Sunday, December 3, 2017

What Really Lurks Inside Room 237?

Have you ever been deeply enthusiastic about a movie, album or book? Maybe you’ve discussed it over and over with friends or fellow fans? Perhaps you've kept thinking about the true meanings of the images, words or music and endlessly considered its real meanings? Well, you’ve got nothing on the people featured in the film Room 237 (2012). This documentary features a group of Über-fans discussing their theories on the subtext of Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 version of Stephen King’s novel The Shining. While the movie wasn’t a huge success on its original release (and King wasn't very happy with Kubrick's version of his novel) the film has gone on to achieve classic status. It's now considered one of the best of it's genre by many fans and critics. But the Kubrick devotees featured in Room 237 think there’s a lot more lurking behind the doors of The Overlook Hotel than Jack Nicholson, ghostly bartenders, corridors of blood and creepy twin girls.

The movie features clips from The Shining and other Kubrick films. It's narrated by these "superfans" and admirers of the director, who remain off camera. They discuss their views and opinions on what they feel are the true themes of the movie. The Kubrick aficionados include Bill Blakemore, Juli Kearns and John Fell Ryan, among others. The theories they put forth about what Kubrick is really discussing beneath the surface include the massacre of Native Americans by the white man, the Holocaust and the possible faking of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Few filmmakers inspire as much intense debate and offbeat interpretations among their fans as Kubrick does, and this group is no exception. It’s fascinating to see what some viewers feel is the true message of this unsettling horror tale. 

To paraphrase one of the Kubrick admirers featured, “Even if my view isn’t what he intended to say with the film, does that make it any less valid?” We all bring our own histories, interests and feelings with us when we watch a movie, see a play, read a book, or listen to an album. My take on a piece of art may be very different from yours, but that doesn’t make it incorrect. While some of these ideas regarding the subtext of The Shining are pretty far out, one thing is for sure: these people are truly passionate about this movie, and Kubrick’s work as a whole. The film’s one drawback is that the same clips are used multiple times to illustrate the theories being discussed.

We’re all fans of something, be it the films of a celebrated director, the performances of an award-winning actor, the work of a beloved author, a specific TV show or film genre, or the music of our favorite bands. Most people don’t espouse theories quite as far out as the ones featured in Room 237, but on some level, we’ve all been deeply affected by our own personal favorites This film celebrates movie fans, movie analysis and movie love, and that’s a good thing. Room 237 was produced by Tim Kirk and directed by Rodney Ascher. It’s currently available on Blu-ray, DVD and for digital download & viewing. One final note that may be of interest to fans: In the original novel, the room number used by King was 217; Kubrick changed it to 237 for the film version. Here are links to the film’s trailers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOxukprEwjg & https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHE5YUNkssQ.

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