I’m the first to admit that I adore conspiracy theories, even stupendously implausible ones. Actually, the more howl-at-the-moon ridiculous, the better. They are fascinating windows into our culture and our psyche. So here’s one about a movie that I’d memorized every frame of by the ag e of 12: The Shining.
There are more interpretations and theories about hidden messages in this film than there are frames in this film, but my far-and-away favorite goes like this: Stanley Kubrick faked the moon landing.
You know what? Sure. Why not? I don’t buy it, and in fact this particular myth has been fully busted, but I don’t care—it’s a complete gas to suspend disbelief and go along for the ride. This is, after all, the theater. The moon hoax idea is but one of many ideas posited in the upcoming Shining documentary Room 237.
I hope it goes without saying that I don’t believe the moon landing was faked. I personally believe Kubrick put these clues in The Shining to fuck with his audience, and it’s fun to watch the conspiracy nuts lose their bananas. A far more down-to-earth analysis of spatial and architectural anomalies of the Overlook is served up in this unnamed mini-documentary.
Here are a few of the choicer clues put forth by fan theorists that actually warrant consideration:
- The characters of Jack and Danny represent two sides of Kubruck, the inner child and the man: the character of Penny represents Kubruck’s wife, and the ghosts of the Overlook represent the opportunity to direct a faked moon landing. To wit:
- the seduction of Danny with the ball (wearing the Apollo 11 sweater);
- Kubrick’s inner child responding to the idea of filming a staged moon landing from the perspective of a child—a childlike fascination with space travel and fantasy;
- the seduction of Jack with the naked woman: Kubrick the man being seduced by the technical challenge of pulling it off;
- Danny’s silence after being deceived and abused by the ghosts of the Overlook, in spite of Penny’s urging: Kubrick’s inner child is roughed up by the process of faking the moon landing, and keeps some details secret from his wife;
- Penny extracting Danny’s vision in room 237: Kubrick’s wife discovers part of his secret;
- Jack’s lies about kissing the naked woman: Kubrick the man keeps details of the project from his wife as well;
- Penny’s discovery of Jack’s “book”: Kubrick’s wife finds out anyway, and freaks the fuck right out;
- The ghosts of the Overlook urging Jack to murder his wife and son: NASA and the US government urges Kubrick to silence his wife and kill his inner child;
- Jack’s meddling with the radio to prevent Penny from calling for help: Kubrick plays along.
- Jack works on an Adler typewriter. Adler is German for eagle, and an eagle is on the Apollo 11 logo. Ergo, Kubrick (Jack) is working on a faked Apollo 11 mission.
- The Grady girls are not originally written by King as twins, but they are played by twins in the movie: apparently the makers of The Shining Codes believe that NASA axed the Gemini program or something. I don’t really get this one, but the insertion of twins and the Gemini program—when combined with Danny’s Apollo 11 sweater—are clues far too tantalizing to not consider.
- The television set showing Summer of ’42 isn’t plugged in, which represents Americans watching a fake televised moon landing.
- The Overlook Hotel is NASA: There are two eagles in the office where Jack’s interview takes place at the beginning of the film. One of them is on the curtained windowsill behind the desk. The windowsill sort of looks like a stage and the curtains look like, well, curtains. As in, the Apollo 11 mission was staged.
Most of the other clues offered up by the Shining Code filmmakers are laughably vague: references to ladders and other shapes that look sort of like the letter A, the number 11 everywhere (look for ANY number, and you will find it everywhere in any film), and some nonsense about how the VW bug represents Nazi involvement in the American space mission. (Um, wasn’t there a VW bug in the book?)
My favorite fatal flaw of The Shining Codes is the mention in the YouTube introduction of an episode of MythBusters, which in fact comes down on the other side of the moon hoax question. (Whoops.)
One unnamed mini-documentary (now deleted) discusses Kubrick’s love of disorienting not only his audience, but also his employees. There are reports floating around that Kubrick changed the design of the Overlook maze halfway through the making of The Shining, and delighted in watching his set designers get lost in there.
I think clues like this are far more telling. Kubrick loves to fuck with us, and the fallout is as exciting and watchable as the cultural artifacts themselves.