The Shining Forwards and Backwards is part video experiment and part obsession. A few years ago, a long time fan of The Shining thought to superimpose the film playing over itself, essentially forwards and backwards at the same time. For sanity’s sake they only include the forward playing audio.
Legend has it that the film was first played in public in Brooklyn, NY in 2011. You can find bits of it online (start here) and occasionally it plays in hipster and indie film houses across the country (here in Seattle, SIFF has screened it at least once). However it’s not generally available through mainstream methods at this time.
Mindy’s Thoughts: As a kid I was crazy about horror movies, watching Child’s Play when I was 3 with my brothers, and by the time I was 7 I had a life size movie poster from Jason Takes Manhattan (Friday the 13th Part VIII) hanging in my bedroom. I can’t remember the first time I watched The Shining, but I know it was early in my life and since then I’ve watched it maybe four dozen times. This movie is a staple of my life, one that has changed and grown with me as I’ve gotten older. So when I first heard that there was a group of people screening it forwards and backwards, I knew I had to witness it myself.
Overall, The Shining Forwards and Backwards is thought-provoking and visually intriguing, doubly so if you are a Stanley Kubrick fan. The thematic coincidences and synchronicity between most of the shots is a constant, and somewhat eery. Within the first few minutes of watching the film, I was enthralled and convinced that Kubrick purposefully made this movie to be seen this way. One of the examples you see repeated throughout the film is the juxtaposition of Danny and Jack; their faces overlaying each other, almost like Danny is seeing into Jack’s mind.
One of my favorite shots in the movie is below, with crazy Jack’s face between theirs on the car ride up to the Overlook. It doesn’t show well in this image, but if you look closely you can see Danny’s head inside of Jack’s head in the shot, like Danny is inside of crazy (future) Jack’s mind. The context is they are having the Donner party conversation (foreshadowing), and Danny already knows what will happen when they get to the lodge.
I love Stanley Kubrick and have had a life long obsession with all of his movies. He is meticulous as a director, paying attention to every detail, big or small. With that in mind, do I think he purposefully created The Shining to play backward and forwards at the same time? Probably not. I believe he is consistent with the organization and framing of camera shots, which has led to the overlap of people and objects in this format. Then again, would you put it past Kubrick to do something this involved? Something so secretive and hidden inside of his film that it wasn’t found for a decade after he died? It’s a question without an answer, but it’s a question worth asking. Watching this version of the movie has made me re-examine facets of the movie that I had long taken for granted. Little moments and quiet scenes that add up and foreshadow the horror that is yet to come. I highly recommend and say it’s a must watch for any Kubrick or The Shining fan.