View Full Version : Room 237 - Documentary On Kubrick's The Shining

Ian Jane
02-08-2013, 04:58 PM
This trailer has been making the rounds today:


Synopsis by way of Horror-Movies.ca (http://www.horror-movies.ca/2013/02/official-u-s-trailer-for-room-237/):

Synopsis: “After the box office failure of Barry Lyndon, Stanley Kubrick decided to embark on a project that might have more commercial appeal. The Shining, Stephen King’s biggest critical and commercial success yet, seemed like a perfect vehicle. After an arduous production, Kubrick’s film received a wide release in the summer of 1980; the reviews were mixed, but the box office, after a slow start, eventually picked up. End of story? Hardly. In the 30 years since the film’s release, a considerable cult of Shining devotees has emerged, fans who claim to have decoded the film’s secret messages addressing everything from the genocide of Native Americans to a range of government conspiracies. Rodney Ascher’s wry and provocative Room 237 fuses fact and fiction through interviews with cultists and scholars, creating a kaleidoscopic deconstruction of Kubrick’s still-controversial classic.”


More info at the film's website here (http://room237movie.com/).

This has the potential to be seriously fascinating stuff.

Mark Tolch
02-08-2013, 05:14 PM
Just watched The Shining today, on account of being snowed in, and the docs on the blu-ray are awesome...I'd love to see more on this!

02-08-2013, 05:32 PM
seriously fascinating stuff

Laying down a RSP pull quote for the video release, eh?

I will check this out fo' sho'.

Todd Jordan
02-08-2013, 08:29 PM
Just watched The Shining today... the docs on the blu-ray are awesome...

Yeah they are. And I really dig the movie his daughter made during the shoot.

Mark Tolch
02-09-2013, 10:46 AM
Yeah they are. And I really dig the movie his daughter made during the shoot.


Ian Jane
02-09-2013, 01:56 PM
Laying down a RSP pull quote for the video release, eh?

Well generally I'd want to see the movie before doing that, but sure, if they want to quote me they can. ;)

Mark Tolch
03-23-2013, 11:19 PM
The flaws and frustrating points in this documentary are sooooooo abundant, I can not even possibly begin to pick it apart. Material-wise, it's a cluttered, amateur mess. Mechanically, it's a cluttered, amateur mess.

Very disappointing, I was really hoping to love this.

03-26-2013, 03:29 PM
Well, fudge. I will still check it out. But will go in with my expectations lowered accordingly.

Mark Tolch
03-26-2013, 06:59 PM
The reviews are pretty solid on it. And to be fair, some of the things that were pointed out in the movie were interesting. But the theories, the people they used to present them, and the evidence....bad. The presentation was also lacking. At one point, this guy is talking, voice-over, and you can hear this noise in the background. He says, "Can you hear that? Oh...that's my son crying. Give me a minute" or something like that and then goes to get his kid. I'm a big fan of the scene in Dogtown and Z-Boys where they left Sean Penn coughing during the narration intact, but this is a little extreme.

To compare the theories to something, I once, on another site, wrote up a huge piece on how the Shining was Kubrick's comment on how hotel service was getting worse and worse. It was a number of paragraphs, and I wrote it largely off the top of my head in about 10 minutes. I used a number of examples from the film to support this stupid theory. IMO, my piece is substantially more believable and supported by examples from the film than some of the parallels discussed in Room 237. Doesn't help that it was very boring.

Ryan Clark
04-01-2013, 01:18 AM
I was disappointed, too. I did appreciate the soundtrack and the abundance of clips from Demons and Demons 2 (showing people watching the movie on a theater screen or on a TV), but other than that I found this documentary rather dull and frustrating. I'm not sure how I made it all the way through. I guess I kind of went into a trance, hypnotized by the stupidity of the commentators. They have spent waaaaay too much time thinking about this movie to come up with conspiracy theories that just make you say, "WHAT?!" The most frustrating thing about Room 237 is that you are unable to take these people by the shoulders and shake them.

Mark Tolch
04-01-2013, 02:15 AM
Awesome, glad I wasn't the only one!!!!

04-01-2013, 02:56 AM
To compare the theories to something, I once, on another site, wrote up a huge piece on how the Shining was Kubrick's comment on how hotel service was getting worse and worse. It was a number of paragraphs, and I wrote it largely off the top of my head in about 10 minutes. I used a number of examples from the film to support this stupid theory. IMO, my piece is substantially more believable and supported by examples from the film than some of the parallels discussed in Room 237. Doesn't help that it was very boring.

I haven't seen the movie yet (and don't really have any strong desire to) but all the reviews I'd read had lead me to believe that that was the point. Like it was a movie about how The Shining attracts obsessive/insane fans and it was sort of a case study about that with the theories being presented as presumptively ridiculous.

Did it play out like it was trying to treat the theories credibly?

