Room 237 (2012)

Room237The subject matter of Room 237 might sound like the most boring idea in the world for a documentary: exploring critical interpretations of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining? Really? A whole documentary about it? Well, perhaps it’s not for everyone, but personally, the idea sounded intriguing to me. After reading about some of the outlandish theories fleshed out in the documentary, I had to hear what these kooks had to say for themselves!

My curiosity paid off; throughout its 102 minutes we hear some very different takes on the film. Is it all about Native American genocide? A pretty convincing argument can be made for it. But it could just as easily be about the Holocaust. Then there’s the odd notion that Kubrick pasted images of minotaurs all over the film, and odder still that The Shining is Kubrick’s admission to the world at large that he filmed the fake landing on the moon. Some of these buffs watch the movie frame-by-frame to catch stuff the normal viewer wouldn’t see, some of it heavy stuff, some just penis jokes. Some suggested showing the film backwards on top of a projection of it forwards, for what reason I can’t recall, but, really? Really.

Ultimately, Room 237 isn’t about The Shining, or Stanley Kubrick, or Stephen King’s distaste for the film version of his book, or the moon landing, or, you know, minotaurs. It’s really about film-love, or better-still, film-obsession. It’s about that feeling I had when I first finished watching Twin Peaks; I wanted to know all its secrets, I wanted to decode every bit of weirdness from every single episode, I wanted to catalog each time the Log Lady said something cryptic. Even though these folks may sound a little kooky, and are without a doubt quite obsessive, they’re my people; they’re film geeks of the highest order. And even though their theories may hold no weight as far as Kubrick might have been concerned, they’re out there, and they’re part of the film now, because once a film (or novel, painting, whatever) has been consumed and deconstructed, the artist’s intention isn’t the only thing that matters. While some might find Room 237 dry and boring, I thought it was great. You’ve just got to be the type of person that gives a crap what these people think!


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