Rodney Ascher’s wry and provocative Room 237 fuses fact and fiction through interviews with cultists and scholars, creating a kaleidoscopic deconstruction of Kubrick’s still-controversial classic The Shining.
I still do not know what to make of it. What would I give it on a scale of 1 to 5 stars?
Well, it took me three times to watch the whole thing through, if that’s any barometer. I kept falling asleep.
It wasn’t that it was boring. Exhaustive is more like it.
But, again, it wasn’t boring. It was perhaps too cerebral for me.
I could not believe all the theories, symbols and explanations the panel of interviewees discussing the film came up with. Who, by the way, were never shown. You only heard their voices.
Which may have helped lull me to sleep. It was actually very soothing and calming, like a lullaby.
The views presented in Room 237 helped educate me on Kubrick in a way I never knew I could be. Or about movie making, politics, or conspiracy theories.
Perhaps my favorite part was when they discussed whether Kubrick had been involved in “inventing” the Apollo 11 landing footage. I had heard the conspiracy that it was faked, but had never heard it analyzed. (For a great explanation of it, if you’re not familiar either, see How Stanley Kubrick Faked the Apollo Moon Landings.)
But in this film they theorized Kubrick was letting those who caught it in on his secret and admitting he did have something to do with creating the moon landing footage.
Or maybe he wasn’t. Maybe he was just adding Apollo 11 references to be cheeky.
We’ll never know for sure because he’s not here to ask.
Crazy stuff. But the symbols they interpreted got me. The interviewees felt every prop, every prop placement, every actor’s move was in the movie for a reason. Which quite possibly it could’ve been. Again, can’t ask the man who created it!
They also pointed out a lot of goofs and guffaws. One I thought was actually a brilliant catch was the layout of the hotel. That interviewee even had a diagram of the hotel, created from how the actors walked through the hotel. They brought it up by pointing out how this one window could not have been in an office.
I couldn’t understand why they felt that way…until they went so far as to show a diagram of the hotel they created based on scenes and characters walking around the hotel. They’d show the scene, then the diagram, and what do you know? They were right! The window actually could not have existed like that after all!
Who catches stuff like that?
The people in this documentary. Talk about observant!
Granted, most had watched and re-watched The Shining dozens of times if not more. Still, they also admitted certain things didn’t feel right to them the first time or two through so…that’s in part what sparked them to re-watch and analyze as closely as they had over the years.
I was hoping they’d explain a scene that has always baffled me: near the end when there’s a glimpse of two people in costumes, one of them wearing a bear costume. I guess it was a scene in the novel too but for some reason it jumped out at me and has stuck for all these years after watching the movie.
I still don’t know what I would give Room 237. On the one hand it could be a 5 for all the information that was presented. But it also could’ve been presented better.
I guess I’ll go with a 3.
Have you seen it? If not, be prepared to wear your thinking cap!