The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)

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therewillbeblus
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Re: The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)

#26 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Oct 18, 2019 12:25 am

Saw this tonight at the Brattle in Cambridge, MA with Eggers doing a Q&A afterwards. Similar to The Witch in many respects, particularly the aesthetic, with New England spooky folklore, visualized psychological consequences of isolation, and meticulously studied difficult accents all present. Pattinson and Dafoe are responsible for a lot of what works here, each getting plenty of opportunities to shine singularly and together, chewing scenery yet remaining reserved through enough of the film to stay true to their respective characters and refrain from going full ham. On the technical side, the score and especially the sound design are absolutely masterful, and the combination is a character just as significant as the actors themselves. Eggers shoots this in the claustrophobic aspect ratio of 1.19:1, and makes the most of his space (it’s no surprise, as he said in the Q&A, that every shot was rehearsed perfectly for blocking). The movie is pretty much what one will probably expect going in, but there are a few creative, disorienting, and unexpectedly terrifying mixtures of images and sounds that prove this to be a step up from The Witch in editing skills and experience, if nothing else.

Two standout sequences:
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There is a rapidly spliced collage of imagery mid-film that is disturbing to the senses - particularly the ears with the sounds gnawing on my eardrums - that the experience was near nausea-inducing. I mean that as a compliment, and after a very slow-building first half, the sequence carried even more power in its abandonment of the expected pace and sudden abrasive delivery of psychological dread.

The most wonderful moment in the film, though, comes at the very end with Pattinson finally coming to contact with the light in the lighthouse (his God). It is one of the most effectively horrifying moments of complete psychological destruction I’ve experienced from the medium, again due primarily to the use of sound, and the way it's shot echoes Lynch's grating use of sound design on the image in Twin Peaks: The Return.
Overall I liked this a lot, and though it felt like it was trying to exude more substance than it actually had at times, the film is at its best when it surrenders the reach for higher purpose to focus on the powerful possibilities of the medium at provoking the visual, auditory, and psychological senses simultaneously. It demands to be seen in theaters and will probably lose much of its power on the smaller screen. Eggers talked about trying to make a film about “identity, devolving into the obscure,” which is a vague but apt description of the clarity of the ideas at play. I would also call the film a hybrid of a darkly comic and less poignant Waiting for Godot (shifting power dynamics and all), and watching someone else’s nightmare through vicarious depersonalization.

As for the Q&A, Eggers talked about the intense work put into getting the film made from early construction of the script, to advocating to his funders to be able to shoot in black and white and in his desired aspect ratio (which was very difficult apparently, especially considering that these conditions made the film unmarketable to several countries overseas), to the shoot (horrible weather, cold, unpleasant, old filming equipment breaking down, no fond memories to share - though apparently Willem Dafoe is turned up to 11 constantly and chooses to rehearse with gusto on repeat, even when told not to). One of the more interesting and eerie self-reflexive realizations Eggers pointed out is how Dafoe was so confident and comfortable while Pattinson was very uncomfortable throughout the shoot, which, considering the roles each play within the film (plus it’s Dafoe’s character’s lighthouse, Pattinson is the visitor) fits quite perfectly with what we get onscreen.

Eggers also talked about the detailed research he and his brother did to ensure the accents matched accurate reports of people who lived in these places at these times (Dafoe and Pattinson have very different accents), and writing the script with the accents rather than translating them (so writing while learning the language). Eggers and his team also constructed their own sets including the 70 ft lighthouse we see in the film. He wrote the script while listening to the sounds and score we hear in the film (which I suppose isn’t particularly novel, but clearly helped create the a chaotic vibe we get), and wanted the noises to emulate New England weather and the creepy historical ghostly natures of the architecture and spaces that exist here. For those interested, while he had quite a number of folk tale influences, the main story that inspired this film was Smalls Lighthouse Tragedy.

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Finch
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Re: The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)

#27 Post by Finch » Fri Oct 25, 2019 7:05 pm

I need to see it a few more times to decide where it ranks compared to The Witch but I agree that the sound design and the images in particular are phenomenal. There are several shots in this film that I would love to hang on my wall as framed stills.
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I don't know why but in the wide shot of Winslow bashing the bird against the stone, I was expecting Wake's face to appear at any moment in the window behind him
and the film is very effective in building up that creeping dread. The stark monochrome and the slow build reminded of early Polanski like Repulsion and Cul de Sac. There are two quick fire montages that are very disturbing and queasily suggestive and I appreciated that Eggers resisted the temptation of a revealing reverse shot and instead lingered on Winslow's face in the finale. The sound design in this penultimate scene had me thinking of Lynch as well, specifically the ending of Lost Highway with the distorted shot of Bill Pullman.

