Projection issues aside, Rodney Ascher’s Room 237 is a film about a film. And what better place to see than at the Melbourne International Film Festival? A sold out session in the already crowded Greater Union cinema in Russell Street sat back and let Stanley Kubrick’s images from The Shining flow over them.
Room 237 is about film viewing habits and various conspiracy theories that have come from the release of Kubrick’s film. NASA, the Holocaust and American Indians are not spared from the readings of the nine subjects in the film.
We never see the subjects, but only hear about their experiences of seeing The Shining, the impact that it had on their life, and their explanations as to why they believe what they do.
The sometimes ridiculous readings that the subjects have reveal more about the nature of film criticism and viewer response if anything else. Complex readings can come from the simplest of inclusions in a film. One valid argument that cannot be ignored though, is that a master like Kubrick doesn’t just make coincidental decisions. Ever the meticulous filmmaker, Kubrick’s intentions may not be completely clear, but there is certainly some reasoning behind most inclusions.
Time given to the often ludicrous theories is counter acted by The Shining itself. If you find the nine subject’s readings stupid or inane, continuous shots of a knife-wielding Jack Nicholson and elevators of free-flowing blood will most likely satisfy you until the film’s end.
Room 237 is screening in the 2012 Melbourne International Film Festival. Check here for screening times.