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ROOM 237: Unraveling the Mysteries of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980)

“Symmetry, subtlety, and the thin line between civility and barbarism.” — Kevin Ernest Long

I’m in this passionate love with Stanley Kubrick’s mind. I wonder, how he finds these undefinable elements and adds depth to his characters. The deafening silence that prolongs the plots of his movies and the sudden yet subtle explode of climax is unimaginable. My love for Kubrick is based on his story-lines crafted with finesse and his actors who add mcharm to their characters with infinite improvisations and retakes.

Kubrick montage

A true perfectionist, Stanley Kubrick is quite the smartest and intelligent film-maker ever.

ROOM 237

An exemplary examining documentary on Kubrick’s masterpiece, The Shining (1980), and the obscure elements existing in the movie.

Offering diverse theories yet controversial, these film fanatics unravel the mysteries hidden in Kubrick’s movie. As it may sound crazy, the theories presented are personal findings and recollections of people who dedicated an important portion of their life decoding the movie’s messages.

Official Poster; Room 237

Official Poster; Room 237

ROOM 237 takes you to an Odyssey inside Kubrick’s mind! Dissected and displayed in front on the table, these are the showcase of various ideas pertaining to historic and cultural facts embedded into his movie which are finally revealed. They presumably fail to justify the authenticity of their hypothesis, as it cannot be validated with Kubrick who is no longer alive, however, the suggestions made by these experts were the eternal part of Kubrick’s life which can or do relate to his film-making style.

There are 9 segments, each decoding the metaphors which were possibly intentionally added by Kubrick during the filming to embed the message he wished to deliver yet denied public from seeing it. An exemplification of product marketing —Subliminal Marketing.

Some of the most Horrifying Theories

#1 The Fake Moon Landing (Apollo 11)

One theorist suggests that the Apollo 11 landing on the moon was faked, moreover, it was produced by Kubrick in a Hollywood studio. He points out that he found telltale signs of front projection used in moon landing footage, which is primarily used during film-making. Also, there are subliminal signs in the various plots of the movie that suggests that Kubrick intentionally embedded those images that profess that the landing was faked.

Room 237 of the hotel room is the base of all the nastiness and evil. In this very room, Jack encounters a ghost and hence starts being lunatic. Later Danny stops by the room staring at the very door, like he suspects there is something hidden inside -things he mustn’t know. Dick Hallorann, a chef, confirms Danny’s doubt by declaring the fact that he must never talk or care about Room 237. It’s prohibited from Danny’s eyes as well as the truth of moon landing’s prohibited from the public.

This very room also defines a part of Kubrick’s life he contracted to NASA and could never profess about it to anyone else. It’s a burden and regret he carried all his life that he wished to relive and so he did through The Shining, 11 years later.

He (Theorist) points to the knitted Apollo 11 sweater that Danny wears, and the fact that a carpet pattern resembles the Apollo launching pad as evidence that the film is an elaborate apology of sorts for Kubrick’s involvement.

#2 The Holocaust

Another theorist suggests, the movie is about The Holocaust.  He connects Jack’s sinister recitation of the Big Bad Wolf’s refrain to a Disney production where the wolf is an anti-Semitic caricature. Kubrick always wanted to make a movie based on the events of The Holocaust, however, he later dropped the whole idea.

It’s suggested that Kubrick sympathized with the whole holocaust thing. His prior life was mostly influenced by the horrifying events of WW II in Europe, and he showed the same through his movie by embedding subtle imagery of Nazi brutality and genocide of Jews. He’s an auteur, re-exhibiting the memories of Holocaust through The Shining.

A typewriter in most of the scenes plays prominent role. It’s randomly shown almost all the time in the movie. Typewriters played prominent role during Nazi occupation as well. Its extensive use in typing out and making a list of Jewish population was humongous during The Holocaust. If your are to watch The Schindler’s List, typewriters are extensively used and shown during the entire span of the movie.

 

#3 The Genocide of Native Americans

Kubrick’s ability to insert sublime elements in his movies is well known. In many instances, through the scenes and dialogues, Kubrick tried exemplifying the genocide that occurred in the greater American landscape against Native Americans.

