Wednesday, April 10, 2013

BEDA 10: Room 237: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and See the Hidden Messages

Credit: . . . and Stanley Kubrick and Warner Bros. films, of course

The first time I watched The Shining, my family was visiting my 2nd brother Andy's college apartment in Florida. I was, I think 15 years old? As I watched the film, in the dark apartment, in the evening, I was completely creeped out by the imagery of the film. The way the camera was always following Danny as he Big Wheel'd his way down empty hallways, turning corners to confront I never knew what. The creepy twin girls, the flowing blood from the elevators, the flashes of previous atrocities committed by previous residents of the Overlook Hotel, Jack Torrence's descent into madness. I'm not surprising anyone when I say that the movie is just straight up creepy.

And, so I watched most of the film with a couch pillow in front of my face. Or I determinedly focused my eyes on the bottom third of the screen, watching feet and carpet patterns and snow drifts and whatever I could to avoid seeing faces and emotions and whatever.

I have since read Steven King's book and I even sat through the TV miniseries that starred that dude from Wings.

So, I thought I would tonight watch Room 237, a film in which Kubrick obsessives try to convince you that Kubrick's film The Shining is not about the horrors of demonic madness or simple insanity or writers block or the inadvisability of living in the Rockies during the winter.

No, this movie is about 
a.) the destruction of the Native Americans or
b.) the Nazi Holocaust or
c.) how Kubrick helped fake the moon landing footage and then used this film to admit his complicity or
d.) less sensationally insane theories that just want you to realize that there are many, many layers of meaning here.

It's interesting and infuriating at the same time. Because while I admire the ingenuity of the theorists, I just want to yell at them that sometimes a continuity error is just a continuity error.

My favorite theory was the one in which the dude rigged up a way to overlay two simultaneous runnings of The Shining--the first starting at the beginning and running to the end, the other starting at the end and running to the beginning. He claims that THIS is the way that Kubrick meant to show the film . .  or at least this unlocks some of the secret storytelling connections about how Kubrick constructed the story. It does show some interesting moments where  overlapping moments of the film(s) have symbolically intriguing moments. But to a normal person, this is probably just the inevitable result of a movie only having three characters, who are bound to overlap in resonant ways during the film. The brain is just going to see a pattern.

My next favorite theory was, again, not one that tried to unlock some secret Kubrick message, but one that acknowledged how bizarre the hotel was and how the physical layout of the hallways as shown in scenes demonstrated this. Now, I don't know how accurate this theory actually was, but I did love the maps.

If you like conspiracies and you like Kubrick, give this movie a try.

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