On this first viewing I must say that the film felt ever so slightly too long and more style than substance but what style!

For now, a B+

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DarkImbecile
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Re: The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)

#28 Post by DarkImbecile » Sat Oct 26, 2019 2:46 pm

Sounds like I’m the first to have unequivocally loved this; as everyone else has said, the imagery, cinematography, and (especially) sound design are absolutely stellar, as is the construction of the set twbb describes above. Stylistically and thematically, this struck me as being influenced by The Shining and Eraserhead (to jump aboard the Lynch comparison bandwagon) in roughly equal proportion, and it’s the skill and attention to detail Eggers brings as a screenwriter and director that keep those comparisons from being absurdly hyperbolic. I liked The Witch quite a bit, but the leap from that project to this one in both ambition and execution is substantial enough to make me very excited about Eggers’ future.

Dafoe is having a lot of fun here, but I think this is Pattinson’s best performance yet. He seems to be aging into looks that suit his acting style and interests better than his heartthrob days, and he would be well deserving of recognition for his work here.

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Re: The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)

#29 Post by Nasir007 » Sun Oct 27, 2019 11:24 am

This is very good indeed. Almost like a parable. It is remarkable that a film with literally only two human beings on screen for the duration remains compelling throughout.

Robert Pattinson must have taken genius pills or something in the recent past. Again like with Good Time, he is very good. Though if I were to make one distinction from Good Time - as good as this performance is - I could see the labor in it. I could 'see' the great acting, even though it was great acting. I think with some actors - you don't even see the acting, they just become the characters. But here I could see how much he put into it. Depends upon viewer taste I would say. With someone like DiCaprio, I can ALWAYS 'see' him acting. But seems to work for most people. Be that as it may, under any circumstance, he's very good.

So is Defoe which goes without saying. Remains one of our great actors. For him, I definitely cannot 'see' him acting. He just becomes the character.

I will say this about the presentation which I saw at a respected cinema house in New York - I did not like the presentation. I think the image looked blurry, the contrast wasn't great. Blashphemy I know but I think the trailer looked better, and seemed to have deeper contrast.

While I support the cinema experience unequivocally, I often think that projectionists botch the presentations for specialty films and they don't look as good unless you see them in a festival or so. I have no doubt the film looks gorgeous. But atleast for this viewer, a home viewing on a well calibrated HD TV and a well rendered blu ray might lend a better experience to appreciate the cinematography.

But overall very compelling, very singular and very interesting film with two fantastic performances.

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Re: The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)

#30 Post by mfunk9786 » Sun Oct 27, 2019 3:07 pm

DarkImbecile wrote:
Sat Oct 26, 2019 2:46 pm
Sounds like I’m the first to have unequivocally loved this; as everyone else has said, the imagery, cinematography, and (especially) sound design are absolutely stellar, as is the construction of the set twbb describes above. Stylistically and thematically, this struck me as being influenced by The Shining and Eraserhead (to jump aboard the Lynch comparison bandwagon) in roughly equal proportion, and it’s the skill and attention to detail Eggers brings as a screenwriter and director that keep those comparisons from being absurdly hyperbolic. I liked The Witch quite a bit, but the leap from that project to this one in both ambition and execution is substantial enough to make me very excited about Eggers’ future.

Dafoe is having a lot of fun here, but I think this is Pattinson’s best performance yet. He seems to be aging into looks that suit his acting style and interests better than his heartthrob days, and he would be well deserving of recognition for his work here.
You've mostly said it all here - this is just wall to wall enjoyable, which makes the medicine of it also being a perfectly executed visual riff on the silent film era go down incredibly smoothly. It's more entertaining than most blockbuster 3D pictures have ever been, and I think anyone walking in off the street would be enraptured by it. That's an incredible testament to what an airtight, stunning little film Eggers and his stars/invaluable collaborators Pattinson and Dafoe made here. In two days I've seen two (this and the Sciamma) masterpieces that are a testament to the power of arresting images over all else. If your film can pull off this tremendously difficult trick of being able to startle the viewer with what's in your frame alone, every sticky bit of plot and dialogue and horror that you can add to it is only going to be icing on the cake. And with that, I have the exciting task of announcing that Eggers is our Star Baker this time around.

