Room 237


For those who are not fans of The Shin­ing, Room 237 may not appear to be your kind of film, but look past the sub­ject of its analy­sis and you still have an inter­est­ing and sub­ver­sive doc­u­men­tary. Rod­ney Ascher’s ado­ra­tion and enchant­ment of Kubrick’s clas­sic hor­ror film led him to find out more about the film and through that jour­ney he stum­bled upon a realm of exhaus­tive, sub­jec­tive the­o­ries relat­ing to it. In this new doc­u­men­tary sev­eral of these ideas are analysed in great depth and with tremen­dous vivac­ity thanks to Ascher’s direction.

Some of the the­o­ries seem rel­a­tively crack-pot when first spo­ken about but as the film etches through each hypoth­e­sis and every point of ref­er­ence, they begin to take illus­tri­ous shape. Whether or not you agree with beliefs that The Shin­ing pointed to notions such as Kubrick film­ing the 1969 Moon land­ing, the geno­cide of the Native Amer­i­cans or the machi­na­tions of Hitler’s exter­mi­na­tions of the Jews, the the­o­rists always give an inter­est­ing lec­ture on why they believe it to be so.


For film stu­dents, crit­ics and fanat­ics, this is a ground-breaking doc­u­men­tary about the debates and dis­cus­sions of film. Espe­cially for the film stud­ies fac­tion, Room 237 proves the worth of analy­sis in a direc­tor, star or genre. Not many know of the degrees of detail in which peo­ple read into films and Room 237 is an expert exam­ple of show­ing some cinema-goers’ unique per­cep­tions. As dense at it may be at points, the film runs through the bunch of the­o­ries, always with more than one astound­ing exam­i­na­tion. Fur­ther­more, Ascher uses snip­pets from var­i­ous hor­ror films to envi­sion some of the interviewee’s sto­ries (many clips of peo­ple in cin­e­mas cor­re­spond­ing with the­o­rist X talk­ing about their first expe­ri­ence of The Shin­ing, for exam­ple), thus alle­vi­at­ing some of the bland­ness that comes from only hear­ing the voices of the Shin­ing enthusiasts.


It will not be to everyone’s taste and its commercial-fate may not be up to par with the reg­u­lar Hol­ly­wood releases, but even with the slight­est bit of suc­cess (no doubt it will sur­pass what might be expected of it) it could eas­ily become the start of a new trend in film-orientated doc­u­men­tary film­mak­ing. Ascher and pro­ducer Tim Kirk have already noted in inter­views the wealth of study with the films of David Lynch and Ale­jan­dro Jodor­owsky (to which any film fan could add on an array of other direc­to­r­ial names) and so the oppor­tu­nity to do what Ascher and Kirk have done is excit­ingly open. Room 237 is an eye-opening film, not only for The Shin­ing, but for what it means to per­ceive film; eas­ily one of the finest cel­e­bra­tions of cin­ema – and with hav­ing just explored one exam­ple in the plethora of movie history.

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