Sit-Down With A Celebrity — Albion history prof featured in recent film

Following cult films and TV shows is ingrained in our culture. My roommate, for example, is a die-hard Trekkie, some of my friends are followers of Star Wars or Batman, and I, admittedly, had my time with The Lord of the Rings. But Geoffrey Cocks, professor of history, is into an overlooked set of films—those made by Stanley Kurbrick.

Cocks’ academic work on Kubrick films earned him a spot on the big screen at the Sundance Film Festival last January. The film in which Cocks appeared was called “Room 237,” after the hotel room the Torrance family stays in, in Kubrick’s “The Shining.”

“I was one of two of the people interviewed for the film who attended the premiere,” said Cocks. “Two of five, I think.”

Cocks’ thesis is that Kubrick’s “The Shining” is about the Holocaust of European Jews. Kubrick, though not very religious, was himself a Jew and a child during the Second World War. Another individual featured in the film was CBS correspondent, Bill Blakemore.

“He had written on the subtext of ‘The Shining’ about the decimation of Native Americans and that linked with my analysis of the Holocaust subtext,” said Cocks. “We knew each other’s work. It was nice to have nice long discussions with him about film in general and about Kubrick in particular.”

Initially heralded by the media as a “conspiracy theory” film, Cocks says that “Room 237” is anything but. Most of the ideas presented were highly academic–most, but not all.

“There’s one real far-out (theory) that I wish hadn’t been in the film,” Cocks said. “There’s this one guy who argues that “The Shining” is Kubrick’s apology to his wife for lying about the fact that he helped NASA fake the film-footage of the moon landing.”

“Oh come on, that’s just nonsense,” added Cocks.

According to Cocks, the film’s screening drew a large audience at the Sundance film festival located in Park City, Utah. “It was standing-room only, and there was a big crowd,” said Cocks.

“Everybody liked it a lot. It’s a very cleverly done film. It not only talks about Kubrick and ideas about this particular “Shining,’” said Cocks. “But it’s obviously made for people who love film. Also people who know who Kubrick is and appreciate what he contributed to the cinema. So it’s a bit of a love-fest going on.”

Following the screening of the film was what theatre junkies call a “talk back” session. This is an opportunity for the director, producer and main cast to answer questions from the audience.  Both Cocks and Blakemore participated in the talk-back session.

“It was a lot of scholarly activity in addition to eating and drinking and partying,” Cocks joked. “But Chris Rock did stay in our hotel.”

According to Cocks, IFC Films is going to distribute “Room 237” and the film will be shown theatrically, video on demand and at the New York and Cannes Film Festivals. Cocks also plans to show the film in his class on Kubrick films.

1 Comment

  1. One correction: the premiere of Room 237 at the Sundance Film Festival took place on Jaqnuary 23, 2012, not last fall

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