A few years ago... I had a bit of spark. I was sitting in my basement apartment, looking over a Kubrick DVD box-set I had just acquired, and declared it to be lightening in a bottle. How could one guy, this Kubrick, be such a goddamn filmmaking genius? With several cups of coffee, I made a decision, that well, in reality, hasn’t had much impact... Until now! Maybe. It’s up to you to decide.
I watched The Shining in glorious digitally re-mastered DVD and manically DISSECTED it shot-by-shot, over the course of a single day. I jotted it all down on my laptop’s note pad program. I’m going to venture to guess it took me about 4-5 hours. It’s all a smeary caffeinated blur to me now! I’d “scribble” down shots as the movie went by, and then pause the film to catch up for the more complicated sequences. Now I can’t say that my notes are perfect, or even technically sound -- but as an indie filmmaker, I definitely know the broad strokes. Most of the time, it’d be the camera work I’d be looking at. The framing, move type, focus, etc. Sometimes I’d concentrate on the acting. Other times, something in the edit would pop out at me. There was just so much going on. And there still is, every time you play it.
In the end, I had a several paged document, that I don’t think I’ve ever gone back to read. I sent it to two friends, who didn’t respond to the email (I forgive you).
Did I learn something? I sure hope so. Did I bottle the genius of Kubrick? Baby, I didn’t even cap a spit of spark. But man, how clever I felt! I was on the verge of a new discovery! This was going to change things! Had anyone ever done this? I didn’t know, but I sure felt special.
Well, that bubble burst some 4 years later, when a few days ago, I loaded up this year’s Vanguard line up online, and inched through it, a movie at a time; my eyebrows see-sawing in amazement. Click, click, click... Berberian Sound Studio... hmmmm.... click-click-click - Room 237?
The image hit me first... a VCR with a video tape of The Shining protruding from it! What the heck... So I read the blurb, and learn that filmmaker Rodney Ascher has created a feature length subjective documentary exploring the possible hidden meanings and secret code in The Shining! Whaaat, secret code?! Do you know what that means? Ascher and his team have in all likelihood, spent years examining that lightening in a bottle. They’ve had whole teams of minds analyzing the very same question. Months upon months of effort, money, blood, sweat and tears, looking to drop a finger on it. I hadn’t been that ambitious with my tinkering with The Shining. But then, maybe that’s why I’m still (mostly) sane!
I don’t have much idea of where Room 237 is going to take these ideas, and I doubt they’ll be anywhere similar to my mundane shot by shot break down -- but what I invite you to do, is to post your own theories and extrapolations of The Shining -- and let’s see if we don’t have some overlapping wavelengths! Some new ideas! Let’s break out the tin foil hats, and compare theories! I know there are some geniuses out there!
And... if any of you doubt at all what I’m saying about my own Shining breakdown (it’s absolutely real!), post your emails (or spam-safe spoof emails), request a copy, and I will send it to you - or perhaps if enough of you request it, I’ll get the green light to post it here!
Don't miss the meticulously mad deconstructions of The Shining lurking in the eminent screenings of Room 237!
ROOM 237 Screening times:
Thurs., Sept 13., BLOOR HOT DOCS CINEMA, 6:00PM
Sat., Sept 15., CINEPLEX YONGE & DUNDAS 2, 5:45PM
Sun., Sept 16., TIFF BELL LIGHTBOX 3, 12:00PM