I am assuming that most people reading this have seen Stanley Kubrick’s film version of the Stephen King novel The Shining. If you have not then stop reading this and go watch it. For those of you that have read King’s novel then you know that it’s not really Room 237, it is Room 217. What am I talking about? Let me explain.
There is a new documentary out called Room 237 directed by Rodney Ascher. Supposedly, when Stanley Kubrick made his 1980 horror film The Shining, he took it upon himself to stray from Stephen King’s original story and create something that for a while only he and a few select others would understand. From what Ascher is telling us in his new film, Kubrick dove deep into the subliminal world to show us things that he wanted to say but couldn’t. I have heard about these theories here and there over the years but not until now have they all been put out there for all to think about.
Ascher’s Room 237 picks apart several different scenes and elements to The Shining. I don’t want to give too much away but here is a list of theories addressed in the documentary that should entice you.
One is the references to the Native American Genocide that took place heavily during the 1800’s. You can see Native American decorations all over the Overlook Hotel. Especially the Calumet baking powder Kubrick had specially placed in the film showing off its profile of a Native American. A Calumet is a peace pipe, a reference to peace treaties? Not to mention the reference that the hotel was built on a Native American burial ground.
Another tells us how it is believed that Kubrick was hired to fake the Apollo 11 moon landings in 1969. Supposedly while making his epic film 2001 : A Space Odyssey, he was approached by the United States government to help them fabricate the moon landings so it would look like we made it to the moon before the Russians did. Being sworn to secrecy, this was the only way for him to tell let people know that he was involved with it. Some of the clues are as follows. He changed the famous room from 217 to 237 because it is 237,000 miles to the moon. The carpet that Danny plays on looks like the Apollo 11 launch pad at Cape Canaveral. The Native American paintings in Jack’s writing room resemble rockets lifting off. Danny wears an Apollo 11 sweater in the film. Even what Jack is writing on his typewriter, All Work and No Play Makes Jack A Dull Boy, “All” refers to Apollo 11. The sentence itself refers to Kubrick working very hard for the government with no free time for himself.
The film also discusses how some people created The Shining : Backwards and Forwards. This is a the film shown backwards superimposed over itself being played normally. The overlapping images work together showing us a creepier intention that Kubrick might have conceived during the filming process. Google this and watch some of the videos. It is pretty wild I have to say. There are several other observations that I don’t want to get into because I don’t want to ruin the experience of the film. It moves from the Holocaust of World War Two to Kubrick’s quarrels with Stephen King and so much more. Ever notice the skiing posters in the room where Danny first sees the twin girls? Anyway………
I was personally amazed and entertained by all of what was being introduced to me. Room 237 is something different for the documentary world. It is a film that dissects another film that so many of us know and love. A film that was very popular and very accessible for the world to view. A film that will forever haunt some of us forever just because it is so damn creepy. Are any of these accusations true? I don’t know for sure, but I know that I will never forget about them every time I watch The Shining. And you thought it was crazy when you found out that Redrum was Murder spelt backwards.