Dir: Rodney Ascher, 2012
Rodney Ascher assembles a team of Stanley Kubrick aficionados to dissect The Shining and analyse the hidden themes and messages that Kubrick may or may have not communicated through the film.
Room 237 is going to bash your brains in. It’s going to bash them right the f*** in. That is, if Kubrick’s stunningly meticulous use of images and props hasn’t already done so. Welcome back to The Overlook.
In presentation and in content, Room 237 resembles a college thesis regarding formalism. The voiceovers are scratchy. The pictures are fuzzy. Ascher’s documentary is dizzy with ambition but fundamentally rooted in keen examination, clever interpretation and an innocuous passion for film. This contrast to Kubrick’s evident love of symbolism compels viewers to disregard Room 237’s form and focus on the content; and boy is there a lot of it for 100 minutes.
Room 237 covers every subtextual issue from social themes of racism and sexual repression to historical milestones such as the Holocaust, Native American genocide and of all things, the moon landing. Naturally one would think that once the experts’ imaginations begin to literally reach for the stars, the film’s credibility would dissipate and Room 237 would be locked away without key. Strangely, while Room 237 boasts both infuriatingly outlandish and ingeniously perplexing theories, however unlikely, they are always to some extent substantiated by Kubrick’s well-known and fervid obsession to detail.
The enthusiasts who lend their voices to the film tend to sway towards the opinion that Kubrick is an unparalleled genius such to an extent whereas an apparent continuity error is indistinguishable from a minor facet of Kubrick’s master thematic plan. This is a prejudice which would have been wonderfully countered if only a representative of the film crew or of Warner Bros had been implored for an opinion.
A predominantly-enjoyable teaser that will have you running for your nearest copy of The Shining, Room 237 offers so much to cinephiles and even more to the average filmgoer in the opportunity to view films with new, albeit slightly pretentious, eyes. Still, better those eyes than ones donning 3D glasses.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