If you haven’t seen the 1980 Stanley Kubrick classic horror film, “The Shining,” then the new documentary, “Room 237,” won’t do you any good. But to those of us that have seen this classic film, “Room 237” is more than recommended viewing: It is essential.
A documentary film like no other, “Room 237” is a over-analytical dissection of the meanings and themes at play in the original film. It is full of compelling conspiracy theories and from top to bottom it acts as a wet-dream for film and conspiracy lovers.
Take for example, that the filmmakers suggest that “The Shining” actually has a lot to say about the expulsion of the American Indian and the Holocaust. That nearly every frame has a deeper meaning and a hidden truth just waiting to be uncovered. It pulls from quotes that Kubrick has made, backing up the idea that the legendary director believes people are drawn towards puzzles and hard-to-figure-out quagmires.
All of the voice-over used in the documentary to explain these deeper meanings belong to people that we never see on screen, adding to the nerdiness of it all. The focus is so intently on “The Shining” and Kubrick himself that nothing else really matters.
To give away most of the theories here would be to spoil the fun. But by the time it ended, it had definitely convinced me that Kubrick had shot and staged the moon landing and that “The Shining” is just as enjoyable seen in reverse as it is forward…and is symmetrical in both directions to boot.
There is nothing to suggest that “Room 237” contains factual information, but it presents itself a-matter-of-factly to the point where it is impossible to dismiss it. Perhaps every film – when analyzed with the same level of scrutiny as this one – could contain hidden messages and unbelievable discoveries hidden from plain sight from the average viewer. Perhaps not.
This documentary doesn’t bother asking anybody involved in the original film’s making about any of the ideas it presents. Why spoil the fun?
So is Kubrick a mad genius? Is this film reaching a bit? Maybe both are true. But as a critic, charged weekly with the task of trying to find meaning in each movie that is viewed and critiqued, “Room 237” is a masterpiece of critical thought and presentation. Its findings within “The Shining” – whether true or false – represent an abundant treasure trove of movie-geek giddiness gold.
Run Time: 1 hour, 42 minutes, Not Rated
Directed by Rodney Ascher
Opens locally on Friday, April 12, 2013 (check for show times).
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How to read Tom Santilli’s “Star Ratings:”
- 5 Stars: Exceptional, must-see movie
- 4 Stars: Very good movie, not without flaws
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- 2 Stars: Pretty bad, a let-down, disappointing, but with some redeeming qualities
- 1 Star: Awful, sloppy, a total waste of time