A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
A documentary that dissects Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” in its entirety would take about a month to watch unfold. This classic is one of the most complex, intelligent and meticulous films ever created and to even begin contemplating its endless intricacies, subtleties and depth is something that I would not recommend if have a busy agenda or just want some sleep every now and again.
If you haven’t seen the film, I highly recommend it, as it’s a classic, definitive piece of cinema that deserves to be appreciated for a number of reasons. Joining the endless tallies of theories surrounding “The Shining” comes 2012’s “Room 237”, a documentary exhibiting many people’s opinions on the film, even down to singular frames believed to be one of many examples of Kubrick’s mastery.
Are they correct? Is it all nonsense? Are they reaching too far? I guess we’ll never know, but nonetheless, hearing these theories is truly, truly fascinating.
Depth of field, subtle imagery, history, metaphor, symmetry, dialogue, suspense, abstraction and surrealism: all conventions and tropes that work together to define Kubrick on a very basic level. “The Shining” is a film that lends itself endlessly to a film studies class.
Arguably more complex than “2001: A Space Odyssey” (or at least on par), “The Shining” is one of the most amazing films I’ve personally ever seen. Having seen it multiple times, it’s one of those incredible films that give you something new upon every viewing.
“Room 237” is basically an account of “The Shining” through different interpretations, giving the audience something new. The numerous theories surrounding scenes, shots, locations, miss en scene and even singular frames within the film are diverse and well explained.
The idea behind “Room 237” is interesting and necessary, however it lacks something that would have made it a really top quality documentary: people.
The interviews are the foundation of the documentary as far as structure is concerned, however the fact that we never see who is talking about the film doesn’t really offer the audience anything personal or unique. The overlay footage is a series of snippets from the film, which is necessary of course, it’s just that if we saw cutaways to seated and well-lit individuals, the production value and quality of experience would have increased tenfold for me.
I saw a documentary about the rise of Elvis Presley that had the similar low-budget structure attached to it. The documentary was simply a series of images with narration over the top. Needless to say, the experience and level of interest whilst watching it was nowhere near what it could have been. The same could be said regarding “Room 237”. Without cutaways and interviews, the effect of the documentary just isn’t the same.
Following the halfway point of the documentary, there is an absolutely fascinating, mind-bending theory that dissects the famous “Kubrick Moon Landing” conspiracy. Whether it was true or not, the stories behind room 237 give off an eerie and unsettling aura that is just another quality of the mythos surrounding “The Shining”. Furthermore, the same interviewee explains his opinions regarding Kubrick and Stephen King’s supposed feuding before, during and after the production of the film. Was it all a big metaphor dealing with creative control of a vehicle? Who knows for sure?
The documentary seems as if it were taken straight out of a film analysis lecture, and rightly so. The accounts of personal experience, insider knowledge and even subjective interpretation ultimately lead to a fascinating insight to a film that is complex enough as it is.
Having written film analysis essays myself on several occasions, you begin to wonder if your interpretation of someone else work seems too far of a stretch, but many people believe there was never a more deliberate filmmaker than Kubrick; everything you saw put to screen was there for a reasons and offered significance in it’s own way. Make of that what you will.
“Room 237” is an interesting taste of selected theories regarding one of the most amazing films ever made. It offers a whole new spread of features to take note of and look out for upon your next viewing, which in turn makes you want to re-watch the film as soon as possible.
I wouldn’t recommend opening with your newly acquired theories on a first date though, stay well away from that!