Archive | October, 2020

The Lighthouse Analysis: VII. MASCULINITY/POWER

17 Oct

I wanted to give my readers a chance to digest my best guesses at what’s going on in The Lighthouse film. The master post is long, so I have also published each section (exact same) on it’s own.

All the Disclaimers:

*Spoilers ahead

*To lesson confusion, I will be referring to the older lighthouse keeper as “Older” and the younger as “Younger” bc the names change throughout the film.

*The clues are offered in a non-linear way

The clues are more disjointed in the film, not presented in a linear way. Which is both why it’s difficult for the audience to grasp the true timeline, to tell who is who, and also for me to write a post without skipping around. I apologize, blame the author/director.

*The movie NEVER indicates the timeline is off. It is intentionally disjointed to confuse the viewer and have us question what is real.

To sum up, MASCULINITY/POWER is the whole theme of the film.

The lighthouse itself is phalic. Younger feels like he’s a housewife submitting to Older’s demands. The pair argue about the cooking (traditionally a female chore). Younger’s masculinity is threatened.

The sexual tension/revulsion between Younger and Older are ever-present when they’re drinking. They dance like lovers, reveal intimate information, and Older lies his head on Younger’s lap. Also, there might be some shadow sex, but maybe I was seeing things… That dynamic, speaks to Younger’s wanting to become one with Older (because deep inside his brain he knows already Older is a part of him). Joining together is therefore attractive because it would rectify such an unnatural mental divergence. But also, Younger can’t take accountability and being one with Older would force him to evaluate his deeds realistically.

The scene where Younger sneaks up to check out what Older is doing in the lighthouse is sexual. Older had already referred to the lighthouse in feminine terms, calling it a woman, and now some weird sexy action is going on. And fish fins are observed, tying the encounter back to the mermaids and the impossible desire to dominate them.

The mermaid masturbation and sex are also about the desire to dominate and the inability to do so. Man cannot dominate over nature. Ahab couldn’t, and trying made him crazy. Same with Younger. He tries to attain this power and sees himself doing masculine tasks, masturbates… But he is still subservient to Older.

Which is another reason why, at the end of the movie, Younger forces Older to bark like a dog and crawl on all fours. Older has emasculated Younger and now must feel the same humiliation, he must pay the price. Then Younger buries Older alive. In burying Older, Younger is burying the truth of his deeds. He is burying the reality of what he’s actually done. This mental split will never be united, Younger is burying the truth forever.

The end references Greek Mythology. I do not have very much knowledge of mythology so this comparison is bare-bones from me, but check out other analysis of this film, because other s thought this was a primary theme of the movie (I don’t). Proteus represents Older, an older prophetic ocean God, or man of the sea as Homer described him. And Prometheus’ (Younger’s) death is foreshadowed. I don’t think the movie fleshes out this theme overall, and it’s not entirely based on mythology, but definitely an inspiration for the author of this screenplay/book/writing.

When Younger does finally get to the light. It’s too much. It overwhelms him and he falls down the stairs where the birds (souls of dead sailors) peck at his body while he’s alive.

The Lighthouse Analysis: VI. Murder

16 Oct

I wanted to give my readers a chance to digest my best guesses at what’s going on in The Lighthouse film. The master post is long, so I have also published each section (exact same) on it’s own.

All the Disclaimers:

*Spoilers ahead

*To lesson confusion, I will be referring to the older lighthouse keeper as “Older” and the younger as “Younger” bc the names change throughout the film.

*The clues are offered in a non-linear way

The clues are more disjointed in the film, not presented in a linear way. Which is both why it’s difficult for the audience to grasp the true timeline, to tell who is who, and also for me to write a post without skipping around. I apologize, blame the author/director.

*The movie NEVER indicates the timeline is off. It is intentionally disjointed to confuse the viewer and have us question what is real.

The action before the movie started

So who’s in the water tank? Late in the movie, a notebook washes up in the disheveled, water-logged lighthouse living quarters. It has notes about Younger’s poor work performance and indicates the boss does not want to pay him. The audience assumes this boss is Older. And Older is gaslighting and manipulating in order to get Younger to do all the work, then steal his money. But remember, we are seeing everything through Younger’s (altered) perspective.

This book is, I think, the key to the action that happened before the movie started and the audience got to observe. Conversations detail that Younger came to the lighthouse to get away from the logging industry. And Younger tells Older that he has had many jobs, going from one to the next, all his life.

