What We’re Watching: “Room 237”

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Margaret Kahn.

Room 237” (2013)

Did you watch”The Shining” and immediately realize that it was actually about the Holocaust?

Or did you instead see it as an allegory about European mistreatment of the Native Americans? Maybe you saw it as an admission of guilt to the U.S. government’s faking of the moon landing.

These are all theories of the superfans interviewed in “Room 237,” a documentary examining cult obsession.

“Room 237,” directed by Rodney Ascher, explores the underground world of American fanboy culture. The film was released last year, but the West End Cinema is offering D.C. residents their first opportunity to see it on the big screen. Ascher interviews five men and women, each with their own theory on the true meaning behind Stanley Kubrick’s classic adaptation of a Stephen King novel, “The Shining.”

Ascher combines their commentary with meticulously-chosen archival footage from Kubrick’s other films. As one conspiracy theorist describes the first time he saw the film, we watch Tom Cruise walk by a movie theater in a scene from Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut.”

The movie is an entertaining display of every tenet of an art history course. The movie, just like many arts classes, posits art as not just a collection of pretty images to please the eye; the artist places everything on the canvas to convey a meaning, down to the angle and shading. Kubrick was an artist as well, and the movie reminds viewers that nothing he did was by accident. The man was a film-making genius, and whether or not you agree with the theories of “Room 237,” you realize that Kubrick did everything intentionally.

Director: Rodney Ascher
Genre: Documentary
Cast: Bill Blakemore, Geoffrey Cocks, Juli Kearns, John Fell Ryan
Release Date: Varies in select cities. D.C.: April 15

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