Often hailed as one of the best horror films ever made, Stanley Kubrick‘S Light continues to leave the audience in all kinds of circumstances, from fear to curiosity. Renowned for its psychological impact on film characters and audiences, Kubrick’s 1980 film hit attracted theory, analysis, and a cult following for many reasons. One of them is the alluring carpet that adorns the hallways on the Overlook Hotel filming location. At first glance, it may seem like any other art deco film property, and a design element whose aim is to bring color or symmetry to the film. But eagle-eyed fans and theorists will tell you otherwise. Lightcarpet has seen its fair share of commentary and investigations, and all the evidence points to something sinister. So, what’s the deal with this strange rug? Why can’t we take our eyes off of him? Number six, clairvoyance, and chess, that’s what!
Where Did ‘The Shining’ Carpet Come From?
Located in the Rocky Mountains, Light follows the story of newly hired caretaker Jack Torrence, played by Jack Nicholson, as he and his family encounter a series of dangerous ghostly presences at the Overlook Hotel. It all started when Jack’s son, Danny (Danny Lloyd) had a hunch and then seizure. Hotel head chef Dick Halloran (Scatman Crothers) tells young Danny that he has a psychic ability that the chef calls “the shining one”, and that the hotel also glows because of a troublesome past event, and most importantly, to avoid Room 237. Here is the nightmare stuff in a nutshell , from twin ghosts to Jack’s horrific mental decline. Always present, however, is the now famous hexagonal red, orange, and black carpet that lines every hallway of the hotel. With so little production information offered on the film’s development, it’s hard to pinpoint where this rug came from. That is until a passionate theorist traced the design back to renowned interior designer David Hicks. Hicks is known for his mix of aristocratic and contemporary designs and even updated King Charles III’s first Kensington apartment.
The Hickses have clarified in the past that while Hicks never officially worked on film sets or production designs, his rugs were on sale widely for a while and have been known to end up in odd shops. The designer’s son, Ashley Hicks, left an interesting comment on an article by Graphic Travel stating “My dad never worked for Kubrick. I wish he did! Though I fear it would be too much of an ego.” In the end, we can conclude that Hicks and Kubrick did not know each other, and the choice of carpeting at the hotel did not occur through collaboration. We can only assume that Kubrick saw the pattern and felt as drawn to it as we are today. Carpet, while eye-catching, is not a lonely design choice, as many other locations in the hotel feature intricate, colorful rugs and patterns, all of which catch the eye amidst hiding behind pillows and blankets. Since the release of the film and the discovery of Hick’s involvement, his designs have been dubbed “Hick’s Hexagons”, an ode to the art that inspired the angst. But what does this carpet actually mean? Why did Kubrick make the rug stand out in such a way that people still can’t figure it out decades later? The answer could be even darker than the film itself.
Does The Number 6 Have Anything To Do With It?
In many theories about this carpet is the extraordinary focus on the hexagonal shapes that mark the different colors on the hotel floor. The shape itself is bold, and hexagons are often used by companies and artists to draw special attention to their subjects. But there’s something different about these hexagons, almost as if their shape isn’t coincidental at all. Many highlight the possible importance of the shape because of the number of sides: six. And as all horror lovers and dark fanatics know, six is the number of the Devil. Used throughout movies and ghost stories to signify the presence of the devil, the number six goes back to the Bible and the origins of Christianity. The numbers three and seven are considered the holiest numbers in all Christian denominations as they represent wholeness and purity and are seen as complete numbers. On the other hand, six instead of seven is incomplete, and even worse, three sixes is essentially a missing number. This is why 666 is hailed as the number of the Beast – because it represents the incomplete and impure nature of Satan himself.
That brings us back to Light, where an array of six is scattered down the hall in a scene depicting ghosts tormenting the poor Torrence family. Could Kubrick recognize this numerical significance and deepen the dark knowledge of the Overlook Hotel by implanting Devil’s numbers everywhere? The significance of the number six does not end there. There is a theory that the number itself could also be a clue to the idea of a sixth sense. The sixth sense is the idea of a supernatural or spiritual ability beyond the five tangible senses that we are currently aware of. Often called clairvoyance, sixth sense is thought to be the ability to see or communicate with ghosts and spirits from the other side, which in this case has to do with the hotel’s “glow” effect and Danny’s ability to see ghosts. Planting sixth sense indications physically all over the map in front of characters and audiences could have been Kubrick’s attempt to foresee what was to come, or even to heighten the feeling of suspense and otherworldliness the film inspires. So, the shape of the carpet means something dark, the color and arrangement can be a nod to the devil, like the plot of the film. But there must be more. What is it about Kubrick’s mix of thoughts and carpet that complements the aura of fear in every shot?
Is Stanely Kubrick Playing A Game With An Audience?
Kubrick is known for his love of war and strategy, particularly the films and games related to these. He later became known as a chess enthusiast, which, on the surface, might seem like completely unrelated facts. Or is it? Movie aficionados and conspiracy theorists alike suggest that carpet layouts may have more uses than decorative appeal. Aside from inferring messages based on how many sides they have, the hexagons on the rug may actually serve a purpose for the plot and style of the film. Kubrick was a lover of symmetry when it came to his filmmaking, and many of his most famous films feature beautifully crafted shots in which characters and objects are aligned in a certain way to create structured and engaging shots. The hexagonal rug probably fits Kubrick’s style perfectly, which could be the driving force behind the film’s use of it. However, theorists argue that when considering the director’s love of chess and symmetry, the idea that a game of chess is played in the film is less far-fetched. If you look closely, this bird’s eye view shot of Danny playing on the floor throughout the film shows the boy, without moving from his spot, ending up in a different hexagon as the frame switches back to him. When considering the effort the crew put into ensuring the film’s coverage and plot were executed properly, this was not a mistake.
It is believed that Kubrick deliberately moved characters along the carpet to reinforce the idea that the Torrance family was played by the hotel and its spirits, like a game of chess. Danny and his family are moved like pawns throughout the hotel unnoticed. The carpet is therefore a game board where Kubrick strategically moves the plot forward until the character reaches a breaking point and the glitter takes full effect. This idea would make the film’s overall theme and presence even more macabre because it means it isn’t just ghosts or the hotel haunting the family, it is Kubrick and his rug playing mind games on the characters and on the audience. Unbeknownst to us, we are witnessing a tense game of chess being played in front of us, with each advancing hexagon means one step closer to chaos. This theory makes a lot of sense about the mesmerizing nature of carpet, as its symmetry and possible role as a board game only reinforces the film’s bewildering and overwhelming nature.
With several decades having passed since Kubrick’s iconic horror masterpiece was released, it is unlikely that we will get confirmation of any of these theories or their legitimacy. ‘The Shining’ remains legendary for its groundbreaking horror portrayal and cinematography, and is still one of the most beloved and haunting films worldwide. While these theories may never be justified, it does speak to the scope of cinema that something as common as a rug can evoke years of analysis, wonder, and fear. The rug design itself has been copied and displayed in hotels, museums, and homes, and returns time and time again to the collective consciousness. With hexagons, Beasts, spiritual planes, and chess all possible answers, the truth behind Hick’s rug remains a mystery.