Topless Robot spoke with director Rodney Ascher and producer Tim Kirk of the new secret codes of “The Shining”-unlocking doc “Room 237” about the significance of changing the number of dangerous room 217 — as it is in Stephen King’s book — to room 237 for the film. Why make such an insignificant change?
From Topless Robot:
LYT: Is it a fact that there is no room 237 at the hotel?
TK: We have not verified this, and that kind of goes to the core of Rodney and my approach to the material…
RA: You mean the Timberline Hotel in particular?
TK: We didn’t set out to prove or disprove any of the theories, and we chose not to talk to anyone who made The Shining. We wanted to present the ideas as forcefully as possible, and honestly. However, we could have called, but if we had, then that answers the whole question of perhaps they could have lied.
RA: They’re sick of stupid Shining fans calling about that stupid room, so tell them no, there’s no room 217 and you can’t stay there, or the room number could have changed, and this person may not know the whole history.
TK: Right! Plus, as Rodney said before, he didn’t just change it from 217 to anything, there’s a LOT of possibilities! He chose 237.
RA: There’s infinity minus 1 of other possible numbers that that room number could have been. If you look at it, there’s a copy of the screenplay that was at the LACMA exhibit that’s got his notes on it, and you see him trying to work it out. There’s some number play between 217 and 237, and then there’s some places where he’s trying to work it into an address where they lived in, or other places…
TK: And there’s dates, right?
RA: Right. So there’s clearly number play at work. He had collaborated with Nabokov on Lolita, whose work is just riddled with number play and word play, the idea that these numbers have some intention to them becomes very, very plausible. Just think of that number, 237 – there’s this weird, asymmetry to them. Is it a prime number, or a Fibonacci number? It very much feels like a number that’s off – if it was music, it would be off-key. I think it’s an exquisitely designed number.
TK: Even visually, it’s like that 3…I don’t know, it feels like that 3 should be bigger somehow, I don’t know.