Documentary: Room 237

Room 237 is the room number that Danny Torrance is told not to enter in Kubrick's movie version of "The Shining."  It is also the title Rodney Ascher's not documentary about obsessive fans of The Shining. 

Wait!  Are there obsessive fans of The Shining?  Well, I didn't know it until last week.  I was doing some research for another article, and ran into a series of websites that blew my mind.  People had counted frames and done all sorts of cray stuff.  I mean, it's a level of crazy I'm familiar with -- but in my line of work it's usually people who have gone a little nuts with the last book of the Bible.

Entertainment Weekly cites one fan who believes Kubrick directed the Apollo moon landings while shooting 2001 and hid clues in The Shining.  Jason Bailey notes that this makes The Shining "a giant coded message to tell the world about the ruse."  So The Shining is not about Jack losing his mind in a haunted Hotel. . . it's an allegory of the moon landing.  Of course!

Bailey cites Sundance programmer Trevor Groth saying, "“These obsessive people dissect The Shining, and they’ve watched it thousands of times, all finding their own coded meaning and language in it.” Like how the architecture of the Overlook Hotel doesn’t make any sense, with hallways leading to places that should technically be outside, and windows that show sunlight streaming in even though they are enclosed in the middle of the building… ?"

One blogger has found the hedge animals from the novel in the movie.  Yep -- they're there!  Check it out HERE.  This blogger also discusses color changes in the movie, time codes and durations, and VW's.  I kid you not.  So if you want to count frames and find meaning in that, go for it.

And I thought Trekkies (Trekkers?) were obsessed.

  • Bailey's article (the Atlantic) is HERE
  • The EW article is HERE.
  • An obsessive fan blog (Stanley Kubrick's Masterpiece) is HERE.
  • The Secret Sun blog which has an interesting article, HERE.


  1. All this begs the question. Do you think there was a conspiracy behind the death of JFK.

    Believe it or not, I do.

  2. Anon: I am not in a position to know if there was a conspiracy behind the JFK murder. I do not tend to see conspiracy's -- so my gut says "no."

  3. David, you opened this article with the following sentence:

    "Room 237 is the room number that Danny Torrance is told not to enter in Stephen King's novel, The Shining."

    This is wrong. Room 237 was the room number in Stanley Kubrick's movie version of The Shining. In Stephen King's original novel it was room 217.

    I'm just sayin' … if anyone should know this, it is the author of talkstephenking.blogspot.

    Keep up the good work, Dave – you've got one of the best SK sites on the web!

  4. thanks Andy. Something felt wrong. . . I should have known.

  5. Absolutely none of that begged the question about whether there was a JFK conspiracy.

    What I'll say about the obsessiveness over "The Shining" is that Kubrick is one of the very few filmmakers whose work can stand up to scrutiny of that nature.

  6. I think Ed Wood actually met with aliens and used footage for Plan 9 from outer space.

  7. this is claerly a film for controversy, in Spain the dubbing??? (I'm not sure about the word in english) is considered the worst in the history of foreign films released in Spain, and some people think it ruin the entire film

  8. The movie is a Masterpiece.

    Although Steve thought Kubrick disrespected his book, you would think that his source material made one of the best horror and best looking horror movies of the last 50 years would make him a little happy.
    It has so much Kubrick in it, I consider it more a Kubrick film than a SK adaptation.

    I bought the longer version of the 2 cuts this fall but haven't watched it yet (not the one with the epilogue).
    I think I've seen the UK cut more often b/c I don't remember much of these scenes.


  9. I love Stephen King. He is my boy, no question.

    However, I've never been able to take his side when it comes to Kubrick's movie. I get why King would dislike it, but in so many other instances when talking about movie adaptations of books (both his and other authors') he just kinda shrugs and implies that books are books and movies are movies and there's no need to worry about it much past that point.

    That's a very logical and reasonable way to look at it, of course. So why is he so unable to do that with Kubrick? Personally, I think far greater harm was done to King's work in something like "Bag of Bones," which omits huge chunks of the emotion that make the novel work so well.

    So does Kubrick's "The Shining," of course ... but it has superior technical artistry to make up for that, whereas "Bag of Bones" has only a decent Pierce Brosnan performance to fall back on. Numerous King adaptations have had similar problems, of course, but as far as I can tell, King doesn't seem to mind any of those (except "The Lawnmower Man," which he sued to have his name removed from).

    Why, then, the continual poo-slinging toward Kubrick?

    Seems like a bit of a shame to me.

    1. I agree. It's weird.
      SK definitely doesn't think of movies as "high art" or anything like that. Maybe he just hated Kubrick as being a "Film" and not a "Movie" maker?
      It's weird that Steve would be snooty saying Kubrick didn't "get" the Jack character, ect. So he in essence was being snooty about his horror story.
      I don't know it's weird.
      Could have been the cocaine.

    2. That'd seem reasonable, but he STILL, to this day, trash-talks the movie when given an opportunity to do so. In the Halloween special he did for TCM this past year, he takes a few potshots.

      Oh, well. In the vast majority of his thoughts and opinions, Stephen King seems to be a rational, sensible, and nice fellow. I guess there's got to be SOME topic on which he gets to be a dick!

  10. Here is a review of the shining doc

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