In film, a continuity error is a mistake that eludes the careful eye of the director. Even after watching a scene dozens of times, these errors often go unnoticed for years.
Stanley Kubrick was a perfectionist as a person, as a chess player, and most famously, as a film director. So why are there so many continuity errors in his film The Shining? Many of these errors are well documented here, here, and here.
There are many theories as to why such a well known perfectionist allowed so many imperfections in The Shining, and I agree with those theories that contend that these continuity errors are not in fact errors, and should not be considered imperfections. They are deliberate choices by the director. I call these deliberate choices chickens.
It has been established that Stanley Kubrick incorporated his understanding of the writings of Marshall McLuhan into 2001: A Space Odyssey, so it is no leap of faith to suggest that Kubrick, the obsessive-compulsive perfectionist, read The Gutenberg Galaxy cover to cover several times. I believe he knew about the magical chicken that, in only one second of screen time, helped to illuminate the divide between how literate man and non literate man experience film.
The appearance of this chicken can be considered a type of continuity error, an unintentional element that became part of the film without the intention of the filmmaker. Remember, the literate man literally could not see the chicken, and had to watch the film frame by frame to be convinced that it was there.
But to the non literate man, the chicken was the star of the show.
I believe that Kubrick understood this and began to recognize that his audience was comprised of the "literate" and the "non literate", and started experimenting with a kind of intentional continuity error, a deliberate chicken, that was obvious to some and invisible to others.
Kubrick makes use of the chicken during this scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey:
"To convolute McLuhan, in 2001 the message is the medium."
The general consensus of the "non literate" audience would be that Frank and HAL were killing time on the ship playing a game of chess, a game which Frank loses.
A "literate" audience would have more to say. They would mention that the game of chess depicted between Frank and HAL does not follow the established rules of chess, a fact unnoticed and unmentioned by the "non literate" audience. This is our chicken.
If we believe that the chicken is an accident, a continuity error, then it does nothing to further the narrative of 2001.
If we believe the chicken is not an accident, and is in fact intentional, the chicken opens the doorway into a mystery, and the narrative of 2001 comes alive. The chicken in 2001 was no accident.
Kubrick was an above average chess player with a very deep knowledge of the game. The game depicted is the master game Roesch vs. Schlage from 1910 which is documented and published. There is a 0% chance that the inaccuracy of the chess game was a continuity error or that it eluded Kubrick.
In fact, the comprehension of 2001 depends completely on the chicken. And yet, it is hidden from the majority of the audience. Why? If The Shining is loaded with these hidden chickens, are they also important to the comprehension of the film?