How's this for an unfortunate piece of news. Following quite glowing reviews across the board for Room 237- Rodney Ascher's compelling, mysterious study of the conspiracy theorists which hover around Stanley Kubricks The Shining- Jan Harlan, producer of every Kubrick film since Barry Lyndon, has spoken out and slammed Ascher's film. Speaking at the Bermuda International Film Festival, Harlan proclaimed:
Ah, so idiotic. Of course I did. There's nothing to like. It's just dumb. I mean [the filmmaker] obviously waited until Kubrick died. This happened to him in many cases, also this whole story about him doing a fake moon landing. This was only possible after he was dead. People come like worms; they creep out and take advantage of a guy who can't sue from the grave. At any rate, I don't worry about things like that.
With the greatest respect, it seems Mr. Harlan might be missing the point here. There's a great innocence and wonder to Ascher's documentary which might just have passed him by. The film maker seems far more interested in the clout of mystery which surrounds Kubrick than justifying any crackpot theories his devotees decide to hatch. The film works just as well as a celebration of fanaticism as it does as an abstract pondering on the director's aura. Indeed, there's a lot of things you could call Room 237 but surely, idiotic should not be one of them.
It would be fascinating to know what Kubrick would make of all this. In 2001, Jon Ronson- writer of The Men Who Stare at Goats and the upcoming Frank- was invited to the Kubrick estate and given access to his archives. He was both honored and fascinated and so decided to shoot the whole thing for his excellent documentary Stanley Kubrick's Boxes. In one such box he came across a mountain of perfectly organized fan mail, mostly separated by place of origin but with a special section for Crackpots. Kubrick had replied to none but had meticulously read and took notes on all. Perhaps he would have gotten a kick out of Ascher's crackpots. I guess we'll never know.
Check out Ronson's documentary and let us know how you feel about Harlan's statements in the comments section below.