hotel and the power of its influence. Jack’s descent into madness is conveyed in this way also, using jarring sound effects in a near audio wash, often paired with widening shots suggesting the growing influence that the hotel has over him.  When Jack enters the Gold Room, a peal of shrieks reaches a frenzy before falling silent.  At this point Jack experiences his first direct interaction with the hotel, in the form of Lloyd the bartender, who serves him a drink while howling winds whistle in the background, and plants the first thoughts of murder into Jack’s head.

In that the sound effects used in The Shining are remarkable at inspiring fear, perhaps best felt when Wendy discovers Jack’s ‘manuscript’ and his murderous intentions, they are singular, but they are not solely used for that purpose. Danny’s first big-wheel ride around the hotel uses modulations in sound to give presence to the changing floor coverings that he encounters, not simply to indicate what is carpet and what is not, but rather to reinforce the vastness of Danny’s new home, and how alone he is in it – it is a place of wonder and also of danger. As the film progresses, sound effects are used to convey the totality and hopelessness of the Torrence’s isolation. By the end of the film, wind is heard in nearly every scene, and the hotel has begun a continuous, demonic whisper, urging Jack forward after Danny, and threatening to drive Wendy mad, as the rooms begin to reveal to her the hotel’s tortured past and the souls trapped within.



6. Michael Hasey

Question: Listen carefully to the “sound” of the various rooms in the Overlook? How does the difference in the tone or character of the sound of these spaces begin to direct your feelings throughout the film?

The soundtrack that accompanies the various rooms in the Overlook plays a vital role in the craft and creation of feelings of horror and suspense experienced by audiences worldwide.  Each space is accompanied by its unique tone or melody that evolves with the change in plot.  This audio transformation helps to direct and prime the audience’s feelings before a significant plot change or horror scene.

The first room where sound becomes significant is in the Foyer and Colorado Lounge. Initially, the audioscape consists of familiar sounds; the bustling tourists, the shifting of luggage, and a loud murmur of conversation.  This familiar scenario is only administered to the audience for a short period of time.  It represents a starting point, a beacon of familiarity and comfort that the audience senses will soon be abandoned. As the tourists leave and the hotel empties, the rooms abandon these familiar tones and take on an eerie calm.  This uncomfortable silence sets the mood for the following scenes as it creates a sense of unrest, and unnatural tension felt by both the audience and the characters involved.  This tension is amplified in a later scene with the repetitive thud of a tennis ball being thrown against a wall by Jack in the Colorado lounge.  Like a heart beat about to race, the continuous pounding of the ball gives the audience a sense of foreboding and tension; like the calm before the storm.  It is this type of silence and muted sound embodied in the foyer and lounge in the first half of the film that horrifies the audience as they prepare for the unknown ahead.

As the plot progresses, a new tone breaks the silence and resides in key locations throughout the hotel.  In places like the games room and storage room, a distant, high-pitched whine infiltrates the scene and begins to form as Danny’s shinings become stronger and more frequent.  This unnatural sound soon transitions into a piercing whine, giving the audience the sense that something is very out of place.  Like a warning, these sounds are soon followed by scenes of gore and apparitions of murdered children and long deceased guests.  Later in the hotel hallways, the same piercing whines are accompanied by strong bass tones, layered with seemingly random and non-melodic strings of notes.  These mixed patterns of sound not only reflect the audience’s own sense of confusion, but also initiate a feeling of curiosity.

As the plot progresses, the soundtrack consistently leads the audience into states of suspense and expectation before various scenes of horror or surprise.  Different rooms with their different tones craft the way the audience feels at a certain moment, either preparing them for something immediate or something that will happen later on.  The audioscape adds a vital layer to the film, drawing out feelings that the audience could have never been experienced with picture alone.



7. Richard Kim

Question: How is the TV used to alter the feeling of the space? Refer both to the physical use of the object in the scenes as well as to the audio as it relates to the plot of the film.

shining shining

The power of shining is first revealed in the scene where Danny is standing in front of the mirror at home in the presence of a TV in the reflection. While watching the TV through the reflection, he predicts the phone call. Tony shows Danny the horrifying past of the hotel through shining. The isolated audio of the animation stories in tv in the living room, which almost guides Danny to see beyond the tv’s metaphors. Danny is also able to see Halloran later through television with the powers of shining. ‘Shining’, a telepathic communication that moves through mind to mind, through space, time and memories, builds a close relationship with the presence of television throughout the movie.

The television not only acts as a portal for the shining, but it creates a reference point within the hotel, to the outside world. As the plot evolves and Jack becoming progressively insane, the television reminds the viewers of the datum, contrasting the increasing tension and frightening mood to the neutral outside world.

On ‘Tuesday’, the TV in the kitchen, as Wendy prepares a very synthetic meal, predicts the heavy snowfall and the news of a ‘missing wife’. It is like a fourth person in the hotel. It watches the family, and exudes a strange sense of hotel’s presence embodied in an object and sounds. TV’s are without any cables attached, and with amazingly clear signal in the snowstorm, on top of a mountain. It is like a ghost.

TV, in all rooms, replaces the fireplace. Rather than providing warmth and a sense of closure, it provides a feeling of a void, almost a heterotopia, ‘the other space’ of the reality.


8. Clayton Lent

Question: What do you think is the “essence” of the subversion of the hotel into an architecture of fear?

The essence of the subversion into and architecture of fear is in the purposeful juxtaposition of the apparent programmatic intention of the environments depicted with the form of occupation depicted.  This surreal effect is largely achieved through use of camera angles and careful contextual progression.

The sets, being all constructed for the film, were formed in a specific manner.  At first grand spaces and luxurious adornments are shown in full use.  The discussion of the loneliness of the space during the off-season permeates the beginning of the film and establishes an anticipatory progression towards the major shift in occupation.  The transition is thereby significant and quite noticeable. Activated spaces become dormant while small pockets of activity occur within there framework. This essential shift is then accentuated through elaborate explorative and low-angle scale distorting shots. The impression of the spaces, and the activity within them, is shifted through careful changes in viewpoint.



