In many ways, conspiracy theories are about looking at life as if it were a film or a book—finding order, structure and meaning in it, analysis in the context of an overarching theory, becoming a protagonist. And conspiracy theories aren’t just a way of telling a coherent narrative about life and the world, they are also intensely analytical. They are a kind of hermeneutics, where people carefully look for signs and significance.
And it is easy enough to go back track from that kind of understanding of analysis and theory and watch Room 237 as if the interviewees were conspiracy theorists or, on the other side, watch The Shining like the Zapruder film, footage of Big Foot or even the Dog Man. What is the significance of the numbers 237 and 42—of the Calumet baking powder tins or the jars of Tang? Are the changing patterns on a man’s trousers or a disappearing chair continuity errors? And, again, I see some of the spirit of internet fan culture with a concern with continuity errors and the search for the creator and the creator’s intention. (For my part, I think there aren’t continuity errors in The Shining. Kubrick wasn’t necessarily great with people, but he would notice a missing chair).
Room 237 shows how murky the space between film criticism and conspiracy theory–and possibly even fiction and hoax–can be.And it’s intriguing that somehow the documentary parallels the film as it traces Danny’s journey through the impossible space of the Overlook Hotel and then, at the film’s halfway point, reveals the most unusual reading of The Shining, It’s a reading that breaks through this theoretical border between more classical critical and conspiracy theory.
ROOM 237 Screening Times:
Thurs., Sept. 13th, 6:00 PM BLOOR HOT DOCS CINEMA
Sat., Sept. 15th, 5:45 PM CINEPLEX YONGE & DUNDAS 2
Sun., Sept. 16th, 12:00 PM TIFF BELL LIGHTBOX 3