Room 237

It’s been a really long time since I’ve seen The Shining. But I found out from a podcast I was listening to that there was a 2012 documentary about the film and some of the hidden clues, and also some amazing theories around the film and the Director Stanley Kubrick. So I’m going to give the documentary a watch then move onto the film, and if I’m still gripped I might even get around to watching the next part called Doctor Sleep that came out 2019 starring Ewan McGregor, again based on Stephen King’s 2013 novel of the same name.

Room 237 is a 2012 American documentary film directed by Rodney Ascher about interpretations of Stanley Kubrick’s film The Shining (1980) which was adapted from the 1977 novel of the same name by Stephen King. The film includes footage from The Shining and other Kubrick films, along with discussions by Kubrick enthusiasts. The film has nine segments, each segment focusing on a different element within the film which “may reveal hidden clues and hint at a bigger thematic oeuvre.” The film was produced by Tim Kirk. The title refers to a room in the haunted hotel featured in The Shining, which serves as a plot point in the film.
Plot and Spoilers, words via Wikipedia….
Room 237 is told entirely through voice-overs by people with theories about The Shining. According to one, the film is about the cultural assimilation of Native Americans, because, according to the story, the hotel was built on a Native American burial mound; and there is imagery throughout the film associated with the American West. Cans of Calumet Baking Powder are noticeable in the background of two important scenes. Because a calumet is a ceremonial pipe, and the cans featured the image of a Native American, one analyst believed that American imperialism was the subtext of the film.
Another theorist believed that Kubrick had directed the footage disseminated by NASA to publicize the Apollo 11 Moon landing. He believed that there are telltale signs of the use of front projection in NASA’s footage and that Kubrick was contracted to produce hoaxed footage of a fake Moon landing. He points to the knitted Apollo 11 sweater that Danny wears and claims that “237” refers to the mean distance of the Earth to the Moon. He also refers to the fact that a carpet pattern resembles the Apollo launching pad as evidence that the film is an elaborate apology of sorts for Kubrick’s involvement. The analyst feels that the tirade Jack delivers to Wendy about how she does not understand the duty of work and honoring a contract with an employer portrays Kubrick’s own sense of isolation from keeping so big a secret.
One theorist connects the Overlook’s hedge maze-labyrinth with the mythic story of the Minotaur, believing that a skier in a poster is actually a minotaur. She bolsters her theory by pointing out that there is no maze in the original book and that an earlier Kubrick film, Killer’s Kiss, was made for Minotaur Productions.
Kubrick’s unrealized project about the Holocaust, Aryan Papers, suggested to another critic that The Shining is really about that genocide. He connects Jack’s sinister recitation of the Big Bad Wolf’s refrain to a Disney production where the wolf is an anti-Semitic caricature. The analyst also feels that Kubrick embeds a message of hope in Dick’s advice to Danny about how to deal with his shining abilities. Dick explains that the images Danny sees are just pictures of the past and they can be forgotten. The analyst feels Kubrick is trying to remind his audience of the Holocaust while at the same time helping them to let go of its horrors. There is an extended sequence where the film is superimposed over itself in reverse. By running the film forwards and backwards at the same time, parallels are created, such as Danny walking in on his father and the previous caretaker as they discuss Danny’s murder.

