Stephen King Makes His Stance Clear On THE SHINING Documentary ROOM 237

Written by Jack Bottomley Tuesday, 04 November 2014

Movie News

Room 237 Review
When it comes to documentary films, none are quite so unhinged, obsessive and fascinating as Rodney Ascher’s 2012 doc Room 237. The film sees a gathering of conspiracy theorists and voices dissect Stanley Kubrick’s enduring Horror The Shining in intimate and often ostentatious detail. However we need not tell you about Stephen King’s (author of the novel The Shining) thoughts on Kubrick’s adaptation of his book. In fact the author’s dislike of the film is one of the many well-noted bits of film trivia that many love chucking into cinematic conversations. Well, judging by King’s recent interview with Rolling Stone, his views on Ascher’s film (among many other topics) were also as clear as an axe to the bedroom door.

The following is an excerpt from the interview:

Did you see that new documentary Room 237 about obsessive fans of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining?

Yeah. Well, let me put it this way – I watched about half of it and got sort of impatient with it and turned it off.

Why?

These guys were reaching. I’ve never had much patience for academic bullshit. It’s like Dylan says, “You give people a lot of knives and forks, they’ve gotta cut something.” And that was what was going on in that movie.”

Never one to mince words, King is not the only one to criticize Room 237, in fact back in 2013 Kubrick’s former personal assistant Leon Vitali, dismissed the film as “total balderdash”. That being said, we can’t help but feel the point is being missed a little here, as Ascher’s film never purports to be truth but instead is an analysis of how we watch and assess movies. Mind you King may disagree with this point too as he later said in the same interview (regarding The Shining being a bad adaptation, as opposed to a bad movie), “No. I never saw it that way at all. And I never see any of the movies that way. The movies have never been a big deal to me. The movies are the movies. They just make them. If they’re good, that’s terrific. If they’re not, they’re not. But I see them as a lesser medium than fiction, than literature, and a more ephemeral medium”.

King has really stuck to his guns with this and remained adamant in spite of the film’s contemporary standing as a classic and it looks like we can now add the acclaimed Room 237 to the debate. After 34 years, the debate behind the doors of the overlook continues, and will probably do so forever, and ever, and ever. 

Room 237 can be found next to the impossible window of your nearest DVD shop and last word was that Ascher's next documentary will tackle the sleep paralysis phenomenon. 

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