How Shot 306 in The Shining Duplicates Shot 230 in Lolita, and How Shot 237 in Lolita, Intimately Connected with Charlotte's Death and room 237 in The Shining, is (Perhaps) Connected with Hitchcock's Psycho?

Go to Table of Contents of the analysis (which has also a statement on purpose and manner of analysis and a disclaimer as to caveat emptor and my knowing anything authoritatively, which I do not, but I do try to not know earnestly, with some discretion, and considerable thought).


Lolita

The top screengrab in the above image is shot 230 from Lolita. In shot 229, Humbert stands before the bathroom door, gun in hand, contemplating killing Charlotte, who he believes to be taking a bath. The gun is pointed at the viewer, and Kubrick uses this shot to emphatically, visually inform the viewer that the layout of the household is not as they have expected. Finally, Humbert reconciles himself with the realization he will never be able to pull the trigger on her and pockets the gun. Cut to shot 230 as Humbert's hand presses open the bathroom door, he hoping to make up with Charlotte over a fight that they've just had over Lolita.

But Charlotte isn't there! Instead, Humbert will find her in his study reading the painful truths in his diary about his loathing of her and his desire for Lolita.

"It's a hallucination, you're crazy!" he tells Charlotte. Pure gaslighting. Poor Charlotte.

The bottom screengrab in the above image is shot 306 from The Shining. Jack, in room 237, presses open the bathroom door to find the mysterious woman in the bathtub. They embrace and kiss, and Jack sees in their reflection in the mirror that she is an old corpse. Death, leering, pursues him. Viewer interpretations vary as to the event, whether it's paranormal or an hallucination. In both films, a character's perception of an event is called into question.

In Lolita, prior their argument, Charlotte and Humbert had been embracing, Humbert looking over her shoulder at a photograph of Lolita gazing on. Pretending Charlotte was Lolita enabled Humbert to perform. Though Charlotte is certainly not old, we have in both films a character embracing both youth and age in immediate proximity of the perilous pressing open of the bathroom door. Similarly, we also have, in 2001, Bowman seeing himself in the bathroom mirror, shocked to confront his sudden advanced age, then meeting himself at an even more advanced age.

As Humbert pressed open the bathroom door, the viewer may have had a sense of impending doom, already sensing that Humbert will not find what he expects, that a ghastly twist is at hand--and it could be questioned if this sense of impending doom has anything to do with the window we had just viewed looming behind Humbert as he pointed the gun at us, the window that shouldn't be there, just as in The Shining there is the impossible window that shouldn't be there in Ullman's office, which casts a glow that could be interpreted as eerie. If the viewer hasn't consciously registered the windows are impossible, they may have unconsciously.

When Humbert finds Charlotte with his diary in his room, Charlotte declares she's leaving, that he can have everything but Lolita. She runs and locks herself in her bedroom, grasping up the urn that holds the cremains of her first husband, whose photograph stares at us from the wall. She pleads with him for forgiveness, feeling she has betrayed him.

Now comes shot 237 in Lolita, which is a fairly long shot of about a minute. During shot 237, the camera pans down through the bedroom floor to the kitchen below, Humbert racing downstairs and into the kitchen to fix Martinis for them both, still attempting to convince Charlotte that she's gotten everything wrong. As he fixes the drinks, he calls up to Charlotte how it wasn't a diary at all but notes for a book. A fiction. But, again, nothing is as Humbert thinks it to be. Instead, while he mixes those Martinis, fate runs over Charlotte with a car in the rain.

In shot 237 in Lolita, Charlotte is out there dead in the street, yet unseen, soaking wet not from the bath (in which Humbert had at first planned to kill her) but from a driving rain storm. We don't see her for a couple of shots yet but the deed is done while Humbert is conversing with thin air. Approximately 64 seconds pass as Humbert makes the Martinis, at which point a phone rings and Humbert runs to answer it. 64 seconds, that is all. In shot 238, Humbert picks up the phone to find out that his wife is dead in the street, which he thinks must be impossible. He runs outside and down the street to find Charlotte's dead body lying in the rainy gutter, covered with a coat, the ambulance and police car already there, a photographer already there as well snapping photos. All of this has occurred during those 64 seconds in shot 237. During those 64 seconds, Charlotte threw on her shoes and coat and somehow ran down the stairs and outside without Humbert hearing, and down the street to where she was BANG hit with a car, and the ambulance and the police were called and arrive, and someone ran to call Humbert as well, all in the space of 64 seconds during shot 237.

Which is hilarious. If sad.

In room 237 in The Shining Jack finds the mysterious, young, beautiful woman in the bath who becomes a decaying, animated corpse. There seems a probable relationship with rain-saturated Charlotte lying dead in the street (even if off screen) in shot 237 in Lolita.

The driving rain storm didn't occur in Nabokov's Lolita. In The Shining, Jack never actually confronts a dead woman in the bathroom of room 237. He goes up there to check out Danny's story of a woman who had choked him, sees nothing, but then wonders if he sees a shadow behind the shower curtain and is chased from the bathroom by fear. Nothing more. Just fear.

