Room 237 (2013)

Posted: May 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

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Even though he’s been dead for almost fourteen years, the mention of Stanley Kubrick’s name still gives any true cinema fan goosebumps.  His resume of films reads like a “greatest hits” of theater history.  I got into Kubrick’s work a very long time ago when I watched the outrageously bizarre and visionary  A Clockwork Orange (at an inappropriate age, mind you), and had to catch up with his body of work of films from the 50s and 60s. Through Spartacus, Dr. Strangelove, and 2001: A Space Odyssey one thing became immediately clear to me at my young age.

Stanley Kubrick was a cerebral genius.

Everything he touched has become a classic. Even the work towards the end of his career (Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut) were thought-provoking pieces of art that have been revered as some of the best movies of our generation.

Back in 1980, Kubrick even took a shot at the horror genre of cinema with the cold, creepy adaptation of Stephen King’s novel The Shining.  Critics hated it – most movie-goers didn’t understand it and for a while was the only real blemish on an otherwise impeccable body of work.  But that was thirty-three years ago, and over time the film has held up and had its perception changed.  Blame it on the uber-uncomfortable performance by Jack Nicholson, or the references to some of the film’s more memorable moments – but whatever the case, The Shining has become an iconic piece of film history.

So three decades later, the idea surfaced to create a documentary about the film. Director Rodney Ascher pieces together clips from the film (as well as other Kubrick films) behind narration from a number of Kubrick enthusiasts who have dissected the film through their own beliefs and interpretations. While we don’t ever catch a glimpse of any of these narrators, we get their incredibly detailed (and sometimes wildly imaginable) thoughts on the original film. The documentary  has nine segments, each segment focusing on different elements within the film which “may reveal hidden clues and hint at a bigger thematic oeuvre”.

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The connections involve everything from the genocide of Native Americans, the Nazi Holocaust, and the Apollo moon landing (among others), with the narrators supporting their claims with variables and footage from the film itself.  I found some more plausible than others, and a few extremely thought provoking.  Did Stanley Kubrick have a hidden message or two planned all along?  Unfortunately – for as intriguing as many of the theories presented were – there is really no answer.

But that’s the beauty of the film. If Kubrick were still alive, he could easily explain or debunk these opinions, but instead we are left wondering in amazement if one of movie’s greatest forces really did create more of a magic trick than he did a major motion picture.

Room 237 is made for a pretty select audience of film buffs, but was one of the most mind-bending experiences I’ve had watching a movie of this nature in a very long time. Unfortunately, the film hasn’t been penciled in for a DVD/BluRay release date as of this article, but you can watch it right now through Amazon’s video-on-demand service for a reasonable $6.99.

A small price to pay for one of the best times you’ll have watching a documentary.

Not Rated. 107 minutes.

Watch at Amazon: Here

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