On Monday, Nov. 19, a screening of Room 237, a new documentary that explores Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film The Shining, will take place in the Bobbitt Visual Arts Center at 7 p.m.
The film, directed by Rodney Ascher and produced by Tim Kirk, features the viewpoints of five different individuals, each of whom offer a very specific interpretation of Kubrick’s film.
Albion College history professor Geoffrey Cocks is one of those individuals featured in the film. Cocks, who has had a fascination with Kubrick’s films for years, believes that the filmmaker’s symbolism, though deliberate, allows for various interpretations to be made by viewers.
“[Kubrick] spends a lot of time thinking about these things, making references through music and color and objects and words,” Cocks said. “Not only does he put a lot into it, he gives you the opportunity to build your own elaborations.”
Cocks, along with the other four individuals featured in Room 237, which was screened at both the 2012 Sundance and Cannes film festivals, has a distinct interpretation of Kubrick’s symbolism and elaborates on these theories throughout the film.
Throughout the course of Room 237, none of the featured interviewees are shown on camera, and their ideas are expressed exclusively through voiceovers. While this may seem strange to some at first, producer Tim Kirk believes that this technique allows for more of a developed understanding of each theory, as it allows each subject to live in the realm of ideas, rather than in any physical space.
“Room 237 allows people to talk, to develop ideas, to have tangents,” Kirk said. “One of the things I like about Room 237 is that we give our interviewees the room to talk and develop ideas.”
While Room 237 is, on the surface, a movie exploring the subtexts present in The Shining, Cocks believes that the finished product is much more. It allows viewers to reflect upon the power of cinema.
“It is very much a meditation on what film can do and how films act upon audiences and vice versa,” Cocks said. “It’s a dialogue…the film [Room 237] is very much a love letter to cinema and to Kubrick’s cinema in particular because his cinema is so rich in ideas and rich in unique cinematic techniques.”
ABC News correspondent Bill Blakemore is also featured in Room 237 and additionally credits the documentary with effectively exploring possible symbolism and larger meanings of various kinds in The Shining, as well as investigating how a powerful movie can be understood in a variety of different ways by different people.
“As Rodney said to me, he and Tim started out making a movie about The Shining and it ended up being about much more,” Blakemore said. “It ended up being about how people each bring their own tool kits to a movie that moves them to try to understand it.”
Blakemore will be available following Monday’s showing for a panel discussion. He has seen Room 237 three times since its initial release and believes that the film will have a great impact on viewers.
“I expect people will come away form it being fascinated by many things,” Blakemore said. “They’ll be fascinated by The Shining again. They’ll be fascinated by human psychology, about the different ways that different people respond to a very powerful movie, which The Shining obviously is.”
Room 237 has received overwhelmingly positive feedback, earning an average of 98% positive rating from users on Rotten Tomatoes. The film’s success fascinates Kirk, simply because it showcases the range of people who are interested in The Shining.
“It’s fascinating to see how many people in the world are interested in The Shining and in Kubrick and are willing to follow this narrative of exploring of one of his films in as great as depth as we do,” Kirk said. “I guess that would be the surprise, just how many people are willing to go down the rabbit hole with us.”