The Lighthouse

I’m not going anywhere today for obvious reasons, so it’s probably just as well that I went out last night. Late yesterday afternoon  J suggested we meet in Peckham to eat dinner and watch The Lighthouse. I’d never heard of it, to be honest, but I thought I’d give it a try. After all, a saturday night out is a Saturday Night out..

After a hearty meal (Weatherspoons might be owned by an Outist p’tahk, but they do a damn good chilli), we went into the cinema to  watch what must be the weirdest, most disturbing film I’ve seen since Requiem For A Dream. It’s about two men slowly going mad manning a lighthouse on a desolate island. Shot in monochrome with an unusual aspect ratio, some  of the imagery is  chilling. There was very little plot, and it struck  me as so random and uncanny (in the Freudian sense) that my first reaction when the credits rolled was ”What the hell was that?”

This morning, however, I began to look a bit deeper, first watching this review by Mark Kermode.  It suddenly started to become far more interesting: the film is partially based on a poem by Edgar Allen Poe; I also think there were one or two references to Herman Melville. I think it is the type of film where context is a great help: once I understood a bit about where the director was coming from, things began  to make more sense. As with 1917, it is less a piece of entertainment than a work of art – a cinematic poem about isolation and loneliness. And as with 1917, I certainly think a second viewing is in order. A text which at  first seems quite jarring may, upon reflection, turn into something quite eloquent.

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