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Re: The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)

#31 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Oct 27, 2019 9:28 pm

One aspect of the film that has been largely ignored is just how funny it is- which Eggers spoke about in the Q&A as well, stating that this was a very deliberate choice and a direct result of critiquing his own The Witch for taking itself too seriously (which, he admitted, it had to in order to work at all, but still weighed on him for “being too film school-y,” as he put it).

You can tell that he and his brother had a blast collaborating on the intricacies of this dynamic relationship in the writing process, and even if the shoot was miserable it’s a testament to everyone’s professionalism and Eggers’ meticulous technical rehearsal and dedication to vision that the final product turned out so flawlessly composed. He seems like a filmmaker who isn’t afraid to target areas of growth and take action on them to develop new skills, while also remaining confident and self-determined enough to stick to his interests, a position some judge as fear-based safety, but feels rooted in increased self-actualization through acceptance of passionate drives (and Eggers also explicitly stated that while he loves filmmaking, his primary passion by far is folklore and associated historical myths, ancient beliefs, etc.). Now let’s see how he tackles Vikings mythology.

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Re: The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)

#32 Post by aox » Mon Oct 28, 2019 1:35 pm

Eggers is doing an AMA

It's pretty interesting

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Re: The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)

#33 Post by bakofalltrades » Fri Nov 01, 2019 6:59 pm

Disappointed to say I kind of hated this one. I was a fan of The Witch, though a decision or two in the narrative held me back from really loving it—choices that I felt did a disservice to what I perceived were some of the overall themes. So yea, I was really curious what his follow up would be like.

The film's got such a try-hard vibe (VISUALS! SOUND! WRITING! ACTING!) that I was never able to lose myself in the narrative, the mood, or even the imagery. I would add ideas to that list, but I'm really not convinced the film has much to say in the way of how myths/folklore function as a means of conveying tradition, history, values, or lessons; nor do I think it has much to say about isolation and how people might behave in such circumstances. (Re: the latter, High Life was a far richer film for me.) I was never unaware of the effort it took to get this onto the screen, so it never managed to cast a spell on me.

If I was in any way convinced that the film was concerned with meaning, I would probably have overlooked some of the overwrought aspects and embraced the sheer indulgence of it all—the full-fledged commitment to this brand of excess. But as is, even the potentially haunting imagery had a very temporary effect on me. The sort of "huh, that's cool" response I get when swiping through my Instagram feed.
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Could have appreciated the humor if it didn't strike me as juvenile. Didn't find the first fart joke funny, and still wasn't amused by the time the third or fourth one came around. The shifts from drunken ire to drunken bonding/laughter didn't do anything for me either, and the curse outs weren't elevated in any way for being in old-timey jargon. Again, was just hyperaware of someone at one time sitting there and writing the words, despite the actors' best efforts to sell it to us.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)

#34 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Nov 01, 2019 11:59 pm

I find the film is successful because it’s not interested in concerning itself with too much meaning. Eggers’ primary interest is to dive headfirst into folklore and create a psychologically haunting vibe, the kind he likely gets from his own impassioned research and giddy personal obsessions with the material. In this way it’s a less “try-hard” film than one that desperately attempts to extract deeper meaning for the sake of it, though there’s definitely an intentional theme of belief and the existential rot that comes from the division between the resistance of stubborn individuality and the pull towards god. That the exploration exists within the larger concern of his story and without becoming the obvious focus is more of a testament to Eggers’ humility, at least in this area that too often overshadows the pleasures of horror in favor of hubris.

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Re: The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)

#35 Post by Murdoch » Sun Nov 03, 2019 4:10 pm

I liked this a lot and it will likely be my top film of the year unless the remaining 2019 months are excellent (I also still have to see Parasite). As Finch mentioned above, David Lynch, particularly Eraserhead, feels like an obvious reference point here. The Lighthouse has some of the most jarring and unsettling imagery I've seen this year, particularly the final minutes, and the combination of Jarin Blaschke's eye for visuals and Dafoe's frenetic energy elevated the material. Dafoe is so good in his role though that I wish he was paired with a better actor. Pattinson is decent enough, but often feels like he's just trying to keep up with his on-screen partner.

