Official Selection—Sundance Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival
Friday, June 7 at 7pm at the historic Bangor Opera House, home of the Penobscot Theatre • 131 Main St. Bangor (map)
Admission: $8, tickets available at the door or online by clicking here.
2012 | No MPAA rating (contains violence and nudity) | 104m
Directed by Rodney Ascher
A post-screening discussion will follow with film critics Marc Eastman and Shane Leonard.
In 1980 Stanley Kubrick released his classic horror film, The Shining. Over 30 years later, viewers are still struggling to understand its hidden meanings. Loved and hated by equal numbers, the film is considered a genre standard by many loyalists, while other viewers dismiss it as the lazy result of a legendary director working far below his talent level. In between these two poles, however, live the theories of ardent fans who are convinced they have decoded The Shining’s secret messages regarding genocide, government conspiracy, and the nightmare that we call history. Ascher’s Room 237 fuses fact and fiction through interviews with the fans and scholars who espouse these theories. Ideas of five devotees of the film with wildly different ideas about its true meaning are braided together in a kaleidoscopic deconstruction of the horror classic.
NEITHER THIS FILM, NOR ANY VIEW OR OPINION EXPRESSED IN IT, NOR THE CONTEXT IN WHICH FILM FOOTAGE AND IMAGES ARE USED, IS APPROVED OR ENDORSED BY, OR IS IN ANY WAY ASSOCIATED WITH, THE KUBRICK 1981 TRUST, STANLEY KUBRICK’S FAMILY, WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC., OR ANYONE ELSE CONNECTED WITH THE MAKING OF THE MOTION PICTURE THE SHINING (“THE SHINING FILMMAKERS”). THE VIEWS AND OPINIONS EXPRESSED IN THIS DOCUMENTARY FILM ARE SOLELY THOSE OF THE COMMENTATORS IN IT AND DO NOT REFLECT THE VIEWS OF STANLEY KUBRICK OR THE SHINING FILMMAKERS.
About the discussants
AreYouScreening.com’s Marc Eastman (BFCA) & independent critic Shane Leonard appear weekly to give an instant reaction review to the current theatrical releases. Their easily accessible format means you’ll hear less about cinematography and more about simply what works (or didn’t!) in the films they review.
When I was a kid I ran out of a theater playing Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining about 20 minutes after sneaking in.
I’ve been obsessed with it ever since.
Having now seen it numerous times, it’s become one of my favorite movies, but one which managed to maintain a sense of ambiguity and mystery to me no matter how many times I re-watch it.
Almost two years ago my friend Tim Kirk (producer of Room 237) forwarded me an article that interpreted it in an incredibly dramatic way (involving outer space, the Zodiac, and the Cold war) and we were off on the journey that would culminate in Room 237. We spent months going on walks with our small children and parsing the intricacies of every theory about The Shining we could find, covering topics as disparate as Native Americans, Marshall McCluhan, Genocide, Numerology, Synchronicity, Fairy tales, and World War II.
Other films have been seen as allegories (from Invasion of the Body Snatchers to Godzilla and beyond) but none had generated the type of passionate investigation of The Shining.
Looking to make a more-ambitious follow-up to The S from Hell, a short ‘documentary in a horror movie clothing’, I had found my subject.
From the outset, the plan was to talk to people who the movie had affected the most profoundly, people who had written the most provocative analyses and illustrate these ideas – both as an exercise to try and understand the mysteries of one of the greatest horror movies of all time, and to share these ideas with the rest of the world. As interesting as it might have been to talk about the genesis of the film with some of Kubrick’s collaborators, our feeling from the beginning was to restrict ourselves to the reactions of the audience and the way they put the pieces together.
The interviews began in January of 2011 and put me into contact with a fascinating group of people (a journalist, a professor, a musician, an artist, and an “erudite conspiracy hunter”) and combing through the hours and hours of footage, I was fascinated to find more connections than contradictions. One thing that struck me was how many notable new ideas were being conceived about The Shining even during the production of the film (many new blogs and YouTube videos were created and a theater hosted a particularly unusual screening of The Shining to investigate a theory about its symmetrical structure). Through my eyes, anyway, this 30 year old movie has a stronger claim on our imagination than ever.
Not a classically trained documentarian, I worked in a horror movie-influenced visual style (and soundtrack) that both suited my taste and also reflected the eerie sense of discovering hidden knowledge that I felt learning what the real source of the blood in the elevators was, why Jack quoted Kipling at the bar in the Gold Room, or who really opened the locked pantry door. When sound designer Ian Herzon (“Hawaii 5-0”, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans) and composers Jonathan Snipers & Bill Hutson (of Captain Ahab and Nilbog fame) came aboard (with The Caretaker, a ‘doombient’ musician inspired by The Shining) the sonic portion of the film surpassed my wildest fantasies.
Now that Room 237 film is wrapped, I’m not sure that we’ve definitely solved the mysteries of The Shining, (or if such a thing is possible in less than 12 hours) but hopefully we’ve shed a little light on the way people interact with powerful works of art, whether a film by of the few masters of the form, The Last Supper, or Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”.
“Hilarious, bizarre and provocative. You’ll never look at The Shining the same way again” —Linda Barnard, Toronto Star