A subjective documentary that explores the numerous theories about the hidden meanings within Stanley Kubrick's film The Shining (1980). The film may be over 30 years old but it continues to inspire debate, speculation, and mystery. Five very different points of view are illuminated through voice over, film clips, animation and dramatic reenactments. Together they'll draw the audience into a new maze, one with endless detours and dead ends, many ways in, but no way out.Written by
Late comment. In Room 237, Danny is pictured as going on second from first floor, with editing, on his second Big Wheel stroll. In The Shining. The stroll starts on the second floor, right after Wendy watches the weather in the kitchen. See more »
One of the theorists claims that Room 237 is a reference to the mean distance from the Moon to the Earth: 237,000 miles. However, the actual distance is 238,856 miles. See more »
There is a lot of anger about this film on this page and, while I was considering whether to watch it or not, it was this passionate hate that made me interested to see it myself. It isn't across the board though, but whenever someone dislikes this film they seem to really dislike it. The problem seems to be that it appears to be a documentary about The Shining but it really isn't any such thing – but to watch it as one must be frustrating because you sit to watch that and have to listen to loopy theories about the film presented as (in your head) facts. I didn't have this approach because I had heard it was all about the theories rather than the film and as such I found it quite fascinating even if it is a little too long.
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.
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