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Do Spatial Impossibilities in ‘The Shining’ Disorient Viewers?
By Iliyas Ong, 25 Jul 2011
The Shining’s enigmatic Overlook Hotel has been the subject of much study in film criticism. In analyzing the classic film’s terrifying qualities, self-styled critic Rob Ager took apart Stanley Kubrick’s labyrinthine set design—and found a building as impossible as any MC Escher design.
Ager’s two videos (see below) give a detailed examination of the Overlook’s innards, only to discover several glaring impossibilities: doorways that lead to nowhere; hallways that appear from thin air, with what must be specters walking down them, mirroring the film's narrative; and other architectural oddities.
For example, Ager argues the hedge maze, a prominent feature in The Shining, changes its layout over the course of the movie. Even the two maps—a model Jack Torrence studies indoors and a map signage outside the maze—conflict with the actual thing as seen from an overhead long shot.
“These intentional and subliminal set design anomalies are one of the key elements that give The Shining its unsettling creepiness,” Ager said in his video. “And it does this almost entirely without the clichéd cobwebs and dark shadows of other horror films.”
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