And on another drunken night, Younger “spills his beans” and admits that he left timber because the foreman was killed in an accident. This shows a pattern. WE can assume Younger did not take accountability for his part in this death. And he stole the foreman’s identity (shows deceit). We can understand Younger may hate authority and resent power over him. In his mind, he’s doing excellent work and these authority figures are picking on him. So he kills them, but his mind constructs an alternate reality so he never feels responsible for the murders.

This key unlocks the entire movie. Younger killed his boss at the logging industry, came to the lighthouse and in his mind worked hard, only to be picked on again and his pay withheld. It made him angry and he killed the lighthouse boss.

The severed head, the body in the water tank–is the REAL lighthouse boss. The audience came in after his death so we never met him (alive).

The Lighthouse Analysis: V. Nature

15 Oct

I wanted to give my readers a chance to digest my best guesses at what’s going on in The Lighthouse film. The master post is long, so I have also published each section (exact same) on it’s own.

All the Disclaimers:

*Spoilers ahead

*To lesson confusion, I will be referring to the older lighthouse keeper as “Older” and the younger as “Younger” bc the names change throughout the film.

*The clues are offered in a non-linear way

The clues are more disjointed in the film, not presented in a linear way. Which is both why it’s difficult for the audience to grasp the true timeline, to tell who is who, and also for me to write a post without skipping around. I apologize, blame the author/director.

*The movie NEVER indicates the timeline is off. It is intentionally disjointed to confuse the viewer and have us question what is real.

Impossible desire to overcome nature, gain enlightenment

Aside from telling the viewer that these are not two separate people, this Ahab-like character, of Older, shows the struggle between man and nature, power, and knowledge.

The light is a symbol of forbidden knowledge, enlightenment and pleasure. Older has sole access to it, which peeves Younger. Younger is not a fan of authority. Younger wants his turn, sneaks in to see masturbatory light/sea creature action, considers killing Older to gain entry, and eventually begs for access.

The mermaid figurine and the human-like mermaid show Younger’s desire to “conquer” nature and achieve the pleasure of that knowledge and power. He uses the figure to masturbate, but toward the end of the movie it doesn’t work–he’s left frustrated. He has sexual fantasies of the woman-like mermaid also. But again, he is unable to copulate because her anatomy is fishy. He’s trying to dominate nature, and his failure symbolizes that man can never truly conquer nature.

The waves and the weather of course symbolize the struggle of man vs. nature and a power dynamic man must submit to. Notice just as soon as Younger kills the bird, the weather vain points North. Everything goes awry after this (to the audience).

Escape or rescue from the isolated lighthouse island is also thwarted by nature. The waves are unruly.

The Lighthouse Analysis: IV. Identity

14 Oct

I wanted to give my readers a chance to digest my best guesses at what’s going on in The Lighthouse film. The master post is long, so I have also published each section (exact same) on it’s own.

All the Disclaimers:

*Spoilers ahead

*To lesson confusion, I will be referring to the older lighthouse keeper as “Older” and the younger as “Younger” bc the names change throughout the film.

*The clues are offered in a non-linear way

The clues are more disjointed in the film, not presented in a linear way. Which is both why it’s difficult for the audience to grasp the true timeline, to tell who is who, and also for me to write a post without skipping around. I apologize, blame the author/director.

*The movie NEVER indicates the timeline is off. It is intentionally disjointed to confuse the viewer and have us question what is real.

Older is a figment of Younger’s split from reality

Probably the most enlightening scene in the movie is the one where both Older and Younger are drunk. Younger says his name is actually also Tom. Older has previously said his actual name is Thomas Wake (he goes by Wake). The two men have the same name.

We know a primary characteristic of Older is his messed up leg. And he tells several variations of how the leg came to be that way. Then, we are also shown when Younger falls off the scaffold while white-washing the light house and hurts his leg. And a bird (soul of a sailor) pecks at the leg.

When Younger is drunk, both he and Older have this weird exchange where they say, “What?” “What” They say it over and over, sort of mirroring thoughts. I think it’s supposed to be a clue that Older and Younger are the same. This scene is Younger and Older “coming back together” as Younger created a 2nd person to protect his own mind from the knowledge he killed.

