September 29, 2016

Why That Bear Performed Fellatio on That Guy in 'The Shining'

Kubrick's biggest WTF moment is finally explained.

There's plenty of speculation surrounding hidden meanings and conspiracy theories of The Shining (a feature-length documentary's worth, to be exact) but the strangest part of the film may forever be Wendy's sudden discovery of a man in a work suit receiving fellatio from a man in a bear suit.

Stanley Kubrick famously tried to distance himself from Stephen King's novel, but he did so in a way that seemed more like an attempt to tease the author rather than set himself apart. The changes appeared in minor details rather than in overarching story structure. For example, in the book, the snowcat is yellow and Jack’s Volkswagon Beetle is red.  In the movie, the Beetle is yellow and the snowcat is red. But when Dick Halloran is making his perilous journey through a blizzard back up to the Overlook Hotel, he passes a red Beetle crushed by an 18-wheeler. Ouch.

Kubrick did decide to keep some things, and it turns out that the bear scene was one of them. Similar to the Beetle switch, however, the bear was actually a dog in the novel. Kubrick opted not to go further into backstory, instead using the scene as just another building block in his nerve-wracking Jenga tower of tension. Check out Screen Prism's video below for further analysis of Kubrick's famous scene.

The video leans heavily on cinephile Rob Ager's analysis of the scene, in which he tries to prove Jack Torrance is a pedophile who has been sexually abusing his son Danny all along, a premise that is nowhere to be found in the source novel. Ager's idea is mainly motivated in this bear-to-dog switch. He believes that "a shift from dog to bear costume doesn’t have any significant effect on the aesthetic scariness of the scene, so there must have been some sort of logic at work in Kubrick’s decision."

Without fully going into all the examples Ager gives, he believes that logic is employed throughout the film with a sort of subliminal messaging. For example, in an early close-up of Danny, we see his head resting on a bear pillow as he speaks with a psychiatrist.

Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining."

Perhaps the coolest of these clues is the striking similarity of the establishing shots between Wendy discovering the Ursidae sex act, and an early shot of Danny back at home brushing his teeth as he prepares for bed.

Danny.
Bear.

Your Comment

13 Comments

The only artifact more over-analyzed than this film must be the Bible. They seem to attract the same type of zealotry, as well.

September 29, 2016 at 2:43PM

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I signed up for nofilmschool simply to upvote THIS comment. No joke.

September 29, 2016 at 9:30PM, Edited September 29, 9:30PM

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This analysis genuinely creeped me out and scared me. Especially the quick intercutting between Danny in the bathroom and the bear. Cree-frickin-eepy.

September 29, 2016 at 2:51PM

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Ian Park
Documentary Editor / Director
88

DAMN.... what an awesome analysis.... I never thought about this.

September 29, 2016 at 3:36PM

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Walter Wallace
Spokesperson/Entrepreneur
645

i never thought its a bear in the movie, looks like it could be a dog costume, but interesting analysis

September 29, 2016 at 4:16PM

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Spence Nicholson
Writer / Director / Producer
108

Title should have been "BJ and the Bear".

September 29, 2016 at 6:45PM, Edited September 29, 6:45PM

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or "Kubrick Bears It All"

September 29, 2016 at 9:25PM

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Tim Milgram
Director / Cinematographer
317

You guys are probably too young to know but BJ and the Bear was a TV show.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CY4L1xQIl0g

September 29, 2016 at 9:38PM

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LoL nope... and now I've shown my age :-P (nope as in it was on of my favorite shows...)

September 30, 2016 at 10:14AM, Edited September 30, 10:15AM

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Film GRIT
Host With The Most
209

Brilliant Kubrick-Level analysis.

September 29, 2016 at 9:58PM, Edited September 29, 9:58PM

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Apart from it's not a bear costume in the film, it's a dog. So...

September 30, 2016 at 9:33AM

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There's a "does a bear shit in the woods" joke here somewhere, but I'm too tired to think of one. I'm relying on you all to step in and fill the void.

October 6, 2016 at 4:45PM

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Ahh. Watch out for hairy gay bears. Now I finally understand what "The Revenant" was all about.

October 31, 2016 at 7:50PM

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Jeffrey Norman
Director / Editor
88