The Shining

It was as though, I'd been here before...

An Explanation

(I wrote this sometime in 2005.  I've edited it slightly, correcting grammar mistakes).-last updated: May 16th, 2014 9:38pm

Sometime in 2004 I really started to study The Shining. IMDb was the main reason in doing so, and where I first read about the "reincarnation theory", which propelled me to dig deeper into the movie.  I soon became fascinated with the hidden meanings and moved on to discover Kubrick's other movies. A Clockwork Orange, Eyes Wide Shut, 2001.  All great movies. I'm glad I looked into the film, because it really showed me what one man can do with a film.

I used to frequently help people who asked questions about The Shining on the IMDb forum from about 2005-2010 or so. Almost daily at least one person would ask about the ending. I used to respond right away so they'd have a quick answer. But lately, people have been replying "You've got it all wrong, it suggests the hotel has asborbed Jack", or other theories I just don't agree with.  While having a different opinion is great, the way people think they've got it all figured out is beyond annoying.  If I do happen to be in the mood to give a thorough explanation, I make it a point to include the caveat that what I say is merely my opinion, and that there are many others.  I feel I've made my mark, and others are aware of the multiple answers. It's up to the viewer to decipher everything I guess, and to decide what the ending really means (despite what Kubrick has said about it)

The Shining: An Explanation From a Fan

The Ending

The thing that makes this film so interesting are the afterthoughts, the mysteries. I can't even count the number of times I've heard the question "What does the ending mean? What's up with the photo?" Well, the only logical explanation I can think of is the "Reincarnation theory". Towards the middle of this movie there's a scene where Wendy brings Jack breakfast in bed. They have a little dicussion about the hotel, and Jack says "...When I came up here for my interview, it was as though I had been here before. I mean, we all have moments of déjà vu, but this was ridiculous. It was almost as though I knew what was going to be around every corner." . Well, this is a hint to the audience that Jack was there before. He was once the caretaker of The Overlook in the 1920's*. Hence the photo at the end, dated "July 4th, 1921". The Jack we see alive is a reincarnation of a "Jack" from the 1920's.  Another question often asked is why the hotel is haunted. It isn't well explained in the movie, in fact there's only a brief moment when it's mentioned.  Stuart Ullman, the manager of the hotel, says that when the hotel was being built in 1907, the builders had to actually fight off Indian attacks. Apparently the hotel is built over an ancient burial ground. So this could mean that the Indians are the real ones haunting the film, and are out for revenge.

*After sticking to the reincarnation theory for so long, I was a bit dumbfounded not to notice a very blantant error.  Caretakers, like the Torrances, were at the hotel when it was closed from late October to May 15th.  So 1920's "Jack" couldn't have been the caretaker.  We see him surrounded by guests on the 4th of July.  So who exactly was he back then?  The owner?  A celebrity?  We'll never know...


In The Shining, there's a scene towards the end of a man in a suit/tuxedo, and another man dressed up in a bear costume. This scene is probably the most bizarre scene throughout the whole movie. It could even top the lady in the bathroom scene, but it depends on your view point. Anyways, the man in the suit/tuxedo in sitting at the end of a bed, with the man in a bear suit kneeling down level to the other mans....privates. Now they aren't naked, but we the audience must assume what they were doing. What makes this so bizarre is that there's no explanation. The entire scene is probably no more than 10 seconds long, and has no other reference to it throughout the entire movie. But it does show that Kubrick brought things from the book into his movie.

In the book, one of the former care-takers of the hotel was a man named Horace Derwent, "a Howard Hughes-like figure who poured millions into restoring the Overlook Hotel in the 1920's." Mr. Derwent has a secret, romantic crush though. His crush is one of the party guests. The only odd thing about this is that the crush is a man. Horace Derwent was un-surprised by this(if memory serves, Horace was bi-sexual), and said if his crush "dresses like a nice doggy, and acts like a nice doggy, he 'may' be willing to sleep with him."

"Later on, in the novel, as Wendy is warily navigating the corridors of the Overlook, she begins to see the visions of the 1920's party. And at one point, peering around a corner, she sees the two men on a bed, one in a doggy costume. The two men are Derwent and his extremely dependent lover.

