At a recent dinner celebration at the piping hot Godzilla Café, Big Gay Horror Fan’s beloved Aunt Pamela (a vegan witch, naturally) made a charming and pertinent observation. She noted that the art of the appreciator was often neglected in social and cultural importance – IE that the act of appreciating is just as much of an art form as that of the person doing the creating.
Rodney Ascher’s truly engaging, frequently mindboggling documentary Room 237 takes this notion to grand heights. Highlighting the observations of a handful of devotees to Stanley Kubrick’s highly debated 1980 film adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining, Room 237 revels in obsessive fan love and features highly detailed theories on Kubrick’s artistic intent.
Creatively, Ascher never shows the faces of his subjects, but uses clips from Kubrick’s oeuvre (including massive segments of The Shining) to illustrate the interviewee’s points. True horror fans are, also, sure to delight in his liberal use of crowd scenes from Italian gore fests Demons and Demons 2 to help augment the situations described, as well.
Some of the theories introduced are fairly ludicrous (making even the most rampaging nerd feel a bit more normal than he or she did before watching the documentary). One interested party is fully invested in the thought that Kubrick used this film to let the world know his part in helping the government fake the moon landing. (That he then goes on question the validity of this claim in the film’s wrap-up makes the concept even more noteworthy.)
Of course, anyone who has seen the subject film (and lusted after Shelley Duvall’s prairie-like yet seemingly eternal costumes) knows that Kubrick obviously ladled on the influences with this one. So the participants in Room 237 that suggest that he may have been working out his feelings on the Holocaust and the treatment of the American Indians may have some valid points. But, was that the entire extent of his focus (or something that he was even conscious of doing in the moment) – well, who the hell knows?!?
Other funny theories about subtle erections, media manipulation and disappearing Disney images – all seem purely accidental, mere mistakes that Kubrick missed with his over-the-top, highly stylistic directing of this glorious piece of cinema.
Ultimately, Room 237 illustrates how much a work takes on the spirit of the viewer once it is released into the world – giving all the detailed summaries an honest validity of sorts. Perhaps most importantly, for anyone whom has ever obsessed over a certain genre, filmmaker or film, Room 237 brings about a sense of kinship and, as my dear Aunt Pamela suggested, the thought that the audience is just as important as those behind the camera.
Further information about Room 237 can be gathered at www.room237movie.com.
Big Gay Horror Fan, meanwhile, is always throwing on his best wide-eyed Duvall shriek at http://www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan, as well!
Until the next time – SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!