9. Kevin Lisoy

Question: Kubrick makes specific use of symmetry in many of the scenes of the film. Comment on the use of symmetry in scenes to set up the feeling of fear.

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In Kubrick’s film “The Shining”, the use of symmetry is everywhere.  This does subliminally hints at a number of aspects in the horror film.  The first, and purely spacial change it can make comes from the psychology behind the use of symmetry to induce greater fear on the viewer.  This comes from the emphasis of one subject in the particular shot.  A focus of the viewer’s attention on one point for an extended period of time builds up suspense (as opposed to allowing the viewer’s eye to wander around the shot).  There is an somewhat uneasy and unnatural feeling to a symmetrucal shot that adds greatly to the sense of suspense.  By framing the subject in a symmetrical shot, it nullifies the set to an almost artificial backdrop.  This, paired with the slow camera zooms, slowly torments the viewer into focusing on one thing and wondering what will happen to the single subject.  It is curious that in the shot of Jack Torrance at his desk, the zooming of the single, centered subject from behind is somewhat relieved at the entrance of Wendy Torrance (right image).  By offsetting the viewer’s focus, the tension in the shot immediately drops because there are multiple points of focus.  Symmetry also gives the allusion of larger, spacious backdrops because the scene blends into itself.  This adds to the suspense that the character is all alone in the shot.  In the first example scene, where Danny is sitting on the patterned floor playing with some toys, the patterned floor is presented in a symmetrical way to make the space appear endless (left image).

But when a ball rolls towards him, the system of duality becomes even more present.  Kubrick’s symmetry could also play with the duality of the characters.  The ball rolling directly into the middle of the “Danny” shot places the camera in the middle most position between him and the ball’s source.  When the camera flips around to show the two girls, we get the exact type of framing from the previous shot of Danny, thus, linking the two girls and Danny.  This, the second aim for symmetrical shots, builds on the duality of the characters.  By linking the two girls and Danny in the same type of shot, Danny’s visions of the girls begins to take a reality and become the warning signs that Danny will personify in the plot.


10. Anne Ma

Question: Referring to the question above, would the use of asymmetry be as successful in creating a fearful portrayal of the space?

In the film The Shining, Kubrick makes use of symmetry and asymmetry in many scenes. The use of asymmetry, relative to the use of symmetry, seemed to portray more regular scenes that didn’t build up as much tension throughout the film. That being so, the use of asymmetry would not be as successful in creating as fearful an impression of the spaces in the hotel as would the use of symmetry.

In terms of visualizing the spaces, while the framing of the scene maintains the same ratio and size, asymmetrical scenes in the film tended to generate the sense of a broader scope of the surroundings. When the scene shifts to a symmetrical viewpoint, the whole scene seems to shrink and starts to focus on a single reference point in the view.  This stark contrast in focus is a prime reason asymmetry would not be as successful in setting up as strong a feeling of fear as symmetry would. For example, during the interview at the beginning of the film, the camera shifted between an angled view of the office and one where the manager was at the centre while Jack and the other employee were on either side of him. During the scenes where the space is viewed at a side angle where the manager is on one side and the other two in the room were on the other, it seemed like a normal interview scene in which no suspense was gathered. However once the scene shifted to the symmetrical view, it provoked a sense of suspicion and tension between the characters. This same tension would not have been magnified as much had the camera kept its position throughout the act.

Mentioned before was the seeming shrinking of the scope of view when the scene is symmetrical. By focusing on a single object, person or thing in the scene, the viewer loses the sense of what’s happening beyond that focus and thereby creates a sense of anticipation for what is not seen. On the other hand, an asymmetrical view loosens the focus on a single thing to the neighboring spaces. Knowing what is beyond the subject of focus helps to loosen the anticipation and view the space without any specific surprises. This idea can apply to the scene where

One exception in which asymmetry in the film worked in creating a sense of fear and anticipation was when Danny sees the door 237 partially open. The suspense in the scene was maintained despite the imbalance of the open door on one side of the frame and the rest of the corridor running along the other side. This exception works well because another dimension is added; the space beyond the threshold of the door.

It can be concluded that asymmetry does not work as well in creating a fearful portrayal of spaces in the film as symmetry does, however there is an exception when a secondary space is introduced and there is a threshold (such as a door or wall) that allows a window into another scene.



11. Xin Emma Ma

Question: Comment on the use of the low or high angles of view with respect to the creation of fear in the manipulation of the viewer's perception of space.

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Manipulation of camera angles creates a spatial dimension which is strange to the (usually adult) viewers (i.e. viewing scenes which are not at the usual eye level), thus creating disorientation and fear of the unknown. Unusual perspectives on familiar scenes or objects evoke the feeling of the uncanny, and create a sense of unsettlement (which heightens the impact of the music and time frames). The new perception is not only on the audience’s relation to the space, but also in the interaction between the characters of the film and their surrounding architecture.

The use of a low camera angle to follow Danny’s tricycle in The Shining is prevalent throughout the film. As the scenes are shot from the child’s point of view, the walls of the narrow corridors tower over the audience as he rides round and round the block of rooms, evoking a feeling of imbalance and instability. This dwarfs the audience, who are overwhelmed by the size of the space. As a result, the effect exaggerates the emotions created by Danny’s ghostly premonitions. When the camera is in an objective view behind the child, he blocks the audience’s view of his destination, thus increasing the feeling of unease of the unknown.

Upon Danny’s first visit to the locked room 237, the child’s approach of the door is shot at a low camera angle, whereas his departure is signified with a long shot at the audience’s usual eye level. This increases the sense of suspense in the rising action, and releases the previously built-up tension after the anticipated moment of crisis.

Objective high camera angles diminish the size of the character, as Danny gets lost in the sea of the background pattern of the carpet. Again, the insignificance of the child (and by extension, the audience) heightens the fear of the greater unknown powers at work in the hotel.

A subjective overhead shot is found in the movie when Jack observes Wendy and Danny in the model of the maze. The view gives Jack an omnipotent power over the members of his family, as he is more acutely aware of their movements than they are themselves. Wendy and Danny’s ignorance of Jack’s surveillance (as usual in overhead shots) creates further fear for their well-being.

