Room 237

“When Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining was released in 1980, it baffled many film buffs, who couldn’t figure out why the man who’d made some of the most challenging, brainy, and beautiful movies of the previous 20 years would spend his precious time and talent on what seemed at the time to be a hammy, heavy B-horror flick. The film’s reputation has improved over the decades, but some people feel either that Kubrick halfheartedly bungled a job that was beneath him, or that he was working at a higher level than mere mortals could understand.
“Rodney Ascher’s haunting, absorbing essay-film Room 237 lets a handful of hardcore Kubrick-philes spin some of their theories about what they think The Shining is really about. These fans are certain they’ve cracked Kubrick’s code, and at times, they’re highly persuasive. Is it Kubrick’s coded confession that he helped fake the moon landing? A metaphor for the Holocaust? A symbolic representation of the government’s slaughter of the American Indians? A subliminal-message-filled exploration of deviant human sexuality? A complicated structuralist film that’s essentially 2001 in reverse? Or something else entirely?
“Every painting on the wall, every pattern in the carpet, and every product in the pantry of The Shining’s Overlook Hotel goes under the microscope, parsed for its potential meaning. Whether or not they’re right about what Kubrick meant, these fans aren’t wrong to take his intentions so seriously. Room 237 encourages cineastes to examine the secret messages that movies send, and to ask whether they were intended—or whether that even matters. What makes Room 237 so energizing is how, as Ascher shows different interpretations, he gives even people who’ve watched this film a dozen times the gift of experiencing it afresh. The effect of Room 237 is intense. It’s a deep dive into the rabbit hole of semiotics, designed to train viewers to become alert to what they’re really seeing.” - The AV Club

Room 237

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