Room 237

"That's not a skier, that's a Minotaur!"

A sad story of delusional obsession and overattentive paranoia in film analysis.

Room 237 is a compilation of laughably outlandish and disconnected theories about The Shining and everything from the genocide of the American Indians to faking the Apollo Moon landing. Some of the interviewees clearly just don't know a lot about film (e.g. the one who tries to imbue significance on a window that's just artificially lit from the outside), but the most depressing bits are the people who do seem to know something about film history and who try to build readings out of single shots (or even single words), continuity errors, and general misunderstandings.

Kubrick was a genius, but none of this has anything to do with him or his movie. If there's anything real to be taken from this documentary it's that people see what they want to see based on their own personal interests (Holocaust historian sees the Holocaust, etc.). The way the doc is constructed seems to emphasize this point (piling all the readings together rather than trying to turn them into a genuine analysis of the film), but it does nothing with this framework, instead simply offering the various interpretations at face value.

I did like the way the film used clips from Kubrick's filmography and a wide variety of other sources to illustrate the (misguided) points being made, though. If you're into conspiracy theories this might be up your alley, but definitely don't go into it hoping for any insight into The Shining or Stanley Kubrick.

"Now I admit perhaps I am grasping at straws here..."

ScreeningNotes liked these reviews