Secrets Hidden in the Films of Stanley Kubrick

Room 237 (2012) is a documentary by Rodney Ascher that delves into several different theories that might lurk behind the infamous door of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980). Anyone who watches The Shining at face value alone will walk away having seen a horror film about an alcoholic and abusive writer who is haunted by ghosts until he goes mad. But when you take into consideration the fact that Kubrick was reading a lot of Freud in preparation for shooting The Shining, and that he was also deep into Jungian concepts about the duality of man, suddenly The Shining takes on other meanings as well, all of which are aided by Kubrick’s fastidious nature and his love for symmetry. These complexities are all well documented in the impressive tome released by Taschen titled The Stanley Kubrick Archives. Room 237 does not go down these well trod paths of analysis, but rather goes off the beaten path and down five completely different rabbit-holes.

The interviewees in Room 237 are:

Geoffrey Cocks, a professor of History at Albion College in Michigan, who shares his views The Shining as a parable on the Holocaust.

Juli Kearns, a playwright and author, who focuses on how she feels Kubrick is working out his own version of Theseus and the Labyrinth.

Bill Blakemore, who has covered a dozen wars as an ABC News correspondent. Blakemore sees clear clues as to why the real text behind The Shining is one in which The Overlook serves as a metaphor for the entire U.S. and its role in Native American genocide.

John Fell Ryan is a performer, musician, and recording artist who writes and edits KDK12. He has been working on an ongoing visual analysis of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and has found eerie treats galore (and ga-gore) by playing The Shining forwards and backwards simultaneously – with one image superimposed over the other while the audio alone plays forward as normal. Only at the midway point does it sync up into one solid image (and this is when Dick Halloran is in bed with the picture above his head).

Jay Weidner is a director and producer of several documentaries, and has been referred to by Wired Magazine as an “authority on the hermetic and alchemical traditions.” In Room 237 he tries to show how buried in The Shining is a parallel narrative, a hidden message in a bottle, that was constructed by Kubrick as a way to assuage his guilt for his role in helping NASA fake the moon landing.


In Stephen King’s book, the infamous room to be avoided was Room 217. Why did Kubrick change it from 217 to 237?  The speculation is that 237,000 miles was the distance traveled between the Earth to the Moon by the Apollo 11. For those keeping score, the distance between the Moon and the Earth can vary, depending on the cycle, between 221,000 to 252,000 miles. Presumably Kubrick didn’t go for kilometers because NASA was an American space program? I’m guessing here…

These five interviews, along with an array of the expected visual clips (which helped bog the film down in legalities), vy for attention for a duration of just over 100 minutes. The two who get the shortest shrift are Ryan and Weidner, and one is left with a sense of having only touched the tip of the iceberg (Ascher himself estimates that he only used 10% of the interviews he conducted). Ryan’s work, however, is sure to find a life of it’s own, much the way clandestine screenings of The Dark Side of the Rainbow were arranged that paired up Pink Floyd‘s Dark Side of the Moon with screenings of The Wizard of Oz.

Speaking of the dark side of the moon, Weidner’s been busy. He released Kubrick’s Odyssey: Secrets Hidden in the films of Stanley Kubrick, Part One, Kubrick and Apollo (2011, 70 mins) and Beyond the Infinite:Kubrick’s Odyssey II, Secrets Hidden in the films of Stanley Kubrick (2012, 61 mins).

The idea that a smart director could skillfully weave a variety of subtexts into any given film is nothing new, nor should it be surprising. In the case of Stanley Kubrick you have a director who not only had a high I.Q., he may also have had  Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism that sometimes manifests itself via an inability to interact socially and/or also manifesting itself via intense interests in a given subject. This might explain Kubrick’s infamy for retakes for a movie. Most films shot during the celluloid era had shooting ratios that average between 5 and 15 retakes per every scene. The Shining had a shooting ratio of 102:1, which was enough to drive Shelley Duvall into a nervous breakdown.

The most compelling reason that I have for believing that Kubrick would insert a variety of subtexts into his films would boil down to his well known passion for chess. A good chess player always stay several steps ahead of his opponent by trying to look ahead into the future and anticipating what moves lie ahead with every move of a chess piece. True chess champions can look farther into the future than any average player can fathom. The caveat is that the number of moves in chess go beyond the number of electrons in the universe – and that way lies madness. Think about it: Bobby Fischer, Paul Morphy, Wilhelm Steinitz, Harry Pillsbury… there’s a reason professional chess players suffer from a much higher risk of insanity than the rest of us.