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Re: The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)

#36 Post by tehthomas » Sun Nov 03, 2019 10:13 pm

The Lighthouse is a marvelous, well made film with some of the best b&w imagery of any film, of any era, in my humble opinion. Dafoe is incredible in this and comes across so authentic and brutal that I kept saying to myself "I'm so glad I didn't live in the 1800s". Pattinson pairs well with him as, in real life as in the film, he is under the study of the elder.

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Re: The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)

#37 Post by Red Screamer » Tue Nov 05, 2019 2:34 am

I wasn't impressed with The Witch and thought this was better but still a mixed bag.

There are great moments—
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the electronic laughter in the lantern, Pattinson's cartoonish run across the rocks on the shore, Dafoe's lighthouse-face, the difference between Dafoe's eloquent barrage of insults and Pattinson's pitiful one
—and the second half fitfully finds a manic energy, but Eggers is too self-conscious and gets in the way of his own juicy set-up and casting. He doesn't have enough imagination as a director to activate this material, either in the surreal stuff (half lands, half is standard-issue) or the dialogues, which are done almost entirely in shot-revere-shot close-ups with both actors sitting or standing still (underutilizing the powerful physicality of each), with the more visually remarkable moments confined to inserts and transition scenes. These moments only highlight how much of a shame it is whenever Blaschke's lovely cinematography is tethered to such banal compositions.

Eggers' screenwriting, like his direction, is light on poetry and overly schematic; the characters' loneliness is more named than evoked, their rivalry built-in to the situation but dramatically inanimate, without an internal logic. And is there a more obvious way to convey male homoeroticism than having the leads almost kiss then break into a fistfight?

The delightfully loud and noisy soundtrack is technically impressive, but is similarly used without much discretion. The result is a glossing over of potentially tense or emotionally complicated moments with foghorn blares, whose constant signifying drowns out any kind of ambience. Which is as good a summary of this movie as any.

mfunk9786 wrote:
Sun Oct 27, 2019 3:07 pm
a perfectly executed visual riff on the silent film era
I think you're confusing technology with form. Very few images in the film resemble anything I've seen from the silent era. The press image that's going around of the leads standing in the wind for the relief boat does, but it's an outlier. Most of the film is shot, as I mention above, in recognizably 2010s shot-reverse-shot close-ups, often separated by that film school signature (or Citizen Kane-aping in one case) moving camera scene transitions through the wall or ceiling.
Last edited by Red Screamer on Sat Nov 09, 2019 2:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)

#38 Post by Mr Sheldrake » Tue Nov 05, 2019 9:30 am

Apart from the b/w cinematography and aural design which are indeed impressive, I thought the ominous mood right from the opening shots easily spelled out what was to come. The studied artiness clashed with the horror genre imperatives. The toxicity of the men was extreme but in our current moment it evidently has considerable entertainment value. There wasn't enough context whereas the toxic males in, for instance, Kubrick are placed in a universe of irony, and are granted a modicum of pity.
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I hoped for but did not expect a Lord of the Flies type coda, the rescue ship arriving too late to silently inspect the carnage, or even arrive in time on the cusp of the savagery, as in Golding.

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Re: The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)

#39 Post by whaleallright » Thu Nov 07, 2019 5:27 pm

I have to admit I found this to be a largely empty thing, and the comment above about it feeling like scrolling through a very well-curated, rarified Instagram feed seems apt.

This was "well-made" in the sense of being kind of airlessly prim and perfect formally— but to my mind little in it (from the imagery to the narrative) was satisfyingly strange or unexpected. I admit I was kept guessing by the elliptical characterizations—who's crazy here, who's fooling whom—but it all functioned at a low heat. The comparisons to Lynch seem superficial for these reasons. Sure, Eraserhead is another example of an artisanal, amazingly technically accomplished, tightly-wound movie that delves into the uncanny, but is there a single image here even remotely as memorable or inventive as the baby, the woman in the radiator, etc.... much less anything like the genuinely discomfiting expression of feelings about sexuality and fatherhood in Lynch's film? Honestly, there didn't seem to be much expression at all in The Lighthouse.

I didn't hate the film or come away bearing the filmmakers ill will (it's not offensively terrible like too many other "indie" movies) but it just fell flat for me. There seemed to be a pointed absence of point of view, of real madness or even idiosyncrasy. It's hard for me to imagine this lingering in anyone's memory or imagination long enough to want to revisit it.