The use of cans of Calumet Baking Powder in the backdrop, the poster of a Native hanging by the wall and the iconic elevator scene where the blood floods the whole hallway -suggests the height of American Imperialism which crushed the repression of Natives. Despite our denial throughout the history, Kubrick suggested that the truth shall come out either way and we must repent our wrongdoing one day. In the movie, it’s the gushing out of a flood of blood from nowhere.

In an early scene, the hotel’s manager, Stuart Ullman, claims that the property was build on the site of native American’s burial ground. Therefore, the scene where the blood is flooding the hallway signifies the very blood of those crushed souls which are buried beneath.


 

The Shining (Movie) Vs The Shining (Book)

Written by Stephen King, The Shining (1976) explores the objectives of paranormal in a rural hotel site and how a sane man is possessed by lunacy and is compelled to turn blood-thirsty for his own family. When Kubrick adopted the story, King stepped in with his creative inputs for the movie, however, after the movie was produced, it turned out to be way different than the book which infuriated King on a creative ground.

King’s important themes, such as the disintegration of the family and the dangers of alcoholism, were ignored. He quoted;

What’s basically wrong with Kubrick’s version of The Shining is that it’s a film by a man who thinks too much and feels too little; and that’s why, for all its virtuoso effects, it never gets you by the throat and hangs on the way real horror should.

Stanley Vs Stephen

Stanley Vs Stephen

Kubrick along with Diane Johnson co-wrote the entire movie. As assumed by the theories presented, he had everything different in his mind about it. His motive was not to present what King had created but what he witnessed in his life. Jack Torrance is Stanely Kubrick and The Shining is his own story.

The movie confuses you in most levels and makes you wonder; how come Jack is possessed by a demon, why does he keep seeing things that do not exist moreover interact with them, and why does Jack appears in the picture dated 1921 shown at the end of the film. It leaves a sense of wandering and exploration that doesn’t end with the movie. It’s his trademark style. There are various levels of psychological elements involved with the project, most of which are decoded and published by Room 237.

Be it The Holoacust, the genocide of natives, fake moon landing, the myth of Minotaur and his labyrinth or the psychologial englihtment of little Danny throughout the entire span, the movie silently takes your away into a journey that resembles 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). A masterpiece, a cult and possibly the smartest movie ever made!

Room 237 (2012)

Directed by Rodney Ascher, Produced by Tim Kirk, Starring: Bill Blakemore, Geoffrey Cocks, Juli Kearns, John Fell Ryan and Jay Weidner

Distributed by IFC Films, IFC Midnight

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Tarantino Vs Taratino, and My Big List of Tarantino favorites!!

His movies are famous for their violence and bloodshed; their blaring soundtracks; their offbeat, Pinteresque dialogue; their startling performances from actors you had almost forgotten about.

~NY Times

Tarantino Vs Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino‘s movies are mostly made up of nonlinear narratives. His movies are subject to Glorification of violence. His subjects are revenge and justice, which are indifferent from many other filmmaker’s subjects, however, what he can make out of it can completely be different in projection from the others. He’s inspired by movies from different genres made in the past, he brings old elements in his own story and mash’em up into a single theme containing of a justice seeking protagonist. He’s an amazing collaborator and a magnificent music connoisseur —picking background scores himself for his evenly eclectic scenes from the movies.

Quentin TarantinoTarantino’s repetitive and very much predictable, yet his craftsmanship is on a level of a such class that he can always get away with it by creating a niche piece of thoughtful movie that can cache on his superb direction and trademarks.

Starting from Reservoir Dogs to Django Unchained, his movies experienced a gradual development in story telling. His characters grew up and so did his film-making ability. He leaped from only telling an amazing story through nonlinear narratives and his Trademarked elements to more of a conventional narratives with his Trademarked elements still intact and flourishing.

The Tarantino we know today is different from the Tarantino that existed 10-15 years ago. His craft haven’t changed much and he still carries the same panache as before. His movies still follow similar story line; Loss, trail, retribution and revenge, however, his ability as a film-maker has grown to even wider and unimaginable horizons and he can now implore things that were rarely seen in his previous movies. We all know him best for his rougher cut movies, now they are more fine cut and well-tuned.