The high and low camera angles, found respectively in objective and point of view shots in The Shining generally serve to diminish the size of the viewer, or the character in the movie which the audience is emotionally drawn to. It is the feeling of insignificance within a larger volume which heightens the feeling of fear in the film.



12. Christopher Mosiadz

Question: Comment on the use of the “long view” to heighten the anticipation in this scene. Would this be equally as effective if shot in a less directed/confined space?

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Stanley Kubrick makes extensive use of the “long view” to heighten the anticipation and, effectively, add to the overall suspense of The Shining. The “long view” is successful at achieving this result because it establishes the shear dominance of the Overlook Hotel over the protagonist who is reduced to a nominal scale in its comparison. The characters are portrayed with a relative weakness in this environment, making them more vulnerable towards the unexpected. Anything can happen. The anticipation is heightened while the audience is left in fear for what might lie ahead.

The suspense is intensified yet again by the speed of the action; Danny on his tricycle in contrast to Jack’s pacing through the corridor. In the former, there seems to be a greater lack of control with the expected danger approaching with a deliberate swiftness – whether this danger is revealed or not, its presence can still be felt in the walls of the hotel, the intensity of the music. In the latter case, Jack paces through the corridor, internalizing the demons that lead to his progressive insanity. Interestingly, he appears to blend in with the surroundings, symbolizing the power the hotel has enveloped over him and how he has surrendered all control.

If these sequences of action were shot in a less directed/confined space they would lack this third dimension that conveys the grandness of the Overlook Hotel. The compression of space would, in effect, undermine the dominant force of the hotel over the protagonists.

The “long view” in these particular shots was the most effective way for Kubrick to heighten anticipation and to hit home the idea of the overwhelming isolation that is portrayed in these long corridor spaces populated by usually just one person at any given time.



13. Tyler Murray

Question: Comment on the use of the tracking shot as Kubrick follows Wendy through the space. How does this motion manipulate your perception of the space? (referring specifically to ones where the cameraman is walking backward while the actor is coming towards)

shining shining

The tracking shot can be used to foreshorten or lengthen the scene through a manipulation of perspective used to affect the environment that the character exists in. It allows the scene to shift focus from said environment to the individual and subsequently changes the scale  of time from an epic (removed) angle to a personal aspect, which penetrates the emotional state of the individual.   This technique of dual proportion actively involves the viewer, keeping them focused. The character remains the same size in the same position on the screen which allows the viewer to become hyper-aware of both the characters surrounding environment and the manner in which the character emotes or reacts.  Such a shot is particularly successful in a horror film because it can instil increased anticipation.  By recording a character slowly approaching a constantly receding foreground, a viewer waits attentively in growing concern for where the character is going and what it is they are seeing or about to see.  The tracking shot  illustrates a highly vulnerable character by not allowing the viewer to predict what is coming.  By the same token it also gives the opportunity to reveal an element in behind the character of interest.  This is a particularly intriguing juxtaposition: being able to see what the person on the screen is unable to see, while character can see what the viewer cannot.  Often times throughout the movie this shot results in a lengthened perspective like that gained by walking through the long pathway of the maze or down a single corridor of the hotel. This can serve as a reminder of how long the viewer has not seen what lies ahead of the character and that in these confined spaces an end to the procession could occur at any moment.  By isolating the character on screen the size of the space is exaggerated and the environment appears to dwarf the individual. In such cases, time seems to be extended and the duration of a scene can be related to the length of perspective and the length of procession.  Alternatively, there are scenes in which the leading camera viewing the actor/actress rapidly takes corners. The pace of this particular type of shot taken in reverse, viewing a character head on, again increases anticipation as the person may encounter something around any of these corners and the scene could abruptly end. These shots are taken in closer range to the actor/actress in order to keep them in the frame as both actor/actress and cameraman move in tandem. This scene appears to remove the focus from the environment and place it directly on the character.  Their expressions are now on display and the scene increases its pace, limiting visual access to the perceptible environment.



14. Brian Muthaliff

Question: The lighting in the various rooms of the scenes is quite different, as seen by the difference in the “colour” of the spaces. How does this heighten the sense of anxiety when viewing the film?

shining shining

The two scenes in question are very different in terms of the lighting conditions. The first is comprised of a very full light, ambient, illuminating all of the corners of the room and leaving nothing to the unknown. Conversely, the lack of light in the second image strongly suggests the unknown. Dark shadows, dark corners and the silhouette put the viewer in unfamiliar territory, striking nerves of anxiety. However, both scenes still have an inherent quality in them that create a heighten sense of anxiety. This quality can be understood when the images are broken down into the colour arrangements they are comprised of.

The colours in the images subconsciously affect the emotions that are brought about within us. We respond to different environments by taking que from the colours that are present in them. As a collective we have projected meaning onto a variation of colours and in return these colours recall those projected meanings when we observe them and contribute to the heightened anxiety in different spaces.

The first image presents a very ominous space, in that the repetitive procession through the sickly greens that transition to an alarming red and back to a sickly green, keeps the viewer constantly aware, almost nervous in an unsettling environment. The neutralized green presents itself as an unfamiliar territory (by nature of just the colour) but also as a space to pause in comparison the red room beyond. The composition of sequential colours puts the viewer in a scitsofrenic position, where they can never really be comfortable.

The second image is a composition of bright warm colours and warm colours that are subdued in darkness. If the colour red has always symbolized danger, the hallway in the image is alarmingly dangerous, as variations of the colour red take up most if not all of the image. The intensity of the bright source of light in the background, and the lack of light in the foreground play a major role in effecting the viewers’ perception, but also heighten the contrast between colour ranges in the image, giving importance to the colours in question.

The composition of a scene is one of layers, layers of light, sound, space, and time. The manipulation of colour, based on the understanding of semiotics, a study that suggests that we are inherently affected by colour, signs and symbols, is a powerful layer of a scene and can greatly contribute to the anxiety’s felt by the viewer. 