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Re: The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)

#40 Post by senseabove » Thu Nov 07, 2019 11:06 pm

therewillbeblus wrote:
Fri Oct 18, 2019 12:25 am
Eggers talked about trying to make a film about “identity, devolving into the obscure,” which is a vague but apt description of the clarity of the ideas at play.
Maybe it's because the movie didn't work for me, but as succinct expression of what the movie's "doing," I don't follow what aptly vague clarity this unobfuscates... The hints at persona-swapping, the is-he-gaslighting-or-is-he-insane feints, the waking fantasies, all of it seems well-calculated to feel threatening but none of it ever felt connected with anything beyond the harsh and unrelenting hyper-stylized presentation. Those particular narrative tricks have to start on the periphery and work their way to a surprising permeation, but here we're just kinda told "hey, this is a narrative possibility now." Extreme, turn-on-a-dime mood-swings between stolidity and confessional infodumps and abrupt inversions of power dynamics, but a general lack of gradation that might validate any of those extremes (including any sense of suppression that might warrant such explosive abruptness), feels more like willful obscurity than any volution, e- or de-, into an interesting obscurity. And despite the commitment to extremes by the actors, which might ride roughshod over those gradations, it seems to be a problem with the script, not the acting.


I can't fault the visual/aural onslaught style, as there are definitely images that felt striking, for variously complicated and more mundane reasons—the curse, the, uh, let's call them well-oiled scenes, the scream, the gory aftermath, and, on the subject of compositions that might feel like callbacks to the silents, the frame-height filling full shot of Pattinson in the foreground during the kitchen climax—and I was never bored, in as much as I found Dafoe and Pattinson interesting at least for their commitment, and the production was consistently intriguing, but narratively and emotionally, I can't say I was ever engaged by what was happening. I liked the third of it that was slapstick, but aside from obviously intended-as gags (farts!) and intended-as terror (gore!), there was a lot in the middle ground where I seemed to be the only person around me laughing (e.g. the extended curse, the seagulls), and I was often unsure whether I was laughing at or with it, as a lot of those obvious gags didn't get much laughter around me either. As opposed to the uncommitted shrug a more MOR movie might get, this gets a pointed one, but a shrug nonetheless. (I didn't like The Witch either, though.)

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Re: The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)

#41 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Nov 08, 2019 12:21 am

senseabove wrote:
Thu Nov 07, 2019 11:06 pm
therewillbeblus wrote:
Fri Oct 18, 2019 12:25 am
Eggers talked about trying to make a film about “identity, devolving into the obscure,” which is a vague but apt description of the clarity of the ideas at play.
Maybe it's because the movie didn't work for me, but as succinct expression of what the movie's "doing," I don't follow what aptly vague clarity this unobfuscates... The hints at persona-swapping, the is-he-gaslighting-or-is-he-insane feints, the waking fantasies, all of it seems well-calculated to feel threatening but none of it ever felt connected with anything beyond the harsh and unrelenting hyper-stylized presentation. Those particular narrative tricks have to start on the periphery and work their way to a surprising permeation, but here we're just kinda told "hey, this is a narrative possibility now." Extreme, turn-on-a-dime mood-swings between stolidity and confessional infodumps and abrupt inversions of power dynamics, but a general lack of gradation that might validate any of those extremes (including any sense of suppression that might warrant such explosive abruptness), feels more like willful obscurity than any volution, e- or de-, into an interesting obscurity. And despite the commitment to extremes by the actors, which might ride roughshod over those gradations, it seems to be a problem with the script, not the acting.
I can appreciate that this didn’t work for you, and it honestly didn’t work for me nearly as much as others on this board, but I’d argue that your criticisms, while valid, aren’t necessarily meeting Eggers’ film where it’s at. I said in my initial post that this struck me as a “less poignant Waiting for Gadot” but that could also point to another Beckett, Endgame, or even Harold Pinter’s works in crafting a disorienting breakdown of characters concerned with scattered issues along Maslow’s hierarchy of needs but not in order, which itself causes a disruption in equilibrium. Pattinson especially has no confident sense of self, but he also has basic survival and physiological needs that then lead back to the emotional, esteem, and psychological when those needs aren’t met, like a chaotic loop that cannot be stopped. I disagree that these “particular narrative tricks have to start on the periphery and work their way to a surprising permeation” because the film has no interest in establishing clarity in even those concerns, much less identity; it’s seemingly only interested in showing the process of disintegration, and relies on the visuals to drive that narrative, the kind that exists without a transparency in story, which doesn’t subscribe to the more cathartic kind of ‘earned’ devolving you seem to be looking for (for fair reasons), but that doesn’t mean it’s not ‘devolving’ itself.

