Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Eggers Unlocks ‘The Lighthouse’

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Cinema | November 6th, 2019

Screenshot of The Lighthouse

Fans of Robert Eggers’ brilliant feature debut “The Witch” have been waiting impatiently for “The Lighthouse,” and while the filmmaker decidedly avoids any kind of sophomore slide, the new movie will probably not attract the widespread fervor and devotion bestowed upon Black Phillip, Thomasin, and company. In “The Witch,” Eggers applied dialect evoking 1630s New England, and “The Lighthouse” follows suit with some wonderfully inscrutable 19th-century nautical nonsense. Brother Max Eggers co-wrote the screenplay, and a note in the end crawl acknowledges the variety of sources for the idiosyncratic vocabulary of Willem Dafoe’s Thomas Wake and Robert Pattinson’s Ephraim Winslow, the tortured souls whose sanity starts to leak at the coastal Maine location of the title.

While “The Witch” included well-placed smatterings of macabre humor, “The Lighthouse” will play as an outright comedy for many. The change in tone turns out to be Eggers’ finest trick, freeing the filmmaker from expectations to stick with the formula of serious, mounting dread. Fully committed, Dafoe and Pattinson are terrific fun together. The former’s Wake is an absolutely delightful caricature of every pipe-chomping, pop-eyed sea dog from Ahab to Horatio McCallister, and the latter’s “timberman” Winslow slow-boils to perfection at each new indignity and humiliation leveled at him by his superstitious, flatulent boss.

I certainly won’t be the only observer to wonder whether Eggers should be publicly thanking Guy Maddin for having already concocted the ultimate hallucinatory, black-and-white, silent film-inspired, lighthouse-set fever dream of mania and madness, but I gotta spill my beans: “The Lighthouse” owes a deep, seagull-fouled cistern of gratitude to “Brand Upon the Brain!” (2006). In a perfect world, some future programmer will set up a double feature and invite guests to attend in costume. Additional influences already identified by Eggers and others include Herman Melville (obviously), Ingmar Bergman, Fritz Lang, G. W. Pabst, Jean Epstein, Jean Gremillon, and Sarah Orne Jewett. It’s a deep bench.

“The Lighthouse” explores several classic themes of maritime literature: the burden of isolation from community, the dynamics of a complex superior/subordinate relationship, and the homoerotic impulses common to spheres from which females are excluded. The pathway connecting sexual fantasy and any-port-in-a-storm actuality is beautifully blurry. Both men express themselves in several ways as carnal creatures, and Ephraim’s vigorous, animalistic masturbation while fondling his hand-carved mermaid fetish is one of many ways Eggers expresses an almost tactile fascination with fluids. Spittle, vomit, fecal waste, and tears (from within) join nature’s lashes of rain and seawater (from without) as a constant threat to order and equilibrium.

“The Witch” may be the superior film, but “The Lighthouse” sees Eggers growing by leaps and bounds as a storyteller and visual stylist. The squarish frame magnifies the escalating emotional tension. Inky details and shadings of grayscale are intensified with the application of a custom orthochromatic filter. Dreamlike imagery hovers in the liminal passageway between ecstatic religious/mythological iconography and literal nightmare visions. Eggers is a major talent, and “The Lighthouse” -- like his feature debut -- inspires many conversations and invites multiple viewings.

As the story unfolds, Eggers almost effortlessly conveys our curiosities about the veil separating the corporeal and the ethereal. It doesn’t matter whether the film’s many supernatural encounters exist only in the imaginations of the lighthouse keepers. If we were in their place, Eggers argues, wouldn’t we also be as attracted to the dazzling illumination flooding from the Fresnel prisms in that tower’s carefully-guarded lantern room? 

Recently in:

FARGO — The North Dakota Legislature Legacy Fund Earnings Committee hearings started off Tuesday night by listening to the public on a range of ideas on how to spend the state’s $6.36 billion surplus from oil and gas revenues. On…

The holiday season flies by, so start planning now, or it’ll be December 25 before you know it. The perfect holiday celebration is different for all of us, so here’s a look at some of the fun (and wildly varied) events we think…

Friday, November 22, 7-9:30 p.m.HoDo, 101 North Broadway, FargoPlants for Patients is, a local non-profit that runs in partnership with the Red River Women's Clinic, and they are hosting a fundraiser. The evening will include…

“Twitter can make a joke of it, but when it comes down to it - Meth is a serious problem in SD. We are here to Get. It. OUT.” Tweeted South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, the same day South Dakota launched its “Meth. We’re on…

King Donald: The Most Dangerous Human In The WorldI will never forget a summation about President Donald Trump by a frequent visitor to Mar-a-Lago: “Even his friends don’t like him.” After observing Melania and him for years,…

To say that this year’s Bartenders Battle was the best display of talent in the six years since its creation would be an understatement and a disservice to not only the bartenders who made it into the competition, but also the…

All About Food

​Out to lunch

by HPR Contributor

By Jill Finkelsonjsfinkelson99@gmail.comSchool lunch has been in the news lately. There have been stories from around the country about the mounting debt and how school’s have been dealing with it. Michaela Schell and Chris…

As the lights came up after Slayer’s final song during their November 17 set for their FInal Campaign tour at the Fargodome, Minneapolis based photographer Paul Allen turned to me and said. “It’s really sad that this is their…

“Parasite” will be the top-grossing foreign-language film at the 2019 American box office, and deservedly so. Joon-ho Bong’s most satisfying and accomplished movie since “Mother” in 2009, “Parasite” is the first…

Earlier this autumn, the Hjemkomst Center began an exhibition which is currently on display called “SuperMonsterCity! - A Celebration of Monsters, Superheroes, and Villains."  It contains a selection of almost 200,000 films,…

By Michael Str!kemichaelstrike.solo@gmail.comComedy, dance, live music, and that classic wordplay and wit only Mel Brooks can deliver. This Friday, November 14th, Concordia College Theater premieres their production of Mel…

Stand-up comedy is traditionally a one-way exchange. Outside of the odd question addressed to a random audience member, the limit of the spectators’ contribution to the conversation is their laughter at the comedy stylings being…

Perched along the banks of the Allegheny, Ohio and Monongahela Rivers and tucked up into the surrounding hills, Pittsburgh’s 90 distinct neighborhoods are connected by more bridges than Venice. Commuters and travelers enjoy…

Wellness

Yoga on the Farm

by Ryan Janke

Every Thursday evening during the month of June, Mara Solberg is inviting people to come out and try Yoga on the Farm. It is a unique yoga experience that was born from an idea that was proposed to Solberg.“I’ve been with Red…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

Gary Olsonolsong@moravian.eduOver the past few months President Trump has unilaterally by Tweet and telephone began to dismantle the U.S. military’s involvement in the Middle East. The irony is amazing, because in a general…