Despite silence at the box office, “The Lighthouse” is a must see

The two leads in The Lighthouse, Ephriam Winslow (Robert Pattinson) and Thomas Wake (Willem DaFoe)

By: Elijah Winn | Editor 

November 8th, 2019

The Lighthouse movie poster

October 18th, 2019 saw The Lighthouse dazzle audiences with a blend of cinematic mastery and spectacular acting. Ambiguous and mysterious, The Lighthouse embarks the viewer on a journey in the 1890s off the shore of Maine on a small, remote island housing a lighthouse to guide sailors and ships. Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe) and Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) slowly track their way up a beaten path on the island that the lighthouse commands relieving the past keepers of the lighthouse. The two sailors must try and keep their sanity as they live together on this remote lighthouse facing sinister and self imposed psychological combatants. Cruelly under performing at the box office, The Lighthouse seemingly went unnoticed as Joker dominated the media. 

At its core, the film is a character study of Wake and Winslow and their interactions with each other as they cope with the loneliness of the island. Because the film has essentially two characters, played by Willem DaFoe and Robert Pattinson, the two stars hold a lot of weight on their back and they knocked it out of the park. Willem Dafoe commands the island, holding authority over his counterpart, with the power of a Greek God stealing every scene as lovable yet morally grey character. DaFoe subtly nuances his role as his character arc unfolds on screen. Through this Oscar worthy performance, Dafoe portrays themes of identity, authority, and experience found in age. Pattinson sheds his dull past portrayal of a sexy, pale vampire for an incredibly complex and subtle character that is executed perfectly. The on-screen chemistry between DaFoe and Pattinson is clear and evident. Most of the scenes between the two take place at night involving copious amounts of alcohol and all the loveable charisma of a sea chanty. 

The film itself is a sensory assault and employs unique visuals to embark on a journey of insanity. Robert Eggers (director) shot the film in black and white, adding to the claustrophobic environment and cacophony of noise, exemplifying the creeping insanity ensuing on screen. The sound design is easily one of the more remarkable and ambitious aspects of the film with blaring horns and ever-present ticking, counting down to the climax of the movie. Visually, the movie shocks and tricks the eye as you begin to question the reality of the narrative journey. Thematically, this is where the film begins to become complex. Robert Eggers weaves themes brought out from the characters and their environment into an English teachers dream. The film makes the viewer think about it for days, repeatedly questioning and interpreting a fixed meaning. “A fascinating psychological thriller that draws you in with excellent cinematography, along with a mysterious and engaging narrative,” senior Connor Morin said.

The Lighthouse draws viewers into a ticking time bomb counting in milliseconds that treads into cinematic territory increasingly going unexplored. A refreshing break from the biannual marvel machine, The Lighthouse is an experience that is layered by incredible performance, nuance, complex themes, aggressive sound design, and thrilling visuals that surely deserves Oscar buzz. Willem DaFoe will easily be nominated for an Oscar, possibly marking his fifth career nomination. “Successfully combined classic and modern horror, and an overall unsettling yet beautiful film,” senior Reese Castle said when asked about the film. 

The Lighthouse is an absolute must see from the ensured Oscar nominations the film and cast will acquire. The film requires an attentive viewer and rewards with numerous takeaways that will leave them enamored with the excellency and attention to detail Robert Eggers brings to the silver screen. 

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