The Shining is a 1980 psychological horror film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick and co-written with novelist Diane Johnson. The film is based on Stephen King’s 1977 novel of the same name and stars Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers, and Danny Lloyd.
Writer Jack Torrance arrives at the remote Overlook Hotel in the Rocky Mountains to be interviewed for the position of winter caretaker. The hotel, which opened in 1909 and was built on the site of a Native American burial ground, closes during the snowed-in months. Once hired, Jack plans to use the hotel’s solitude to write. Manager Stuart Ullman warns Jack about the hotel’s reputation: a previous caretaker, Charles Grady, killed his family and himself. Jack is nevertheless impressed with the hotel and takes the job. In Boulder, Jack’s son, Danny, has a premonition about the hotel, and Jack’s wife, Wendy, tells a doctor about Danny’s imaginary friend, Tony. She also reveals that Jack is a recovering alcoholic who once injured Danny in a drunken rage.
Plot and Spoilers, words via Wikipedia….
When the family moves into the hotel, head chef Dick Hallorann surprises Danny by telepathically offering him ice cream. Hallorann explains to Danny that he and his grandmother shared this telepathic ability, which he calls “shining”. Hallorann tells Danny that the hotel has a “shine” and its own memories. He also tells Danny to stay away from room 237.
A month passes; while Jack’s writing goes nowhere, Danny and Wendy explore the hotel’s hedge maze and Hallorann goes to Florida. Wendy learns that the phone lines are out due to the heavy snowfall. Danny has frightening visions, while Jack becomes prone to violent outbursts as his mental health deteriorates. Danny’s curiosity about room 237 overtakes him when he sees the room’s door open. Later, Wendy finds Jack screaming during a nightmare while asleep at his typewriter. After she awakens him, Jack says he dreamed that he killed her and Danny. Danny arrives, visibly traumatized and bruised. Wendy accuses Jack of abusing him, which Jack denies.
Jack wanders into the hotel’s Gold Room and meets a ghostly bartender named Lloyd, to whom he complains about his marriage. Wendy tells Jack that Danny told her a “crazy woman” in room 237 attempted to strangle him. Jack investigates room 237 and encounters a dead woman’s ghost, but he tells Wendy that he saw nothing. Wendy and Jack argue over whether Danny should be removed from the hotel, and Jack returns to the Gold Room, which is now filled with ghosts attending a ball. He meets a ghostly waiter who identifies himself as Delbert Grady. The ghost informs Jack that Danny has reached out to Hallorann using his “talent”, and says that Jack must “correct” his wife and child. After telepathically sensing Danny’s fear, Hallorann flies back to Colorado. Danny calls out “redrum” and goes into another trance, referring to himself as “Tony”.
Wendy discovers that Jack has been typing pages filled with the phrase “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. She begs a psychotic Jack to leave the hotel with Danny, but he threatens her. Wendy knocks him unconscious with a baseball bat and locks him in the kitchen pantry, but she and Danny are both trapped as Jack has disabled the hotel’s two-way radio and snowcat. Jack converses through the pantry door with Grady, who unlocks the door, freeing Jack.
Danny continues chanting and drawing the word “REDRUM”. When Wendy sees the word reversed in the bedroom mirror, the word is revealed to be “MURDER”. Jack hacks through the quarters’ main door with an axe. Wendy sends Danny through the bathroom window, but cannot get out herself. Jack breaks through the door, but retreats after Wendy slashes his hand with a knife. Hearing Hallorann arriving in a snowcat, Jack ambushes and murders him in the lobby, then pursues Danny into the hedge maze. Wendy runs through the hotel looking for Danny, encountering ghosts, a cascade of blood Danny envisioned in Boulder, and Hallorann’s corpse. In the hedge maze, Danny lays a false trail to mislead Jack and hides behind a snowdrift while Jack follows the false trail.
Danny escapes from the maze and reunites with Wendy; they leave in Hallorann’s snowcat, while Jack, now hopelessly lost in the maze, freezes to death. In a photograph in the hotel hallway, Jack is pictured standing amid a crowd of party revelers from July 4, 1921.

