An exploration of various interpretations of Stanley Kubrick's horror film, The Shining (1980).An exploration of various interpretations of Stanley Kubrick's horror film, The Shining (1980).An exploration of various interpretations of Stanley Kubrick's horror film, The Shining (1980).
The whole film is people talking over clips from the film or other clips illustrating their point; the theories range from the film being about the Holocaust through to the Native Americans through to the Kubrick making it about his own involvement in faking the moon landings. It is all pretty nutty in terms of what it says, but it works because the contributors believe it and they speak with such passion and enthusiasm about their specific interpretations that it is hard not to get drawn in. There are plenty of moments where you find yourself starting to listen rather than mock – so specific things that are in the film that are attributed to meaning something and I started to wonder "well, why is that thing there – it was chosen to be in this shot or be worn by this character, so what was that decision taken for". Of course there are plenty of bits that do the opposite and are pretty laughable but generally I found myself quite drawn in by it. The length works against this in some ways because it does stretch things out more than it can bear but it was still engaging to me.
Part of the interest for me was seeing how it is possible to really find meaning in anything if you apply yourself. I was never a fan of school lessons where we had to tear works apart looking at each detail and talking about what it could possibly mean, rather than just enjoying the whole for what it does, and this is what happens here. The hunt for meaning and for symbols rewards those that are doing it, but ultimately they all have their point if their theory is true. The extent of their criticial analysis of each frame and second of the film is intense and it did make me wonder why they did it and whether they are still able to see the film for the great piece of entertainment that it is?
Room 237 is too long and lacks a clear point – it would have benefited from something topping and tailing it, but as it is I still found it engaging thanks to the passion and detail in the delivery; it doesn't mock these people it just gives them a platform and leaves the rest to us and them. I found it interesting even if ultimately it is quite empty as a film – ultimately if you dig in every corner looking for your agenda, you'll find enough to back you up – which isn't the same as you being correct. This is the message that I took from it and I found that message to be entertaining, but it is ironic that Room 237 is about lots of people seeking meaning in one film, all while it really doesn't do a good job of presenting its own meaning.
- bob the moo
- Jul 13, 2013