Back in May at the Cannes Film Festival, the LWLies team was collectively wowed by The Witch director Robert Eggers‘ hallucinatory follow-up feature The Lighthouse. It’s been a fun few months of dangling our knowledge over the colleagues that didn’t make it to the Croisette, but now the film’s first trailer has arrived to give everyone a look into the eye of the storm.
Eggers sets his scene on a remote island off the coast of Maine, sometime in the 1890s. Its only inhabitants? Two seamen (Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson) responsible for the lighthouse warning oncoming sailors of land, and general upkeep around the shack in which they lay their heads.
A handful of stylistic choices – shooting in high-contrast black-and-white, the use of old lenses for a worn look, a boxy aspect ratio – suggest a thin sheen of surreality that gradually comes to blanket both men as time slips away from them. Dafoe and Pattinson’s characters get a case of cabin fever driving both men to the precipice of their sanity, with pounding rain and malevolent seagulls conspiring to push them over.
The trailer whips up a hurricane of gnarled nautical imagery: Pattinson tenderly touching a mermaid figurine, a writhing mass of suction-cupped tentacles, a ship emerging from fog as if it was a ghostly apparition. Between the haunting sea chantey carousing in the background and the swirl of oneiric visions, there’s a palpable madness in the air.
One tip from us, for the interim months of preparation before the film debuts in October. Do a bit of research on Jean Grémillon’s 1929 silent film The Lighthouse Keepers, an influence on Eggers apparent from a single glance at the earlier picture.
The Lighthouse comes to cinemas in the US on 19 October.
Published 30 Jul 2019
Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe are on top form in Robert Eggers’ stark maritime nightmare.
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