Documentary explores hidden meanings in Kubrick’s “The Shining”

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By Krystal Sidzyik, Contributor

Stephen King first released “The Shining” in 1977, becoming an established horror writer. Three years later, director Stanley Kubrick brought “The Shining” to life, proving to audiences once again that he was a master of filmmaking.
Thirty-three years later, director Rodney Ascher examines the weird world of “The Shining” in his documentary “Room 237.” The film’s objective is to uncover hidden meanings Kubrick may have intended in his making of “The Shining.”
Starring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers and Danny Lloyd, the original film from 1980 follows the story of a family staying at the Overlook Hotel during the winter season in Colorado. Jack Torrance, played by Nicholson, get’s a job as the hotel’s caretaker during its off-season. Jack’s son Danny has psychic abilities that allow him to see the supernatural that inhabits the hotel. As time goes on, Jack is plagued by madness and he attempts to murder his son and wife.
In Ascher’s documentary, five theorists discuss their different interpretations of what Kubrick is trying to convey in “The Shining.” From American and German genocide to an apology of the moon landing, the theorists cover it all with their wild ideas.
“Room 237” allows outsiders into the heads of those that have obsessed over finding a clear meaning in “The Shining.” As viewers journey through “Room 237,” they discover alternate worlds introduced by the theorists in which a traditional viewer may have never noticed. Sure, some of the ideas are little far-fetched like a cloud in the opening scene, insisting that Kubrick has put his own face in the sky and Torrance’s choice of typewriter eluding to the Holocaust but as you watch, you can’t help but wonder if some of the theories are true.
The theorist’s interpretations stem from the persona Kubrick was known for during his lifetime. In the documentary, he’s described as a very intelligent man with a “supermind.” Ascher also brings in aspects from Kubrick’s other odd films he directed during his career, proving to a viewer that maybe Kubrick did have hidden meanings sprinkled throughout his films.
What makes “Room 237” great though, is the anonymity of the theorists and the fact that they aren’t there to shove their notions down viewer’s throats. The film is meant to inform, not change minds. It’s fun for the viewer to get into the minds of serious theorists as they breakdown one of the greatest films of all time. It’s like the viewer is being let in on a secret they’ve wanted to know since watching the original film from 1980.
The film is entertaining and confounding and is sure to open your eyes to the alternate landscapes that may be hidden in “The Shining.” The film is on limited release right now, but will open at the Dundee Theatre on April 19 for two weeks. For dates and times visit their website, dundeetheatre.com.

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