It’s the same idea when Older and Younger are dancing. The movie is trying to convey the Id and super-ego of the mind are reuniting. It’s not necessarily gay (though *gasp* men almost kissing distracted every analyst from the primary point). If Younger got rid of his Id physically, and seperated it out as a whole other living entity–this would be to blame someone else and remain in denial of his deeds. It was to protect himself. Therefore, when reality seeps in, it is seen as problematic to Younger. Like the bird killing scene. Younger saw a body in the water tank. His altered reality was still able to see it as bird instead of the man he killed. But somewhere deep inside, he knows what he did–which is why he killed a random bird. And right after that the wind went North, signifying an impending storm. The storm is at the lighthouse, but it also signifies impending doom to Younger. Younger is slowly having reality interrupt his delusion. The storm is coming, but also reality is about to hit.

The movie shows cracks starting to appear in Younger’s delusion: Whatever was in the water tank, the birds tapping on the window and blocking his path, the one-eyed head, ever-present dehydration, on and on show that the delusion is slipping. Younger will have to face reality and this is shown as the Id and super-ego coming back together (Older and Younger becoming one person again). But as the two get closer (dancing, spilling secrets, telling honest names, nearly kissing) Younger’s fantasy-escapism is threatened. This is not a good thing to him. Coming together, means taking accountability that he murders. So the lighthouse (representation also of the inside of Younger’s mind) becomes more flooded and dirty. As the façade is slipping, Younger gets more chaotic and desperate to avoid the truth.

The truth is a lot less pretty than actual reality to Younger. Older’s dialog sounds like poetry. Older talking in poetry shows that younger had romantic, idealistic notions of being a wiki that didn’t match reality. Being a wiki is toiling at hard work, being lonely, and being submissive to nature. The poetic-speak is another clue for the audience. Younger has constructed this figment who talks like a book character, Moby Dick? And he has all the power in their relationship, and at the lighthouse. And a big part of Moby Dick is the symbolic struggle for power. Same here. It also allowed Younger to escape his dirty deeds. So all of this being rectified ruins the fantasy, the scapegoat, and puts Younger in charge of all of his own actions, which he doesn’t want.

The Lighthouse Analysis: III. Jungien

13 Oct

I wanted to give my readers a chance to digest my best guesses at what’s going on in The Lighthouse film. The master post is long, so I have also published each section (exact same) on it’s own.

All the Disclaimers:

*Spoilers ahead

*To lesson confusion, I will be referring to the older lighthouse keeper as “Older” and the younger as “Younger” bc the names change throughout the film.

*The clues are offered in a non-linear way

The clues are more disjointed in the film, not presented in a linear way. Which is both why it’s difficult for the audience to grasp the true timeline, to tell who is who, and also for me to write a post without skipping around. I apologize, blame the author/director.

*The movie NEVER indicates the timeline is off. It is intentionally disjointed to confuse the viewer and have us question what is real.

The battle between id and ego

Other analysts felt the film was Jungien, with Ego being Older and Id being Younger. The Ego/Older drinks and farts. The Id/Younger is a teetotaler and toils. And it really becomes clear this was an inspiration to the author with the drinking. Remember how Younger was very resistant to it at first, and Older was pushing it on him? Younger acted very repressed in his abstinence. It shows that Younger fabricated Older in his mind as a scape goat for some bad base desires.

Once there’s the calm before the storm, Older finally convinces Younger to drink. It seems once this demon is released, Younger really embraces getting inebriated. Then they get drunk again and again throughout the rest of the film. And instead of food cached in the dirt, it’s more liquor. And they are so hedonistic that they drink Kerosene for the ethanol.

Later in the film, the dialogue shows battles between Older (the Id) and Younger (the super-ego). The spilling your beans scene was the two sides of his mind sparring. At the very end when Younger beats up Older, this is him fighting with himself. Younger is trying to beat his Id, and the movie shows how it physically looks. Younger forcing his Id (Older) to crawl like a dog shows how Younger is trying to get him Id to submit to his will. He blames his Id for all his impulsive, murderous acts. And at the end of this scene, Younger is “Burying” his Id deep to cover it up and hide it. He wants that part of himself gone.

The Lighthouse (2019 film) My Analysis: II. Perspective

12 Oct

I wanted to give my readers a chance to digest my best guesses at what’s going on in The Lighthouse film. The master post is long, so I have also published each section (exact same) on it’s own.

All the Disclaimers:

*Spoilers ahead

*To lesson confusion, I will be referring to the older lighthouse keeper as “Older” and the younger as “Younger” bc the names change throughout the film.

