Wherever Stanley Kubrick is right now, considering how much he obsessed over every detail of his movies, you hope he’s pleased that his fans are completely obsessing over his work.
Now the obsession over The Shining is a movie in itself, and it’s been getting strong reviews since debuting at the Sundance Festival.
The documentary is Room 237 and it’s directed by Rodney Ascher. According to a report in the New York Times, some theories that are being been thrown around include the film being an analogy for the Holocaust, along with the maze as symbolism of sorts for the myth of the Minotaur.
Ascher told the paper that The Shining “is a compelling work of art that acts as a kind of mirror, especially for thoughtful people, who see aspects of themselves that are among the most precious things they have experienced.”
Of course, many people can project whatever they want into movies, and often it’s the furthest thing from a filmmaker’s mind, like the alleged gay subtext of Top Gun, or the have sex you die theory of Halloween. And of course, don’t forget all the theories that popped up about the suitcase in Pulp Fiction.
According to Mitchell Zuckoff’s biography of director Robert Altman, when people would come up to him and tell him what they felt the symbolism in a film meant, he’d either agree and say that’s exactly what he meant to say, or remark it was an interesting theory, but not what he had in mind when making the movie.
Who knows if Kubrick would be bemused by all these theories on The Shining? Remember the film got hammered by the critics in its initial release, and Stephen King never liked it either, but opinion on the film’s a lot different today.
As early as 1983, Michael Weldon, author of The Psychotronic Encyclopedia called the film an “unconventional horror film destined to be regarded as a classic once the initial criticism is forgotten.” And as Vincent Canby wrote in the New York Times, “In some eerie fashion, it gets better every year.”