Rob Ager, author of the site Collative Learning, has constructed an utterly compelling analysis of the spatiality of Stanley Kubrick’s film The Shining. In it he makes a plethora of highly astute and finely viewed observations about the spatial irregularities and inconsistencies in the film - doors that lead nowhere, rooms that shouldn’t exist, stairways that defy physics. Much more than just trainspotting tid-bits, Ager mounts a compelling argument for the deliberate use of Esher like spatial constructs to disorientate the viewer. Certainly when we’re talking about Stanley Kubrick one might well argue that the uber-perfectionist rarely did anything by accident. That said, as John August points out, we are often to keen to attribute to directorial choice that which is more easily explained by practicality and expediency. Still the argument is engrossing as the number and complexity of the irregulairites Ager observes speaks to something beyond production pragmatism.
More important than the debate about Kubrick’s intentions, Ager mounts a sophisticated examination of cinematic space and the manipulation of spatial knowledge acquired by viewers in the act of watching. This is of course a topic i have been much obsessed with in recent years, particularly in the context of video games and spatially-based production technologies such as virtual camera, composited layers and 3D CGO virtual spaces. Ager’s video of spatial awareness in The Shining, presented in 2 parts, is must-see viewing for any Kubrick fan as well as those intrigued by the possibilities of architectural and psychological manipulation in cinema.
Film psychology THE SHINING spatial awareness and set design 1of2
Film psychology THE SHINING spatial awareness and set design 2of2
In a comparative context it may be interesting to look episodes of my Game Probe series that relate to spatial construction in video games.
Bioshock and Narrative Architecture
Portal and Spatial Metaphor