‘How long have we been on this rock? Five weeks? Two Days? Where are we? Help me to recollect’ Thomas Wake
No, this isn’t about being in lockdown, this is Robert Eggers The Lighthouse
If you didn’t get the chance to see this film when it came out then do try to catch it on streaming services or DVD as it is worth it.
The story centres on two characters, Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe) and Eprahim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) who choose to be wickies or lighthouse keepers, they are sent to an island for a four week spell. Wake the senior man takes control of the situation and asserts his years of experience and knowledge of the lighthouse to Winslow. Winslow agrees to this as he is new to the profession and wishes to learn his graft, though he has learnt a lot from the manual. Their first evening meal is a simple and quiet affair, neither man talks much and neither mentions their names.
As the days go by things start to change, Wake starts to take his position too highly, almost God like. He orders Winslow about making him do domestic and maintenance tasks over and over again. Winslow starts to resent Wake, but keeps his resentments to himself, he hopes by doing the tasks he will be given an opportunity to tend the light in the lighthouse. But when Wake categorically denies him the opportunity by saying that only he tends the light, Winslow starts to unravel.
When cleaning the water tank he kills a seagull, even though Wake warned him not to harm the creatures, as doing so would be a bad omen. When their four weeks come to an end they get ready to leave, however a bad storm stops them from doing so and there is little sign of others arriving. There then follows a serious of bizarre and surreal moments including a mermaid. The moments are intertwined with drunkenness, sea shanties, violence, self pleasure, loss of time, awareness and confusion in particular of identity (er… some of this sounds like lock… nevermind).
I felt similarities to Eraserhead (1977), The Shining (1980) and Bait (2019) running through this, it is a stark and absorbing film and it requires repeated viewings, though when it does end you are glad to have gotten away from the island.
The performances are excellent, I was particularly surprised by Pattinson, who seems to be choosing interesting and varying roles. Dafoe is good as always – though I wonder if he contributed his own fart’s for the role (this isn’t a typo).
The music and cinematography add to the films claustrophobic feel, the foghorn is particularly painful.
A spoiler; Eggers has mentioned that there are Greek myths from which he has borrowed from and if you want to get a more rounded experience and idea of the film then do checkout Proteus and Prometheus.
I would recommend watching lighthouse, to get away from lockdown woes but don’t get stuck, as the light can be blinding.