After watching the documentary, I thought to myself that barring three or four fascinating theories and studies, it was a major attempt by Rodney Ascher to sensationalize Kubrick’s leitmotifs. People have started loving conspiracy theories ever since Dan Brown took a big lead in Da Vinci Code.
Before I tell you what I saw in Room 237, I will take you to the backyard of the Overlook and search the source in its creator. I saw Stephen King first. This book takes us back to the mid nineteen seventies; the time that I turned my back on college and vowed never to study further. I was sick of the rat race and the worship of materialism.
Back to Stephen King! The book tells us about events taking place at an isolated off-season time in a hotel, the Overlook, in the Colorado Rockies. It is about a young child gifted with psychic powers as he battles against evil forces that are threatening to drive his father beyond the edge.
By the way, Stephen King has announced that he is working on a sequel to the book which he is going to call, `Doctor Sleep.’ The sequel will follow the tale of Danny Torrance, the young child of the `Shining’ who survived the events at the Overlook.
I used to approach all Kubrick films with enthusiasm ever since I saw Spartacus and the magnificent `2001: A Space Odyssey’ which I hail as the greatest science fiction film ever made and a film that each student of cinema must take up as a case study. I saw `Shining’ in 1981 in Bombay. It was a censored and botched up print. Yet, I saw a similarity between the Overlook and the floating chamber scenes in the final moments in `A Space Odyssey’ that take place on Mars.
The films always got cut under the imbecile guidance of the censor board of India. I was fortunate enough to pick an uncut DVD in 1989 which I still have. I finally saw the full one hundred and forty six minutes including the Director’s Commentary. That itself is enough. I don’t need a Room 237 to make me open my eyes any wider. I would like to keep my Eyes Wide Shut on most of the explanations in 237.
I will not call the events in the Shining as horrific. I would call them disturbing. Nor will I think about the film when it is over as to what it was about.
Stephen King was not so impressed by Kubrick’s adaptation or Nicholson’s performance as Jack Torrance. He wanted Jon Voight to play that role but Kubrick declined. I agree with Kubrick despite King being the original creator. Kubrick has the full right to cast. Who could deny Nicholson the role of Jack Torrance after watching him in ‘One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest’?
When I watched the Shining, I was also reminded of a masterpiece made by Roman Polanski called the Tenant. It had brilliant performances by Polanski himself and Isabelle Adjani. Another film I was reminded of was Polanski’s Chinatown.
Let us go inside Room 237 now. What do I see? I see careful compilation of leitmotifs. Some of them have fascinated me; others I rubbished. Let me single out the ones I considered important and relevant.
1. The blood gushing out of the elevators. You just cannot forget this scene from the film. This scene was done in three takes but it took almost three months to get the shot prepared because every time the doors opened and the blood gushed out, Kubrick would complain that it did not look like blood.
2. REDRUM embedded on the door. It stays with you for many months.
3. Gut wrenching music of Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind-Tourre. The music achieved the desired effect as Kubrick wanted. Kubrick always wanted the Ligeti type of overtones in the score as he had used in the `Space Odyssey’ with the `Atmospheres’. Both Wendy and Rachel achieved that sense of alienation with the brilliant sound created by the strings and the synthesizers.
4. The Calumet can. This is a fascinating theory and it could be true.
5. The Red Indian undertones. This is also very much possible.
6. Wendy backing up the stairs as she is swinging with the baseball bat. Perhaps, people are not aware that this has entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the scene with the most takes. It was done one hundred and twenty seven times.
7. The Adler typewriter and the link to the holocaust in Germany. Yes; this does have an allegorical link to the extermination of Jews in 1942.
8. Launching Pad of Apollo 11 as hinted by the patterns on the carpet. Yes. The biggest conspiracy theory going behind Kubrick was that he confessed one day and regretted that he should not have complied with NASA’s call to fake the moon landings. I truly believe down to the lower most recesses of my gut that Kubrick was talking the truth here and the whole landing on the moon was a Warner Bros. shot with Neil Armstrong taking that `giant leap for mankind’ in the 21st Century Studios.
This is all that I can endorse and authenticate. Rest is bullshit. I do not believe that Kubrick was killed by the Illuminati or the Freemasons. I happen to be a Freemason myself and I do not think that Kubrick was obsessed with the All Seeing Eye of the Providence or the Divine Architect of the Universe. Yes! There are hints to the Craft of Freemasonry in `A Space Odyssey’ with the obelisks, Barry Lyndon, A Clockwork Orange and Eyes Wide Shut. No conspiratorial group caused his coronary to explode. He died of a heart attack in 1999 and so be it.
There are fascinating things talked about in Room 237 and I have picked them here. It could have been encapsulated in just about thirty minutes. Yet, who am I to judge Ascher? He has the full right to speak his mind on the allegorical links and the leitmotifs in the `Shining’.