15. Adam Schwartzentruber

Question: Kubrick shoots many scenes through open or slightly open doors. How does this alter your perception of the action in the film and heighten the tension in the scenes? What else do you notice about the lighting in these scenes?

shining shining

Open doors to us indicate another reachable space, and Stanley Kubrick uses these to heighten the tension at key moments in the film to draw the curiosity of the viewer into a suspenseful collection of spaces designed to heighten the viewers’ visual awareness and sense of impending change. An open door is used as the focus of a scene and it begs the viewer to explore every inch of its openness in order to understand what will come next.

Kubrick often uses mirrors as well, complicating the space which he wants to have particular emphasis while at the same time providing a visual stimulus to the viewer. The combination of an open door with a mirror within it creates a description of the space beyond, emphasizing the cameras movement through the reflection change in the mirror, together heightening the experience and intensity of the view. This space becomes the viewers focus as the camera is brought closer to the door, and curiosity drives the viewer to search the space beyond as new angles are revealed to them.

Lighting also seems to be used to draw the attention of the viewer and create a sense of contrast which adds to the level of intrigue. Lighting rooms differently distinguishes them from each other as spaces, and creates a sense of passage which heightens the sense that the viewer is proceeding deeper into an unknown world. The series of spaces which are created by Kubrick in these ways create a buffer of experience which encapsulates and insulates the viewer against their previous feeling of safety. The sequence of spaces and open doors draws them into a feeling of uneasy enclosure. Drawing the viewer even further in, Kubrick is able to play tricks on the mind, and SCARES! the viewer only when they have become very uneasy with the setting.

The uneasy nature of the viewer is heightened by the thinness of the door opening, which provides a feeling of eerie separation between one space and the next. The viewer is seemingly forced to squeeze through the slightly open door only to be engulfed by a completely new environment which feels smaller and more complicated than the last.



16. Sam Sutherland

Question: Thinking of the above question (15), how then does the “closed” or “locked” door impact the reading of the space? Note the variety of door types.

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Even with the doors open, the different spaces and rooms in the film seem to each have their own atmosphere. There is no gradual transition from the quality of one room to the next. When Kubrick shoots a scene through an open or slightly open door, the contrast between the spaces is immediately evident visually because you can see both spaces simultaneously, but when the door is closed or locked, there is a marked sensation of disjunction as the camera position jumps from one side of the door to other, such as in the famous axe-to-the-door scene and the scene where Wendy locks Jack in the dry cellar and Jack tries to convince her to open the door again. The fact that Jack is, in fact, insane is clarified in the later scene where Jack has a conversation with the imaginary Mr Grady, who is supposedly outside the dry cellar, and the camera does not jump back and forth from either side of the door. The fact that Jack’s visions are indeed entirely inside his own head is highlighted by the fact that he is completely alone inside a locked room. He is in a world (a room) completely isolated from reality, so to speak. The stainless steel door is almost prison-like, but not quite, perhaps indicating the although the human mind is not meant to be a prison, it can very easily become one.

Just before Wendy steps out of the bedroom armed with a baseball bat (leaving Danny possessed by the his imaginary friend, a personality whom Danny allows to come to the fore as a self-preservation measure), the locked door of the bedroom causes the bedroom to read as a kind of fortress, but a fortress whose walls are paper thin, and the forces of evil are literally slithering across its outer surface. It seems that the implication may be that the benefit of a fortified space is next to useless if the ever-present exterior threat of death can insinuate itself even there. You cannot feel protected in a space if the spirit of death can almost magically make the word “MURDER” appear in the bedroom mirror.

In the hallway scene where Danny attempts to open the door to room 237, the locked door causes the space to be read as being surrounded by horrendously mysterious “other” spaces. Around any corner, there may be room full of death, or at least something that would terrify you as soon as you got a glimpse of it. This door is a sturdy, double-width dark wooden door, indicating a significant barrier.



17. Joon Yang

Question: Comment on the means to describe the passage of time in this movie as compared to the Berlin and Man with a Movie camera.

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‘Shining’ and ‘Berlin, Symphony of a Great City’ presents different way of describing passage of time in that ‘Shining’ is driven by a plot in chronological order, whereas ‘Berlin’ presents the city life such as activities on streets and factory workers in no particular timeline.

Most evident technique shown in ‘Shining’ is the black screen with time indication in between shots. It first begins with ‘the closing day’ which leaps an entire season to winter time. After the text screen, the camera shows wide view on the hotel with sceneries, indicating cold weather. Then the leap gradually narrows down to indicate the day of the week, followed by time of the day. As the length of leap between scenes decreases, the width of shot also decreases from wide view, to closer shots. The gradual increase in frequency is in tact with the suspense created by plot. As fear and insanity take over the people in the hotel, it is harder for them to bear time passing by. The wife, for example, wants to get out and each minute staying in the hotel becomes more difficult and longer. The time-indicating black screen that used to appear once every month, then appears multiple times a day. The viewers are more aware of the stress put on by the time spent in the hotel. Between the black screens, however, there is no major leap of time. The shots show what happens one right after another, or multiple plots happening simultaneously. Therefore indication of chronological time sequence is critical in plot and creating atmosphere in ‘Shining’.

In ‘Berlin’, there is no apparent chronological sequence. One shot to the next show us scene in Berlin, but the sequence of the shots isn’t necessarily meaningful in terms of timeline. In broader view, however, one can assume that time of day changes, by observing shots such as street view. First there is no one walking on it, only papers flying around. Later in the film, there are crowds of people walking on streets, and what used to be an empty train stations then feature a crowd getting on and off. There is no obvious indicator of time change. Given that the purpose of the film is to show life in Berlin, time sequence between shots are less of importance. The shots in each act could have been recorded at the same time by multiple cameras. The timeline during the day matters only because different activities happen at different time of the day.



18. Ryan Yeung

Question: The geometry of the carpets in the scenes feeds into the feeling of fear by altering the general feeling of the spaces. Agree. Disagree. Explain.

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The geometry of the carpets in the hotel is definitely a method of altering the general feeling of the spaces. The feeling of fear is controlled by the music and cinematography of the film, and the carpets help create a setting that feeds into this atmosphere.

