‘The Shining’ Final Shot’s Creepy ‘Overlook Hotel July 4th Ball 1921’ Photo Turns 100

This holiday is an especially important one for Stephen King fans

The Shining Jack Nicholson Stephen King
Warner Bros

For hardcore fans of “The Shining,” this Fourth of July marks an important anniversary in the history of the infamous Overlook Hotel…and it all comes down to a photo.

If you’ve seen Stanley Kubrick’s iconic 1980 adaptation of the Stephen King novel, then you know about the photograph shown at the very end of the film after Jack Torrance (played full throttle by Jack Nicholson) suffers a chilly demise. The photograph shows Jack at the front of a grand Fourth of July ball at the Overlook Hotel, and if the inscription on the photo is correct, then today is the 100th anniversary of that mysterious party.

shining july 4th ball
The Shining Jack Nicholson

Over the past four decades, the photo has captured the imagination of horror fans and spawned theories about what the photo could mean. One popular theory is that the photo shows the picture of all the victims that the curse of the Overlook Hotel has claimed over the years.

But Kubrick himself revealed his own intentions behind the photo, saying in an interview with French film critic Michel Ciment at the time of the film’s release that the photo “suggests the reincarnation of Jack.”

So, according to Kubrick, Jack Torrance is the reincarnation of a guest at the Overlook Hotel from decades ago, as was Charles Grady, the previous caretaker whom Jack learned had become bloodthirsty while watching the hotel the previous summer.

That sense of chilling ambiguity about the evil nature of the hotel is a major reason why “The Shining” is considered today to be one of the greatest horror movies ever made. But at the time of its release, audiences were frustrated by the lack of a neat ending. The film opened to weak numbers as audiences flocked to another classic film, “The Empire Strikes Back.”

But as time went on and the public began to embrace both the mysterious nature of the film and Nicholson’s iconic performance, “The Shining” went on to turn a profit for Warner Bros. after months in theaters. But in today’s world of streaming and heavy focus on opening weekends, such a box office run is very much a thing of the past.


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