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Trying to Make Sense of Kubrick

April 1, 2013


It’s not easy to make sense of films like 2001, but it’s clear enough that there’s a lot at stake, philosophically speaking, in the works of Stanley Kubrick. Maggie Caldwell, writing for Mother Jones, has interesting things to say about another Kubrick film, The Shining, and about a new documentary by Rodney Ascher.

Stanley Kubrick’s classic has been terrifying, thrilling, and utterly confusing fans for over 30 years, leaving viewers groping for answers. What really possessed Jack Torrance? Why did pathological perfectionist Kubrick leave in obvious continuity errors? What’s up with the man-bear-pig? Obsessive fans are still trying to figure out exactly what went down at the Overlook Hotel, zealously poring over the placement of every prop and examining every frame of the film.

Room 237, a new documentary by Rodney Ascher, examines a handful of Shining conspiracy theories posited by both academic cinephiles and tormented laymen. Ascher has his own take—he sees the film as a Faustian homage, pointing to Jack’s deal with the devil for just one glass of beer—but says all of these readings carry weight. “A lot of the ideas can be pretty outrageous, but when you’re talking about a symbolic interpretation of a Freudian horror movie, even things on the surface are pretty crazy,” Ascher said.

Read the rest here.

And, yes, that’s Joe Turkel as the scary bartender in The Shining who also played Dr. Tyrell in Blade Runner.

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