The Lighthouse – Duality, and insanity

Finally! I’ve been craving to see this movie ever since I first saw the trailer.

“Ye like me review, don’t ye?”

Robbert Eggers has been starting to make a name for himself. The  VVitch was a huge hit and now he returns with the black and white gem that is “The Lighthouse”.

Set in the 19th century, we see the young Wickie (played by Robert Pattison) who sets off to work in a lighthouse alongside a much older and experienced lighthouse keeper (played by Willem Dafoe). As they settle in and try to get acquainted the younger keeper begins to notice that there is something wrong with this situation.

While they decide on what their tasks will be during their stay in the lighthouse, Thomas Wake (Dafoe) warns Winslow (Pattison) that going up to the top of the lighthouse is strictly off-limits for him. This begins the tension and issues between them begin. This starts off the twisted relationship between them as they try to keep their sanity in this isolated and desolate part of the world.

This was my most anticipated movie in ages. I was completely captivated by the trailer. There is something about modern black and white movies that I absolutely adore and this seemed like it had that and so much more to offer.

The movie as I said is shot in black in white with an aspect ratio of  1.19:1. and using very old spherical lenses from the early 1900s that create a very unique viewing experience. There is no movie quite like it. The visuals completely immerse in the movie-making a person hardly even blink while watching it. So I really have to hand it to the cinematographer Jarin Blaschke as well as the editor Louise Ford.

But the best part of the movie by a long shot to me was the audio. It is what had me from the very start. That foghorn, that damned foghorn… It really immerses you in the story and leaves you constantly on the edge. Every little thing in the movie was meticulously crafted and it is really amazing. And what I enjoyed most about it was that the movie itself makes you the viewer question your sanity. Keep an eye out for every detail in the movie, so many things change, it makes you think was it a part of the film, was it the mind of the deranged characters or did you really watch the same film?

Accompanied by that Pattison and Dafoe give the most compelling performances that I have seen in ages. Pattison is finally getting the recognition which he deserves and Dafoe just leaves you speechless. Most flock to call Dafoe’s performance far greater even though Pattison was fantastic but I would have to say that they were both equally good and perfectly cast. I don’t think that the movie could have been as good as it was if anyone else was cast in those roles.

As someone in the youtube comment section perfectly explained the premise of the movie – a millennial and boomer struggling to work together. Dafoe’s character is an old-timey superstitious person and Pattison is the complete opposite person who disregards his warnings as just nonsense and feels he deserves more and that is just looked down upon even though he gives his best. Although the last scene with him will probably be more iconic, I enjoyed this one more:

But one thing is for sure, both of them are not who they claim to be with both having some sort of skeleton in their closet. Who is the bad guy here? Who is the guilty one? And are they really even there? If I had to explain it with a single scene this would be it: (No spoilers from it do not worry)

This and so many other questions unanswered give the need for a second rewatch as soon as possible. There is so much to dissect in the movie. From the inconsistencies in both of their lives and stories to the multiple interpretations of the movie and its story. (I won’t spoil the movie but explaining some of the interpretations  could spoil parts of it so be careful)

On one side, the movie has a lot of mythological aspects that could be seen as a retelling of the stories of Prometheus and Proteus. On another side, it could just be the slow descent into insanity of man be it due to isolation or other, more sinister causes. On the third and my favorite side, it could be a Lovecraftian style story where Dafoe is some sort of deranged cultist worshiping an unseen deity (or is one himself) who wants to drive Pattison insane to feed his twisted needs and lastly, there was the aspect of alcoholism. While Wake says that the only cure to the isolation and hard terms of living such a life is booze, what we see in the movie gives us a completely different story.

As for my interpretation…I have to say that I am not sure, and that’s what I love about it. And maybe that was the point. I am staying away from any official statement from Eggers since I want to have my own thoughts but I will definitely have to see it at least one more time before the end of the year to see some things that I’ve missed that might give me a different view on the story. For now, I am getting vibes of purgatory and the test of Pattison’s character from the divine.

There is also a real-life incident which this movie was based on, but I have rambled on for too long now so I might explore the incident itself in a separate blog post.

So if you want a good story with a clear ending this is definitely not for you. This is very ambiguous and bleak and it stays with you which is what I love most about cinema.

I can’t say that I would give it 10 stars, there were some slight nitpicks that I had with it but I could just be overthinking some parts so, for now, I will stick for a 9/10. I wanted this to be my favorite movie of the year and even though it is very close, that honor still goes to “Parasite”. I feel that the hype killed a tiny part of the enjoyment for me. That being said, I still consider it a masterpiece and one thing is for sure, Eggers has to direct a Lovecraftian movie, he may be one of the rare people that can pull it off.

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