The Fantastic Symmetries and Repetitions: The Conspiracy Theory of the Moon Landing in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining

© Stanley Kubrick, The Shining, 1980

We all know about Apollo 11, the first spaceflight that landed on the Moon in human history. But was it really “one giant leap for mankind?” Or was it just a giant fraud that propagandised the greatness of America during the Cold War? Many have proposed a conspiracy theory regarding the Apollo Project, and Stanley Kubrick has been accused of faking the Moon Landing. It has been rumoured that 3 days before his death, Kubrick admitted in an audio interview that he made a movie that nobody is aware of even they have all seen it – the Moon Landing. One of his timeless blockbusters The Shining (1980) appears to be just a classic horror, but the endless symmetries and repetitions filled with fantastic images in the film also appear to be a metaphor that illustrates how the American bureaucracy has repressed his creativity, and how his creation of artificial history has haunted his conscience.


© Warner Bros.

The cinematographic aesthetics in The Shining has been examined by many scholars, the recurring images of symmetries, repetitions and monotone colour palettes doubtlessly compose a masterpiece. These images emphasise the representations of enclosed environments, which lock Jack in a prison of an exitless maze. Soon Jack suffers from schizophrenia and is under the influences of the ghosts in The Overlook. The repetitive monotone scenes with a single point of convergence, for example, Jack and Mr. Grady in the red gentlemen room, Jack discovering Mrs. Grady in the green bathroom in Room 237 and the red elevator, imply that Kubrick himself is stuck in a well-planned conspiracy and that he is under the suppression of the American bureaucracy. The most symmetrical classic scene in which the Grady twins haunt Danny by threatening him to stay with them forever and ever intensifies such feeling – Kubrick must always be a sinner for lying to his people for the government’s sake. The recurring image of the typewriter is a symbol of American government as it changes from grey to blue when it reappears. The cold tone, as Geoffrey Cocks argues, associates with not only ghosts but power and thus represents the obscene power of the authority. The manuscript that comes out from the typewriter is also a crazy repetition of the line “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” that chills the audience to the bone. This is a representation of the government’s repression of Kubrick’s creativity. Kubrick was bound to American “patriotism” and could only create in a style of meaningless and hypocritical bureaucratese.


© Warner Bros.

Besides the representations of Kubrick’s creativity being repressed, he also shows signs of himself being haunted by the guilt and political correctness. When Jack says he seems to have met Lloyd and is told by Mr. Grady hat he has always been in The Overlook, he is possessed by past ghosts, or worse, he himself may be a ghost as well. Repeating Mr. Grady’s crimes means that he is a reincarnation of the past. In another word, Kubrick lives in the same history over and over again. Worst of it all, the Steadicam effect indicates the presence of a third being – he is the puppet of America’s invisible hand. He is instructed to “correct” the people by America just as Mr. Grady seduces Jack to correct Wendy and Danny. The final photograph shows Jack is in a ball in The Overlook on Independence Day in 1921, which is long before the setting of the movie. Such horror notes that he lives in anxiety every day being engulfed by his fear for political correctness and his lie. The conspiracy theory of the Moon Landing has been denied by the American government for decades, it remains a mystery to most of us. But whether it is true or not, The Shining can be interpreted as a warning to people that history can be artificial and a political weapon.

By Chan Tsz Yan Audrey


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Categories: Movies and TV Shows

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