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After the box office failure of Barry Lyndon, Stanley Kubrick decided to embark on a project that might have more commercial appeal. The Shining, Stephen King’s biggest critical and commercial success yet, seemed like a perfect vehicle. After an arduous production, Kubrick’s film received a wide release in the summer of 1980; the reviews were mixed, but the box office, after a slow start, eventually picked up. End of story? Hardly. In the 30 years since the film’s release, a considerable cult of Shining devotees has emerged, fans who claim to have decoded the film’s secret messages addressing everything from the genocide of Native Americans to a range of government conspiracies. Rodney Ascher’s wry and provocative Room 237 fuses fact and fiction through interviews with cultists and scholars, creating a kaleidoscopic deconstruction of Kubrick’s still-controversial classic.
This movie about a labyrinth with a monster at its center is itself a labyrinth, [Ascher] tells us; better leave a trail of breadcrumbs behind you if you hope to get out.Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com, 03.28.2013
A thrilling testament to the fact that art is - and should be - open to interpretation.Scott Tobias, NPR, 03.28.2013
I found most of what's actually put forth in the film interpretively ridiculous. But I'm just one theorist among millions, and the film worked for me anyway.Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune, 04.03.2013
It's about the human need for stuff to make sense - especially overpowering emotional experiences - and the tendency for some people to take that sense-making to extremes.Ty Burr, Boston Globe, 04.18.2013