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Various people with a view about Room 237

July 8, 2013

room 237 from The Shining

Mr. Hallorann. What is in Room 237?
Nothin’. There ain’t nothin’ in Room 237. But you ain’t got no business goin’ in there anyway. So stay out. You understand? Stay out.

No one listens anymore. Last week I watched a 2013 documentary called Room 237, all about Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film The Shining, and some of the ways people interpret the film. I had read that the documentary was popularizing the practice of watching the film backwards — In fact, it details the practice of running it both forwards and backwards, superimposed simultaneously, which is … interesting.

Blloody hell. This backwards and forwards stufff is scary!

Bloody hell. This backwards and forwards stuff is scary! Click the image to enlarge it.

There was the interpretation that the Shining was about the American slaughter and subjugation of aboriginal people. Apparently Bill Blakemore laid the groundwork for this in his 1987 essay The Family of Man. Certainly there is scads of overt native symbolism in the film: The Overlook Hotel is filled with Apache/Navajo art, and built on top of First nations’ graves. Hmm?

I've given away the secret. The black helicopters will be coming for me.

See, Danny represents the Apollo launch, oops, I’ve given away the secret. The black helicopters will be coming for me.

The third interpretation caught me off guard, but really shouldn’t have: Stanley Kubrick faked the U.S. Apollo Moon landing footage, and used the vehicle of The Shining to “say” that he’d done it. The proponent of this theory, Jay Weidner, had the most ground to till; several Kubrick films: Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, as well as The Shining; then there’s all that lunar footage — more than enough for his own documentary, which he did in 2011, entitled, Kubrick’s Odyssey – Secrets Hidden in the Films of Stanley Kubrick; Part One: Kubrick and Apollo.

Weidner can really go places with all the liberties Kubrick took with his adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, For example, in the book, it’s Room 217; in the film, 237 — Mean distance from the Earth to the Moon: 237,000 miles. Shazam! He can do this all day.

I can see how Kubrick’s well known penchant for perfection would drive this search for hidden meanings, and I have no doubt there are hidden meanings throughout Kubrick’s great body of work. All I got from this documentary though, was a strong desire to watch The Shining again. I did. I still think it’s a great film.

Roger Ebert’s review of Room 237 

From → Films, Worldwide

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