|ROOM 237 (director/writer:
Rodney Ascher; screenwriter: ;
cinematographer: ; editor: Rodney Ascher;
music: Johnathan Snipes/William
Hutson; cast: Bill Blakemore, Geoffrey
Cocks, Juli Kearns, John Fell Ryan, Jay Weidner;
Runtime: 103; MPAA Rating:NR; producer: Tim
Kirk; Sundance Selects/IFC Films; 2012)
"Astonishing playful and idiosyncratic cult film documentary by LA filmmaker Rodney Ascher."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
playful and idiosyncratic cult film documentary
by LA filmmaker Rodney Ascher investigates the
hidden meanings in Stanley Kubrick's 1980 horror film
"The Shining." It cleverly fleshes out Kubrick's
arcane film of Stephen King's second novel. King
has stated in interviews that the book was meant as a
metaphor for his own struggle with alcoholism, and
took exception to the way Kubrick filmed it by
chucking out all his plot points and making it less
recognizable as his horror film. Under Kubrick the
film turns out to be much more than a horror film, but
a multi-layered film about the past--its voices,
ghosts and the nightmare of history. The film,
in a nine part “inquiry,” builds a
case based on the difficult to see background shot
display of cans of Calumet baking soda in the
kitchen storage that points the way to it
being about the genocide of
Native Americans, the broken peace treaties with the
Indians and, in an even more subtle sense, there's
other details offered to prove it's about the
Holocaust. The latter idea can be attested to by the
German typewriter with the eagle the aspiring writer
Jack Nicholson character uses and that the number 42
pops up a number of times--that is the year the
final solution was implemented.
uncovers through its fastidious study of the movie's
details things about it that are easy to miss when
looking at it only as a straight horror pic of a wife
and son threatened by a lunatic husband while spending
the off-season sitting watch on an abandoned ritzy
hotel located atop of a Colorado mountain, one that
was built in 1907 atop a sacred Indian burial ground.
Through interviews with journalist Bill Blakemore, history professor Geoffrey Cocks, playwright Juli Kearns, musician/blogger John Fell Ryan and author Jay Weidner the viewer gets widening opinions about the film's deeper meanings and that it sends a message to humanity that if we continue to do such horrible things as the Indian genocide and the Holocaust without ever realizing what we are doing, history will repeat itself. Kubrick uses the innocent kid, who has the visionary qualities to see into the past, to be our guide to retrace our steps and get out of the maze we are stuck in to start over fresh. The kid and his mom are looked at as symbols for all victims of the killing monster, in this case their delusional psychopathic father--played by Jack Nicholson.
further told not to be afraid of looking back at the
bleak past because it only exists in our mind but
doesn't really exist.
237 in the movie is a locked hotel room, where
we are forbidden to enter because it supposedly holds
dark secrets from the past that for those unwilling to
change their negative ways will mean their downfall.
are many other ideas presented, that include calling
it an experimental Kubrick film that was so
enigmatically made because the genius was bored after
making Barry Lyndon and had already scaled the heights
of movie-making with one masterpiece after another.
There also was much time spent discussing the theory
that Kubrick secretly staged the Apollo moon
landing using the front screen projection technique of
2001 which, as far as I was concerned, was too
speculative a theory to determine if that was proven
real or not.
case, this deconstructive documentary, fastidiously
presented, offers many rich ideas that I hadn't quite
seen in the ways depicted here, even after seeing the
film at least 5 times. It did convince me to see the
film again and it did change my mind on how I would
rate the film higher if I reviewed it again. For that,
I am most grateful. The Shining is a timeless film
that will continue to be evaluated and mined for
further clues about where the director was leading us.
REVIEWED ON 11/27/2012 GRADE: A
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