Wednesday, 15 May 2013
If you've either not seen The Shining or absolutely hate people who "read too much into things" (or both!) just stop reading now, you'll save yourself a lot of time.
Room 237 is a sort of documentary. I say "sort of " because the entire film is conjecture, theories and different readings all surrounding Stanley Kubrick's 1980 horror classic. It's essentially a collection of people who have very indepth pet theories about what they think The Shining is *really* all about.
Most of the theories do come across as a bit insane. One in particular uses the film as supposed evidence that Kubrick was slyly admitting that he was part of the faked moon landing videos. Eye rolls all around for that one. It might just be Stockholm Syndrome setting in after spending an hour and a while with these disembodied voices (this documentary is made up entirely of archive footage, footage from the film itself and a little original photography) but I found myself buying in to some of them towards the end. I'm not saying I do believe that Kubrick was making a criticism of the genocide of the Native Americans or that he was confronting the horrors of the holocaust via subtext, but I am saying there are a few little details that can only be explained by the fact that he was clearly trying to say something at least.
Attention to craft is something that runs through all the analysts and their theories. There is no doubt among anyone, be they academics, film scholars, or just general fans of movies, that Stanley Kubrick was a master of his craft and his attention to detail was bordering on the obsessive. If anything can be taken away from Room 237 it's just how far Kubrick went in producing the Shining, whether it's something little like the numerous middle fingers he gives Stephen King (author of the source material) or something subtler like the impossible geometry of the Overlook Hotel. (The impossible shape of the hotel has to be one of my favourite things about the film. Even if you don't consciously notice it, it subconsciously instils the idea with you that there is something just plain wrong with this place even if you don't know what it is. More on that here, and then here)
It feels a lot like something that you'd more usually find as an extra feature on a blu-ray release or something similar, but that's not to say Room 237 isn't an interesting watch. Don't go in expecting to be convinced of any great truth about the film or anything enlightening. This is just a handful of ideas that some people take away from what they saw. None of it's wrong and none of it's right, it's all just really interesting opinion.