‘The Shining’: ‘Overlook Hotel’ Photo in Film’s Creepy Final Shot Turns 100 Years Old

by Anna Dunn

Today is an important day for the infamous overlook hotel from The Shining. It’s the 100th anniversary of a very surreal photo. It’s the photo that appears at the end of Stanley Kubrick’s infamous film adaptation of the Stephen King novel. The photo shows bloodthirsty hotel caretaker Jack Torrance at a fourth of July ball, eerily smiling into the camera.

The film follows Jack Torrance, who moves to take care of an old hotel for the winter in an attempt to cure his writer’s block. He brings along his family. However, Torrance quickly begins a descent into madness after discovering the secrets of the hotel. He later decides to terrorize and kill his family.

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the mysterious Overlook Hotel party. Due to the ambiguity of the movie, people have had lots of time to contemplate what it exactly means.

Horror fans have theorized about that photo for decades. Many believe the photo displays Jack in front of all of the victims that plague the hotel. However, Kubrik Himself actually had a different explanation for the image.

Kubrik Explained A Chilling Message Behind the Photo

The Shining director actually told film critic Michael Clement in an interview that the photo actually represents the re-incarnation of Jack. Essentially, Jack is the re-incarnation of a previous guest who died at the Overlook hotel decades prior. And this is also true for the caretaker that he learned from, Charles Grady.

People know the film for Nicholson’s iconic performance (“Here’s Johnny!” anyone?) along with the surreal and ambiguous nature of the film. While it didn’t do well in box offices, competing with Star Wars, it grew on audiences over time. Critics say the film is a masterpiece of its time.

Kubrik Re-Tweeted a Thanks To The Woman Behind The Photo from ‘The Shining’

Decades later, there’s more of a name behind the photo. Kubrik recently re-tweeted a reply to his 4th of July tweet about the photo. Meanwhile, A person named Gerrie Smith proudly wrote that the person behind the image was actually her mother!

“My mother was the artist who created this image for Kubrick. Her name is Joan Smith, a lively 86yr old in England and still full of Shining stories! Considered the best photographic retoucher at that time, she was handpicked by Kubrick,” she wrote.

Thanks to Joan Smith, the iconic photo came to be. And it’s a truly chilling picture fit for an absolutely legendary movie.

While Kubrik and Nicholson were at the helm, Joan Smith shows just how many people were behind the Horror masterpiece of a film. If you somehow haven’t gotten a chance to watch the film, it’s a must-watch for not only horror fans but any serious film fans. Just… maybe watch with a buddy.