Lee Unkrich and Roger Erik Tinch.
In The Shining, Stanley Kubrick makes extensive use of number play, employing the same visual mirroring and doubling motif throughout the film. Specifically, there are several repetitions of the numbers 42, 24, 21, and 12. With the aid of some handy visual aids, here’s what we mean:
Other examples include:
- Dick Hallorann’s litany of a freezer and pantry stock includes 12 turkeys, 24 pork roasts, 12-pound bags of sugar, and 12 jugs of black molasses.
- The shortwave radio call sign for the Overlook Hotel is ‘KDK 12′.
The question we can freely ask is why? One answer is that it’s known Kubrick studied Sigmund Freud’s writings on The Uncanny, where Freud discusses the unsettling effect that recurring numbers can have:
‘We naturally attach no importance to the event when we hand in an overcoat and get a cloak room ticket with the number, let us say, 62; or when we find our cabin on a ship bears that number. But the impression is altered if two such events, each in itself indifferent, happen close together — if we come across the number 62 several times in a single day, or if we begin to notice that everything which has a number — addresses, hotel rooms, compartments in railway trains — invariably has the same one, or at all events one which contains the same figures. We do feel this to be uncanny.’
This article was initially published on The Overlook Hotel, a beautifully designed blog that is dedicated to Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece, The Shining. The site’s caretaker is Lee Unkrich, and the interior decorator is Roger Erik Tinch. You can follow them on Twitter @overlookhotel.