Room 237 is a 2012 documentary profiling its oddball characters’ various crackpot theories about Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, including one who thinks Kubrick’s face appears in the clouds in the credits of the movie, and another who thinks the film is Kubrick’s confession that he helped fake the moon landing, based on incontrovertible evidence such as “Room 237” being an anagram for “Moon Room” and that the boy’s sweater has Apollo 11 on it.
Recently, Indiewire spoke with Jan Harlan, a long-time Kubrick collaborator, who acted as researcher and producer on “A Clockwork Orange,” “Barry Lyndon,” “The Shining,” “Full Metal Jacket” and “Eyes Wide Shut.”
Did you see “Room 237”?
Ah, so idiotic. Of course I did. There’s nothing to like. It’s just dumb. I mean [the filmmaker] obviously waited until Kubrick died. This happened to him in many cases, also this whole story about him doing a fake moon landing. This was only possible after he was dead. People come like worms; they creep out and take advantage of a guy who can’t sue from the grave. At any rate, I don’t worry about things like that.
I’m trying hard not to channel my inner Nelson from The Simpsons right now. I don’t know if I’d say Room 237 was “taking advantage” of Kubrick, but I definitely agree about it being idiotic. It struck me as being part of this current trend in criticism where people can’t seem to appreciate art without ascribing some wild, overwrought “theory” about it. Like people have to see every film or television show they like as an elaborate long con by some quasi-omnipotent creator (see: half of everything written about True Detective this year). Aside from it being obnoxious to hear people build a case that something you like is actually an elaborate metaphor for something else, it strikes me as being part of that same quasi-religious conspiracy theorist mentality, where it’s easier for some people to believe that there’s some nefarious group pulling strings and controlling everything than it is to believe how much of reality is ruled by chaos and happy accidents. To me, the happy accidents are the fun part.
Then again, what do I know? I’m just a guy posting that specific part of this interview that happens to dovetail with my own point of view. All while ignoring the part of the interview where Harlan says his favorite Kubrick film is… ulp… Eyes Wide Shut.
See? It’s a chaotic universe.