"Come play with us, Danny..."
An alternate better theory:
“The Shining” (the movie) ...People over-analyze this movie. Grab some popcorn, it's harder to articulate, than understand. In a nutshell: WE ARE IN JACK’S MIND, THE ENTIRE MOVIE! Allow me to explain further. Realize there are 2 Jack’s in the movie, the never seen “writer Jack” and the always seen “killer Jack”, who’s soul is forever bound to The Overlook Hotel, as the damned Caretaker, and here’s why- All discontinuities, the GM’s window, the 3 (impossible) big-wheel rides by Danny, the multiple "mazes" in the movie, and most everything else, (if not all in the movie) is the viewer being placed totally inside "writer Jack's" imagination and mind by Kubrick the whole time of the movie, while Jack Torrance is writing about "killer Jack" in The Shining... not a man going berserk, killing his family from cabin fever, or anything else. The mazes and impossible elements in the movie represent "writer Jack's" mind, and we the viewer, (by Kubrick’s genius) are being taken inside that mind-maze. The movie transitions from "writer Jack's" normal calm life, to "killer Jack's" crazy imagination, mind, and the horror story Jack Torrance writes, which parallels his normal life. Jack Torrance, the writer, takes the backstory of The Overlook and Charles Grady, with him now watching the hotel, and transforms that into Delbert Grady, and his horror novel. Meaning: The movie viewer is in (the writer’s) Jack Torrance’s mind for the entire movie, watching the novel that Jack Torrance is writing about “killer Jack” unfold.
The book The Shining was one of the first real novels I ever read as an inquisitive 11-year-old. In 1977 and ‘78, The Shining (the book) was all the rage and buzz word, only eclipsed by the movie Star Wars... maybe! In the book, John "Jack" Torrance, the fictitious writer in The Shining is actually an allegoric representation of Steven King, while on a working-vacation in Colorado, & going through the processes of writing a horror novel, and incorporating real elements King saw as characters in the novel. While also dealing with: 1) Coming up with an idea for a novel. 2) Rejecting ideas. 3) Having writer's block at times. 4) Being interrupted, while writing, driving him crazy. 5) Having a "eureka" moment of turning those real-life elements into the horror novel. 6) Writing about the horror of having writer's block in the story of The Shining, (a story within a story) and taking the reader on Jack's rollercoaster ride and descent into madness, with him, as seen through King's eyes, but as the reader, and from "killer Jack’s" perspective.
Kubrick, unappreciated and unnoticed by King, actually paid homage to King’s process of writing “The Shining” by doing the same thing, (having a story inside a movie) but places the viewer of the movie, for brilliant reasons, into the very film itself, and entirely in the head of "writer Jack's" mind, as seen through "killer Jack's" eyes, but by different methods than from King and his book. Kubrick, through the use of different cinema directorial techniques, (and in the spirit of Hitchcock, that only the ahead-of-his-time brilliance of Kubrick could do) quietly, but increasingly, tells the viewer with every scene: “Pay attention… Somethings wrong… something’s off… something’s not, quite right?!” With the use of “mirroring” and scenes that include intentional visual discontinuities, we are being told by Kubrick: “This entire movie is all an illusion… none of this is real, we are all (the viewer) inside Jack’s mind, while he’s writing.”
Kubrick using inconspicuous hints at first, like GM Ullman’s impossible outside back window, a TV with no plug, Danny’s 3 big-wheel rides, that takes us the viewer on an increasingly bizarre triune journey, that goes against any possible architecture or physics in reality, Charles Grady, (intentionally, with purpose) becoming Delbert Grady, the continually blatant & numerous maze imageries representing the maze of a horror writer’s mind, especially when we see Jack looking over the inside replica, imagining Wendy and Danny being seen by Jack in the center of the maze. Kubrick also uses framing techniques, jump-cuts, music, and having each scene being visually, more and more, a little off than the last, to signal to the viewer- we are going deeper and deeper in “writer Jack’s” mind, as he writes the story of “The Shining”. Why did Kubrick change this so much from King’s novel? Because King's brilliant story, (haunting spirits, that need steam, hence the boiler plot-line, and causing Jack’s descent into a maelstrom of familial, murderous, insanity, to synopsize) is a paper story, not a celluloid one. Kubrick, and Kubrick alone is the only director of the time that could have achieved this cinematic masterpiece, as only Hitchcock would have done. Any other director would have stayed mostly “on book” and made yet another poor book-to-movie movie. See the horrible, late ‘90’s, TV version of The Shining, produced and controlled by Steven King to prove this... if you can some how sit through the entire thing, not because it's so scary, but because it's soooooo BAD! If Mystery Science Theater 3000 does come back on the air, Turbo and the gang should trash it worse than Plan 9 from Outer Space!
The first time I saw Kubrick’s The Shining, it was a cable-TV version, and having read and loved the book, I was appreciative of the changes Kubrick made in the movie, while also being mesmerized by its depth, but not fully knowing why. Though, other family members and friends, whom had also read the novel, didn’t share my opinion of recognized genius of Kubrick, or appreciated the changes, from book to screen. I got part of Kubrick’s meaning at first viewing, (Jack’s and all the damned souls to The Overlook) and became entranced by it, but not consciously knowing why. I knew I was missing something and I had to figure it out! As I watched it 2 or 3 more times on cable, I gleaned more and more and suddenly I realized… “This entire movie is Jack writing the story we see, and we (the viewer) are in his mind as he is writing it, the entire time.” Yeah, no one believed me then, either.
THE MOVIE-ENDING WE SEE: In the movie after its climactic ending of the "froze to death" moment of the "killer Jack" dying in the hedge-maze, his soul, (along with all the other souls damned in The Overlook) are condemned to this "hell" in the Overlook, henceforth, “forever, and ever… and ever.” and must keep reliving their hell. This is the reason why we see Jack is in the July 4th, 1921 picture in the last-shot’s ending... (THAT is the horror story ending Jack Torrance wrote about, "killer Jack" in his book.) We don’t see the end of “The Shining” the movie… we see the ending of “The Shining” the story, Jack Torrance wrote.
ALL OTHER THEORIES: The supposed faked Apollo 11 moon-landing by Kubrick, Native American ideas, Jack’s sexual abuse of Danny, Jack’s desired sex-romp with Wendy, etc… all those sub-plots are fine to believe, but understand, they are not in or a part of Kubrick’s movie, but only in Jack Torrance’s writing.
THE MOVIE-ENDING WE DON'T SEE (but subconsciously inferred): While in the (so called) real-life anti-climactic, but unseen movie end... the "writer Jack" (representing both Steven King & Stanly Kubrick) went home, (with perfectly fine Wendy & Danny) got his (horror-novel) book published, and lived happily ever after. So, the movie we saw, (The Shining) is actually only the story & novel Jack Torrance wrote IN “The Shining”. Clear now? SPLENDID!!! (But you can believe whatever you wish.) “Forever… and ever… and ever.”