Director: Rodney Ascher
Cast: Bill Blakemore, Geoffrey Cocks, Juli Kearns, John Fell Ryan
Have I Seen it Before: Yes. I’m curious to see if I have the same reaction to it on the second go around.
Did I Like It: To ask that question, you almost have to reckon with whether or not you believe anything in the movie. I land somewhere in the middle of this question (which I’ll get to in a minute), but thus I land somewhere in the middle of the question of whether or not I like it.
“Now, if you’ll allow me to make a little bit of a link here…”
And with that quote, we’re off to the races.
Okay. So. Room 237. A lot of ideas in the film. In some case, I may be using the term “ideas” loosely in some cases.
Visually, I think the film is by and large lackluster. Aside from some rather standard b-roll, and a few bordering-on-clever weaves into other works of the Kubrick oeuvre, the film plays out largely like a podcast (which seems like a strange criticism coming from me, but I’m not putting my stuff out on Blu Ray). It floats along on its ideas, and the ideas only occasionally enthrall, and even more rarely fully persuade.
The theories about Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980) put forward include:
- That the film is Kubrick’s attempt to deal with mythological idea, specifically that of the Minotaur (I think)
- That the film is a dissertation on the Holocaust.
- That the film is a dissertation on the genocide of Native Americans.
- That the film is Kubrick’s confession (for lack of a better term) for having participated in some level of fakery surrounding the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969.
Naturally, that last claim is the hardest one to swallow, but each seems to be grasping at straws.
The fundamental knowledge of Stanley Kubrick as such a particular, exacting filmmaker, forever possessing the still photographer’s eye for every detail in the frame, some of the things these various interviewees bring up are thought provoking. To illustrate the general arc of my thinking on some of these questions, I present the rhetorical process I went through on the question of lunar fakery:
- Do I think that the moon landing was faked? Of course not.
- Do I think that it’s possible that some of the footage (especially the near-live footage of Armstrong) might have been goosed or sweetened with the assistance of Hollywood magic? Possibly.
- Do I think that Stanley Kubrick would have had the skills to get such a job done? Sure.
- Do I wonder why Danny (Danny Lloyd) is wearing that Apollo 11 sweater? Hey, yeah. That is weird. Why would Kubrick put such a specific thing in the movie?
- Is it possible that Stanley Kubrick was just fucking with us? …Yeah. That seems like the Occam’s Razor explanation.