hard to believe that THE SHINING had its network television premiere thirty
years ago tonight on ABC-TV.
THE SHINING, released on May 23, 1980
THE SHINING, broadcasted on May 6, 1983
that pre-home video era, if we didn't
have access to cable television, most of us were only able to see horror films
on local or network television channels, and those films were often watered
down with heavy cuts both for gore and for time (many plot points simply
disappeared in favor of commercials).
has been a lot of speculation in the years since THE SHINING was released as to
what it is really all about.ROOM 237 is
the name of the in-depth documentary by Rodney Ascher.In the film, five narrators give their
points-of-view on Stanley Kubrick's
initially disappointing yet subsequently revered 1980 film version of Stephen
King's novel of the same name,
and what it means to them.
a die-hard fan of this film for the past thirty years, I must say that even
though I have seen it easily more than fifty times I never noticed the props,
visual references or subtexts that these five narrators diligently point out,
nor was I even aware of the obvious continuity errors, such as the carpet that
changes direction in the hallway or the chair against the wall disappearing
during Jack Torrance's
(Jack Nicholson) emotional outburst after his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall)
interrupts his writing.An argument can
be made that ROOM 237 isn't so much about THE SHINING's supposed hidden meanings than it is an
explanation of five different people's of
the film.Among the subtexts: the
strange layout of the Overlook Hotel; the significance of the number 42; the
architectural impossibility of the window in Mr. Ullman's office; the silly
sexual reference in Mr. Ullman's first handshake with Jack; the Minotaur motif;
the references to the killing of Native Americans and even the Holocaust.
director makes the choice of not showing the faces of the narrators, and this
technique works to the film's
advantage since so much of it is about pointing out what the narrators
see.Cross-cutting between the narrators
and the points they want to make would have either reduced the film's running
time or would have left most of the best points out altogether.I can only hope that the forthcoming DVD will
offer up some nice extras in the way of deleted scenes.
ROOM 237 uses the framing device of Lamberto Bava's DEMONS (1985) and DEMONS 2:
THE NIGHTMARE CONTINUES (1986) (both of which are due out on Blu-ray from
Synapse Films in the coming months) as footage of an audience viewing THE
SHINING in a theater and on television, respectively, to make certain
points.Ideally, THE SHINING should be
viewed in a movie theater, although realistically that is unfortunately not an
option for most of us.The home video
revolution saved many a film from inevitable obscurity and this is where the
majority of us Shining enthusiasts had the opportunity to see it and thrill to
it to our heart's content.
screening information, take a look at the film's official
website.If the film is not playing
near you, you can also see it On-Demand for roughly $7.00.