The Shining – How the Kubrick Carpet Trick Works

Juli Kearns Cinema, Kubrick 10 Comments

NOTE: I’ve added an update at the bottom of the post.

So, how does that reverse carpet trick work when Danny is in the hall on Wednesday and the ball rolls toward him?

In shot 257, the camera is over Danny and facing him as the ball rolls to him on a “reversed” field of carpet, then in shot 258 the carpet is returned to its normal state.

Kubrick has moved Danny. In shot 257 Kubrick leaves a bit of the edge of the white wall to the rear of the elevators showing which provides us with an orientation point.

The Shining - The Carpet Trick


As you can see, based on that orientation point, in shot 258, Danny has made one diagonal move up. If this was a chess game it would be down the order of moving from D2 to C3. Not exactly, I’m just drawing a comparison to illustrate the manner of the move.


What’s interesting to me is that Kubrick has left in shot 257 that orientation point of the bit of white wall so we can see what has happened.

And now, viewing from the front again, in shot 259, we can look at that orientation point of the bit of white wall and see again how Danny has simply been moved.

The hexagon reversed


Comparing the above with shot 257 now that we know to look at the orientation point of that white corner.

The Shining - The Carpet Trick


UPDATE (March, 2014): If there is any doubt this was done intentionally, such as that the very edge of the wall wasn’t intended to be viewed, please refer to my analysis of 2001, the Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite section. Kubrick does the same thing here with the illuminated floor, as you can see in shots 584 and 585. I’ve described this in the analysis (also in shot 590) and how I believe, in 2001, what he did fits in with the chess game between HAL and Frank Poole. To understand a little more about the chess game you’ll need to read section three of that analysis beginning at shot 264. I had long thought that Kubrick’s moving Danny on the carpet seemed a very chess thing to do, but it wasn’t until doing my analysis of 2001 this past winter that I realized Kubrick had essentially the same set-up there and that Kubrick had established the chess board 8×8 square in shot 584.

Comments 10

  1. Hey Juli,

    Funny you’re calling the first image above number 237 – I just posted a video on youtube regarding room 237 and that image starts it. The video relates the importance of the symbology of Neptune to room 237.

    Well, actually, it’s kinda artsy so probably doesn’t convey the message overly succinctly. But I started a new blog with a link to the video and the idea is related there.

    gottfromnaught.blogspot.com

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    No, it’s not coincidence, it’s an error on my part. I’m dyslexic and sometimes I simply don’t catch when I have turned a number around.

    I did a shot-by-shot analysis of the film and went over it with a fine tooth comb many times, and at different times, to make sure it was absolutely correct and to make sure that I would catch any dyslexic errors if there were any.

    But when I wrote the above post my dyslexia was apparently en force and somehow I saw every 5 as a 3 and didn’t catch the error in the post and I didn’t catch it subsequently, not until you remarked on the coincidence between shot 237 and Danny entering the room and I thought, “Huh? But shot 237 occurs in the Saturday section…” Then I looked at the numbers in the post again and realized my error. The shots that I had written above as being 237, 238, 239 etcetera in the above post should have been 257, 258, 259 etc. Shot 237 occurs on Saturday during an encounter with the girls in the hall.

    http://www.idyllopuspress.com/idyllopus/film/shining_saturday.htm

    Anyway, sorry about that.

  3. That’s very interesting, my friend and I were watching The Shining yesterday and she noticed how the carpet seemed much bigger. This explanation seems to make more sense, but i would like to point out that if this is correct then Kubrick also chose to move the couch. The couch is supposed to be to the left of hexagon 3 in shot 257, and should show up covering some portion of the carpet, but instead Kubrick decided to move it. Maybe to give more sense of space for dramatic effect? I certainly don’t know, but anyway i thought this was very cool explanation.

  4. I don’t think it was a mistake, or explicitly intentional. I think he just wanted a wider shot from above, where there would be more carpet, so it would look cooler. Simple as that. The most convenient way to do the shot, given the layout of the room, was to reverse the shot and put Danny in the centre. I don’t think it needs to have anything read into it, it’s just artistic license as a part of creative film making.

  5. Pingback: The Power of Pattern: The carpet in The Shining / a chat with Patternity - Film and Furniture

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