*The clues are offered in a non-linear way

The clues are more disjointed in the film, not presented in a linear way. Which is both why it’s difficult for the audience to grasp the true timeline, to tell who is who, and also for me to write a post without skipping around. I apologize, blame the author/director.

*The movie NEVER indicates the timeline is off. It is intentionally disjointed to confuse the viewer and have us question what is real.

The Audience is seeing things from Younger’s (altered) perspective

Here is a big key to the movie that I talked about, but didn’t explain in my part I post. You are watching this movie from Younger’s perspective. And Younger’s perspective differs from reality quite a bit. Part of his perspective is that there are 2 people in the lighthouse while we are watching. In reality, Younger is in the lighthouse alone the entire time the viewer is present (because remember, the viewer gets to watch after events have already started to unfold).

Younger worked as a logger, but thought his foreman picked on his work ethic, unfairly. He allowed the logging foreman to be swallowed up by a log jam. After that Younger stole the logging foreman’s identify and applied to be a wiki at the lighthouse because you could make $1000 the further out you were. Through most of the movie Younger uses the logging foreman’s name. But toward the end of the movie Younger admits his name is actually Tom. Tommy. WHICH IS A BIG CLUE, because Older’s name is Thomas. THEY HAVE THE SAME NAME. And that’s because they’re the same person.

In order to protect himself from the reality of what he had done, Younger split off the part of himself he blamed for the killings. His base instincts, bodily functions, anger, sexuality–his Id. Older is the physical manifestation of his Id, but not actually a real, breathing person (except in Younger’s delusional mind).

Since this movie is sort of a visual representation of Freud’s personality theory, let’s look at what the Id and super-ego are and see how ego mediates between the two:

Id

Runs on pure instinct, desire, and need. It is entirely unconscious and encompasses the most primitive part of the personality, including basic biological drives and reflexes.

The id is motivated by the pleasure principle, which wants to gratify all impulses immediately. If the id’s needs aren’t met, it creates tension. However, because all desires can’t be fulfilled right away, those needs may be satisfied, at least temporarily, through primary process thinking in which the individual fantasizes about what they desire.   

Superego

The superego is the  the phallic stage in Freud’s stages of psychosexual development. The superego is the moral compass of the personality, upholding a sense of right and wrong.

The superego consists of two components: the conscious and the ego ideal. The conscious is the part of the superego that forbids unacceptable behaviors and punishes with feelings of guilt when a person does something they shouldn’t. The ego ideal, or ideal self, includes the rules and standards of good behavior one should adhere to. If one is successful in doing so, it leads to feelings of pride.

The superego not only controls the id and its impulses towards societal taboos, like sex and aggression, it also attempts to get the ego to go beyond realistic standards and aspire to moralistic ones.

The Mediating Ego

The id, ego, and superego interact constantly. Ultimately, though, it’s the ego that serves as the mediator between the id, the superego, and reality. The ego must determine how to meet the needs of the id, while upholding social reality and the moral standards of the superego.

A healthy personality is the result of a balance between the id, ego, and superego. A lack of balance leads to difficulties. If a person’s id dominates their personality, they may act on their impulses without considering the rules of society. This can cause them to spin out of control and even lead to legal troubles. If the superego dominates, the person can become rigidly moralistic, negatively judging anyone who doesn’t meet their standards. Finally if the ego becomes dominant, it can lead to an individual who is so tied to the rules and norms of society that they become inflexible, unable to deal with change, and incapable of coming to a personal concept of right and wrong.

You see examples of super-ego in Younger’s refusal to drink alcohol at dinner. And there are characteristics of the Id when Older farts. The “two” men are the embodiment of Freud’s theory. More is at play in the movie, but this theory is a big part of it. The timeline we spoke about is secretly a big part of the movie also.

Hints of the timeline are also given away by flashes of Older’s dialogue. He tells events that we as the audience just saw for ourselves, differently. The very first time that the viewer understands the food got wet and supplies are short (when Younger “found out”), Older says, “I told you to ration 3 weeks ago, but you wouldn’t.” At the time, the audience thinks Older is gaslighting, but it’s actually the true timeline. The movie is reminding us that we are only seeing things as Younger is seeing them, and also we were dropped in to watch after events had already started. It’s also reminding us that Younger sees himself as a hard worker doing what is required. But reality (seen through Older’s commentary) says that Younger is lazy and insubordinate.