Like those plays, there is no ‘beginning’ or establishment of character development, but a focus on disruptions to identity, stripping down control, role shifting, meditations on hopelessness of change or finite resolutions, and a general aim to capture an existential nightmare. Logic or traditional narrative arcs aren’t only unnecessary but would be misplaced in a film so unapologetically flooded with confusion that intends to extend through its characters to its audience and trap us in a hellish place, without those grounding mechanisms you suggest that would surely make for a more comfortable experience.

For the record, I very well may have liked your movie more, but at least the way I read this movie the lack of those typical interventions to d/evolve identity systematically are intentionally thrown out the door to involve us in the madness through unsolvable mystery. I had no stake in the characters, rooted for no one, except for my own psychological disarray to be absolved, which (I believe) was the point. The viewer is included as a participant just maybe not in the expected or preferred method, and like the most esoteric of Lynch’s works (to which this has been consistently compared) the experience provides the viewers with more information about themselves (through unnerving manipulations on the psyche and physiological sensors, not thought-provoking philosophy) than it does answers to the fiction onscreen.

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Re: The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)

#42 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Fri Nov 08, 2019 5:35 am

Is there anyone who has seen this and is familiar with Grémillon's Gardiens de Phare and would comment on any stylistic or thematic similarities or that even it could be considered (and yes I shudder to use the word) an homage?

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Re: The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)

#43 Post by swo17 » Fri Nov 08, 2019 11:13 am

Well I love the Grémillon and I'll see this eventually...

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Re: The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)

#44 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Nov 08, 2019 11:49 am

NABOB OF NOWHERE wrote:
Fri Nov 08, 2019 5:35 am
Is there anyone who has seen this and is familiar with Grémillon's Gardiens de Phare and would comment on any stylistic or thematic similarities or that even it could be considered (and yes I shudder to use the word) an homage?
While Eggers' list of influences in the Q&A were strictly from the page not the screen, there are definitely both stylistic and thematic similarities. I do think his focus on specific historical linguistics and folklore are the primary interests, there are no flashbacks in this one or attention taken to flesh out the narratives in that way except to split reality and provide more confusion and disrupt reliability, but if it's not an influence then there are some uncanny coincidences.

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Re: The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)

#45 Post by Oedipax » Fri Nov 08, 2019 7:34 pm

Eggers mentions Jean Epstein and Jean Grémillon a bit in this article:
As for his influences, “Of course I mentioned those Bergman chamber pieces, and clearly a lot of early sound cinema from Fritz Lang and [G.W.] Pabst and Jean Grémillon and Jean Epstein’s nautical films [and] his films in Brittany. Among many, many influences,” Eggers explains.

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Re: The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)

#46 Post by whaleallright » Sat Nov 09, 2019 12:52 am

That reminds me of this line from Nick Pinkerton's review of Green Room (a film I liked better than The Lighthouse):
But just as there are plenty of dreadful record collector bands, to borrow a phrase from Joe Carducci, there are plenty of with-it filmmakers like Saulnier who would undoubtedly put together a helluva carte blanche at a receptive repertory cinema, who have all the right cinematic points of reference but no true north.

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Re: The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)

#47 Post by Black Hat » Sat Nov 09, 2019 1:19 am

Red Screamer wrote:
Tue Nov 05, 2019 2:34 am
I wasn't impressed with The Witch and thought this was better but still a mixed bag.

There are great moments—
SpoilerShow
the electronic laughter in the lantern, Pattinson's cartoonish run across the rocks on the shore, Dafoe's lighthouse-face, the difference between Dafoe's eloquent barrage of insults and Pattinson's pitiful one
—and the second half fitfully finds a manic energy, but Eggers is too self-conscious and gets in the way of his own juicy set-up and casting. He doesn't have enough imagination as a director to activate this material, either in the surreal stuff (half lands, half is standard-issue) or the dialogues, which are done almost entirely in shot-revere-shot close-ups with both actors sitting or standing still (underutilizing the powerful physicality of each), with the more visually remarkable moments confined to inserts and transition scenes. These moments only highlight how much of a shame it is whenever Blaschke's lovely cinematography is tethered to such banal compositions.

