Tube Underground map of The Shining

The Shining - Hidden in Plain Sight

About The Shining:

"The Shining" is a horror film directed by Stanley Kubrick, based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King. It was released in 1980 and has since become a classic in the horror genre.

Kubrick began work on the film in 1977, after having read King's novel. The story follows Jack Torrance, an aspiring writer and recovering alcoholic, who takes a job as the winter caretaker of the isolated Overlook Hotel in the Colorado Rockies. Jack, his wife Wendy, and their young son Danny move into the hotel, planning to spend the winter months in seclusion. Danny possesses psychic abilities known as "the shining," which allows him to see the hotel's dark past and the malevolent spirits that haunt it.

mike bell tube map the shining detail

As the winter progresses and the family becomes more isolated, the supernatural forces in the hotel begin to prey on Jack's weaknesses and slowly drive him mad. His descent into madness results in violent behaviour, putting his wife and son in grave danger.

While Wendy and Danny try to escape the hotel, Jack ultimately succumbs to the dark forces within the Overlook. The film concludes with a chilling twist, revealing Jack's eerie connection to the hotel's sinister history.

Kubrick made significant changes to the story from the book, much to King's dissatisfaction. For example, in the book, the hotel's topiary animals come to life, but in the film, a maze replaces them. Kubrick also changed the ending, leaving it more ambiguous than the book's conclusion.

The film was shot over a period of 13 months, with the exterior shots of the Overlook Hotel filmed at the Timberline Lodge in Oregon, and the interior shots filmed on soundstages in England. The production was famously arduous, with Kubrick demanding multiple takes and attention to detail.

The Shining underground map detail

"The Shining" was released to mixed reviews but has since become a cult classic and a landmark in the horror genre. It has been praised for its atmospheric cinematography, unsettling music, and iconic performances by Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance and Shelley Duvall as his wife, Wendy.

The film has also been the subject of much analysis and interpretation, with many viewers debating its meaning and symbolism:

  • The maze: The hedge maze outside the Overlook Hotel is seen as a symbol of the labyrinthine nature of the human mind, and the difficulty of navigating the unconscious. The maze also represents the isolation and disorientation that the characters experience.
  • The colour red: The colour red appears prominently in the film, particularly in the form of the blood that floods the elevator. Red is often associated with violence, death, and danger, and is seen as a symbol of the violence and madness that overtakes the characters.
  • The bear costume: In one scene, a character is seen performing a sexual act on a man in a bear costume. This is frequently interpreted as a symbol of the unnatural and perverse desires that lurk beneath the surface of human behaviour.
  • The Apollo 11 jumper: The jumper worn by Danny, which features the Apollo 11 rocket, is seen as a reference to Kubrick's alleged involvement in faking the moon landing. Some viewers see the film as Kubrick's confession to this conspiracy.
  • The Indian burial ground: The Overlook Hotel is built on an Indian burial ground, which is seen as a symbol of the guilt and violence of American history. The hotel is haunted by the ghosts of the past, which represent the unresolved traumas and injustices of the past.

It's worth noting that many of these interpretations are subjective and controversial, and not everyone agrees on their meaning or significance. However, they all speak to the power of symbolism in art, and the ways in which viewers can find meaning and insight in even the most seemingly straightforward works.


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