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In the ending of The Shining, the camera slowly zooms into a photo and closes into a person who resembles Jack Nicholson (or is it him?).

What does this scene depict? How does it relate to the movie?

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3 Answers

up vote 22 down vote accepted

Per director Stanley Kubrick:

The ballroom photograph at the very end suggests the reincarnation of Jack.

How does it relate to the movie?

It sort of echoes the "You’ve always been the caretaker." line earlier in the film, which suggests something along the lines that his soul is perpetually stuck at/destined to end up at that hotel.

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In reference to the great Rob Ager, it could come to mean that 'Jack' never existed, that he was merely an illusionary character used to symbolize the American man's obsessions with wealth, power and standing within a society. As Grady states "You've always been the caretaker", Jack is forever trapped within a cycle of pursuing a wealth, or a dream (the American Dream?) that is, in itself unattainable. I would see collativelearning, Ager does well in developing many of the common and more intelligent theories that people have about The Shining, as well as other Kubrick films.

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This is a big question to a very deep and complicated film!

Kubrick mentions how it 'suggests' the reincarnation of Jack, he does not say that this suggestion is correct.

Notice how the surrounding furniture is covered in white sheets and the sign for the Goldroom is on the other side to the previous position. It would imply some kind of time shift or something.

How it relates is another deep question. It might just be a collection of souls which the hotel has taken (this photo was not present when we saw the the wall earlier).

Google collative learning by Rob Ager for a detailed analysis of this film. It is very deep!

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