There are many aspects of this geometric pattern that helps further the atmosphere created by the director. For one, the repetitive nature creates a mesmerizing floor where your eyes can get absorbed. The first image is a prime example of how the carpet (with the framing of the shot) shows how reality is distorted. Specifically this shot, you cannot exactly tell where and what Danny is sitting on. The next shot, of room 237 has a pattern with an implied direction, inviting you further into this room. This room is where the ghost of the deceased occupies, and in doing so, the carpet helps create this ethereal atmosphere. The carpet seems to encompass the entire floor, even wrapping around the steps creating this continuous flow, which makes it seem like it could creep up the wall as well and contain the entire room. The round shapes make it seem as if the floor was melting away in a dream-like quality.

The other aspect is the colour of the chosen carpets. The carpets are definitely more vibrant than you would expect of a typical hotel. Usually hotels use calmer colours to help induce a sense of relaxation. However, in this case, especially in room 237, the colours are very distinctive and stand out. In the first image with Danny, the colours are calmer. But the geometric patterns in addition to the colours create this mesmerizing pattern. A vibrant colour is juxtaposed to a darker colour (the orange to the brown) and this pattern repeats itself throughout the hallway. This repetitive contrast creates an eye illusion that helps feed into this mysterious effect throughout the film.

The colours in room 237 are ugly and a completely unattractive choice for a floor, let alone a hotel room. But the deep emerald helps create this sense of fear, as it is unnatural and dark. Apply this to the wave-like pattern; it creates this sense of invitation, but an invitation into the unknown. All in all, the use of geometric patterned carpets was intentional and helpful in creating the atmosphere of the Overlook Hotel. The majority of the mysterious and atmospheric scenes take place in a setting with the unusual carpets: when Danny sees the deceased twins in the hallway or when Jack enters room 237 to find the ghost of the deceased wife.



19. Giovanni Comi

Question: Kubrick shoots many of the scenes “either side of the door” (the one below is the classic one, but there are many scenes where the door is a barrier to the progression of the action). How does this viewpoint manipulate your perception of the space?

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The Shining, not an horror movie but a movie about horror.

The Shining is a movie shot both inside the Overlook Hotel and outside.

Every time the scene happens inside the Hotel, doors create a labyrinthic space, closed, defined by geometrical borders and drawings (we can think about carpets and floors). Outside there is nothing like that, space is not defined, or limited; however, thanks to snow, leaving the hotel is impossible. The only exception is done by the labyrinth, which is also the only place where the scenes are played by actors.

We can find an opposition between two different labyrinths, one inside and other outside. While the first, creating a complete emotion of lonelyness and a claustrofobic feeling, drives people crazy, and leads to death, the second is the only escape hatch. The key difference is that in the Labyrinth there aren't doors, there are no barriers; there is just a free choice, it's all up to people walking there.

It seems a paradox because the hotel should be a safe place and the Labyrinth just a place where loosing the way.
The geometric maze created by doors inside the hotel is a bright reference to human mind, a reference to our human labyrinth, where doors are main entrances to subconscious. Some doors should not be open, otherwise the consequences can be scourging.

As in the picture below, door is an obstacle also when Danny finds the room 237 for the first time. Door is locked, and this impossibility to look inside, creates in the watcher a feeling of suspence, knowing that the meeting with what lives inside is just postponed, but can't be really avoid.
Door is not just a barrier, is a new sort of “surface”. It's on a door that Danny, during a trance moment writes the word REDRUM. It's important to note that the moment and the door chosen are not accidental. Indeed, the door of the bathroom is the only life line from the amok father who is knocking down the bedroom's door with his axe. It's interesting to highlight that, differently from the storeroom's door opened “by the Hotel”, this last door can be opened only by Jack's axe, now it's up to him to kill his family.

In my opinion the importance of door can also be seen during the visiting tour made by Danny, his mom and Halloran. As a matter of fact, showing different rooms, he focalizes their attention expecially on two rooms: the refrigerating room and the storeroom. Two possible solutions where to lock up someone (Jack) inside in case of danger.

Finally, according to me, another interesting aspect is the comparison between doors and mirrors.

The first are obstacles, as we can see in the picture below, or, once opened, they attract characters to evil places; on the other side, mirrors reflect reality as it is, they are the only way to look the upside down world of the Overlook Hotel. The beautiful girl met by Jack Torrance in the 237's bathroom, or the  word MURDER wrote by Danny. The only possibility to unmask the deceit is change way of looking at things.



20. Miklos Csonti

Question: Kubrick is famed for doing many hand held shots himself. How does the “lack” of a steadi-cam feed into a different perception of both the space and the action/narrative that he is telling with the space.

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The steadi-cam is used almost exclusively throughout the narrative of the film.  The static frame combined with the fluid panning of vistas creates a stage-like feel, removing the audience from the action while putting them in an overseeing position.  The resulting effect is one that builds up tension through a set of eerily staged sequences, ‘setting-up’ some sort of dramatic climax.  In direct contradiction to this method a small number of key scenes utilize hand-held shots.  The rarity of these scenes alone result in an amplifying effect, however it is the nature of the interaction between the subject and the audience within these scenes that truly creates a distinct perception of the space.

Documentary films often utilize hand-held shots to create the sense of a true-to-life experience.  Authenticity is better achieved when the viewer feels like he/she is part of the action; so what better way to do so than to take the place of the cameraman?  Simply due to the nature of recording an event with a hand-held camera, the recorded scene is given a human perspective.  The scene doesn’t try to analyze everything at once; instead it focuses on the specifics one at a time, much like we experience the real world.  As a result, we perceive the scene to be much more interactive than it really is.

As ‘The Shining’ is filmed mostly using the previously mentioned method of panning vistas utilizing the steadi-cam, the audience gets comfortable in their seats watching the drama unfold.  However when the direction takes a drastic turn and adopts a hand-held camera (as is the case during the grand stair scene) the space seems to become more intimate as well as the events seem to become more immediate. The scene lifts us out of our distant vantage point and puts us directly into the state of urgency experienced by the characters.  The instability of the camera itself translates into the scene to convey a feeling of vertigo as we look down at Jack stalking Wendy up the stairs with his creepy face.

