What You May Have Overlooked in THE SHINING

Danny (played by Danny Lloyd) looks up from playing with his toys as he sits on the geometric-shaped, orange, brown, and red carpet in the middle of the hallway of the Overlook Hotel in The Shining (1980)

Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (1980) has been widely considered as the best big-screen adaptation of a Stephen King novel (though King himself wasn’t much of a fan) and has built up one of the largest cult followings in movie history—and for good reason. Stanley Kubrick is very well known for his attention to detail—leaving small clues and homages in each scene that drive audiences crazy! With thousands of fans obsessively trying to piece together scenes, explain the movie’s idiosyncrasies, and develop theories about the movie, there still remains an abundance of mysteries behind The Shining.

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With the release of Doctor Sleep (the long-awaited sequel to the classic King story) set to arrive at Regal this Friday, November 8th, we wanted to pay homage to the movie’s powerful predecessor. So without further ado, HEEEEERE’S a list of things you may have missed in The Shining


All work and no play...

The Shining-Jack's writing

In one of the most iconic (and heart-pounding) moments of the movie’s climax, Wendy stumbles in to find Jack's "work" with thousands of pages riddled with the same line, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” But if you look closely, you’ll notice that some of the words actually vary. One of the more interesting alterations of the line is "All work and no play makes Jack adult boy." It may be easy to go unnoticed, but it’s these subtle changes that make Kubrick the master of cult movies.

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Jack’s necktie

The Shining-Jack Nicholson
Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) in The Shining (1980)

For those that have rewatched the movie a few times, you may have noticed that the tie around Jack’s neck at the beginning of the movie strongly resembles the iconic hedge maze that he dies in at the end of the movie. Just a simple (and well placed) bit of foreshadowing of Jack’s spiral into madness. 


Green Jack, red Jack

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Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) in The Shining (1980)

Speaking of Jack’s wardrobe, you may have noticed a color change in his outfits between the start of the movie and the end. In the first act of The Shining, Jack is only seen wearing shades of green. This may be to resemble his sanity and nature in the beginning of the movie, but if Disney has taught us anything, we know that the color green is the harbinger of evil. After Jack has the nightmare about Wendy and Danny, he can only be seen wearing the color red—no explanation needed there, we’re sure. 


The impossible window

The Shining-Barry Nelson
Ullman (Barry Nelson) in The Shining (1980)

Stanley Kubrick and his team designed the set of The Shining to be eerie and unsettling to the audience. This was achieved by building the layout of the Overlook Hotel to be (at times) physically impossible. The biggest occurence of this set design is shown early in the movie when Jack enters Stuart Ullman’s office for his interview. We see a window opening up to a scenic view of the Colorado mountains, but later in the movie Wendy passes behind that very office, revealing that it backs up to the hallway where we find the body of Hallorann. Was this an error, or just another ploy by Kubrick to disorient the audience? 

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A Teddy bear

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Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) in The Shining (1980)

When Jack begins to descend into madness, we see him stumbling past a Teddy bear, cloaked in red, lying on the floor of the hallway. Flash forward to the climax of the movie where we find an axe-wielding Jack; it’s that same exact location of the hallway where Jack murders Hallorann and leaves his body. This placement of the bear wasn’t just a coincidence, but some brilliant foreshadowing done by Kubrick.  

“The loser has to keep America clean” 

The Shining-maze
Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and Danny (Danny Lloyd) in The Shining (1980)

A quick line delivered by Shelley Duvall in a segue scene where her and Danny rush off to the maze may be one of the most unnoticed lines in the movie, yet it holds a significant message, referencing the “Keep America Beautiful” Public Service Announcements from the 1970’s. In the interview scene, Mr. Ullman informs Jack that The Overlook Hotel "is supposed to be located on an Indian burial ground." These two instances may seem disconnected, but Native Americans are referenced continuously throughout the movie in multiple shots revealing Native American art, photographs, and symbols. 


Honorable Mention—Pixar 

Toy Story-Buzz and Woody
Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and Woody (Tom Hanks) in Toy Story (1995)

It has been known that there are some big fans of The Shining over at the Pixar labs, including Pixar director Lee Unkrich, who has directed and co-directed five feature movies including Toy Story 2 (1999), Monsters, Inc. (2001), Finding Nemo (2003), and Coco (2017). Unkrich (among others) has been known to slip in little references to Kubrick within scenes of these animated movies. The most noticeable Pixar homage to Kubrick was the carpet pattern of Sid’s house in Toy Story which directly resembles that of the carpet at The Overlook. 

There have been many occurrences where the icons of The Shining have been referenced including a license plate reading “RM237” on a garbage truck in Toy Story 2, the “Heeeere’s Brucey!” line delivered by Bruce the shark in Finding Nemo, and even a painting of the Grady twins in Frida Kahlo’s underworld art studio from Coco.


Catch the next chapter of The Shining's story in Doctor Sleep, coming to Regal this Friday. 

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