Being able to predict the future, insanity, infinite possibilities…. hmmm…. isn’t that what The Shining is all about? This is why I have my own theory about the film. I think Stanley Kubrick’s chess playin’ us.

For further reading:

http://www.room237movie.com

http://www.flixist.com/flixclusive-interview-room-237-director-rodney-ascher-213126.phtml

http://www.jayweidner.com/

http://kdk12.tumblr.com/

http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2012/oct/18/inside-room-237-the-shining

http://staticmass.net/topfeature/the-shining-movie-1980/

28 Responses Secrets Hidden in the Films of Stanley Kubrick
Posted By Emgee : October 21, 2012 4:29 pm

Perfectionism + social awkwardness = autism? Man , i wish there were more autistic/artistic directors like Kubrick around!

Posted By Emgee : October 21, 2012 4:29 pm

Perfectionism + social awkwardness = autism? Man , i wish there were more autistic/artistic directors like Kubrick around!

Posted By Doug : October 21, 2012 6:43 pm

One tip of the “Shining” iceberg: the impossible architecture of the Overlook Hotel. In plain sight right before our eyes our subconscious tries to make sense of the false doors, the hallways that go on and on,and the fact that, except for one fleeting shot of Shelley Duvall, no one but Jack Nicholson has an image reflected in any mirror. Watch for yourself, and see doors which open left which on the reverse shot open right. I won’t spoil anymore, but there is a LOT that Kubrick put into that film.

Posted By Doug : October 21, 2012 6:43 pm

One tip of the “Shining” iceberg: the impossible architecture of the Overlook Hotel. In plain sight right before our eyes our subconscious tries to make sense of the false doors, the hallways that go on and on,and the fact that, except for one fleeting shot of Shelley Duvall, no one but Jack Nicholson has an image reflected in any mirror. Watch for yourself, and see doors which open left which on the reverse shot open right. I won’t spoil anymore, but there is a LOT that Kubrick put into that film.

Posted By Gene : October 22, 2012 12:34 pm

“…he may also have had Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism that sometimes manifests itself via an inability to interact socially and/or also manifesting itself via intense interests in a given subject….” – Not a comment on the article here but why does our society have to pigeonhole and excoriate genius? It is becoming so that those who standout apart from the crowd must somehow have a mental condition.

As to the article, I agree with the final note. Kubrick was “…chess playin’ us.”

Posted By Gene : October 22, 2012 12:34 pm

“…he may also have had Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism that sometimes manifests itself via an inability to interact socially and/or also manifesting itself via intense interests in a given subject….” – Not a comment on the article here but why does our society have to pigeonhole and excoriate genius? It is becoming so that those who standout apart from the crowd must somehow have a mental condition.

As to the article, I agree with the final note. Kubrick was “…chess playin’ us.”

Posted By John Maddox Roberts : October 22, 2012 10:49 pm

Why do the fake-moon-landing crazies always say “the Moon landing,” as if there were only one? There were seven successful moon landings and one aborted mission. Were they all faked? Oh, and that supposed “second sniper” on the grassy knoll? That was Kubrick with a camera.

Posted By John Maddox Roberts : October 22, 2012 10:49 pm

Why do the fake-moon-landing crazies always say “the Moon landing,” as if there were only one? There were seven successful moon landings and one aborted mission. Were they all faked? Oh, and that supposed “second sniper” on the grassy knoll? That was Kubrick with a camera.

Posted By timewarp : October 23, 2012 9:56 am

What to say about about Eyes Wide Shut then…..one of Kubrick’s most eclectic movies.

Posted By timewarp : October 23, 2012 9:56 am

What to say about about Eyes Wide Shut then…..one of Kubrick’s most eclectic movies.

Posted By keelsetter : October 23, 2012 1:42 pm

Re: Moon Landings. Jay is clear in his film that he believes the U.S. actually DID land on the moon. He goes even further and postulates that U.S. activity on the moon continues to this day. His position is that the U.S. didn’t want to leave anything to chance and that the government usually likes to carry out important missions in secrecy while distracting the U.S. population with orchestrated events that it can control.

