Sissy Spacek and Shelly Duvall have both starred in major motion pictures based on the novels of Stephen King: Carrie (1976) and The Shining (1980). Thus, they are icons of the genre, two meek and passive women whose great personal power only gets unleashed at a time of extreme stress.
Both Carrie White and Wendy Torrance suffer their own personal apocalypses in their respective movies, one ending in fire:
…and one in ice:
The characters of Carrie and Wendy also bring to mind that of fairy-tale heroines.
Carrie White resonates Snow White who resonates the fairy-tale of “Snow White and Rose Red,” about two girls with polar-opposite personalities:
“Rose Red” will also be the name of a 2002 Stephen King miniseries featuring an Oregon mansion very much like the Overlook from The Shining:
And since we’re on the topic of The Shining, here’s an interesting sync:
“Wendy” brings to mind the heroine from Peter Pan—Wendy Torrance having the unenviable task of dealing with a husband who “won’t grow up” (in other words, stop his dreams of writing and get a real job), Jack. In this way, The Shining can be seen as a nightmare version of Peter Pan, from Wendy’s perspective & Jack/Peter losing his shit.
Fans of the animated movie Rise of the Guardians have pointed out the similarities between Disney’s Peter Pan and ROTG’s Jack Frost:
Of course, Jack Torrance at the end of The Shining literally becomes a sort of “Jack Frost”:
Meanwhile, Robin Williams plays Peter Pan in the 1991 movie Hook…
…another boy/man who can’t grow up in the 1996 movie Jack…
…and also co-stars with Shelley Duvall in the 1980 Robert Altman movie Popeye:
During the production of the film, Duvall showed Williams her collection of antique fairy-tale books; she felt he would be perfect to play “The Frog Prince,” and soon after started a cable TV series for children called Faerie Tale Theatre:
Meanwhile, Sissy Spacek would go on to play the crazy mother of Carrie-like fright-child Samara in The Ring 2:
Samara herself is an “unstuck” soul who has gone beyond concepts of space, time, and even Self—she has also transcended the movie/video to reach out at the viewer in a personal manner:
The “soul” of the Carrie/Wendy & Spacek/Duvall archetypes will intersect in Altman’s bizarre 1977 flick 3 Women:
The two characters, Millie Lammoreaux (Duvall) and Pinky Rose (Spacek), will be “synthesized” into each other with the help of the pregnant “third woman,” Willie, portrayed by Janice Rule:
In 3 Women, we have the idea that the Self is not static, but a dynamic, perhaps even unstable and permeable entity. Willie is a silent artist of primal, savage murals that look like the Dreamtime of the Aborigines—a medium of the subconscious by which all three females can synthesize themselves and loosen their definitions of Self:
In a neat Altman/Stanley Kubrick sync, note the similarities between Willie’s mural and this scene from 2001 (apes congregating around the stargate symbol):
In the end, the three women syncretize into a functional Whole—in effect, forming the Triple Goddess:
But in order for this to happen, the women will have to pass through the stargate/reality point and go where Self is permeable and subjective:
Director Altman himself based 3 Women on a dream he had, one that he admitted he didn’t fully understand.
Millie: Pinky? What’s the matter?
Pinky: I’m scared.
Millie: What of?
Pinky: I had a bad dream.
Millie: Dreams can’t hurt ya.
Postscript: Two years ago, Shelley Duvall was apparently interviewed by Dr. Phil. The then 67-year-old actress admitted suffering from mental illness and said, among other things, that she doesn’t believe Robin Williams is really dead—but rather, that her former Popeye co-star is “shape-shifting.”
Again, we have the idea of the Self as “permeable and subjective.” “Wendy” once again sees her Peter Pan, as both are possibly caught between worlds (Williams was also in the afterlife movie What Dreams May Come). But also there are the ghosts…straight out of the plot of The Shining (or The Ring).
One can only hope that in such a difficult time of her life—and apparently at the mercy of media vultures—Duvall can at least take comfort in the more benevolent aspects of the contact between words.