The method is also explicitly used to convey a first-person perspective whenever a character approaches and enters room 237.  With the characters taken out of the scene the focus is shifted to the surrounding environment, which seemingly becomes more interactive.  We open doors, navigate around objects, and analyze points of interest.  At this point we are totally submerged in the scene as all the actions and footsteps of the cameraman are translated into visual implications. We become the characters; and as a direct result an additional element of fear is present due to the uncertainty of what lies in the areas NOT within our view.

The few hand-held shots scattered throughout the movie work well as moments of climax.  There is a sense of urgency in the shots that imply some sort of event for a resolution.  This method, however, heavily relies on the dichotomy it creates when seen opposite to the steadi-cam shots used to build up tension and anticipation.  It is the heterogeneous mixture of two methods working together that is able to truly instil a sense of fear in the viewer.



21. Joel DiGiacomo

Question: Comment on the use of close up views of the characters in the film. How does this alter the feeling of the mood of the film? Are Kubrick's close ups different from those of other directors (either that we have seen this term or other films that you might like to cite).

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A close–up shot, which frames the head and the upper torso of a subject, is typically used in film when focus on a specific character’s actions is essential to the understanding of the dialogue. An extreme close–up, where only the face fills the frame, is usually used by a director when a character’s deeper emotion is of concern, often almost as if the camera were trying to get into the character’s head.

There’s an eery consistency throughout The Shining of chest–up close–up shots. Whether the scene is calm or highly tense, this is the shot that is used in dialogue. Kubrick only produces a closer shot of his characters—an extreme close–up—by slowly zooming in from a slightly further shot, rather than cutting to it immediately. He is somewhat famous for his use of this kind of shot, in his case nicknamed “the glare”, where he depicts a character in an emotional or psychological crisis. This filmis unique though in that the extreme close–ups also denote a supernatural occurrence, or that the character’s sixth sense, so to speak, is in turmoil. Directors of other films tend to use an extreme close–up much less selectively.

In each of Danny’s visions, Jack’s slow mental breakdown, and Dick’s prescient fear, the extreme close–up is accompanied not only by extreme emotional stress, but with a strong indication that “the shining” is in action. The music of the film works in much the same way, albeit with less consistency, in that it manifests itself primarily whenever a paranormal phenomenon is brewing. Interestingly enough, the only main character in the film not to be the subject of an extreme close–up, despite significant emotional trauma, is Wendy. Unlike the other characters, she never experiences an apparition until after Jack has committed a murder.



22. Alejandro Fernandez

Question: Comment on the use of backlighting (silhouette) in many shots throughout the film. How does this alter the feeling of the architectural space and mood of the film?

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In ‘The Shining’, backlighting is used as a technique to set the mood and alter the architectural space of the film.  In the scenes inside the hotel, backlighting functions as a technique that ‘reveals’, as it leaks into the hotel with subtle variations of intensity.  In the scene where Danny and Wendy are watching television, the viewer’s attention is directed specifically towards the images on the television screen.  This is possible because the objects in the foreground: furniture, Danny, Wendy, and the frame of the television itself, are rendered flat by the light that enters through the large windows in the background.  Here, backlighting, works as a revealing device by eliminating the depth of the objects in the foreground—creating silhouettes—and directing attention elsewhere.  The attention placed on the images of the television refer to the scene immediately preceding this one, where Tony tells Danny to not be afraid of the visions that he has seen because they are not real—like images in a book (or television).

Backlighting is also used to create the hazy and eerie mood that prevails in the hotel as Wendy fearfully tiptoes her way through the hotel.  As the light glows through the windows and creates various gradations of silhouettes, it hints at the invisible presence that is the cause of the character and audience’s fear.  By altering the depth of the scene with light, Kubrick presents the audience with scenes that are perhaps mere visions, like the one’s Danny sees.      

In the scene where Danny and Jack are racing through the labyrinth, the silhouette is created by the powerful exterior light fixtures at the depths of the scene and in turn frames the very light that creates it.  The intensity of the cool light merges with the snow on the ground and the tall hedges.  As a result, the light and the snow appear as one ephemeral substance and contrasts starkly with Danny’s figure and the parts of the hedge that are snow-free.  Kubrick has used this technique to stage the cathartic confrontation between Jack and Danny.  Of course, what Jack is really confronting is the ‘shining’ (the presence itself) which has been the cause of his madness.  In this pivotal scene, the ‘shining’ that has been present in Danny, as his ‘gift’—but clearly also a curse— is now revealed fully by the silhouette.  Thus, Kubrick suggests the presence of the ‘shining’ throughout the film by using backlighting in various intensities, which set the mood and manipulate the architectural space of the film.



23. Tania Fuizie

Question: Many of the exterior scenes are shot through “less clear” conditions (snow, night, fog). How does this impact the reading of the space and sense of the story?

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In the shining the scenes, the choices of space and quality of camera view and, all, direct the viewer into the sense of fear and horror.  The interior of the hotel is defined by who is placed in it and how they translate the space into the feelings. It is manipulated through the eyes of each of the family members. Danny asks if this is a bad place and tony does not want to go there. Jack just loves it and wants to be there forever. And everything is so clear inside.

The exterior scenes are less clear than the shots from the inside. It is vague and gives the impression that like we don’t know what is happening. The unclearness of it will lead us to feel that something is going to be wrong afterwards especially when the scene changes and goes inside of the hotel. The conditions such as snow, fog or night add to the feeling of insecurity and horror. Such conditions strengthen the puzzle of not knowing what is happening and anything might come out of everywhere that is not clearly presented.

From the outside nothing can be certain and there are always so many questions from the exterior. No one will know the truth from the outside unless they go in which also adds to the sense of fear and the tension of going back to what is waiting inside. The uncertainty about the exterior also gives an impression that it is less important than what happens inside the hotel. The camera leaves the exterior vague and focuses on the spaces and details from the interior. It shows that it is the hotel itself and the interior that is causing all of the terror.

