MovieChat Forums > The Shining (1980) Discussion > Bear imagery significance.

Bear imagery significance.

I think Kubrick might have been thinking along the lines of this being a twisted version of the Three Bears nursery rhyme. The whole family speak to each other in a phoney way reminiscent of a children’s book, but underneath there are hints of savagery, especially from Papa-bear, and Mama-bear’s in denial.

I suspect Kubrick is contrasting picket-fence American culture with its savage foundations, our ‘cozy’ modern existence contrasts with our beastly origins. Blowbear is the most stark representation of humanity as base creatures, the depraved sexual act perversely mirroring the innocence of Danny lying on his bed with his bear-pillow.

It’s also possible that the Red Indians who were violently repelled during the building of the Overlook, themselves had to repel bears, who no doubt are responsible for some of the dead in their ‘burial ground’.

I think people ‘overlook’ the man vs nature aspect of the story. It’s set in the wilderness, far from civilisation, and the setting seems to overwhelm what there is of Jack’s civilised veneer, calling forth his inner beast, as it has many before him.


I think it's a nod to the book. I haven't read it in decades but I believe there was a costume party and a guy in a bear costume was having a fling with another man or something.


That’s who I meant by ‘Blowbear’, who is everyone’s favourite apparition in the film.


Excellent insight.

Kubrick is outlining the superficiality of American culture with the picket-fence paradigm juxtaposed with the spiritual hollowness that stems from its unhinged exuberance.

Jack personifies the total dissolution of virtue and morality--the logical conclusion to the extremes of physical decadence.

The Overlook Hotel represents the foundation of America--tainted by virtue of its acquisition; its luxury and excess, a metaphor for culture, is the subconscious attempt at compensating for the spiritual emptiness that accompanies material worship.


This post is like a poem or a deep literary piece o_o



Remember the hotel was in the Rocky Mountains, presumably a northerly part of the range, which would mean there were real grizzly bears outside. Not the half-tame bears of Yosemite or the scavengers you get towns, huge and serious hunting bears who know they're the local lords of creation.

Of course my brain is fried and I cant think if that plays into Kubrick's intended meaning. But the real bears outside are yet another thing trapping the family in with their own demons.