In what other movie do we have a woman who meets her death in a bathtub, forced by a torrential rain storm to stop at the Bates Motel? Psycho, of course, which came out in 1960, two years before Lolita.

Does Kubrick have in Lolita a reference to Psycho and Janet Leigh who takes refuge from a rain storm in the motel only to be ironically killed in the shower. Fate was going to take both women out in the water no matter what. In Nabokov's book, Humbert had initially planned to drown Charlotte in a lake, in the screenplay as well, but she's instead struck by the car. Kubrick, however, retains the component of a watery death whereas Nabokov didn't in his treatment.

Consider, too, how this was just a couple of years after Psycho and everyone was still scared to death when they climbed into the bathtub and closed the shower curtain. Kubrick, instead of giving us Leigh's view from within the shower curtain, has us outside the bathroom and that disembodied, shadowy hand of Humbert pressing open the bathroom door to find...oh, whew, nothing, as far as the audience is concerned, there was nothing scary in the bathroom at all, just water running in the tub...except that this absence in the bathroom, what isn't there (which is Charlotte), turns out to be the really scary part for Humbert.

So, much as with Psycho, not just death but a watery death was inevitable for Charlotte. If there is a connection between the films, Janet Leigh's name may play a part as well, for what haunts Humbert throughout Nabokov's Lolita, which doesn't make an appearance in the movie, is a preteen romance he had with a girl named Annabel Leigh who fell ill and died after a failed attempt at their consummating their relationship. In Annabel Leigh's name, Nabokov was making reference to Edgar Allen Poe's Annabel Lee, a poem on the death of a young woman which some believed to be composed in honor of Poe's twelve-year-old child bride, Virginia.

With the shadowy presence behind the shower curtain and the dead woman in the bathtub, Stephen King perhaps himself, in his novel, took advantage of everyone's Psycho induced, abiding fear of bathtubs and shower curtains, and by virtue of this Kubrick returns to and seems to cement the reference made to Psycho in Lolita.

Now, if you're thinking, "This has to be coincidence that shot 237 in Lolita has such close linkage with room 237 in The Shining, certainly Kubrick didn't count shots!", see my post on his very first film, Day of the Fight, in which I discuss his seeming to be counting shots already, and in which I also discuss how he shows us in Killer's Kiss that he is undeniably counting shots. One of the best examples that an uninitiated viewer might accept is had at the end of Killer's Kiss. In shots 488 and 489, Davey is at Penn Station waiting for Gloria, who had promised to go with him to Washington state. We hear a voiceover of a station announcer say, "...494, 493, 492. 491 and 490. The Pathfinder for Chicago and Seattle, leaving..." This voiceover cuts off at the end of shot 489, for shot 490 is outside the station, showing Gloria, the girlfriend, arriving by taxi, just when it seemed that Davey had given up hope of seeing her again. The final shot of the film is shot 494. This is not coincidental. Not happenstance. Coincidences do occur, but an examination of this shows that Kubrick was certainly counting shots. Kubrick designed the ending shots so they interacted with this voiceover, but the audience would never know it, would they, as one has to be counting shots. And it would seem he sometimes forged discreet relationships between films through this counting of shots. At the same time, one doesn't have to know that it was shot 237 in Lolita in which Charlotte died in the rainy gutter, to see how the bathroom scene and Charlotte's death has a correspondence with the bathroom scene in The Shining. The viewer misses out on nothing by not knowing the shot count.

By the way, the first half of 2001 is 360 shots, which creates a nice circularity. The second half is 237 shots.

I like a few of Hitchcock's films, but I have never liked Psycho. So it's not like I'm, "Whee, possible Psycho link!" I almost reluctantly note it. What makes it fun is that, if this is the case, Kubrick has turned the bathroom attack inside out. Instead of the vulnerability of a naked individual in the shower being exploited and turned into a murder victim, horror is instead transferred to the individual who enters the bathroom, Humbert looking for Charlotte, and Jack looking for a crazy woman. In Eyes Wide Shut there are several bathroom scenes, the one most relatable to this theme perhaps being Mandy's near death in Victor's bathroom, and though she is saved she dies anyway. With A Clockwork Orange, we also have the combination of the bath and rain. The reformed Alex, nearly drowned by former droogies, stumbles through a rain storm, inadvertently coming upon and seeking refuge at the HOME of Alexander, where he had once committed violent crime. Relieved that he hasn't been recognized, he takes an offered bath. While he bathes, he yodels "Singing in the Rain", mindless of the fact he had sung the same song during his earlier visit to the house. Thus is he recognized by Alexander to be the man who had raped his wife, an event which Alexander blames for her early death.


Go to Table of Contents of the Lolita analysis
Go to Table of Contents of the The Shining analysis
Link to the main Kubrick page for all the analyses

copyright