The snow and fog transfer the feeling of cold an unsafe condition outside but at the same time although it is vague but it’s somehow feels safer. At the end Danny and Wendy wants to get out of the hotel and they seek help from outside and help always came from the exterior although it looked somehow more fearful but the reality is different from what the camera shows. The interior, the building normally should act as a shelter from what is coming from the wild nature, but here it is the opposite and maybe it’s the reason that we don’t see the exterior as clear as we should and it stays vague until the end of the movie.



24. John Lee

Question: Many of the scenes are shot in corridors. Many of these fairly innocuous/banal from an architectural perspective. Why do you think he chose this room type and what in particular makes this a frightening setting (in the way Kubrick has filmed these scenes)?

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The Overlook Hotel’s corridors are Kubrick’s instruments of tension in The Shining, facilitating his manipulation of the viewer’s uneasiness. The Torrance family, too, seems discomforted; they feel trapped by the hotel’s unforgiving isolation and incongruous vastness, and burdened with its dark history.

While the film takes on an ominous tone from the start, the corridors are depicted as mundane, innocuous spaces, establishing a datum of reality that contradicts the hotel’s supernatural phenomena. Though atypical for the genre, Kubrick ensures that The Shining is frighteningly real; in an interview with Michel Clement, acknowledged the powerful scale of the hotel, realizing the “labyrinthine layout and huge rooms […] would alone provide an eerie enough atmosphere.” 1 This realism can be attributed to Kubrick’s admiration of Franz Kafka:
This realistic approach was also followed in the lighting, and in every aspect of the decor it seemed to me that the perfect guide for this approach could be found in Kafka's writing style. His stories are fantastical and allegorical, but his writing is simple and straightforward, almost journalistic.2

Furthermore, Kafka often wrote long, run-on sentences that would “deliver an unexpected impact just before the full stop.”3   Similarly, Kubrick utilized long, deliberate tracking shots through the corridors — often accompanied by ominous music and fraught with tension — to emphasize their scale and complexity; early in the film, Wendy exclaims, “this place is such an enormous maze I feel like I’ll have to leave a trail of bread crumbs every time I come in!”4

Indeed, the hotel’s corridors, and their outdoor counterpart, the hedge maze, establish a labyrinthine iconography that reinforces the notion that the hotel suppresses some supernatural, violent force ;5 the Labyrinth of Greek mythology was essentially an elaborate enclosure, built to contain the Minotaur .6 In The Shining, the eerily innocuous interiors are analogous to Freud’s concept of the Ego, grounded in reality, which checks the more impulsive Id:
[The Id] is the dark, inaccessible part of our personality, what little we know of it we have learnt from our study of the dream-work and of the construction of neurotic symptoms, and most of this is of a negative character […] we call it a chaos, a cauldron full of seething excitation… It is filled with energy reaching it from the instincts, but it has no organisation […] only a striving to bring about the satisfaction of the instinctual needs subject to the observance of the pleasure principle. 7

The inauspicious influence of the id on the ego is clear in the hotel’s corridors. As Danny rides his tricycle through the hotel, each room and corridor is startlingly different from the next, emphasizing the confusing scale of the Overlook and alluding to the Id’s “chaos.” Eventually, the hotel cannot help but lead Danny to the open door of Room 237. Danny’s extrasensory alter-ego, Wendy’s nightmarish visions, and Jack’s personal demons — not only his own alcoholism and depression, but the bartender and custodian too — are all manifestations of the hotel’s Id overwhelming its Ego.

This diagram of the regions of the human brain illustrates a physical similarity between the labyrinthine, distinctly-divided corridors and the brain itself. Source:

The corridors of the Overlook Hotel are central to important metaphors in The Shining. Their complexity and scale is invokes the mythological Labyrinth and the violent Minotaur lurking inside of it; yet, they appear innocuous, creating a tension between good and evil analogous to that between Id and Ego. As so much as the film depends on these ambiguous “non-spaces”, the Torrance family — and Kubrick’s viewers — find themselves in a sort of purgatory, waiting for the resolution of good and evil.

1 Complete interview transcript can be found at (

2 Ibid.

4 Here, Kubrick coyly foreshadows the escape from the labyrinth, casting Wendy in the role of Ariadne.

5 Though irrelevant to topic at hand (corridors) and therefore not elaborated in this paper, Kubrick suggests this force could also be Native American spirits: the hotel manager mentions that the hotel was built on an Indian burial ground; the décor in main hall and the lounge feature Native American motifs;  and Jack makes a veiled reference to the “white man’s guilt” when he quotes Rudyard Kipling at the bar.

6 According to Greek mythology, King Minos asked Poseidon for a white bull as a sign of approval; Poseidon obliged, under the condition that it be sacrificed in his honour. Instead, Minos, taken with the bull’s beauty, kept it, and consequently Poseidon caused Minos’ wife, Pasiphaë, to fall in love with the bull. Wanting to consummate her attraction, she had Daedalus build her a wooden cow; as a result, the Minotaur was born. From Wikipedia, Minotaur.

7 Wikipedia, Id, Ego, and Super-Ego.,_ego,_and_super-ego



25. Rob Micacchi

Question: Describe the use of the colour “red” in the film. How has this colour choice impacted the manipulation of the presentation of the spaces in the film? It is too obvious? If not, why?

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26. Raja Moussaoui

Question: Referring to the above question (25), comment on the changes that might be necessary if this film were to be shot in black and white in order to achieve a similar feeling.

If the colour red is used in the presentation of the spaces in the film to foreshadow and symbolize danger, fear, anger, blood, passion and pain; some significant changes would have to be made to achieve a similar feeling if shot in black and white.

Red is easily recognized for its symbolism since it is so deeply ingrained in the human psyche. For example, it is the colour of blood, the colour of our warning signs, and it has a long history of association with extreme emotions. It is a dramatic colour and can be easily employed to make clear references in film-making. Therefore, it seems that it would be difficult to achieve the same effect that red would bring to a cinematic image with black and white, and perhaps the outcome would have to be a more literal representation, or a more subtle one.

