The events of the film “The Lighthouse” take viewers to the 1890s. Young and inspired by new perspectives, the character travels to a remote island. He was offered a calm and peaceful activity at first glance. Ifraim Winslow was to become the lighthouse keeper’s assistant. However, ideas about a wonderful future were dispelled when the hero of the film got to know his boss better.
In his new work, he turned to ancient Greek mythology, was inspired by the works of Howard Phillips Lovecraft and made a movie in the spirit of David Lynch and Andrei Tarkovsky at the same time. If you suddenly didn’t understand anything or got lost in the intricacies of the story, then the Screen Rant website prepared a detailed analysis and explanation of the plot and ending in advance. Do you have any questions after watching? Read the article urgently.
It should be noted right away that “The Lighthouse” is another “film not for everyone.” After the resounding success of The Witch, Robert Eggers got the chance to shoot whatever he wants and invite the real stars – Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson to the main roles. The result is a very atmospheric, but paranoid, surreal and sometimes even schizophrenic horror, in which reality and hallucinations are intertwined into such a tight knot that they almost become one.
The Lighthouse premiered at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival as part of the Director’s Fortnight program. And there he received a prize from the International Federation of Film Critics. A little later, the film company A24 sent the film to limited releases and genre festivals.
Robert Eggers tells the story of two lighthouse keepers cut off from the mainland and civilization. Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe) is a superstitious old brawler who is constantly drinking. Iphraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) is Wake’s rookie and assistant who understands little about the job and has to rely on a colleague’s extensive experience. The main plot is built around their strange and ambiguous relationship.
What is the movie “The Lighthouse” about?
Much of the horror film The Lighthouse focuses on the relationship between Wake and Winslow. A slowly emerging friendship quickly turns into fear, mistrust and mutual paranoia. It seems that Wake is out of his element and feels overwhelmed by the monotonous work. And Winslow finds out that the job he thought was easy is much more difficult. Gradually, Winslow realizes that Wake has either already gone crazy during their shift, or is close to insanity. If you weren’t crazy to begin with. Wyack is obsessed with the lighthouse and does everything to keep Winslow away from it. And this becomes one of the reasons for the tense confrontation.
And during one of the drinking parties it turns out that Winslow is not at all the one he claims to be. The drunken hero blurts out that he is actually Thomas Howard, a former woodcutter who quit after some tragic (catastrophic for himself) events. Something bad happened to the real Ifraim Winslow. And the character’s lies can show viewers that Wake isn’t all that crazy. Or vice versa: both are crazy.
Nobody can be trusted – and in Mayak this thesis is elevated to an absolute. Wake’s own past is shrouded in obscurity, and his focus on Winslow/Howard seems strange and unhealthy. The night before the ship arrives to bring them home, Wake drinks Winslow unconscious so that he will miss the ship’s departure. Winslow is sure that Wake is trying to get him fired for incompetence and incompetence – and then employers will not pay money. In addition, Wake tries to confuse Winslow so that he loses track of time and does not know exactly how many days have passed since arriving on the island.
Why does the movie always fart?
Gas jokes are pretty weird stuff, but Robert Eggers has an explanation for the regular fart on camera. The fact is that the character of Willem Dafoe – Thomas Wake – often spoils the air. Involuntarily or maliciously? A difficult question with no answer. And this is one of the moments that infuriates Iphraim Winslow much more than the daily routine far from civilization and normal people. And director Robert Eggers finds this plot detail extremely amusing.
The fact is that the author himself believes that The Lighthouse is more of a black comedy than a familiar horror film. And Eggers is confident that the gassy Wake helps to make the story more laid-back and the atmosphere lighter.
The film is vulgar, overloaded and ostentatious. For the most part, we followed this course. In the case of The Witch, we tried to be very restrained. I think the story – and let it irritate me sometimes – should pretend to be all so serious. But at the same time, we wanted to laugh a little at [the characters’] suffering. I liked the idea that you sit down to watch The Lighthouse and you think “Fuck, I didn’t think I came to the Hungarian arthouse!”, and then Willem farts – and you immediately “Oh, this is not hopeless!”.
Interpretation of archetypes according to Jung
The director said in an interview that Ephraim is obsessed with the caretaker, this is a kind of Oedipus complex. Robert Pattinson emphasized that the fear of the crazy old man is mixed in his character with admiration and even lust.
Critics caught the homosexual subtext of what was happening (citing facts: compliments on the beauty of the assistant, hints about tentacles and lobsters, elements of BDSM in relation to Wake). But Eggers urged the audience not to get hung up on homoerotica and asked them to forget about sexuality altogether. Although it’s hard to do, allusions are everywhere, from the mermaid figurine to Willem Dafoe on a leash.
The meaning of the film “The Lighthouse”
The lighthouse for many is associated with light, hope, faith in the best. He is like a life guide that will always tell you the right path. The lighthouse is a salvation for ships that have gone astray. On the other hand, strange things that happened on the island are connected with this image. The character imagines a mermaid, a drowned man, and a one-eyed seagull. Soon he ceases to distinguish between reality and the fruits of his imagination.
