Sunday, November 22, 2009

Does Delbert Grady ever tell the truth in the story?

It’s amazing how in “The Shining” Stanly Kubrick is able to manipulate the audience into believing that lies are the truth and that the truth is a lie. And this may be what the final picture in the movie is actually all about. Why do we believe what we believe? What I’m going to show you now has flown right over the heads of most viewers. It’s quite incredible when you think about it though. As you viewed “The Shining” have you ever thought about what Delbert Grady’s character is actually saying? Is he telling the truth? Of course he is everyone knows that Jack’s been in The Overlook before because Delbert Grady says so; no one ever asks this question about his truthfulness because we’ve been manipulated. Grady is an honest God fearing “ghost”. He may have had some problems with his family in the past but he “corrected” them. He even tries to convince Jack to kill his family but if you put all these shortcomings aside he has stellar credibility. As far as “ghosts” go he’s the top of the heap; honest and true. But it never dawns on us that something is tremendously wrong here. Dick Hallorann never lies in the movie and what he says is not believed yet Grady has no credibility at all and what he says is believed wholeheartedly. If you actually thought about it what seems right is where the truth ends up being; in the movie Grady lies about everything and Dick Hallorann never lies – it’s so obvious. But when you finally realize this it’s gonna’ make your head spin because it will change everything about how you perceive this movie.

Look closely at the conversation Jack has with Delbert Grady as there is evidence in the dialogue that everything he says to Jack is a lie. And remember that I believe that Jack is talking to his imaginary friend (his version of Danny's friend Tony) as he looks into the mirrors, not a “ghost”:

Grady: Grady, sir. Delbert Grady…. That's right, sir.
Jack: Delbert Grady?
At first this seems to be just one more of those enigmatic things that Stanley Kubrick placed in “The Shining”. Just a perplexing mystery with no real answer. But he doesn’t tell Jack his real name; it’s a lie as we know from the dialogue where Mr. Ullman tells us that his real name is Charles Grady, not Delbert Grady. In the novel there is no Delbert Grady, just Charles Grady. The name Delbert Grady is a lie.

Jack: Ah, Mr. Grady... haven't I seen you somewhere before?
Grady: Why no, sir. I don't believe so.
This is another lie as in the dialogue Jack tells us later on that he's seen his picture in the scrapbook we see opened on his desk and Grady would definitely know about the scrapbook.

Jack: Eh... Mr. Grady... weren't you once the caretaker here?
Grady: Why no, sir. I don't believe so.
Another lie as Charles Grady (as we know from the dialogue where Mr. Ullman tells us) was the caretaker of The Overlook in 1970.

Jack: You’re a married man, are you, Mr. Grady?
Grady: Yes, sir. I have a wife and eh two daughters, sir.
Jack: And, ah... where are they now?
Grady: Oh, they're somewhere around. I'm not quite sure at the moment, sir.
Another lie as Mr. Ullman tells us in the dialogue that Grady actually did hack them to death.

Jack: Mr. Grady, you were the caretaker here. I recognize you. I saw your picture in the newspapers. You ah... chopped your wife and daughters up into little bits, and ah... and you blew your brains out.
Grady: That's strange, sir. I don't have any recollection of that at all.
Another lie as Mr. Ullman tells us that all this actually happened. We also now know that the "ghost" Jack is imagining looks exactly the same as the real Charles Grady.

Jack: Mr. Grady, you were the caretaker here.
Grady: I'm sorry to differ with you, sir, but you are the caretaker. You have always been the caretaker, I should know, sir. I've always been here.
Another lie because if Delbert Grady had, “always been” in The Overlook his face would be in the picture at the July 4th ball in 1921 along with Jack at the end of the movie. They were both “caretakers” and he must be in that picture and must (like Jack) look exactly the same.

Grady: Did you know, Mr. Torrance, that your son... is attempting to bring an outside party into this situation? Did you know that?
Another lie as it’s Jack with his ability to “Shine” who alerts Dick Hallorann that something is wrong at The Overlook. If you find this hard to believe remember that Dick Hallorann knows something is wrong only when Jack walks into room 237 and not when Danny is strangled, which happened earlier. This is very important; as Jack meets the old woman he is “Shining” that image of room 237 into Dick Hallorann’s head. Danny never telepathically calls Dick Hallorann when he's attacked, in fact there is no place in the dialogue or on the screen that proves that he ever calls on him at all.

Grady: Your son has a very great talent. I don't think you are aware how great it is, but he is attempting to use that very talent against your will.
This is an obvious lie as Danny never does anything except ride around The Overlook, play with his toys, watch cartoons, and escape from his crazy ax wielding father. Stanley Kubrick hides this extremely well but we hardly ever see Danny use his special ability in the movie. If you find this hard to believe, think about this. At the end of the movie as he's running for his life Danny uses his wits rather than his "very great talent" to outsmart his father.

It’s an amazing example of manipulation we’re witnessing here and it has obvious parallels in human society. Because of the way the characters are presented the natural instinct after viewing “The Shining” is to believe all the things that the putative “ghost” Delbert Grady says and to ignore what the totally truthful Dick Hallorann says. It’s really unbelievable when you stop and think about it. Dick Hallorann never lies yet people don’t believe the obvious explanations he gives us about whether the “ghosts”in the hotel are real or not, “Remember what Mr. Hallorann said. It's just like pictures in a book, Danny. It "isn't real” yet everyone believes that Jack has been in The Overlook before because Delbert Grady says, “You have always been the caretaker, I should know, sir. I've always been here.” This ends up being a study in mass manipulation on the highest level and has everything to do with the final picture in the movie which is also not what it appears. Ask yourself this question; why do you believe what you believe?