The Shining Ending Explained
What does that famous final shot of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining really mean, and what happens to the traumatized characters left alive? It's time to talk about those questions, and dig up some answers.
In order to survive the events of The Shining, Danny Torrance was forced to escape his own father in a freezing hedge maze and flee a haunted hotel where he'd seen enough freaky stuff to seriously mess up even your average adult.
So while he lived to tell the tale, it's tough to imagine Danny has a normal life waiting for him in the aftermath.
If you want to go with Stephen King's version of events, Danny's future is at least partially written. In the 2013 novel Doctor Sleep, King's official sequel to The Shining, a grown Danny Torrance suffers from alcoholism like his father. Danny gets a job at a nursing home where he's able to help guide the dying into the next realm. He eventually encounters a girl with abilities like his own and fights to save her from a group of psychic vampires. Sounds strange? Doctor Sleep is headed for the big screen in late 2019, so you can see it for yourself.
The most debated element of The Shining's ending is the final shot, showing Jack in the photo of the Overlook's 1921 Fourth of July party, which could mean a few things. It could be that in death, Jack has been absorbed into The Overlook's history, and now walks the haunted world where all eras seem to be happening at once. It could also be that the photo is the hotel's way of showing that Jack's descent into madness was the fulfilment of some kind of twisted destiny.
One particular interpretation has been adopted by many of the film's hardcore fans. The Overlook's long series of caretaker murders and the fact that it was built on an Indian burial ground suggests that the hotel is a place where history repeats itself. Many believe Jack was a reincarnated soul who was always meant to be part of that cycle. He was destined to return to the hotel and re-create its bloody past. According to the theory, this is what the spectral Grady means during the conversation in the red bathroom when he tells Jack that he's always been the caretaker. Keep watching the video to hear the rest of the Shining Ending Explained.
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Danny's future | 0:10
The photograph | 1:05
Hidden faces | 2:05
Other folks | 2:45
Breaking the cycle? | 3:26