Some people think that The Shining is about a man working as a winter caretaker in a haunted, isolated hotel, who loses his sanity, and lets loose on a violent, psychotic terror spree, trying to murder his wife and psychic child. Those people are fucking idiots. The Shining is obviously about the mass genocide of the American Indians... Or wait, no, it's definitely about the Holocaust. Fuck, fuck, no, I forgot... It's about the faking of the 1969 moon landing... Or so say the minds at the helm of Room 237.
Room 237 is the latest attempt from documentarian Rodney Ascher. This documentary explores several (often) comical theories about Stanley Kubrick's 1980 film, The Shining. Theories like The Shining was in fact a metaphor for the Holocaust. You're probably thinking, "Josh, I saw The Shining. I don't remember any Nazi's in that movie!" Well, readers, you're right! There AREN'T any Nazi's in The Shining! But how then were such conclusions drawn? Well, I'm glad you asked. Remember the scene where Danny, the young boy, was brushing his teeth before they moved to the hotel for the winter? Well, his sweater had the number "42" on it... 1942 was the year that the Germans decided to exterminate all the Jews. Shit, how did I miss that?! There were also 42 cars in the parking lot of the hotel before it closed for the winter. And as if that wasn't evidence enough that The Shining is actually about the Holocaust, the typewriter that Jack uses is German-made. Case closed. The Shining = The Holocaust.
Room 237 is chock-full of theories as absurd and far fetched as the Holocaust theory. I'm all for analyzing films. I think many, many films are full of subtle undertones that are worth studying. Not to say that The Shining isn't one of those films, but the theories in this film are often so comical, it's almost degrading to the brilliance of The Shining. After 237 was finished, Leon Vitali, Stanley Kubrick's personal assistant on The Shining, shed a little bit of light on some of the theories. He tells us the real reason a German typewriter was used, for example: "That was Stanley's typewriter." Oh wait, that makes sense, actually. This article In the New York Times dives a little bit deeper into these theories, and features more insight from Mr. Vitali. You may as well give it a quick read.
I didn't totally hate Room 237. I appreciate the fact that people put so much weight on Stanley Kubrick's films. Kubrick was one of the most brilliant filmmakers the industry has ever seen, and his films deserve to be analyzed over and over and over again, Room 237 just takes it too far, in my opinion. It's comical, and for someone who has seen The Shining countless times, it's at the very least entertaining to see such different opinions and viewpoints on on the film. At the end of the day, however, it's basically nonsense.
The Shining, however, is in a fucking league of its own. The first time I saw it, I was 13. I remember my parents wouldn't let me watch it, so I borrowed the DVD from my uncle, and snuck into the bathroom late one night to watch it (as a kid, this was a regular place for me to watch movies I wasn't allowed to watch. For some reason, my parents wouldn't let me watch Apocalypse Now, but had no issues with me taking a laptop into the bathtub, or taking 2-hour baths every night. You know that lowers semen productivity, right guys? Thanks a lot, now I'll probably never be able to have kids). So there I was, laptop in the bathtub, headphones in. I was so fucking enveloped and terrified by The Shining, that I didn't realize that the bath water had gone cold, and my penis had shriveled into what looked like a brown, Romanian, vitamin-sized raisin. Over ten years and countless viewings later, The Shining still holds its weight. One of the truly great horror movies of the 80's, and another notch on the bedpost of Stanley Kubrick's nearly perfect filmography. Now is probably a pretty good time to pick up the Blu-ray, if you don't have it already.