04-01-2013, 09:46 AM
I figured the theories would be a load of horseshit, so that's not going to be much of an issue for me.

Mark Tolch
04-01-2013, 02:08 PM
I'm not sure how they were trying to present them...it was just so boring and bad, it didn't matter.

Ian Jane
06-10-2013, 12:16 PM
Blu-ray release from IFC coming 9/24/13. (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00D6I7CSQ/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00D6I7CSQ&linkCode=as2&tag=cognitrespon-20)

Ian Jane
08-30-2013, 09:14 AM
Press release!

In 1980 Stanley Kubrick, who had earlier created landmarks in the genres of black comedy (Dr. Strangelove) and science fiction (2001: A Space Odyssey), released his masterpiece of modern horror, The Shining. Over 30 years later we're still struggling to unearth its hidden meanings. Rodney Ascher's wry and provocative documentary ROOM 237 fuses fact, fiction and speculation through interviews with both fervent fans of the film and scholars, creating a kaleidoscopic deconstruction of Kubrick's controversial classic. It comes to Blu-ray and double-disc DVD from IFC Midnight on September 24, 2013. The bonus-filled discs have SRPs, respectively, of $29.98 and $27.98.

Many movies lend themselves to wide-ranging interpretations, but few as rich and mysterious as The Shining, Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Stephen King's bestselling novel. In Rodney Ascher's ROOM 237, we hear from people who have developed complex theories about the film and believe they have decoded the hidden symbols and messages buried in the late director's unforgettable shocker, in which a family man (played by Jack Nicholson) descends into madness while serving as the off-season caretaker of a deserted old hotel. The Shining received mixed reviews upon its initial release, but over the decades its stature has only grown, with Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese ranking it among the greatest horror films ever made.

Carefully examining The Shining inside and out and forwards and backwards, ROOM 237 is equal parts captivating, provocative and pure pleasure. It gives voice to the fans and scholars who espouse these theories, reworking Kubrick's film to match their ideas and intercutting it with layers of dreamlike imagery to illustrate their streams of consciousness. Sometimes outrageous, always engaging, the words of the interviewees are given full force by Ascher's compelling vision.

An Official Selection at the 2012 Sundance, Cannes and Toronto film festivals, and winner of the Best Director prize at Fantastic Fest, ROOM 237 received a theatrical release by IFC Films in top markets and earned glowing reviews.

"Part of what makes ROOM 237 fascinating to watch and think about (beyond other people's loopiness) is that it shows how works of art become encrusted with their reception," wrote Manohla Dargis of The New York Times. "It works like a Kubrickian Da Vinci Code, and it lures you into seeing The Shining as a kind of feature-length Zapruder film," said Owen Gleiberman in Entertainment Weekly. The Boston Globe's Ty Burr said, "It's about the human need for stuff to make sense - especially overpowering emotional experiences - and the tendency for some people to take that sense-making to extremes."

"[It] may be the surpassingly eccentric - and enormously entertaining - film that Kubrick deserves," wrote Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal. NPR's Scott Tobias called the film "a thrilling testament to the fact that art is - and should be - open to interpretation." Newsday's John Anderson said, "There's enough real evidence supporting the theory that Kubrick was a genius, and that's pretty entertaining all by itself." And The San Francisco Examiner's Jeffrey M. Anderson summed up: "ROOM 237 could become an essential companion piece to The Shining from now on. For those who see both, it will be impossible to think about one without the other."

On September 24, the same day that ROOM 237 arrives on Blu-ray and two-disc DVD, Stephen King will publish Doctor Sleep, a sequel to The Shining. In the new novel Danny Torrance, the child who escaped his violently insane father at the end of the original book, is now a middle-aged New Englander whose psychic gift of "shining" provides comfort to the dying patients in a nursing home.

Special Features:
-"The mstrmnd Speaks: Commentary with Kevin McLeod" (McLeod is a key figure in the online examination of Kubrick's film.)
-"Secrets of The Shining," an hour-long panel discussion from the first Stanley Film Festival, an event at Colorado's historic Stanley Hotel, which inspired one-time guest Stephen King to write his novel
-11 Deleted Scenes
-"The Making of the Music" featurette
-Mondo Poster Design Discussion with Artist Aled Lewis

Ian Jane
09-22-2015, 08:55 AM
Watched this the other night and can more or less echo what Mark and Ryan said about it. The theories are actually pretty interesting - I don't think the idea that there's a theme about the Holocaust running through parts of it is such a stretch and I don't think the idea that it's about the genocide of the American Indians is such a stretch either.

I don't think Kubrick faked the moonlanding and used this movie as a confession though. Not buying that.

