Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Trilogy of Fan Flicks Part 1: The Fellowship of SHINING Fans

Room 237

Though The Shining is a proud first-runner-up in both my Favorite Horror Movie and Favorite Kubrick Movie categories, I've never watched it all the way through. I've played it all the way through many times, but there are parts where I still hide my eyes after at least six viewings. Creepy twins, I'm (not) looking at you.  

Though the one on the right bears an uncanny resemblance to me after I've been grading papers.

Room 237, a 2012 documentary exploring different interpretations of the film, inspired me to give it another try. Though I'm by no means Kubrick's biggest fan (I think he and Woody Allen could be co-keynote speakers at the We Are Auteurs with Woman Problems annual convention), he is undoubtedly a meticulous craftsperson.

And he bears an uncanny resemblance to me after I've gotten grade appeals.

Though horror can be reduced to a cinematic genre that pains with broad, bloody strokes, the various interviewees in  Room 237 point out the depth of detail that Kubrick wove into this film. Stephen King has famously disavowed Kubrick's adaptation, and it's clear why--this was never meant to be a faithful reflection of the novel. Rather, Kubrick inhabited the story and made it his own.

The various interpretations of how Kubrick shaped the story put forward by Room 237 vary widely and wildly in terms of argumentative seriousness and perceived sanity of the interviewee. But what is even more interesting is the way in which the film presents these ideas. The five main subjects are never seen. All we hear is their voices explaining their ideas over the relevant scenes of the film. Additionally, other aspects of their narration is illustrated by clips from a variety of films, some Kubrick's, some not. The result is a reaffirmation of the vocabulary of film. These fans "speak movie," and their devotion to cinema can be applied and understood by any viewer who has ever experienced that joyful discover of a movie's subtext. The best movies are lotus flowers and nesting boxes--the more you unwrap them, the more they have to give.

Room 237 would be best enjoyed by fans (or foes) of The Shining, though. I'll give you my favorite detail and leave the rest for you to discover:

He's totally reading Playgirl before his job interview.
One last thing, though. If you can see Kubrick's face in this screenshot, I will reward you handsomely if you can point it out.

I think someone's just messing with me.

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