I could carve a better movie out of a banana. Ascher starts off with a very promising premise, “Discuss competing critical interpretations of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining,” but quickly gets lost in the weeds of 1) exploring how movie sets are not real, 2) exploring the plight of Native-Americans, 3) exploring the theory that Kubrick helped NASA fake the moon landing, and 4) exploring how somehow, a paper tray on a hotel administrator’s desk is supposed to be a penis.
This is sad, because I have read innumerable essays on The Shining that make real and valid points about the film and do not waste their reader’s time and patience with nonsense and bullshit like a certain documentary I know. Google how Kubrick plays with numbers in the film just to get a taste of the man’s love of puzzle structures. (HINT: It was NOT a request by hotel management that saw Kubrick change the novel’s Room 231 to the movie’s Room 237.) I would say that you could make a better movie than Ascher’s Room 237.
What follows is a list of links to the best interpretative video essays on The Shining that I have found over the course of endless nights of research. They add up to 102m, the EXACT RUNTIME of that execrable pile of nonsense, Room 237.
Coincidence? I think not.
1. “Overlooked! A Detail in The Shining That You’ve Never Seen,”
a visual essay by Filippo Ulivieri (11:24)
A wonderful, unsettling piece about a seeming mistake. Uliveri follows his evidence to some very disturbing conclusions. There is an endless debate about whether there are real ghosts in The Shining. Ulivieri concludes with a theory I had never even considered. Ever wonder why Kubrick’s film is so unsettling? This IS one of the reasons.
2. “The Invisible Horror of The Shining,” kaptainkristian (13:23)
A crazy perceptive visual essay about the peculiarities of the film’s score, specifically focusing on the largely unsung work of sound editor Gordon Stainforth.
3. “The Shining: Danny's Ordeal and the Bear-Costumed Man,”
film analysis by Rob Ager (19:00)
A lengthy video featuring a theory many fans of the film actively dislike.
When you hear his argument and see Ager’s evidence, though, it’s a little hard to deny. I will say that Rob Ager is the king of these things. Through his website “Collative Learning,” he has published no fewer than 18 separate videos on various aspects of Kubrick’s film. All of the videos are fascinating and each one is capable of leading you down a rabbit hole of Shining interpretation from which you will never climb back. NOTE: Ager declined to be a part of Rodney Ascher’s Room 237.
4. “Why The Shining's Music is Genius,” kaptainkristian (7:08)
More great insight into the musical score, this time focusing on the manipulation of the classical pieces used in the film and how the score often uses musical overlap, with particular attention to two scenes: Danny meeting the Grady twins for the second time and the famous hedge maze chase. The pleasure of this short video essay is, to me, hearing someone who is knowledgeable about a certain subject matter explaining it clearly to novices. It’s terrific.
5. “The Shining — Quietly Going Insane Together,” Lessons from the Screenplay (10:15)
This video succinctly summarizes the genius of the film’s script and what sets it apart from all other horror films. Tasty.
6. “The Shining: How did Jack escape the store room? Five theories, You Decide,”
Collative Learning (21:24)
One more from Rob Ager, exploring one of the few aspects of the film that suggests a supernatural element.
7. “The Shining: Visual Design & Mise-en-Scene in The Colorado Lounge,”
Yoonique Films, Eljin Yoo (9:19)
A fine introduction to the “sinister art direction and lighting” in the film.
8. “Thoughts on Room 237,” YourMovieSucksDOTorg (10:47)
“Washed out by lunatics,” indeed.