A rare look at the mysterious and at times confusing world of The Shining.
Since 1980 it has both amazed and dumbfounded audiences around the world. Behind its beauty and uniqueness lies a web of hidden symbolism and sexual undertones. It begs the question of whether or not this is just a horror film or is something of a political agenda presented by the late Stanley Kubrick.
In the documentary, Rodney Ascher brought together a large group of conspiracy theorists that spoke about their interpretation and first reactions to The Shining. From theories of the genocide of Native Americans, to the Holocaust all the way to sexual undertones that can be found throughout the original film. It was a highly intriguing documentary that wasted no time identifying the theorists but rather focused on actual footage from the original film. I felt this was highly successful, so many times with documentaries they become mundane because all we see is the interviewee speaking. Instead Room 237 is all voiceovers that show exactly what the theorists are theorizing.
Another great aspect of the documentary is that it takes no sides; being that there is no narrator you feel that you are left up to make your own interpretations. This way the documentary stayed clear of defining exactly what Kubrick was doing with his masterpiece and stayed neutral.
While many theories were presented they were presented vaguely and with no continuity. The film would have benefited if it branched the theories together so that you could grasp each one individually of each other. It is a perfect example of how continuity benefits not only feature films but also documentaries.
That being said, if you are a fan or at least intrigued by Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, Room 237 is right for you. It sheds light not only on questions presented after viewing the original but also shows the brilliance that was Kubrick. Room 237 is part of a new wave of resurgence for the classic; Warner Bros. is considering making a prequel to The Shining. But for now Room 237 can be seen at select theaters and also on iTunes and Amazon Instant Video.
An exhibition of Kubrick’s film memorabilia, including The Shining is currently running in Los Angeles at LACMA.