Why did you choose to investigate The Shining’s hidden meanings in Room 237?
Tim Kirk [producer] sent me some writing looking at signs, symbols and metaphors in the film which fascinated me.
We never really considered another film. I love the movie and was happy to spend two years of my life trapped inside of it.
If it was Caddyshack I might have run out of steam a little earlier!
Room 237 looks at five theories about hidden meanings in the movie – do you believe Kubrick intended these?
Kubrick’s a renowned filmmaker. When you see something that looks like a mistake in one of his films you do think there must be some intentionality.
When confronted with a puzzle the natural instinct is to solve it.
At the end of The Shining there are things within the story that are never explained and when you put that together with questions like, “Why would there be a German typewriter in Seventies Colorado?” it becomes a puzzle box to open and solve.
Do you believe the theories? Such as one that suggests Kubrick worked for NASA and falsified the moon landings?
The human brain is a machine for finding patterns.
Most of the people I talked to described a moment where one thing in the film stuck out and pointed to how they were going to understand it.
You have these old typewriters, minotaurs, the moon landings.
Jay Weidnerwas trying to research and understand those anomalies.
One theory suggests there are clues when viewing the the film backwards …
The forward-backward thing came from John Fell Ryan, who said the film’s structure was symmetrical and [Kubrick film] 2001: A Space Odyssey in reverse – instead of telling of man’s evolution, it tells of his fall from grace.
Because the movie does feature a few backwards moments – Red Rum, Danny walking backwards – he thought it’d be interesting to see it that way.
When they screened it that way people found it very eerie as there were all these juxtapositions.
And it is a story about people who can see the future but are haunted by the past.
It’s like listening to Pink Floyd’s The Wall while watching The Wizard Of Oz. You do wonder how much is intentional but it is still interesting to allow these coincidences.
When did you first see the film?
I snuck in as a little kid and ran out the back door about 10 minutes in. It certainly made me very curious.
I wasn’t a fan of horror movies at a young age but I felt a sense of shame for not having made it all the way through. I wanted to be able to take some pride in sitting through the most grotesque films.
Where did your research begin?Many theories we came across were new, but the Native American theory [that the film is an apology for their treatment] dates back to the Eighties.
I researched online, too, as people have been looking at the movie in such detail over the last few years. Digital culture certainly aids that.
Were some theories just too outlandish?
There were some that were very short, and I wanted ones where people had a lot to say.
And some people’s ideas were too informed by their personal lives.
And then there was stuff that I just couldn’t understand – I wouldn’t say that these theories were crazy, but some were undoubtedly silly!
What would Kubrick make of it all?
It is not for me to try to get into his head.
He did once say he’d never tell someone what a movie was about because that would be shackling them to a reality other than their own.
There are specific things he was trying to say and he understood movies work best when the audience are allowed to bring their own experiences to it.
Is it also about how we interpret art?
It raised conversations about how people interpret art as well as film and how we interpret life around us, really.
It’s interesting to see where our heads are right now, especially with people [in the US] still asking whether Barack Obama was born in the US!
Why do we have such a fascination with conspiracy theories?
It is part of the human condition.
I’m old enough to remember when people were starting to use the internet widely; it was supposed to end controversy but that is not how it worked!
I thought we’d have facts at our fingertips and that would solve so many debates, but it didn’t, it just fuels the fire.
God help you if you go on Wikipedia and try to look up something like climate change or Palestine!
Room 237 is out March 11 through Metrodome