371. In Conversation with Rob Ager from Liverpool (PART 2: Film Analysis / Hidden Meanings / Stanley Kubrick / Conspiracy Theory)

This is part 2 of my conversation with Rob Ager from Liverpool, who makes documentaries about films and publishes them himself on his website Collative Learning. If you haven’t heard part 1 yet, you should check that out before listening to part 2. In this conversation we talk about Rob’s approach to film analysis, hidden meanings in films, the work of Stanley Kubrick and the conspiracy theory about the moon landing. More details below.

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Click here to visit Rob Ager’s website collativelearning.com

In part 1 we talked about Liverpool and what it’s really like to live there. Then we talked about how he developed his approach to film analysis. In part 2 we talk about films in more detail, including some of the films which struck a chord with him when he was younger, and films which have inspired him to make his analysis videos. We focus on the work of Stanley Kubrick, a filmmaker whose work has really fascinated Rob over the years. We also discuss the idea that directors add hidden messages into their work, and how this is sometimes interpreted wrongly by viewers and critics. We also discuss the so-called conspiracy theory about Stanley Kubrick and the moon landing, and whether there are hidden messages about this in the film The Shining.

Links & Videos

Rob’s website www.collativelearning.com

Some interesting videos from Rob’s YouTube channel


  • Catherine Bear

    That was interesting.

    But consciously confronting a 7-years-old child with a horror film — what a strange idea of Rob’s Dad. I think I would have have arguments going on in such a case.

    Liked Rob’s analysis of the battle scenes in Star Wars.

    I checked out the youtube channel of Rob — the main focus appears to be on horror films. Unfortunately for me – not my cup of tea. But nevertheless, he’s got his audience which is great. To me, the Death Eaters are on the edge of what my poor heart can bear. :)

    Luke, I think one big asset of your podcast is that you are keeping it free for anyone.

    Lepsters, don’t forget to donate to Luke regularly so that he can carry on the great work he is doing for us. Thanks! ;)

    • Yes, I thought it was pretty surprising that his dad showed him The Thing when he was 7. As the BBFC says, the film “contains strong violence and gory horror” www.bbfc.co.uk/releases/thing-1982 I saw it when I was about 12 and it was pretty shocking, but amazing too! I don’t think it did me much harm, but who can be sure! I wouldn’t want my kids watching it at an early age in case it distressed them. It sounds like Rob wasn’t traumatised by it though and at least his dad took the time to explain the themes to Rob as they watched it together.
      The Death Eaters are pretty terrifying I agree!
      Yes, I intend to keep LEP free for everyone, while offering other content (e.g. specific courses) for a price. I think that’s the way I can keep doing this, justify spending my time on it, perhaps turn it into my main source of income one day, while also keeping the podcast going as a free thing.

      • Catherine Bear

        Hi Luke!
        Great, that you plan to keep the LEP free for anyone. Agree that you need some innovation to satisfy your clients who are so capricious nowadays. :)
        I still think Rob is kind of traumatised a little bit and still tries to understand the horror he was confronted with. He has dedicated all his life, his mind and his money to finally understand those films.
        Take care and later on — if you will be father yourself — take care of your juniors, until they can learn use the Force themselves. ;)
        CB-5000 :)

  • Twita

    Hey Luke! I’ve listened to this interview and found it very interesting, I’ll be sure to pass Rob’s page and youtube channel onto my friend who’s studying media and films. The thing is I clicked on the link you left for his page under your download button and it takes you to the wrong page, you should change it to www.collativelearning.com/ even though I know the right link is a bit further down as well. Just so you know.
    Thank you again for this interview, I loved Rob’s accent.

    • Hi! Thanks for the comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the conversation. Sorry about the faulty link, I’ll correct it now.

  • Temenuga

    Hello Luke,
    I enjoy this episode as much as the super heroes one. Most of the films you mentioned are really must-see films. I thought that I haven’t watched “Barry Lyndon” but I checked it on IMDB and realised I’ve watched it and it is indeed an odd one. It will be interesting for me to hear some comments about other Kubrick’s films like “Full Metal Jacket” and the most brutal in my opinion “A Clockwork Orange”.

    Thanks for being here and for entertaining us!

  • Cesar

    I like this podcast, although I have to say, I find sometimes difficult to understand that liverpool accent….

