CAM/ED Rodney Ascher
MUS Jonathan Snipes, William Hutson, The Caretaker
PROD CO Highland Park Classics
Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror film The Shining finds its ultimate metaphor in the maze outside the Overlook hotel where crazed caretaker Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) hunts his son Danny (Danny Lloyd) with an axe. Critics at the time were mostly unimpressed, but for a coterie of fans this remains Kubrick’s secret masterpiece, an endlessly fascinating, enigmatic objet d’art that reveals myriad hidden depths the more closely you scrutinize it.
Rodney Ascher’s brilliant documentary immerses us in Kubrick’s images and weaves an illuminating web of ideas and theories from five of these devotees—armchair critics whose fanatical attention to the minutiae of the mise-en-scène can only be described as obsessive. In this, though, they resemble no one so much as Kubrick himself, surely the most perfectionist director to have thrived in the Hollywood mainstream. Kubrick rigorously controlled every design element within his films, and routinely shot dozens of takes. It makes him the ideal subject for this kind of close reading, and while initially most people will be bewildered by claims that The Shining can be interpreted as the filmmaker’s commentary on the Holocaust, the genocide of the American Indian, or even a covert confession of his involvement in staging the (fake) Moon landing, by the end you may be surprised at how convincing at least some of these interpretations really are. (Note: The Shining will screen at the Vancity Theatre on October 13.)