Some interesting stuff here though - the way that certain scenes play out when projected forwards and backwards was interesting and it did point out some interesting details I'd never noticed before HOWEVER the editing is awful and the movie is really disjointed and poorly put together. It did succeed in making me want to watch The Shining again and it did make me think in spots but I can't see myself ever going back to this documentary. The use of stock footage was wildly inappropriate more often than not and the sound quality and levels were bouncy and jumpy and it was, at times, hard to figure out which one of the theorists was talking.

So conceptually interesting, yes, but technically a big ol' mess. See it for free on Netflix.

Paul Casey
09-22-2015, 08:40 PM
Watched this on Netflix a few times. I enjoy hearing everyone's interpretations quite a bit. It's fun to see people get that much into this work.

Newt Cox
09-23-2015, 03:53 AM
I saw this last year and enjoyed it .Sure the theories are all kind of naff. But it was an interesting read.

Ian Jane
01-29-2016, 05:32 PM
For anyone local, Spectacle NYC (http://www.spectacletheater.com/best-of-best-of-spectacle/#shining) is showing the backward/forward version this weekend.

"Dark Side of the Rainbow for the 21st century, THE SHINING BACKWARDS AND FORWARDS is a hallucinatory palindromic mindfuck, an accidental profundity resulting from a literal reading of MSTRMD’s comment that “The Shining is a film meant to be watched both forwards and backwards.”

Conceived by John Fell Ryan and executed with Spectacle’s Akiva Saunders behind the controls, it became one of the most successful events in the sprouting days of the theater, and it returned October 2011, when it was performed live with Saunders mixing multiple additional layers of superimposition with realtime audio manipulation by Tony Lowe and Jason McMahon.

In the meantime, it has become instant legend, followed by stagings at Fantastic Fest and the Seattle International Film Festival inspired by the attention of Shining obsessives doc ROOM 237, in which JFR is one of the primary participants and Spectacle receives a hearty shout-out. In fact, the footage shot inside Spectacle appears to be the only non-archival live footage in the film.

And now TGHNEISNHIIHNSIENHGT has been radically re-rendered by Jon Dieringer as THE SHINING BACKWARDS AND FORWARDS AND INWARDS AND OUTWARDS IN HIGH DEFINITION ANAGLYPH 3D (CHAOS MIX), in which The Shining Backwards and Forwards now also movies Inwards and Outwards in High Definition Anaglyph 3D. The superimposed channels now intersect not only chronologically but depth-wise. Each forward and backward channel has been individually post converted to 3D. Subsequently, they are both mixed overall at different depths so that the superimposed backwards channel(s) initially appear to float above the forwards track(s). The depths then gradually converge to meet each other in the center, and the forwards channel(s) then rises to the top. This configuration foregrounds the more sinister latter half of the film over its tranquil beginning like a spectral premonition of violence; therefore, we’re calling it the CHAOS MIX."


Mark Tolch
01-29-2016, 07:10 PM
Wow, that sounds like a massive amount of made up bullshit in one press release.

Alex K.
01-29-2016, 07:12 PM
Terrible docu.

The Silly Swede
01-29-2016, 07:51 PM
Not terrible. Just very misrepresented. It is not a docu on the shining, but rather a docu on some weird peoples even weirder interpretations of hidden messages and what the shining is really about.

If you see it with that perspective in mind, it isn't terrible. Just not all that interesting.

Randy G
01-30-2016, 08:12 AM
Yeah, a disappointment.

04-08-2017, 01:54 AM
I finally caught up with this. I'm real love-hate with Kubrick and THE SHINING falls in the middle of that spectrum. It's creepy, but, absurd. And, Nicholson is so obviously looney from the get go, that there is no descent into madness. He's already there.

And, most of the theories in ROOM 237 are also absurd and often factually and proveably false. Further, at least half the stuff the 'theorists' toss out there falls in the category of - Yeah, that's how movies are made! It's obvious that none of the theorists have ever been to a movie set, let alone worked on one. Further, if I were the Cameraman, Editor, Co-ScreenWriter (Diane Johnson), Prop Man, Production Designer, Set Decorator etc. who worked on THE SHINING - I'd be even more pissed. Not to mention Stephen King who's orginal tale is often ignored. It's as if Kubrick made this movie in his backyard all by himself to hear the theorists tell it. Now, we all know that Kubrick was a fanatic about detail, but, THE SHINING would STILL be shooting if he did everything alone as these interviewees would have it. The best line in the whole Doc comes near the end when one of the theorists admits that Kubrick may not have consciously intended for all these hidden meanings to be in his film, but that it didn't matter. Clever way of saying that much of this is B.S., I suppose.

All that said, it was entertaining. And, I certainly wish Director Rodney Ascher would have exercised a bit more of a skeptical eye towards the claims. But, he seemed more interested in putting together the clip montages than editing the facts. I've said for decades that Kubrick's films are not only the most analyzed in cinema history, but, also the most OVER-analyzed. He made so relatively few films that his cultists spend years and years combing over every minute detail. ROOM 237 only scratches the surface.