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All ye tender lasses and land-lubbers, listen and heed me caution now: Take yer refuge and stow the wee ones, for this tale of brine and blood be rated ARRRRR!
In pre-show interviews, Robert Eggers said this of The Lighthouse, that he wanted to make another film about misery, but this time make it a comedy. I joked that if this was going to be a comedy, it would be like that one Ingmar Bergman comedy (Secrets of Women). And I didn't know how right I was (though as a horror film, it also has shades of Bergman's Hour of the Wolf). There are funny moments in it, as might be expected of any Odd Couple type situation, but this is very much a Bergmanian existentialist drama about man's struggle with God. As an exploration of that dynamic, it's bloody brilliant. Rich and textured, it goes well beyond simple Christian allegory, though Man having to toil and suffer to win an unattainable "light" is definitely the first layer. It also has Pagan resonances, at once Odyssean and Promethean, and more than a touch of folk superstition with its Kraken and merfolk imagery, and its ancient curses made true. It's Melvillian too. The Man/God dynamic can also be seen as a son/demanding father story, or as generational strife (Boomer/Millennial), and still works. Or if you want to say it's all psychological and nothing is real except maybe the last shot, that's fine too. There's no one answer, they're all true. The mirror between the characters certainly adds that extra dimension. To me, it all comes back to the same question no matter how you cut it: Why do we worship these asshole gods? (For gods, substitute parents, traditions, generations that sell themselves as successful, your own ego). And all of that is quite beyond the technical aspects of the film which remind you why it's called the Silver Screen. The black and white photography positively shimmers, and the square frame isn't a gimmick to make the film look like it was made in a bygone age, but rather to make the lighthouse and its lonely island as claustrophobic as possible. Eggers has made a film that, while livelier than The VVitch, stands next to it in a diptych. Both show how one's conversation with God is filled with pitfalls and temptations designed to make you fall.
To quote my good friend regarding this film: . Who would have ever guessed Pattinson and Dafoe could make such a successful onscreen pairing. Moving effortlessly from eerie to comedic to horrific, it makes for a riveting watch. There's layers to it that would be best analyzed and addressed elsewhere so… Suffice to say, surreal folktale horror is a subgenre I never knew I needed until now.
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