Have you ever seen a hidden message?
In 1980 Stanley Kubrick released his classic horror film, The Shining. Loved and hated by equal numbers, the film is considered a genre standard by many loyalists, while other viewers dismiss it as the lazy result of a legendary director working far below his talent level. In between these two poles, however, live the conspiracy theories of ardent fans who are convinced they have decoded The Shining’s secret messages regarding genocide, government conspiracy, and the nightmare that we call history.
Rodney Ascher’s documentary, Room 237, fuses fact and fiction through interviews with the fans and scholars who espouse these theories, and reworking the film’s scenes forward and backward. Room 237 is about more than people who like a famous movie; its vision encompasses original intent, fair use, analysis, and criticism. It investigates what it means to be a fan—why do we need to find deeper meanings in film, and how do those insights change our lives? —Sundance
Fascinating film detailing the ultimate in cineaste obsession in a selection of theorists offering their takes and hypothesis on the (hidden?) meaning of Kubrick's 'The Shining'. Some are obviously crackpot theories but some have some validity for the meticulous Kubrick could not have made that many continuity errors could he? Maps of the overlook, changes in costume or design..etc. A must.
See a collection of people reacting to Kubrick's The Shining as if it was a Rorschach Inkblot Test. Everyone starts to project their own expectations and interpretations into the film, making the most impossible conections in image superimpositions during fade-ins, props in the background, and continuity errors. In the end it's a documentary about the crazy fans of cinema rather than about The Shining itself.
It's easy (it really is) to write this film off as a pulpit for a handful of obsessive crackpots, but on a larger level Room 237's appeal (at least for me) lies in the idea of how we look to art to decode meaning and draw broader parallels (whether it be to other works of art or to the larger world), and how that enriches the power of our relationship to given works of art.
This week: striking reality & cinema-blending images, Rosenbaum on TIFF, and some naturally occurring companion pieces to Leviathan.