Room 237 @ The Ross

Room 237

I don’t get it: Robert Ascher directs a very provocative documentary entitled Room 237. The documentary is a welcomed exercise in close-readings of a film as unseen narrators uncover myriad meanings in Stanley Kubrick’s psychological horror film, The Shining. There are various plausible theories: The Shining is about the slaughter of Native Americans (remember the red & silver ‘Calumet’ baking soda cans in the hotel’s pantry?); The Shining is all about the Holocaust. Well, the number 42 proves it. Remember the year when the Nazi’s initiated the final solution? 1942? Comments by the narrators are in-depth and quite perceptive, and each one carefully investigates the signs and symbols cast about the film, including the number 237. In all, however, Ascher’s project holds tightly to one theory: The Shining is about history and man’s proclivity to create atrocities only to conveniently forget them.

Dick Halloran (Scatman Crothers)

Dick Halloran (Scatman Crothers)

Yet, Room 237 does exactly that: forget, and this oversight is what I don’t get. The glaring omission is an analysis of Dick Halloran, the hotel’s chef in The Shining played by African American entertainer, Scatman Crothers. Why? I have my own ideas but time only permits me to point out that Dick Halloran is the character who is killed by that crazy Jack Torrance when he delivers an ax to his chest. Dick Halloran leaves the wife and son a means to escape from the ‘sins of the father’ after hell has frozen over! No more screaming “Here’s Johnny!” That ending, in and of itself, deserved critique.

Room 237 plays through May 23 at the Ross Media Arts Center in Lincoln.

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