Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is a film that compels viewers to speculate on the underbelly of its meaning. Speaking to a surface level reading of the film, The Shining follows the Torrance family as they move to a resort in Colorado to take care of the grounds during the off-season. The viewer witnesses Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) as he is increasingly and relentlessly haunted, and is ultimately driven to murder his family. Jack’s son, Danny, has the ability to “shine,” a supernatural power that allows him intuition into the future and the past via visions along with telepathic abilities. Danny’s shinings manifest themselves alongside an imaginary friend named Tony, who could be interpreted as a deep psyche within Danny’s interior that ultimately takes over his person.
The idea of Tony as a repressed psyche is incredibly pervasive; the theory that Kubrick is attempting to allegorize with regard to the Native American genocide in The Shining relies on themes of repression and the deep psyche. Bill Blakemore draws our attention to the multitude of subliminal messages that relate to Native Americans and their extermination throughout the film. While Gesa Mackenthun notes that because America’s treatment of Native Americans is largely repressed in our memory, an accurate depiction results in the shrouded allegory of The Shining—Kubrick’s allegory must be translated subliminally, as “the dispossession and desecration of Indian graves… cannot be narrated nor forgotten,” (Haunted Real Estate, 94). I would posit that whether or not Kubrick intended The Shining to be “about” Native American genocide, it is most important that this anxiety is latent within scholarly literature and the collective mind of the American audience.
Room 237. Dir. Rodney Ascher. IFC Films, 2012. Netflix.
Blakemore, Bill. “The Family of Man”. The San Francisco Chronicle Syndicate, July 29, 1987.
Mackenthun, Gesa. “Haunted Real Estate: The Occlusion of Colonial Dispossession and Signatures of Cultural Survival in U.S. Horror Fiction”. Amerikastudien / American Studies, Vol. 43, No. 1, Media and Cultural Memory (1998), pp. 93-108. http://www.jstor.org/stable/41157353
Tallarita, Andrea. “Beyond Genocide: Stanley Kubrick’s Revisitation of Pagan Myth in ‘The Shining’”. Pop Matters, April 4, 2013. Web. November 20, 2013. http://www.popmatters.com/feature/169539-beyond-genocide-stanley-kubricks-revisitation-of-pagan-myth-in-the-s/