Written & Directed
Rodney Ascher's documentary Room 237 focuses on a plethora of conspiracy theories and hidden meanings in Stanley Kubrick's classic, 1980 horror film The Shining. Everything from the film being about the Holocaust, to the massacres of the American Indians, to the faking of the landing on the moon, all are presented by The Shining obsessed conspiracy theorists. Some of the discussions and thoughts feel a little fruit loopy, but others began to work on me and led to a fairly enjoyable experience watching this film. For the most part, these people have taken film details and research for meaning to a whole new level. A fun, geeky paradise in search of what Kubrick was possible getting at and how he possibly presented it in his film. Anyway you look at it, after seeing this documentary it will make watching The Shining a lot more entertaining, as if it was not already, and more obsessive.
All of the individuals who have given there theories and time here are not physically shown. Their voices are used and pictures and scenes from all of Kubrick's films are used to exemplify what and who they are talking about. I do not want to call these people nuts, but feel as if they are looking so deep into the film that it could lead to a form of dementia. I do respect the passion they have for the film and it really does create great conversation. It makes talking about films exciting and definitely ensures that future viewings of The Shining will be taken to new heights of detail and specificity.
Ascher has crafted a documentary that is just pure fun, if not a little too much. Most of the time I was thinking that these people need to get out of whatever dark room they are in and stop obsessing over these subliminal and hidden meanings in this film, but by the end of it I was happy and intrigued by what they have presumed to uncover. Kubrick was a stickler for detail. That in itself is what I found most interesting about the film. The "faked" moon landing is the most interesting account presented here and it is hard not to at least feel the possibility through the details shown in the documentary. The holocaust and genocide of American Indians I can see with Kubrick's desire to make a film speaking of the horrors of Nazi Germany and human expansion and dominance, but they could be a little too far fetched. The details with number 42 are however quite intriguing.
Back to more details in the film. The style of carpet in room 237 and how it looks to be a depiction of sex, to the points where Danny has the ball roll to him where he is playing and how the shape of the hexagonal carpet goes from being opened to closed was really fascinating. I really love stuff like that and it makes me want to see the film right away to find these minute details that hold so much meaning to the story and film. Even the part when Halloran is driving back to The Overlook Hotel and sees a semi-truck crashed on top of a red Volkswagen beetle shows how Kubrick states his ownership over the film and his dismissal of Stephen King's novel. In the book, the Torrance's are driving a red beetle and in this film they drive a yellow one. Also, the continuity issues of a chair being there in the shot, then missing the next time around and the changes in color of the typewriter are up for discussion. Kubrick was too detailed to allow this gaffs to occur so there had to be some meaning there.
Room 237 is a fun documentary if you are a fan of Kubrick's The Shining and of the masters great filmography. It is fun if you are fan of mystery and debate over any film for that matter. The film shows how exciting diving into these theories and creating them can be and also how crazy obsessed fans and historians are at the same time. The documentary is an example of the greatness of film history and conversation. The engaging and obsessed film websites, blogs and discussing the various aspects of any film. When it comes to Stanley Kubrick, there is always more to research, discuss and be amazed about. I mean, it is Kubrick and there is only one Stanley Kubrick. Ascher has captured that love for film and conspiracies with this entertaining documentary.