Movie Review: Room 237 / Cert: TBC / Director: Rodney Ascher / Starring: Buffy Visick / Release Date: October 26th
Anybody who knows anything about director Stanley Kubrick and his films is aware that he was a major stickler for details, his chosen approach apparently driving Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall to the point of nervous exhaustion on the set of The Shining. With this in mind documentary Room 237 mostly makes perfect sense and is a fascinating portrayal of the meanings and subtexts within the film.
We overhear commentaries and theories from several different people. Thankfully this is not in the form of endless talking head interviews and people pointing at screens. Instead the film is purely made up of footage not just of The Shining but of much of Kubrick’s filmography as well, which is often used to hilarious effect.
Some of the theories presented here are fascinating and gain weight as the footage unfolds with the knowledge that Kubrick was obsessive enough to actually be thinking about this stuff whilst making the film. Some theories though are frankly bobbins and smack of crackpots who have too much time on their hands. For example the woman who saw Minotaurs everywhere based off a poster of a man skiing just seems ridiculous and takes up too much screen time. The theories that are the most plausible are those that suggest the film was all about the plight of Native Americans, all about the holocaust and shockingly, a feature length confession by Kubrick that he was responsible for faking the Apollo moon landings for the US government. That last theory may seem pretty far out there but the imagery and clues presented make it seem plausible within the context of the film. Overall though it’s the holocaust theory that seems to have the most supporting evidence, the reoccurrence of the number 42 throughout the film and the shapes and actions on screen make it seem like Kubrick was baffled as to how to bring the full horror of the holocaust to audiences in a separate project which was in development.
Perhaps the most fascinating though, is the part that concerns the theory that the film is supposed to be watched backwards and forwards at the same time. Footage of the film is overlaid on top of each other both chronologically and in reverse and it works amazingly well. Images line up on top of each other to create one that makes perfect, horrid, beautiful sense and adds an air of menace to the film that isn’t even present in the normal cut.
Room 237 is like the best DVD extra ever. Overlong maybe, but it’s an essential watch for any film fan.
Expected Rating: 7 out of 10