The Daily Beast: “The Shining”: The Craziest Theories Behind the Film


Since Under the Dome premiered a few weeks ago, Stephen King–the author of the book the CBS miniseries is based upon–has been making headlines and his name is coming up more frequently in conversations at the water cooler. Whenever an episode airs on Monday nights, the news program that runs afterwards even features an interview segment with the acclaimed horror literary genius. Recently, King announced through promos during commercial breaks for Under the Dome that his latest work Doctor Sleep–a sequel to his 1977 book The Shining–would be released this September. Fans salivated at the thought of a reunion with their favorite protagonist, Danny Torrance–now middle-aged and working in a nursing home. In this story, he must use his powers to protect children with the “shining” in a fight of good versus evil.

In spirit of this buzz surrounding King, I’d like to take a look back at The Shining in an article I wrote for The Daily Beast in March about the oddball theories surrounding Stanley Kubrick’s film version, called “The Shining: The Craziest Theories Behind the Film.”

It’s hard to shake that pivotal scene in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining when young Danny Torrance (Danny Lloyd) repeatedly croaks “REDRUM” in a trance and writes the phrase in lipstick on the bedroom door. His mother, Wendy Torrance (Shelley Duvall), sees the reflection of the words in a mirror and has the horrifying revelation that it spells “MURDER” backwards.

That was just one of the many clever scenes in Kubrick’s deliciously deviant horror film that has been engrained in the minds of fans ever since its release in 1980. Although the film started off with mixed reviews from critics, it’s become a cult classic, giving acolytes over 30 years to obsess over the film’s “hidden themes.”

Rodney Ascher, the director of documentary Room 237—out in select theaters and video-on-demand tomorrow—had a huge undertaking covering the countless conspiracy theories—from the outlandish to the potentially plausible. In a combination of intricately-edited video clips and interviews with Kubrick aficionados—from a veteran ABC News correspondent to a history college professor and conspiracy hunter, the film lets audiences peek into an obsessive world largely unfamiliar to them, and allows them to fall back in love with the film as if they’re watching it anew.

Did Kubrick really base his film on the Holocaust or play a major role in faking the Apollo 11 moon landing? The Daily Beast looks at some of the battiest theories inRoom 237WARNING: Major spoilers ahead.

Native American Genocide

When Stephen King wrote the original novel for The Shining—which was reworked by Kubrick for his screenplay adaptation—he based the haunted Overlook Hotel on the 140-room Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. Reporter Bill Blakemore pointed out in Room 237 that Kubrick’s team exhaustively researched the town and hotel’s history, which revealed Navajo tribe tensions with the the white man in the early 1900s.

It’s evident in The Shining that there is Native American-themed artwork in the hotel. However, theorists feel Kubrick is commenting on the genocide of the indigenous tribe. In one scene, Danny suddenly becomes attuned to his surroundings and draws his attention directly to a Calumet baking powder canister on a shelf, which is adorned with the image of a Native American in traditional garb.

Continue reading at The Daily Beast…


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