Advent of Grindhouse mashed with Spaghetti Western+Slasher and Retro Sound

grindhouse is an American term for a theater that mainly shows exploitation films. It is named after the defunct burlesque theaters […] where ‘bump n’ grind’ dancing and striptease were featured.

~Wikipedia

Grindhouse is the most commercial theme of Tarantino’s movies. He creates an unimaginable concoction of Grindhouse with spaghetti western and slasher. Now, slashing always has a greater purpose in his movies. Beatrice Kiddo couldn’t have gone away without slicing, dicing and chopping her enemies nor Sin City could have even more brutal without it.

There are many ways of torturing a character in Tarantino’s universe, you can either shoot them with a shotgun from a close range, cut off their limbs with a Ninja sword or just pluck out their eyes so they can’t see again their entire life. He can bring out the aesthetics and beauty of action well contrasted with the backdrop of the scenes; be it machine gun shooting Nazi occupied Germany, the Antebellum era with black slaves plucking out cotton or the fast food joint at Los Angeles.

“Music sets your soul free.”  Sure it does! He has a rare quality of picking unconventional sound for the very right scene. Isn’t it weird to hear a Jazz playing in the background when Django’s busy killing his enemies in a White supremacist South? That’s very unconventional.

[Sound Samples]

Most Clichéd about Tarantino

1. Blood Spillage

Tarantino pleasures blood. Blood plays a significant role in his movies. A movie without fountain of blood spouting out of someone recently sliced arm is non existent in his world. The gushing out of red fluid from a human body describes the occurrence of two things, either the crime has been committed or the justice has been served.

The malevolent practice of glamorizing blood spillage defines Tarantino’s style of brutality.

2. Homicide

Tarantino loves massacre. The protagonist’s lust for killing and finding the way through to accomplish the mission is what drives the entire movie. It won’t start until the protagonist kill his first victim and move on through the large crowd of dead before killing the only person that matters.

Crazy 88 from Kill Bill

Crazy 88 from Kill Bill

Homicide has a greater purpose of retribution for Tarantino and his characters. Killing is a need but pleasure. Antagonists in his movies are surrounded and covered by numerous henchmen or bodyguards, taking them off before killing the antagonist is essential because; to ensure nobody comes around from the back and stab you while your on the verge of your mission and to minimize the chance of leaving behind a potential nemesis.

3. Triumph of Truth and Justice

Tarantino supports the very idea of Truth and Justice. Audience may find his movie violent and all gore but that doesn’t mean the theme of it’s all about killing people. The greater idea is always the triumph of truth and justice through retribution. A protagonist always finds a way to seek justice, in the case of Tarantino’s movies they only find it after quenching their thirst for revenge by killing every man on sight that differs with them.

Django smiles after killing everyone of Candy's henchmen

Django smiles after killing everyone of Candy’s henchmen

It’s has never been a case when an antagonist has gotten away from the final scene without getting what he deserves. Beatrice Kiddo manages to kill Bill at the end and quench her revenge, so does Lt. Aldo Raine, he carves a SWASTIKA over Landa’s forehead to remind him of his wrongdoing for all his remaining life, and Django avenging the brutal torture he and his family suffered from the Slave owners and their henchmen.

At the end, Justice is always served. May the degree of treating a crime differ from many conventional films or what’s defined by the Standard Law, the ultimate reason for which justice stands is always served at the end.

My Big List

(Best Tarantino’s movies, listed #9 to #1)

#9

Jackie brown (1997)

Jackie Brown Movie Cover

#8

Death Proof (2007)

Death Proof Movie Poster

#7

True Romance (1993)

True Romance Movie Poster

#6

Sin City (2005)

Sin City Movie Poster

#5

Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Reservoir dogs movie poster

#4

Django Unchained (2012)

Django Unchained Movie Poster

#3

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Pulp Fiction Movie Poster

#2

Inglorious Basterds (2010)

Inglorious Basterds Movie Poster

#1

Kill Bill (2004)

Kill Bill Movie Poster

Resources

Quentin Tarantino’s Trademarks
Quentin’s World