"a movie that needs to be celebrated and recognised for the technique, style and acting involved to create such a complicated masterpiece"
Trying to make sense of a thriller/horror movie is always an impossible task, and something one should not attempt. This is specifically true especially after watching The Lighthouse. The story of te film revolves around Thomas Wake and Ephraim Winslow, two men with a sordid and obscure past who are left on a rocky island to tend to the titular lighthouse.
From the beginning their relationship is strenuous at best; Ephraim tries to keep to himself, but he is constantly pushed by Thomas who appointed himself as the man in charge, as days pass between heavy labour, barked out orders and abrupt mood swings that make the two men behave like friends and enemies in a moment.
However, everything takes a turn for the worst when a huge storm breaks, making it impossible for any ship to come and pick them up after their four weeks post on the island; from this moment hallucinations, drunken behaviour and madness start to cloud their rational minds and get a hold of them.
Just like in The Witch, Robert Eggers loves to play with the minds of his characters as well as the audience; from the beginning it is extremely difficult to keep track of time. Like the protagonists, the audience has information withheld and even following Thomas and Eprhaim’s routine becomes confusing and disorienting.
Hallucinations and deranged behaviour take the stage almost immediately, sending the two men spiralling out of control to a point in which even the audience doesn’t know if what is happening on the screen is the reality or just a distorted fragment of both Thomas and Eprhaim’s drunken minds.
For The Lighthouse Eggers decided to use the old fashioned 1.19:1 ratio on the screen, recreating the perfect square used in the first sound motion pictures. He also implements black and white shots to add a dramatic tone and highlight a sense of isolation and mystery to the story. The camera moves around the two characters with extreme precision, taking in every detail while cutting out everything else, almost to disorient the audience even more.
While in The Witch, paganism and christianity are at the forefront, in The Lighthouse the thread underneath the story is maritime folklore and sea mythology, for Thomas these stories are a way of life, a set of rules and superstitions that need to be obeyed, and on the other hand, for Ephraim the legends of the sea become an obsession that lead him to his own path of destruction.
In the midst of it all, one thing is constantly recurring, the beacon at the top of the lighthouse; a treasure that Thomas wants to keep for himself and that Ephraim wants to obsessively conquer, like a 1890’s version of the Icarus myth.
Willem Defoe and Robert Pattinson both give the performance of a lifetime against one another and are the main reasons why this is a must see movie, they both master skilfully the difficult dialogue filled with nautical jargon and figure of speech. They completely lose themselves in the exasperation of their characters and hold the movie on their shoulders effortlessly even in the most strenuous of scenes.
Although it is a really difficult film to enjoy and understand and it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, The Lighthouse is a psychological thriller that shouldn’t be missed. It is a movie that needs to be celebrated and recognised for the technique, style and acting involved to create such a complicated masterpiece.