Published on September 30th, 2013 | by Dan Gvozden



“Stream My Reels” is a weekly column that will feature one recommended streaming title from many different sources (Netflix, OnDemand, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc.).

Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is one of my favorite horror movies of all time.  I’ve watched it dozens of times and it never fails to terrify or confound me.  I have no explanation for nearly half of the events of the film or why Kubrick would choose to do some of the things that occur in The Shining.  At one point a sports mascot seems to be giving oral sex to a man and in another Danny is inscribing the wall with REDRUM, or murder backwards for those of you who are less familiar.

Room 237 could be described as a documentary that presents several different opinions on the visuals and happenings in The Shining.  However, while on the surface that seems true I’m not quite sure that filmmaker Rodney Ascher really had that in mind.  What Room 237 does do is comment on film criticism and interpretation itself.  It is a commentary on what it means to participate in art and how the process of interpretation transforms the very art itself.  It casts an often humorous light on those seeking to come away from The Shining with one “truth.”

Shining-1-500This is done by presenting images and documents from the film with nearly indecipherable voiceovers from the people interpreting the film.  We are given little in the ways of determining who is talking and the film is all the stronger for it.  Instead of judging ideas based on who the speaker is, the film allows us to judge an idea’s merit on how we personally feel about it.

The film is also showcasing America’s pop-culture sickness wherein we have elevated a man, Kubrick, to a godlike status.  We listen to people not only hold Kubrick accountable for a meticulous level of detail that is almost certainly untrue.  At the same time they also claim their own self-importance in that only they were able to notice it, thereby casting themselves in the same league as thinkers like Kubrick.  It is a direct example of the notion that if someone is told that there is something significant about a work of art they will work their hardest to find it and then claim ownership over that finding.

As someone who writes about film and often finds my own meaning in the works of art that I critique, this film both validates and devalues the work that I do.  Who is to say that any theory that I present is any more crazy than the ones presented in this film?  This is the wonder of cinema and the very unique kind of obsession that it inspires.

“Room 237” is now available for instant streaming on Netflix Watch Instant.

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About the Author

Do you remember that dorky kid from elementary school who loved movies and comic books? Dan's him, but an adult... well in most senses of the word. All that matters is that he's an aficionado of all things pop culture and wants to share his interests with the world.

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