Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Shining: Conspiracy Theories

So I've been watching The Shining lately, prepping to participate in a panel discussion on the film at ConVergence this summer. In the documentary Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures, a lot of the interview subjects contend that Kubrick's films improve with multiple viewings, and I've found that to be true. I'm at three viewings so far, one with commentary by Steadicam inventor/ operator Garrett Brown, who uses the word "astonishing" about a hundred times along the way (no joke).

Despite my thoroughness, though, it seems I haven't been nearly as observant as I could have been. It turns out the film is encoded with an intricate matrix of agendas invisible to all but the most penetrating critiques.

These critiques are to be found on the Internet-- no really, the Internet!-- profusely, and in wildly divergent variety. They're the subject of an upcoming documentary called Room 237. But to wade into this ocean of speculation on your own, all you need is whatever you're using to read this blog!

Why this film in particular has been selected as fodder for so much theoretical engagement is beyond me, but the extrapolation has been resourceful indeed. My favorite line of... reasoning is the notion that "The Shining" is Kubrick's encrypted apology for faking the moon landing as a film shoot just after wrapping "2001: A Space Odyssey", using the same sets and everything. As explained below, the room number 237 (changed from the book, for reasons denied by the "official story"), Danny's Apollo 11 sweater, and the pattern on the rug offer hidden messages within the cinematic text.

Now if I were looking to fake the moon landing at that historical moment, Kubrick is indeed the first guy I would have called. So for all I know, dude is on to something here. But there's more-- all sorts of theories and angles and nooks and crannies explored, to the point where aggregators have become necessary. This is a really good one, for example.

I guess I really don't have much more to add, since every possible interpretation of "The Shining" has pretty much been taken care of. I would, however, like to share the following Shining-related artifact if you haven't seen it already. It has little to nothing to do with the above, but dammit, this is my blog and I'll post what I want!

And as a corollary, that video is indeed funnier the more times you've seen the movie.

Mike Hallenbeck home page

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