Re: EYES WIDE SHUT, Jay has a theory that Stanley was killed by the same Illuminati that he had been trying to expose, and thinks it suspicious that the number of days from when Kubrick died on March 7, 1999 to the first day of January 1, 2001 is… wait for it… 666. And what happens if you flip the last three digits of 1999? 666 again! And what was the date that Stanley insisted on releasing EYES WIDE SHUT? July 16, 1999. What else happened on July 16? That was the day Apollo 11 launched from the Kennedy Space Center in 1969 – exactly 30 years before.

See how much fun this can be? If you’d like to go down another rabbit hole for EYES WIDE SHUT, I just now Googled this:

http://wakeupfromyourslumber.com/node/6250

Of course, you can go in a thousand other directions too. It’s a hall of mirrors. What are you waiting for? Come play with us, forever, and ever, and ever.

Posted By keelsetter : October 23, 2012 1:42 pm

Re: Moon Landings. Jay is clear in his film that he believes the U.S. actually DID land on the moon. He goes even further and postulates that U.S. activity on the moon continues to this day. His position is that the U.S. didn’t want to leave anything to chance and that the government usually likes to carry out important missions in secrecy while distracting the U.S. population with orchestrated events that it can control.

Re: EYES WIDE SHUT, Jay has a theory that Stanley was killed by the same Illuminati that he had been trying to expose, and thinks it suspicious that the number of days from when Kubrick died on March 7, 1999 to the first day of January 1, 2001 is… wait for it… 666. And what happens if you flip the last three digits of 1999? 666 again! And what was the date that Stanley insisted on releasing EYES WIDE SHUT? July 16, 1999. What else happened on July 16? That was the day Apollo 11 launched from the Kennedy Space Center in 1969 – exactly 30 years before.

See how much fun this can be? If you’d like to go down another rabbit hole for EYES WIDE SHUT, I just now Googled this:

http://wakeupfromyourslumber.com/node/6250

Of course, you can go in a thousand other directions too. It’s a hall of mirrors. What are you waiting for? Come play with us, forever, and ever, and ever.

Posted By swac44 : October 24, 2012 3:12 pm

I have a theory that Kennedy was really shot by Abraham Zapruder, who converted his camera into a weapon, inspired by Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom. I mean, makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

Posted By swac44 : October 24, 2012 3:12 pm

I have a theory that Kennedy was really shot by Abraham Zapruder, who converted his camera into a weapon, inspired by Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom. I mean, makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

Posted By keelsetter : October 24, 2012 3:28 pm

That made me Google “cameras that kill,” which led to an article on how “Kitty Cams Reveal House Cats to Be Rapacious Killing Machines.” I suspect non-cat lovers will get different results.

Posted By keelsetter : October 24, 2012 3:28 pm

That made me Google “cameras that kill,” which led to an article on how “Kitty Cams Reveal House Cats to Be Rapacious Killing Machines.” I suspect non-cat lovers will get different results.

Posted By Emgee : October 24, 2012 3:35 pm

Kubrick also had to get rid of his first cameraman in the Texas Book Depository; notice how his face is never shown in the pics of the actual shooting:

http://murderpedia.org/male.R/r/ruby-jack-leon-photos-2.htm

Posted By Emgee : October 24, 2012 3:35 pm

Kubrick also had to get rid of his first cameraman in the Texas Book Depository; notice how his face is never shown in the pics of the actual shooting:

http://murderpedia.org/male.R/r/ruby-jack-leon-photos-2.htm

Posted By swac44 : October 24, 2012 3:46 pm

As a bird owner, I have little love for those furry domestic psychopaths, but I also got the kitty cam link. Why isn’t that photographic evidence being used to send them to cat court?

Posted By swac44 : October 24, 2012 3:46 pm

As a bird owner, I have little love for those furry domestic psychopaths, but I also got the kitty cam link. Why isn’t that photographic evidence being used to send them to cat court?

Posted By keelsetter : October 24, 2012 3:51 pm

For what it’s worth, I actually do have one of those cat cams. But when attached to my fat, lazy tabby, all it’d give me was several pictures taken from the couch. Kubrick’s cameraman would not be impressed.

Posted By keelsetter : October 24, 2012 3:51 pm

For what it’s worth, I actually do have one of those cat cams. But when attached to my fat, lazy tabby, all it’d give me was several pictures taken from the couch. Kubrick’s cameraman would not be impressed.

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