Eggers' screenwriting, like his direction, is light on poetry and overly schematic; the characters' loneliness is more named than evoked, their rivalry built-in to the situation but dramatically inanimate, without an internal logic. And is there a more obvious way to convey male homoeroticism than having the leads almost kiss then break into a fistfight?

The delightfully loud and noisy soundtrack is technically impressive, but is similarly used without much discretion. The result is a glossing over of potentially tense or emotionally complicated moments with foghorn blares, whose constant signifying drowns out any kind of ambience. Which is as good a summary of this movie as any.

mfunk9786 wrote:
Sun Oct 27, 2019 3:07 pm
a perfectly executed visual riff on the silent film era
I think you're confusing technology with form. Very few images in the film resemble anything I've seen from the silent era. The press image that's going around of the leads standing in the wind for the relief boat does, but it's an outliner. Most of the film is shot, as I mention above, in recognizably 2010s shot-reverse-shot close-ups, often separated by that film school signature (or Citizen Kane-aping in one case) moving camera scene transitions through the wall or ceiling.
Tho I think you're selling the film a bit short in certain aspects — alcoholism, male friendship etc, etc. — this is a tremendous post, especially the bit in pointing out how people are confusing technology with form regarding the constant comparison to silent film, tho it could be argued that it's a modern twist on silents.

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Re: The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)

#48 Post by mfunk9786 » Sat Nov 09, 2019 1:23 am

Red Screamer, I stand corrected and think you've made a very useful correction, despite the fact that I was only really thinking about the mood and general look of the film less so than the blocking and editing of it. Still probably a dumb thing to say.

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Re: The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)

#49 Post by Red Screamer » Sat Nov 09, 2019 11:30 pm

therewillbeblus wrote:
Fri Nov 08, 2019 12:21 am
a “less poignant Waiting for Gadot” but that could also point to another Beckett, Endgame, or even Harold Pinter’s works in crafting a disorienting breakdown of characters concerned with scattered issues along Maslow’s hierarchy of needs but not in order, which itself causes a disruption in equilibrium. Pattinson especially has no confident sense of self, but he also has basic survival and physiological needs that then lead back to the emotional, esteem, and psychological when those needs aren’t met, like a chaotic loop that cannot be stopped. I disagree that these “particular narrative tricks have to start on the periphery and work their way to a surprising permeation” because the film has no interest in establishing clarity in even those concerns, much less identity; it’s seemingly only interested in showing the process of disintegration, and relies on the visuals to drive that narrative, the kind that exists without a transparency in story, which doesn’t subscribe to the more cathartic kind of ‘earned’ devolving you seem to be looking for (for fair reasons), but that doesn’t mean it’s not ‘devolving’ itself.

Like those plays, there is no ‘beginning’ or establishment of character development, but a focus on disruptions to identity, stripping down control, role shifting, meditations on hopelessness of change or finite resolutions, and a general aim to capture an existential nightmare. Logic or traditional narrative arcs aren’t only unnecessary but would be misplaced in a film so unapologetically flooded with confusion that intends to extend through its characters to its audience and trap us in a hellish place, without those grounding mechanisms you suggest that would surely make for a more comfortable experience.
That's mostly right, but the film doesn't go quite as far in that direction as your comparisons do. There are reversals and abstractions/vacancies that seem like they're gesturing towards a Beckettian mode of unholy anti-drama, but on the other hand, we still get a conventional backstory for Pattinson's character that psychologizes at least some of what is to come and the more obscure parts of what came before, as well as a legible, if superficial, dynamic of generational tension between the characters, and obvious markers of sexual repression as the driving force of the film. It doesn't commit to the removal of psychology, order, cause and effect, &c that you'd find in Beckett but it also doesn't have a well-developed dramatic arc or rapport between the characters like, say, Phantom Thread. Instead, it sticks to a kind of middle ground that I think dilutes its effect.
Last edited by Red Screamer on Sun Nov 10, 2019 2:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019)

#50 Post by senseabove » Sun Nov 10, 2019 4:33 am

Yes, what Red Screamer said. If Beckett is the comparison, it's sorta stuck in Malone Dies; it needed to start with more Molloy or go further into The Unnameable, or both.

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