  • Jack Ash

    Hi Luke,
    This is Jack Ash from Madrid (Spain), a newbie listener of the great LEP series.
    I’ve been looking forward to writing to you a few lines for over a month now, which is when I found out about your series of podcasts, just by chance, as it happens. I got a retweet of some of your podcasts, checked it out, and now I’m totally hooked. I started listening to some of the most recent ones, I think it was the one about the post-Brexit thoughts. Not only you have that perfect BBC accent that we non native English speakers tend to identify as British English, but also your insight into the issue, your thorough analysis really grew on me and I couldn’t stop listening. (On the other hand, I totally share your opinions, and was also stunned myself to find out that the “leave” had won).
    Since then, I’m hellbent on catching up with all the previous podcasts, which eventually will take me some time but I will do listen to all of them, come hell or high water. I’m so eager to do so that I’m listening those fragments in which only you speak at 1.5x speed. It might seem a weird thing to do, but I understand 100% of what you say and at the same time, it saves me some time. I’ve even tried to listen at higher speeds and I still get it 100%, but my brain is just too slow to process all the information and it gets me pretty tired in a short period of time. Other speakers I prefer to listen at normal speed as they don’t usually have as neat an accent as you, and I don’t want to miss any of the nuances.
    I’m considering taking part in the transcribing team for your podcasts. As soon as I can, I’ll get in touch with the person in charge, Mariano, I think, and see if I can lend a hand.
    I’ve became a fan of your podcasts is no time, and I’ve also let other people interested in learning English know about you. Please, keep up the good work!! My rating for you is AAA. :)
    Finally, I’d appreciate that you correct any mistake, non-native sounding expresions or whatever that I may say. At the end of the day, I’m here to learn.

    Best regards,

  • Olga Litvinchuk

    Luke, my interest has increased to your podcasts after those podcasts. I wait all the time all your podcasts which have the word like film. (I’m also a very active participant of pub quiz about films which take place in our town)Thank you very much for your idea to speak to Rob.
    I am very interested in the film analysis. Especially in the Kubrick’s filmography. My interest in his works appeared nearly one year ago, when I started to watch and read the articles by one Russian philosopher and culturologist Alex Pavlov on film analysis. And the first his advice to read one book was On Kubrick by James Naremore. I am sure that Rob knows this book very well and read it a few times. My personal advice for people who are interested in film analysis to read exactly this book because of the difficult language, because this book contains a very good structured material on his films and also it conytains all these hidden meanings that is why most of what has been said I read but still I think I didn’t catch everything. Tomorrow in the morning I will listen to it twice, I think. So some information about this book:
    On Kubrick is a critical study of Stanley Kubrick’s career, beginning with his earliest feature, “Fear and Desire” (1953), and ending with his posthumous production of “A.I., Artificial Intelligence” (2001). Organized in six parts (“The Taste Machine,” “Young Kubrick,” “Kubrick, Harris, Douglas,” “Stanley Kubrick Presents,” “Late Kubrick,” and “Epilogue”), it offers provocative analysis of each of Kubrick’s films together with new information about their production histories and cultural contexts. Its ultimate aim is to provide a concise yet thorough discussion that will be useful as both an academic text and a trade publication. The book argues that in several respects Kubrick was one of the cinema’s last modernists: his taste and sensibility were shaped by the artistic culture of New York in the 1950s; he became a celebrated auteur who forged a distinctive style; he used art-cinema conventions in commercial productions; he challenged censorship regulations; and throughout his career he was preoccupied with one of the central themes of modernist art – the conflict between rationality and its ever-present shadow, the unconscious. War and science are often the subjects of his films, and his work has a hyper-masculine quality; yet no director has more relentlessly emphasized the absurdity of combat, the failure of scientific reasoning, and the fascistic impulses in masculine sexuality. The book also argues that while Kubrick was a voracious intellectual and a life-long autodidact, the fascination of his work has less to do with the ideas it espouses than with the emotions it evokes. Often described as “cool” or “cold,” Kubrick is best understood as a skillful practitioner of what might be called the aesthetics of the grotesque; he employs extreme forms of caricature and black comedy to create disgusting, frightening, yet also laughable images of the human body. No less than Diane Arbus (who was his contemporary), he makes his viewers uneasy, unsure how to react either emotionally or politically.

    What Naremore says on Shining; one of the most mysterious scenes: Danny: You wouldn’t ever hurt Mommy and me, would you?
    Jack: What do you mean? Did your mother ever say that to you… that I would hurt you?
    Danny: No, Dad.
    Jack: Are you sure?
    Danny: Yes, Dad.
    Jack: I love you, Danny. I love you more than anything else in the whole world, and I’d never do anything to hurt you, never… You know that, don’t you, huh?
    Danny: Yes, Dad.
    Jack: Good.

    Kubrick reconsidered Freud’s version of Oedipus tragedy. He emphasizes on the relation of father with his son.

    ( I am sorry the language of this book is very difficult. I should spend more time for translation. You or your listeners should better read it in English if they can find it.)

    If we start thinking about Kubrick’s films than we inderstand that all his films are not for everybody. I think that I haven’t understood all of his hidden meanings in Space odyssey, for example and in Eyes Wide Shut. There is a great discussion and analysis of the Kidman’s glance. And here you should read Chion M. Eyes Wide Shut. BFI Modern Classics, 2002.

    I’ve already looked at Rob’s website. I think that tomorrow I will fo this page and watch or read all interesting information. (then I can comment something concrete on his work)

    Thank you again.
    Because tried to find something on the film analysis.