The Shining: Overlook lobby,
is a study of the hotel’s last day of its season when the Torrance family arrives. It’s a busy day of packing, cleaning, and moving out. What subliminal messages did Stanley Kubrick leave behind?
After a slow dissolve, from the wide exterior shot of the hotel, we see a pan right through the Overlook lobby. The first to catch our eye is the custodian mopping the floor over the geometric floor patterns representing Native Americans. His feet firmly planted, he wipes the same spot over and over again. No matter how long he mops, he’s unable to clean up the mess. To our right is overly large ladder that is seen not having a purpose at the moment. It towers above the lobby like a staircase to heaven or, more appropriately, mountains. It may signify the rise and fall of the American Indian civilization.
As we step right in a fluid motion, another staff member enters with a cart or roll-away bed. The fabric is earth-toned with a hint of Native Americanism colors and pattern. It is being pushed away for something new that will take its place in the space.
Stuart Ullman and Bill Watson arrive. On cue, when they take center frame, they are obscured by a third custodian carrying a table in his arms. He stands prominently on a seal of another symbol of Native America. When we’re supposed to see Ullman and Watson center stage, Kubrick deliberately has us seeing something else.
What does it all mean?
We know that Kubrick dropped many symbols of Native America into The Shining. Whether or not they’re clues or red herrings are subject to debate. We do know that everything is premeditated. Do we see mopping blood off of Native America that never cleans? The displacement of Native peoples and the permanent root of Europeans?
Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining