Room 237

Year: 2012
Director: Rodney Ascher

There's a scene in the documentary shot by Stanley Kubrick's daughter Vivian as she follows the cast and crew around the sets where Kubrick is composing a shot of Jack Torrance (Nicholson) locked in the pantry.

One of many immortal shots in the film, it's where Jack is taunting Wendy (Duvall) to go and look at the radio and snowcat, both of which he's destroyed to ensure the whole Torrance family are trapped at the Overlook. Shot up the plane of the door from the floor and wrong way up, it gives Jack an even more murderously crazy air.

In the scene from Vivian Kubrick's footage, Kubrick is talking to Nicholson about the possibility of shooting from the floor, and it's apparent the idea is only just occurring to the director at the time.

All of which means that one of the claims in Room 237 – that you can watch the film normally and in reverse and the superimposition of them on top of each other will reveal images of subtextual importance – is patent rubbish if Kubrick made on-the-fly decisions like every filmmaker.

Does that make this stew of conspiracy theories any less fun? Absolutely not. Still, some of them are so outrageous (like the idea Kubrick created NASA's fake moon landing photos and reveals his involvement using motifs throughout The Shining if you know what to look for) it makes you wonder if Room 237 itself is taking the piss out of them.

Of course, it would be easy to laugh at if it weren't for some shreds of evidence that are too plain to ignore. If Kubrick was such a perfectionist, staging dozens of takes (the record is 127 for the scene of Jack menacing Wendy as she swings the bat), how do we explain a chair that simply disappears from an empty wall when the camera cuts away from a particular angle and then returns?

If it was a director with less of a reputation for obsessive attention to detail, we'd just assume it's an innocent continuity error. But some anomalies and outright mistakes seem very out of character from what we all think we know of him.

The film splits each crazy notion into chapters and lets the nutjob behind it lay out their theory using scenes from the film, animation graphics and all number of other visual paraphernalia. Just some of them include the genocide of the Native Americans, the Holocaust, Perseus and the Minotaur and Stuart Ullman having a giant erection when he first shakes hands with Jack.

Some of it will make you laugh out loud, some of it will prompt a quick double take and a 'my God, that's right!', but every minute of it is engrossingly entertaining and outright fun if you're a fan of The Shining.

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