BEING A TREATISE ON THE AFTER-EFFECTS OF WATCHING ‘JODOROVSKY’S DUNE’ AND ‘ROOM 237’
While the subtitle clearly explains what this piece is going to be about, it shouldn’t be treated as one specifically but more like an opening of a door or say a slight window of opportunity into what obsessions mean or lead into.
While the heading as a whole might sound like a paper left behind at a medical seminar, this writer thinks that these two documentaries are in fact quite similar on things that this writer holds close and is yet quite unclear about. The products of Obession, if there are any.
Passion is a word that is heard almost every day, it is the pretty sister of Obsession whom everybody somehow wants to marry, while poor Obsession is forced to settle for bearded men with complex thoughts.
Stating passion in your CV would get you a job, may be even earn you some amount of momentary admiration, but obsession is a sort of practising the dark art, to delve deep into the abyss and may not come back.
In a sense, obsessions are not about results; to put it further the result of your obsessions is not the concern, it is more about why one is taken to some things so quickly.
Jodorowsky’s Dune is about one such obsession of one man to make a film on Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic Dune, ok it is more about how he could never make it.
While viewers may be concerned with the fact that this project goes under fancy tags like “the greatest movie never made” and how even prototypes created by Jodorowsky’s team still continue to inspire the movies that we continue to see on screen.
It is a year, well before Star Wars was even thought about; Alejandro Jodorowsky goes all over the world on a spiritual quest recruiting artists and actors for Dune. It isn’t about the spiritual nature of the content, but what strikes is that Jodo really believes that this movie is his calling, more than once calling it a messiah and not a movie.
And this is when he hasn’t even read the source material, one can only wonder from where such conviction comes from in a creative process.
It also leads to questions like how perfect were Jodorovsky’s visions in his head as part of this creative process, surely there must have been some moment that would have brought out that conviction, now that the movie has never been made and that a vision is lost forever; what use is a creativity then?
The only inference that I can relate to is that beyond the real life limitations stated explicitly in the documentary (like studio executives, money etc) there was some limiting factor that has not been accounted for, this non-starter of a project was big blow for the director and he could hardly make the movies he wanted to.
While the passionate rant against money in the movie is infectious, the director has still not been able to recover personally (even if he does say he has); also the fact about how great a film could have been, can never be taken for granted when the movie has never been made.
It is always a problem when there is one man and his emotions is in the center of it all, it also does not help when one thinks that this amount of obsession has gone into a mass of nothing.
The background research is staggering and all well to see, now being contained to about a thousand page picture books which details shot by shot drawings by the artist Moebius.
While Jodorovsky’s might be the center of his obsession (he does call it his Dune and not Herbert’s), here is another documentary on the reflections of a film made by a man who wanted anonymity a good part of his life.
Rodney Asher’s Room 237 is something like nothing this writer has seen before, a compendium of theories put out by viewers on seeing Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror film The Shining.
These aren’t the superficial ‘like and don’t like’ movie writings that we get to see on social media, but by people who have slotted part of their lives to watching the Shining again and again and again…and again.
While it is easy to argue that too much of repetition ultimately leads to theorising, it cannot be done so while you are dealing with a film by Kubrick.
Theories range from stringing a collection of visual in jokes and the way how Kubrick has played around with our head, but then you keep going a level deeper and deeper after every viewing.
For one person, The Shining is a lament on the killing of American Indians to establish ‘civilisation’ in the USA.
For another it is Kubrick’s never ending preoccupation on the holocaust and that Shining is an even more fitting movie about it than Schindler’s List.
The Shining also is viewed from multiple points as a comment on history itself and the collecting remembering and forgetting of history, Room 237 is about all these things and much more, but a common thread that resonates is that The Shining is no mere shocker.
Let’s leave all that and come to how beautiful to see these anonymous men and women all over the world for which this movie means something that is undefineable, an obsession here but also a pointer towards their lives or how they want to live.
A rare art that means so many different things to so many different people, a rare occasion in which a movie can actually turn your thinking process by the head; Room 237 is not about how great a movie The Shining is, but really about what Kubrick was trying to say by making it, which no one really has any clues about
The makers of the documentary also acknowledge that this might be a search in the dark, but by trying to uncover the mind of the maker these people have found new meanings for themselves and more new questions.
It is also telling about how good you are when your real genius lies in elevating the thinking of countless unconnected people by really not trying other than making a movie in 1980.
As the tagline of Room 237 goes “Some movies stay with you forever and ever…and ever.”