here is a website devoted to obsessional detail (de)construction of the Discovery and how it might all actually work if it were real.
However, when I recently acquired a copy of the US version of The Shining, and watched the additional twenty three mins of footage that are not in the European release, I quickly noticed another set design flaw of a similar nature.
Room 237 doesn’t exist. Its cartoonish décor, just like the surrounding hallways, is a figment of Danny’s imagination. It’s a symbolic representation of the Torrance apartment manifested in a dream sequence. This is why the rooms have a similar layout. It’s also why we see multiple aesthetic parallels with the fatherly love scene.
One of the things that makes this so difficult to figure out is that the acceptance of room 237 as a dream sequence requires a change in the film’s narrative structure. But the answer is actually staring us in the face if we pay enough attention to both scenes.
There’s a really bizarre piece of editing. After Jack sees the rotting woman in the mirror he begins staggering out of the room, pursued by the woman with her hands reaching out in a strangling gesture. But this cuts back and forth to the woman lying in the bath tub, slowly sitting up. Remember also that Danny was told by his mother in the lobby not to wake up Jack while getting his fire engine from the bedroom. Have you made the connection yet?
Danny was strangled by Jack in the fatherly love scene for having woken him up. The conversation in the fatherly love scene was a false reassurance, and Kubrick ended the scene just as Jack was about to turn nasty. This's why the scene featured melancholy music that ended with a sudden jolt as we shifted to the next scene. It’s also why we are shown the rotting woman rising out of the bath tub – it’s a parallel of Jack being woken up in bed.
Any film subjected to the kind of scrutiny applied here will reveal moments of spatial impossibility.
Here are just three reasons why:
Cinematic geography is largely transient. The audience pays attention to where things are within a scene, which is why we worry about camera direction and crossing the line. But the minute you cut to another scene, our brains safely discard the perceived geography.
Sets are designed to do things real locations can't. Walls move, giving the director the choice (and decision) how much to bend reality in order to position a camera where it couldn't physically be.
Even when movies use real locations, they are often assembled from various pieces. The exterior of the Overlook Hotel is actually The Timberline Lodge in Oregon. And yes: the rooflines and windows don't match closely with Kubrick's sets.
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