The work is also this way. We see Younger toiling, doing hard physical labor every second of every day. Yet, Older sees the floor is dirty and tells Younger to clean it. Yet again, the audience is led to believe that Older is picking on Younger, taking pleasure in making him do menial tasks. And Younger says, “I already swept and mopped it twice!” But Older sees the floor is dirty, and says (this is important), “You never take accountability.” This tells the viewer why we’re seeing this alternate reality. In youngers mind he’s a hard worker who everyone picks on. The beginning of the movie shows us how younger sees the world. The log book is physical evidence to the contrary. It tells us how things ACTUALLY went down. And gives motive for why Younger killed the other wiki that had been there with him before the audience came in.

This split from reality is shown again when Younger “finds” the one-eyed head in the crab (lobster) trap/pot [whatever it was, I don’t remember exactly]. Remember the one-eyed sea gull pecking Younger’s window? ONE-EYED bird and man?! The gulls are the souls of sailors. And the lighthouse is an actual lighthouse where Younger is trapped (alone) but it’s also a representation of his mind. When the bird taps on the window, it symbolizes the murder tapping at Younger’s psyche, making him remember his deed. This is further emphasized when he opened the water tank to find a dead bird, Younger acts shocked. He has divorced his actions from his thoughts/perspective because he does not take accountability for his actions. But we know already that Younger has killed someone (the birds told us) and put their body in the water tank.

Sources:

  1. https://www.thoughtco.com/id-ego-and-superego-4582342

The Lighthouse Analysis: I. Timeline

10 Oct

I wanted to give my readers a chance to digest my best guesses at what’s going on in The Lighthouse film. The master post is long, so I have also published each section (exact same) on it’s own.

All the Disclaimers:

*Spoilers ahead

*To lesson confusion, I will be referring to the older lighthouse keeper as “Older” and the younger as “Younger” bc the names change throughout the film.

*The clues are offered in a non-linear way

The clues are more disjointed in the film, not presented in a linear way. Which is both why it’s difficult for the audience to grasp the true timeline, to tell who is who, and also for me to write a post without skipping around. I apologize, blame the author/director.

*The movie NEVER indicates the timeline is off. It is intentionally disjointed to confuse the viewer and have us question what is real.

The plot/story/interaction begins before the audience gains access and events take place prior to the beginning of this film.

I think the audience is viewing the movie after the story has already started. In the very first scene of the film, Younger goes to his room. But he digs at the bed. There is a hole. And he has to remove a piece of stuffing. He has hidden a mermaid figure in the mattress. And he didn’t stumble upon it, he retrieves it in a knowing way. The movie is telling the audience that we came to view later then the very beginning of the action. This is not the first time Younger has been in the room–it’s the audience’s first time seeing the room. The timeline of events starts PRIOR to the start of the film.

One of the first big hints that the story has begun before we started viewing is the first dinner (that we see). Older is really trying to push liquor on Younger, and Younger is very resistant to drinking. To the point that Younger pours the liquor down the sink and gets some water. The water is a big clue. It is already fucked up.

It’s at that point, the first dinner, the audience sees that something dead is in the water tank. And it’s still unclear which of the men is responsible.

Later, we see Younger look into the water tank and see a dead bird. Not a man, a bird. It’s the evidence the audience needed for why the water is fucked up. Older, told us earlier birds represent the souls of dead sailors. And Younger didn’t see a man, he saw a bird. That let’s us know that Younger is not in reality. He has separated murdering a man in his mind. Which is why, when confronted with reality, Younger’s first instinct is to grab the nearest bird and kill it–horribly. He is “killing” the knowledge of what he’s done. Younger has killed the man (in his alternate reality seen as a bird) in the tank.

This is enforced in an earlier scene. Younger is going about his chores and a bird blocks his way, and squawks accusatorily. That scene is telling the audience, “Remember the fucked up water, which we learned was caused by a dead body in the water tank? Well, the spirit of the dead sailor (the birds) is saying which man in the lighthouse did it–Younger.”

