Don’t Bother Going Into Room 237 – Here’s a Real Documentary On The Shining

Jack Nicholson in the famous “Here’s Johnny” scene

Jack Nicholson in the famous “Here’s Johnny” scene (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ll admit upfront that I haven’t bothered to watch Room 237 yet, because from all reports, while the premise – gather a group of obsessive nutcases with various theories about the “real” meaning of Stanley Kubrock’s The Shining and let them put forward their conspiratorial theories – sounds intriguing, the actual execution and filming of the documentary is extremely flawed. In light of that admission, perhaps I shouldn’t be bagging on it in the headline. Actually, if nothing else, one thing the release of the documentary has apparently accomplished is to renew interest in Mr. Kubrick’s masterpiece, with it being re-released to theaters allowing a new generation of young viewers to experience it on the big screen which is where it really should be seen.

Anyway, for those who have found themselves wanting to know more about the movie, or those who have an interest in the behind-the-scenes process of Mr. Kubrick’s work in particular or film making in general, the documentary presented below, the extended version of Staircases to Nowhere is the one you really want to watch. Produced by The Elstree Project, this documentary is meant to be “The full oral history story of the making of Stanley Kubrick‘s horror masterpiece ‘The Shining’.”

According to Howard Berry, who posted this video,

In October we made a 17-minute oral history using our content from The Elstree Project, an oral history project designed to record, preserve and share the memories of people who have worked at the studios of Elstree and Borehamwood. Since then it has received over 100,000 hits and has been shared on numerous blogs and websites.

Now we present the full story, at 55-minutes in length, and with contributions from nine crew members who worked on the film and Stanley Kubrick’s widow, Christiane. We believe this is the most in-depth exploration into the making of “The Shining” on film, from the perspective of those who actually worked on the production. Additional content includes memories of the fire at Elstree, a more in-depth look at the Stages at Elstree and the Steadicam, the work of the Second Unit on the film and what it was like to work with Kubrick.

Interviewed are:
Brian Cook – 1st AD
Jan Harlan – Producer
Christiane Kubrick – Wife of Stanley Kubrick
Mick Mason – Camera Technician
Ray Merrin – Post-Production Sound
Doug Milsome – 1st AC and Second Unit Camera
Kelvin Pike – Camera Operator
Ron Punter – Scenic Artist
June Randall – Continuity
Julian Senior – Warner Bros. Publicity

The interviews in this film were recorded over a period of three years, and with eight students getting the chance to gain live work experience as part of their undergraduate degree course in Film and Television in the School of Creative Arts at the University of Hertfordshire. The film has been made as part of The Elstree Project which is a partnership between Howard Berry of the University and Bob Redman and Paul Welsh MBE who run the volunteer group Elstree Screen Heritage

In other words, this is the story of the making of the movie from the people who were actually there making the movie, and I highly recommend it.

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3 comments on “Don’t Bother Going Into Room 237 – Here’s a Real Documentary On The Shining

  1. tim says:

    Recommending without actually seeing the movie you’re comparing it against? You should brush up on some film criticism writers (Ebert, Ellison, Edelstein) and “re-muse” .

  2. Michael Laws says:

    Tim – It’s a fair comment, I suppose, but that’s exactly why I spent the first part of the post qualifying my comments and admitting that I hadn’t seen Room 237. And I even say “In light of that admission, perhaps I shouldn’t be bagging on it in the headline.” Also, I’m only actually comparing the two in the context of one being about outsiders bringing their own opinions and theories to the film, while the other is actually about the real behind the scenes creation of the film, and includes interviews with those who were actually there. Comparing persimmons and kumquats, perhaps, but I know which I value more. Your own mileage may of course, vary, and I do understand why some people have found Room 237 quite fascinating. It’s simply not my cuppa.
    As far as going back and “brush[ing] up on some film criticism writers (Ebert, Ellison, Edelstein) and “re-muse[ing]”, I do not, nor have I ever claimed to be writing criticism on the level of the writers you cite. (Though I assure you I have read, listened to, watched, and ingested lots of criticism by all three and many more over the years. That’s just simply not what I’m trying to do here) These “musings” are simply meant to be my reactions and thoughts on movies I watch or other items that catch my interest. That’s why I don’t call what I write here “criticism”, or even “reviews” – at least for the most part. Instead, I tend to approach my writing here as if I were talking to a friend, and part of that is at times going to include recommending things that I enjoy and warning them away from things that I don’t.
    Anyway, with all of that said, let me also say that I appreciate you taking the time not only to read what I’m writing, but to comment, and that I do appreciate the feedback and hope you’ll keep coming back. I do value hearing from folks reading this, whether or not they agree with me (actually, especially if they don’t, because if nothing else it may cause me to take a look at things in a different light or give me a new take on something I’ve written) and I look forward to more input from you on this or other topics.

    • tim says:

      Hey, respect what you’re putting up here. I can’t say that had i known that, i would gave you a more nuanced response than i did. After reading, i checked out some other posts here, i do like the way you look at films. Which made me annoyed that you proudly dismissed this film, i though it was a cop out.

      best tho,
      tim

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