Stanley Kubrick’s The Shinning (or Shinning according to the Simpsons), is more than just a well directed and eery look at isolation, fear and madness. It’s a film that also has numerous allegations of Kubrick leaving hidden meanings everywhere, pushing his actors to the breaking point with take after take and generally making life hell for everyone. Much like this trailer for the documentary about the film, Room 237, will do to your audio canals.
After the box office failure of Barry Lyndon, Stanley Kubrick decided to embark on a project that might have more commercial appeal. The Shining, Stephen King’s biggest critical and commercial success yet, seemed like a perfect vehicle. After an arduous production, Kubrick’s film received a wide release in the summer of 1980; the reviews were mixed, but the box office, after a slow start, eventually picked up. End of story? Hardly. In the 30 years since the film’s release, a considerable cult of Shining devotees has emerged, fans who claim to have decoded the film’s secret messages addressing everything from the genocide of Native Americans to a range of government conspiracies. Rodney Ascher’s wry and provocative Room 237 fuses fact and fiction through interviews with cultists and scholars, creating a kaleidoscopic deconstruction of Kubrick’s still-controversial classic.
Hell, that’s just the start. Kubrick was infamous for his perfectionist approach to filming a scene, as he wouldn’t stop until everything from the lighting to the performance of the actors involved met his high standards. While working on The Shining, Kubrick wanted actress Shelley Duvall to portray a very real sense of being traumatised. So he used the genius idea of actually traumatising her in real life in order to get the proper reactions.
Take for instance this scene, where Duvall swing s a bat at a now homicidally mad Jack Nicholson. Simple scene right?
Nope! Kubrick made her swing that louisville slugger a total of 127 times. Which also landed her a spot in the Guinness book of world records for ”most retakes of a single movie scene with spoken dialogue.” Kubrick then took things a step further, constantly verbally abusing Duvall, to the point where her hair actually began to fall out. Seems like the real psychopath was Kubrick himself, all along.
Room 237 is out in American theaters and iTunes on March 29.