Room 237 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Consisting almost entirely of film clips and archival materials, the visuals looked fine but unexceptional.
Sharpness usually looked good. Some movie clips appeared slightly soft, especially in wide shots. However, the majority of the pieces were acceptably concise and distinctive. Minor instances of shimmering and jaggies appeared, but edge haloes weren’t a problem.
Source flaws occurred, mostly due to the older archival materials, though a few movie clips showed them as well. Some specks and marks appeared, but these never became too intrusive.
Colors varied dependent on the sources and generally looked decent, though they tended towards some blandness. The tones were a bit flatter than I’d like and came across as a little wan, though usually reasonably accurate.
Blacks also varied and went from fairly deep to somewhat inky, but they were usually decent, and low-light shots followed suit. Those were acceptably visible but not tremendously concise. This was a watchable presentation.
Similar thoughts greeted the DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio of Room 237. The talky program mostly concentrated on the forward speakers, as speech dominated the program and stayed in the center. A lot of music also appeared throughout the show, and those elements demonstrated pretty positive stereo imaging and spread to the rear.
Audio quality appeared fine for this material. Speech seemed concise and distinctive, with only a smidgen of edginess at times. Music sounded full and rich, and the occasional effects elements appeared accurate enough. Nothing here seemed impressive, but the mix suited the material.
When we head to the set’s extras, we open with an audio commentary from writer Kevin McLeod. A Shining theorist, McLeod initially declined to participate in Room 237 but he liked the film so much he decided to add his views, which he does in this running, screen-specific track.
This makes for a commentary that’s all about interpretation, so it’s essentially an extension of the material found in the main program. Like many of the discussions in the main film, it’s reasonably interesting, but it also runs too long. A little of this material goes a long way, so an added 103 minutes of theories can become tiresome. Still, McLeod has given this subject a lot of thought, so if you’re interested in the topic, his track deserves a listen.
Secrets of The Shining: Live from the First Annual Stanley Film Festival runs 50 minutes, 19 seconds and involves Shining mini-series director Mick Garris, Room 237 director Rodney Ascher, Kubrick’s friend/assistant Leon Vitale and theorist Jay Weidner. They talk about what makes Shining memorable, resonant and long-lasting, themes and interpretation of the film, and other topics related to the movie.
After so many “conspiracy theory” interpretations of The Shining, it’s nice to get some alternate viewpoints here. Vitale offers the most active anti-conspiracy take, as he negates virtually all of the theories; Weidner occasionally looks like he’s about to pop in the face of these denials! I’m not sure how much we want to accept Vitale – heck, the guy doesn’t even remember when 2001 was made and he doesn’t seem to understand you’re supposed to hold a microphone to your mouth – but this is still an intriguing piece.
11 Deleted Scenes fill a total of 23 minutes, 51 seconds and include more notes from the film’s participants. (They don’t receive identification here.) The content expands on the material in the final film, so we get a lot more theories and interpretation. This works less well than in the finished product, though, due to a lack of visuals; while 237 uses relevant film clips, here we simply see a computer screen that shows the playback of the audio file.
Without those visual cues, it becomes more difficult to dig into the presented concepts. The speakers continually refer to movie sequences but we’re unable to see them and follow the theories. Fans will still want to listen to the scenes, but they lose impact due to the bland visuals.
Under the three-minute, 28-second The Making of the Music, we get a glorified music video. We learn nothing about the score; instead, we just watch aspects of its recording. It’s forgettable.
Finally, Mondo Poster Design Discussion with Artist Aled Lewis goes for three minutes, one second. As expected, Lewis chats about his work for the film. We see his poster in a mix of variations that spell out his concepts. Though brief, “Design” gives us a nice glimpse at Lewis’s poster.
The disc opens with ads for My Amityville Horror, The Jeffrey Dahmer Files, Maniac and Byzantium. We also get the film’s theatrical trailer as well as three alternate trailers. All four ads are variations on a theme, so don’t expect a lot of variety.
In Room 237, we find a wide variety of interpretations of The Shining. The documentary has good elements and can be intriguing, but it runs too long and grows wearying after a while. The Blu-ray provides decent picture and audio along with a reasonable collection of bonus materials. I like the concept of 237 but think it only occasionally entertains.