Cinematic Thoughts for Cinematic Minds
Director: Rodney Ascher
Starring: Bill Blakemore, Geoffrey Cocks, Juli Kearns, John Fell Ryan, Jay Weidner, Buffy Visick
If you have seen Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’ you’ll never forget the first time you watched it, the sense of horror it emerges you in from the very opening scenes, the corridor bending cinematography, REDRUM and “Here’s Johnny!”. However, you may not remember the second, third or even fourth time you watched it… because maybe you didn’t watch it again. But if you did watch it again, and you noticed something more than just a horror film you are actually part of an ever expanding club of people who are noticing the secret messages hidden within ‘The Shining’.
The film Room 237 uses key scenes from ‘The Shining’ and excerpts from all of Kubrick’s other films to paint a picture of the secrets that Stanley Kubrick littered throughout his film. Film theorists Bill Blakemore, Geoffrey Cocks, Juli Kearns, John Fell Ryan, Jay Weidner and Buffy Visick all offer their opinions on what the film is trying to say. Each has its own merits and validation. You almost begin to forget that ‘The Shining’ is a film and the mind boggles at how Kubrick found the time to add the layers of intricacy he did to the film.
‘The Shining’ is best known for being a rather hap- hazard adaptation of Stephen King’s original novel. It is also known for being the first film in which the Steadicam was used to capture moving image in motion picture. Kubrick actually had a hand in designing the camera to get the famous corridor and maze shots we see. Yet I bet you didn’t know that ‘The Shining’ is also a metaphor for the American Indian Massacres, The Holocaust and Aztec Sacrifice. These aspects amongst a whole host of more interesting theories are presented to us throughout the documentary’s course. You get to a point when you begin to feel that it can’t simply just be coincidence, this must all be true. It moves beyond metaphor and as more scenes are analyzed you start to see that ‘The Shining’ stretches beyond the realms of cinema and is actually a highly important piece of political and socio- criticism.
The beauty of it all is that the film’s secrets are now buried with Stanley Kubrick. The annoying thing for me is that it didn’t answer my biggest question about the film. The photo that depicts Jack Torrance in 1921 is touched upon but can never be truly resolved because whatever we may see or think we may see in the film will never be confirmed true no matter how hard people try to discover its message. ‘The Shining’ is one of cinema’s last great enigmas and all Room 237 does is make us wish that Kubrick could come back from the grave and tell us what he was really trying to say. It is such a mystery in the end because its director is no longer with us and there is something quite poignant about that.