Room 237 (2012)
I knew very little about Room 237 prior to viewing, other than the fact it was a documentary about Stanley Kubrick's The Shining and that it explored the movies potential meaning. What is actually on offer is a movie about Kubrick fans and their personal interpretations. For those of a more charitable disposition director Rodney Ascher has created an ode to cinematic love. For those with a more sceptical demeanour, this is vehicle for exploring obsession and possibly an invitation to mock. Either way, it is very compelling viewing, despite being a little too long and a little too clever for its own good.
Room 237 caught me a little off guard, as it started with a selection of voice overs from fans, talking about their initial exposure to The Shining and reflecting upon how they each discovered the works of Stanley Kubrick. Then one individual said that the sixties were a "rather pathetic time...for film" and I sat up and took noticed, because that's not a position that you'll hear advocated very often. From then onwards the documentary continued to catalogue further "unconventional" views, all backed up with the most complex of reasons. The Shining became an allegory of the genocide of the Native Americans or alternatively the Holocaust, also a coded confession that Kubrick had faked the moon landings.
"Kubrick likes to make you think" it was claimed. I do not dispute this but there's thinking and then there's over-thinking. People often misconstrue applicability with allegory and I think what we have here are individuals that have simply seen what they want to see in The Shining, to validate their own pet theories and monomanias. Kubrick was indeed a highly skilled film maker but the likelihood that he could or would contrive to make a movie so heavily coded in subtext as these individual claim is frankly implausible. The cult of Kubrick plays a major part in this situation. I doubt if you'd find this level of dissection over the work of his contemporaries.
However I played along for the duration and did enjoy some of the lesser ideas banded about. I especially liked the concept of the move being played forward and backward, over each other, simultaneously. At the end of Room 237, I found myself pondering the same question that many viewers have raised already. Not whether the theories are true but does the documentary have a point? I believe that it does; that the obsessive and complex personality of director Stanley Kubrick is mirrored not only in his work but also in some of his fans. All three have a common connection based on intricacy. Ultimately one good thing did occur as a result of me watching Room 237; I immediately watched The Shining again.