KKK – Kinetic Kubrickian Kabbalism

Perhaps known mainly for landing on the moon before Neil Armstrong did in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) or for depicting sheer terror in A Clockwork Orange (1971) and The Shining (1980), iconic filmmaker, Stanley Kubrick, dabbled quite a bit in numerology, something that can be related to the ideals of Kabbalism [however, the only direct “name numerology” connections are the satirical character names in Lolita (1962), Dr. Strangelove (1964) and Full Metal Jacket (1987), and the coincidence of real-life actors/characters names in The Shining (1980) shown below].

Whether intentional or not, Kubrick’s interest contrasts, if slightly, with his Jewish-atheist, New York City upbringing, but relates to his consistent thematic focus of Freudian philosophy (another Jewish atheist). In particular, the two, much like Kabbalah scholars, were interested in knowledge that comes from the mind with their view of man’s ‘primitive mind’ irrationally equating “uncanny” or “magical” meaning to repetition/patterns and destiny or the ‘supernatural.’ Kubrick contested that man’s horrors are not challenged with logic and intelligence, but rather repression. He once stated, “Freud said that the uncanny is the only feeling which is more powerfully experienced in art than in life.” Perhaps his use of numerology in film can be equated to Kabbalah’s sense of bringing knowledge through elevated levels of self-awareness.

As explored in the documentary, Room 237 (2012), the notorious auteur slyly showcased repetitive, hidden numerology in his films. For instance, the numbers 12, 42, 24, and 21 repeat throughout The Shining (1980), which when added together equals 99 (the year in which he died). In that film, Room 237 is a very important plot point, which when numerically added together equals 12: also referring to the Overlook Hotel’s freezer and pantry stock of 12 turkeys, 12-pound sugar bags, 12 molasses jugs, and the radio distress call being “KDK 12.” When reversed, the number 21 serves as the protagonist, Jack’s (Jack Nicholson), photo taken in 1921 standing amid 21 other wall photos.

Additionally, when numerically multiplied, the digits (Room) 237 equal 42: the number on Danny’s (actor Danny Lloyd) t-shirt sleeve; Dick Halloran’s (Scatman Crothers) car license plate number; and the film Wendy (Shelley Duvall) watches on television –Summer of ’42 (1971). The last digit, 7, in the film’s setting is also relevant: the Overlook Hotel was built in 1907; the previous hotel overseer, Delbert Grady (Philip Stone), murdered his family in 1970; Danny is seven years old; and Jack drinks J.D. No. 7.

Furthermore, the number 114 resurfaces in Kubrick’s body of work. In Dr. Strangelove (1964), the CRM “114” Discriminator is destroyed (alluding to an attack by the Soviet Union); in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), the space shuttle Jupiter Explorer’s license plate number is 114; and in A Clockwork Orange (1971), Alex (Malcolm McDowell) is forced to ingest serum 114 as part of his “reformation.”

Finally, the important and lucky Judaic number 13 is prevalent. Kubrick’s last film, Eyes Wide Shut (1999), explored the occult secret world of a wealthy, shameless society with a façade that obscenely worships goddesses, and tampers with souls while eliminating those who cross its path. Its premise is based heavily on the final suppression by France King Phillip IV of Knights Templar (a corrupt elitist group) that occurred on Friday, the 13th in October 1307.

Many conspiracy theories exist about Kubrick being murdered for having exposed the wrongdoings of this extremely powerful group. Oddly enough, Kubrick was born on the seventh month (July) and died exactly 666 days before the first of January 2001 at the ripe age of 70 on 3/7/99. You do the math!

About the Author
Michael is currently a PhD Candidate in film studies at Bangor University in Wales. A native New Yorker, he resides in Israel where he is the program advisor for the Diplomacy and International Communication in English program at Leo Baeck Education Center in Haifa. He also created the ongoing film studies program at Bayside High School in conjunction with St. John’s University in New York City where seniors receive college credit. Michael is interested in American cinema and its cultural implications for which he teaches, writes about, and gives lectures.