Doctor Sleep is a 2019 American supernatural horror film written and directed by Mike Flanagan. It is based on the 2013 novel of the same name by Stephen King, a sequel to King’s 1977 novel The Shining. The film, which also serves as a direct sequel to the 1980 film adaptation of The Shining, directed by Stanley Kubrick, is set several decades after the events of the original and combines elements of the 1977 novel as well. Ewan McGregor plays the lead role as Danny Torrance, a man with psychic abilities who struggles with childhood trauma. Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran, and Cliff Curtis have supporting roles. In the film, Dan Torrance, now an adult, must protect a young girl with similar powers from a cult known as the True Knot, whose members prey on children to extend their own lives.
Plot and Spoilers, words via Wikipedia….
In 1980, Danny Torrance and his mother Wendy live in Florida, still traumatized by their ordeal at the Overlook hotel. Dick Hallorann, now a benevolent spirit, explains that the hotel’s ghosts feed on Danny’s psychic ability, his “shining”. Now that the hotel has been abandoned, the starving ghosts are pursuing Danny. Halloran teaches him to lock them in imaginary “boxes” in his mind. Meanwhile, the True Knot, a cult of psychics led by Rose the Hat, extend their lifespans by consuming “steam”, a psychic essence released by torturing and killing those who have the shining.
In 2011, Danny (now going by Dan) has become an alcoholic to suppress his shining. After stealing money from a single mother, who had just died from a drug overdose during their one-night stand, and leaving her baby to fend for itself, Dan realizes he has hit rock bottom. He moves to a small New Hampshire town and befriends Billy Freeman, who gets him an apartment. Billy then becomes Dan’s Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor; Dan becomes a hospice orderly and uses his shining to comfort dying patients, who nickname him “Doctor Sleep”. He also begins receiving telepathic communications from Abra Stone, a young girl whose shining is even greater than his.
In 2019, the True Knot are starving as steam has become increasingly rare. They abduct a boy in Iowa, Bradley Trevor, and torture him to death for his steam. A teenage Abra senses the event and alerts Dan, in the form of the word MURDER appearing on his wall. Rose also senses Abra, and plans to extract her steam. Abra visits Dan and tells him she can track the cult if she touches Bradley’s baseball glove. Dan refuses to help, telling her to suppress her shining to stay safe. That night, Rose projects her consciousness across the country and infiltrates Abra’s mind, but is physically injured by a psychic trap set by her. After cult member Grandpa Flick dies of starvation, Rose sends the remaining members after Abra.
Dan tells Billy about the True Knot and they exhume Bradley’s body to retrieve his glove. They recruit Abra’s father, Dave, and have him guard Abra’s body as she projects herself to a local campsite, luring the cult there. Dan and Billy kill most of them, but the last one dying, Andi, psychically compels Billy into suicide. Rose consumes the cult’s remaining steam supply, healing her wounds and vowing revenge. Abra is abducted mid-trance by Crow Daddy, Rose’s partner, who kills Dave in the process. While Crow Daddy is transporting Abra, Dan is able to shine into Abra and make Crow Daddy fatally crash his vehicle, while leaving Abra unscathed. As a last resort, Dan brings Abra to the Overlook, believing it will be equally dangerous for Rose. He starts the hotel’s boiler and explores the dormant building, “awakening” it with his shining. He revisits the rooms where his alcoholic father, Jack Torrance, attempted to murder him and Wendy under the Overlook’s influence. At the hotel bar, Dan is greeted by Lloyd, a ghostly bartender bearing Jack’s image. The apparition attempts to coax Dan into drinking again, but Dan refuses.
Rose arrives at the Overlook. Dan and Abra pull her consciousness into Dan’s mind, resembling the hotel’s sprawling hedge maze. Dan tries to trap her in an imaginary box, but Rose overpowers him and begins consuming his steam. Dan opens his boxes, releasing the Overlook’s hungry ghosts from his mind. The ghosts overpower and consume Rose before turning on and possessing Dan. Through him, the ghosts pursue Abra to Room 237, where she tells them that Dan sabotaged the boiler. Dan, regaining control, tells her to flee. Possessed, he rushes to the boiler room but regains control before the hotel can make him deactivate it. In his last moment, Dan sees a vision of himself as a child being comforted by Wendy. Abra watches helplessly as the hotel burns down just as the authorities approach.
Sometime later, Abra talks to Dan’s spirit; they assure each other that they will both be okay. Abra’s mother learns to adjust with her daughter’s powers, especially in communicating with Dave’s spirit. As her mother leaves the room, Abra notices the ghost of the rotting woman from the Overlook in the bathroom and prepares to imprison her just as Danny did.

If you are interested in where I found out about the documentary, it was via Very Bad Wizards, a podcast by a philosopher and a psychologist. I have been listening to them for years. Below is the episode where they talk about it.

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