The film is filled with madness. Throughout the story, strange metamorphoses take place with Ifraim. The audience sees how he transforms from a mysterious and quiet young man into a sick maniac obsessed with his fantasies. If initially he did not tolerate alcohol at all, then after a while the character could not even imagine a day without strong drinks.
Weeks pass, and the heroes of the film realize that the provisions are melting before their eyes, but the longboat still does not appear. Fresh water is over, there is only alcohol left. It is difficult to say whether the audience sympathizes with the character or not. It is more and more interesting to watch his suffering and throwing, because his actions cannot be called logical and consistent.
The meaning of the film “Lighthouse” is that communication is vital for any person. Being alone with yourself is useful, however, living in complete solitude is sometimes unbearable. The film “Lighthouse” is a story about the exposure of human nature, its essence.
“The Lighthouse” ending explained
After Winslow finds out that Wake diligently outlined all his mistakes and professional shortcomings, the main characters begin to fight. And in the fight, the truth comes out. The drunken massacre turns into a terrible truth. For example, it turns out that the mermaid, with whom Winslow had quite a lot of fun, is actually a hallucination.
First, the mermaid turns into Wake in the form of a sea deity – with a coral horn on her head and huge tentacles. Wake strangles Winslow with his tentacles, Winslow fights back and strangles Wake. Maybe it’s just delirium tremens or schizophrenia. But it is possible that in fact the lighthouse keeper is Proteus, the son of Poseidon and Hera, the sea deity from ancient Greek myths, which Homer described, and also mentioned by Shakespeare and Milton.
After a long showdown, during which Winslow leads Wake on a rope leash, then tries to bury him alive, and Wake cuts Winslow with an ax, Robert Pattinson’s character still takes the keys to the lighthouse and goes upstairs to the lamp. And here, at the same time, it is full of references both to the Lighthouse of Alexandria – one of the Seven Wonders of the World – and to the work of Lovecraft.
It is not entirely clear what is happening, but the point is that Ifraim Winslow seems to see other worlds in the light of the lighthouse and receives unprecedented pleasure from contact with the light. Perhaps the light of the beacon is indeed a portal to another dimension full of strange creatures. Or Winslow is simply going completely insane because of the pangs of conscience and the load of mistakes made in the past.
Winslow then wakes up on the beach. The former caretaker lies on the shore completely naked and wounded. The vicious seagulls, which have pissed him off throughout the film, peck at him. One of the birds is rummaging around in its belly and seems to be trying to get to the liver. Another reference to the myths – now about Prometheus: Winslow also tried to steal the fire, although he did not have such a right, and paid dearly. Maybe the main character just dies. But it is possible that he is doomed to eternal torment. And the constant repetition of what happened, including the execution.
But this is just one of the interpretations of the plot of The Lighthouse. The beauty of Robert Eggers’ new film is that its story can be interpreted in any way.
“The Lighthouse” movie analysis
When they begin to argue – what is the meaning of the ending of the film “The Lighthouse”, they most often mention Greek mythology (which the author was also inspired by – as well as the works of Melville). The allegory with Prometheus suggests itself.
Having received the light of the knowledge of the gods, Prometheus decided to share them with people and was punished. The eagle tormented the liver of the man chained to the rock every day, and so it went on for eternity. Winslow finally saw what was hidden in the lamp (this was not revealed to the audience). And doomed to be fed by greedy birds.
Defoe’s character is compared to the prophet and servant of Poseidon. Because the old man accurately predicts how his assistant will die. And the extravagant assistant sees tentacles wriggling around the lame-footed head.
The second explanation of the ending is banal and lies on the surface. Two men went crazy in isolation. And alcohol “finished off” both: they drank to delirium tremens and paranoia. The young one saw the sea “devils”, decided that the elderly had planned the murder, and got ahead of the enemy.
The third way to find the essence of the tape is the most eccentric. Allegedly, Thomas has a split personality. He grew old working at the lighthouse and went mad. The desire to break free was materialized in a young alter ego. But the service of duty wins, hence the confrontation between the two personalities living in the poor fellow. Difficult, tricky, but interesting.
Jumping from the twilight saga
Whatever your personal explanation for the film, its artistic merits are clear. No wonder the cameraman Djarin Blaschke, who subtly and skillfully built each frame, was nominated for an Oscar. And both actors of the chamber “cinema for two” claimed the “Independent Spirit” award. Willem Dafoe won. Other “laurels” of the artist are “Satellite” and nominations for “Gotham” and “Critics’ Choice”.
Pattinson is compared by film critics to Daniel Day-Lewis in the drama Oil. This is high praise, considering that the Briton received a lot of awards for the role of the madman Plainview, including an Oscar. As you know, the star of the Twilight franchise zealously sought to “go as far as possible” from the image of the sugary vampire Cullen, which he hated. He succeeded.