It's difficult to say why this second scene remains in the film; as it's somewhat confounding without all of the set-up that King provides in his book. Perhaps its jarring incongruity is reason enough for its inclusion, illustrating as it does Wendy's extreme disorientation at that point in the film. Another explanation is that the background on Derwent may have been scripted and filmed, but excised in the final cut."

note: Text in quotes and italicization taken from http://www.visual-memory.couk/faq/inde x.html#slot3

So, all seems well that Kubrick simply added this scene into the movie. But one thing just doesn't add up. Why it is a bear, and not a dog? Well, to that question, I have no answer. I simply cannot explain why it is a bear, and not a dog costume. Maybe my eyes have been playing tricks on me,but it sure does look like a bear costume in the movie. I'll leave it to you guys to choose which of the two it looks like.

The following was written by FaceDog-alert, a member of the IMDb forums:

Differences between the book and movie:

In the novel:

We learn a lot of backstory such as: Weny's poor relationship with her mother. Jack and some of his childhood, mainly his abusive father. Exactly why Jack had to get a new job(because he hit a "Jack-alike&qu ot; student called George Hatfield). Jack and Wendy's relation ship/rocky marriage.

Other peoples stories: Roger the Dogman and Harry Derwent(the homosexual couple who scare the hell out of Wendy at the end of the movie.: (From my other post) Roger (the dogman) and the former owner of the hotel, Harry Derwent. In the twenties they spent a weekend in Cuba, together. Roger is in love with Harry, but his love is unrequited. Roger still "follows him everywhere, wagging his little tail as he goes".

At the ball Harry tells Roger that if he dresses up as "a nice doggy" and does tricks at the party, he will reconsider their relationship.

Roger does as he's told and he and Harry have sex, as seen in the movie, but soon afterwards Harry abondons Roger yet again.

Room 237-Room 217

The Old Lady of Room 217: An elderly woman who liked to tap into her youth through younger lovers. When one of these young men fails to turn up she killed herself in the bath.

She was seen by a maid of the Overlook, who could shine and the maid told Dick Hallorann the cook, who checked it out.

The Overlook We learn some history of the Overlook such as... I can remember that mobsters stayed there, one mafia leader was killed there. There was a lot of shady business such as suicide, prostitution, murder. I can't remember much else.

In the novel Jack is actually writing a play called "The Little School" which is kind of based on his experiences with Hatfield. Jack gives up after a while when he realizes how he epathises with the bitter, jealous teacher than the hero.

There are different ghosts at the Overlook, like: A boy in a concrete ring which Danny was playing in. Only Danny sees the old lady(who's backstory is explained) in Room 217. Jack sees George Hatfield (in a dream sequence). When Jack was in Room 217 he left out of fear before he saw anything.

The finale: Differences in the end: Jack uses a roque mallet rather than an axe, Jack hits Wendy with it a few times, Jack beats up Hallorann with the mallet but failed to kill him, Danny briefly reaches his father who then smashes his own face with the mallet, destroying Jack Torrance and leaving only "The Overlook", Jack forgets to check on the boiler, which means that the family can escape with Dick and "Jack" dies in the explosion. There is a Disney movie-like scene at the lake at the end. It sucked.

Other differences: Wendy was much stronger than her movie self.
Jack was much nicer than his movie self.
Danny was... about the same.

Where are they now?

As of 2005:

Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall still have active acting careers.

Danny Lloyd did one movie after The Shining (Will: The Autobiography of G. Gordon Liddy, 1982). Rumor has it he is currently working as a schoolteacher in Pekin, Illinois.

Lisa and Louise Burns ("The Shining Twins") are living in London and pursued careers outside of acting (Lisa has a degree in Literature and Language, while Louise is a microbiologist).

Scatman Crothers died November 22, 1986 of lung cancer.

Stanley Kubrick died March 7, 1999 of natural causes. qs/f/faq_shining_fiv.htm

So, there you have it. I have more I could put, but I thought this was enough for now. Have a nice day.

Note: This is only my explanation. There is no official saying if what I say is 100% true. But I've been watching this film for years, and feel that it could be a great explanation. Please leave comments concerning this.