Room237

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Film returns to the book blog. In this case there is a lot which is rather less than visual to talk about.

Room237 is a documentary exploring some of the myriad of theories surrounding the subtext (real or perceived?), within the film “the shining”. I was drawn to see this as I have a long standing appreciation of “the Shining”. I saw it from a straightforward perspective and had not appreciated any of the subtext until my latest watching a couple of months ago where I spotted all the stuff about the Indians. I had also read the book by Stephen King and I knew that there was much that was different between the two narratives.

The interviewees in this film are obsessives to the point of what might be described as delusional. However; and it is a big ‘however’, I am well aware that people including myself are drawn to multi-layer interpretation of the bible. Is this a similar thing?

The film itself alludes to this when it nods to the fact that we are in the world of post-modern film criticism. Kermode in his review also repeated the quote which, in summary is, that what you get out of a film depends partly on what you bring to it. I do agree that this is the case and also agree that it won’t work for every film and here I would give you “Madagascar 3”.

Kubrick was a highly intelligent film maker and whilst we do not have him to interview, I think his work does have deeper levels. This is probably most obvious in “2001 a space odyssey”. His film credits also include such thoughtful pieces as “clockwork orange” and “eyes wide shut”.Given this pedigree, it would seem strange for him to make a straightforward horror film. The scene sets itself and the shining opens its doors to interpretation.

Can you have spoilers for a documentary? Im not sure, but I think you can limit exposure to the ideas brought across in that documentary.

The delivery is interesting. We never see the faces of the interviewees and we never hear the questions asked. The film is broken up into sections exploring various larger themes within the film and has some reconstructed “cinema audience” scenes which are an attempt to give you a sense that this is a shared experience. We then see clips from the film illustrating the points made in the interview and even these have had a degree of tampering. The televisions shown in the film scenes show scenes from “the shining” itself in a recursive and self referential way. I now need to look at what was on those screens in the film as I might believe that we have just been shown something without having it verbally explained to us, rather much in the way this film is suggesting that the shining does in its own way.

The detail of the theories is largely irrelevant as it is the thought processes and the possibility that these ideas were there which is more interesting. It is what this kind of interpretation tells us about ourselves and what we actually want from a film, and indeed what we actually get from that film.

It is certainly a niche film. I have to congratulate cineworld broad street for showing it and therefore justifying its position in my favoured cinema list (see previous posting). There were about 10 of us, all male and all of a certain age. There will not be many showings but it was good for those of us who appreciate the source material.

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