I can imagine a literal representation of the foreshadowing of danger to be a set of warning signs, or physical clues that appear in the film. I could image posters or newspaper articles which appear in the background of the action in the film, which are not referred to directly by the characters but infer the warning of danger to come. Physical objects which represent dangerous tools could also appear. Swords or other weapons on display as decoration in the hotel, large cleavers hanging in the kitchen, and perhaps dead animal corpses being hung instead of stacked on shelves in the storage fridge to elaborate on the form of the dead bodies. Also, certain spaces could be presented as being quite small or claustrophobic, so that the characters in the film feel as though there are no means for escape from a dangerous situation.

A more subtle way of achieving the atmosphere of fear in a black and white film is the use of light and shadow. The use of sharp contrasts between light and dark could indicate an alarming or intense situation. Hard shadow lines could be used to lead your eye to an unfamiliar space or mysterious corner of a room. Alternately, a foggy setting with little light could also produce a feeling of danger of the unknown, while not as being as obvious as the use of the colour red. In this instance, black and white filming could be considered an effective yet elegant solution. However, in the case of The Shining, colours (red, blue, white, yellow) play such a symbolic and metaphorical role on so many levels, that many of those references would be lost had the film been shot in black and white.



27. Holly Young

Question: What changes would be necessary to translate this film into a play? Talk about the types of sets required and the ability to use the weather to alter your interpretation of the spaces.

The Shining would be a difficult film to translate into live theatre.  Much of the film’s power comes from transforming the initially benign (though somewhat intimidating and badly decorated) spaces of the Overlook Hotel into settings for terror using various filming techniques including extreme camera angles, long view shots, aerial views, close-ups and hand-held camera work.  The immensity of the sets, used to evoke feelings of individual insignificance, emptiness and isolation, would be almost impossible to duplicate on stage when you consider the spatial limitations and mobility requirements associated with live theatre. 

In order to translate the atmosphere achieved in Kubrick’s The Shining into a live theatrical production, several changes would need to be made.  First, the number of different sets would need to be reduced (i.e. one corridor that symbolically stands in for all the various hallways in the film), and the script altered to remove any quick cuts between different scenes (as set changes require time).  Also, the moods created by the filming techniques described earlier would need to be echoed in stage design counterparts that achieve the same tone.  As in the movie, one could parallel Jack’s descent into madness with sets that develop an increased feeling of isolation and fear over the course of the storyline.  For instance, techniques that may be used to gradually elicit unease from the audience could include stage lighting that becomes progressively more dramatic as time passes, and set pieces built on jacks that tilt - creating angles that become more exaggerated each time they are brought onstage.  An alternate method could be to use highly stylized sets (i.e. excessively texture or angular, perhaps incorporating forced perspective) that, when lit a certain way, cast dark shadows.  Also, the geometric, optical-illusion carpets that are so prevalent in the film could be transferred as wall treatments, duplicating the unsettling feeling they induce in the movie on the stage.  Finally, sound, or more specifically the use of echoes, could also be a huge asset in portraying just how large some of the spaces are meant to be and creating that same feeling of isolation experienced in the movie.

Weather is also an important aspect in The Shining, as it is the major factor isolating the family in the hotel from the rest of society.  It is, in fact, the very reason the hotel is closed and required a caretaker over the winter season.  However, weather cannot be portrayed the same way in live theatre as it is in the film.  Instead of exterior shots showing the snow gradually piling up outside, a play could make use of dialog to describe the deteriorating conditions.  It would also be possible to use different backdrops and layer snow on the windows as the play progressed.  In the scenes of The Shining that took place outside, snow and fog were used to obscure the view.   In order to mimic this effect in live theatre, a translucent white screen could be used in front of the players, and backlit, to achieve the same ‘masked’ feel that the film realizes.



27. Ashley Wood

Question: Discuss the use of the various materials in the film with respect to the way that they feed into the sense of fear and anxiety in the film. (metal/knives/axe/pots, liquid/blood, carpet, wood, plaster, mirrors and any other materials that you feel are key to the development of the sensibility of the spaces as they support the plot.

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The use of materiality in the Shining conveys to the viewer, the illustrated world of Jack’s schizophrenia as he beings to be pulled through the undercurrent of his manic, disordered and distorted world. The various color ways, repetition of elements and bipolar discourse of the corridors instill the viewer with a sense of fear and anxiety which is the occupational disfunction of the character Jack and the aim of Kubrick.

Early perceptions from the initial tour of the hotel, as Jack commences work and the family arrive, place the spaces and materials within the allusions of daily life. The viewer is shown connections and correlations between spaces, development and underlines of stories which relate to spaces and function within them. These connection begin to be distorted and broken down as the mental capabilities of Jack decent. This is exemplified through the polar aspects of changes in materials as he circulates through disconnected circulation corridors from the orange abstracted carpet to the clinical and cold spaces such as the green corridors and kitchen areas.

Tension builds in the film as the viewer listens to the metronome of Danny riding his tricycle across the two surface, wood and carpet. These uneasy tones of the every day banality again instills a realism between where the threshold of manic and the sane lie.

The viewer is then assured of the realism of Jack’s disillusion when presented with the lustrous materials of the newly renovated ball room. The manifestation of this warm and welcoming area of social interaction begin to clarify that what he is experiencing is himself living in the normal and has the confidence that his actions are justified.

Again this assurance become further defined as he converses with Dilbert Grady in the washroom of two pure colours, red and white. Red symbolising the manic intensity and the security of his own ambitions combine with nature of white, as the shining, and the affirmative of intent.

Lastly the material of snow plays an exemplary role in illustrating the cold which is Jack’s Madness and the helplessness of Wendy as she is also isolated with the nature of Jack’s cognitions. This material begin to pile up and fortify the inhabitants of its condition.
Kubrick’s translation of materiality in The Shining asserts a tone of fear and anxiety which is the psychological conditions the characters are experiencing. This effect conveys to the audience the manic state and bipolar nature of this state. 



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