Toward the end of the movie, Older says something like, you’re probably not even really here [the lighthouse] you’re probably wandering like a mad man through the forest, muttering to yourself. And it made me wonder if any of the lighthouse was reality, or if it was a form of total escapism and denial for Younger after he was complicit in the death of the logging foreman. After all, his sense of time is very confused. But one of the primary things that makes me think, no Younger is in fact at the lighthouse, is the dehydration. In a fit of retaliation, Younger killed the Wiki that had been there with him. [This was not Older, who is not an actual person, he is the embodiment of Younger’s Id when Younger is denying reality]. Anyway, Younger killed the other wiki that had been there for (in his mind) picking on him unfairly. And had impulsively hid the body in his only supply of drinking water. He can’t get water from the tap, he can’t drink salt water, so when Younger runs out of water he drinks only alcohol. When he [seen as they bc Younger is blaming the murder on his base instincts, his Id (Older)] runs out of alcohol, the movie shows him thirstily licking at the rain and he desperately resorts to ethanol–the only thing left to drink at the lighthouse. If this were all a figment or dream, Younger would have access to water in a forest.

The Lighthouse (and my guesses as to what’s happening)

9 Oct

*Spoilers ahead

*To lesson confusion, I will be referring to the older lighthouse keeper as “Older” and the younger as “Younger” bc the names change throughout the film.

*The clues are offered in a non-linear way

The clues are more disjointed in the film, not presented in a linear way. Which is both why it’s difficult for the audience to grasp the true timeline, to tell who is who, and also for me to write a post without skipping around. I apologize, blame the author/director.

*The movie NEVER indicates the timeline is off. It is intentionally disjointed to confuse the viewer and have us question what is real.

***key sentence that sums up the entire premise of the movie (approximation of the dialogue): You lie to yourself but you ain’t got the sauce to see it.

The plot/story/interaction begins before the audience gains access and events take place prior to the beginning of this film.

I think the audience is viewing the movie after the story has already started. In the very first scene of the film, Younger goes to his room. But he digs at the bed. There is a hole. And he has to remove a piece of stuffing. He has hidden a mermaid figure in the mattress. And he didn’t stumble upon it, he retrieves it in a knowing way. The movie is telling the audience that we came to view later then the very beginning of the action. This is not the first time Younger has been in the room–it’s the audience’s first time seeing the room. The timeline of events starts PRIOR to the start of the film.

One of the first big hints that the story has begun before we started viewing is the first dinner (that we see). Older is really trying to push liquor on Younger, and Younger is very resistant to drinking. To the point that Younger pours the liquor down the sink and gets some water. The water is a big clue. It is already fucked up.

It’s at that point, the first dinner, the audience sees that something dead is in the water tank. And it’s still unclear which of the men is responsible.

Later, we see Younger look into the water tank and see a dead bird. Not a man, a bird. It’s the evidence the audience needed for why the water is fucked up. Older, told us earlier birds represent the souls of dead sailors. And Younger didn’t see a man, he saw a bird. That let’s us know that Younger is not in reality. He has separated murdering a man in his mind. Which is why, when confronted with reality, Younger’s first instinct is to grab the nearest bird and kill it–horribly. He is “killing” the knowledge of what he’s done. Younger has killed the man (in his alternate reality seen as a bird) in the tank.

This is enforced in an earlier scene. Younger is going about his chores and a bird blocks his way, and squawks accusatorily. That scene is telling the audience, “Remember the fucked up water, which we learned was caused by a dead body in the water tank? Well, the spirit of the dead sailor (the birds) is saying which man in the lighthouse did it–Younger.”

The Audience is seeing things from Younger’s (altered) perspective

Hints of the timeline are also given away by flashes of Older’s dialogue. He tells events that we as the audience just saw for ourselves, differently. The very first time that the viewer understands the food got wet and supplies are short (when Younger “found out”), Older says, “I told you to ration 3 weeks ago, but you wouldn’t.” At the time, the audience thinks Older is gaslighting, but it’s actually the true timeline. The movie is reminding us that we are only seeing things as Younger is seeing them, and also we were dropped in to watch after events had already started.

The work is also this way. We see Younger toiling, doing hard physical labor every second of every day. Yet, Older sees the floor is dirty and tells Younger to clean it. Yet again, the audience is led to believe that Older is picking on Younger, taking pleasure in making him do menial tasks. And Younger says, “I already swept and mopped it twice!” But Older sees the floor is dirty, and says (this is important), “You never take accountability.” This tells the viewer why we’re seeing this alternate reality.

And this split from reality is shown again when Younger “finds” the head in the crab (lobster) trap/pot [whatever it was, I don’t remember exactly]. Same as when he opened the water tank to find a dead bird, Younger acts shocked. He has divorced his actions from his thoughts/perspective because he does not take accountability for his actions. But we know already that Younger has killed someone (the birds told us) and put their body in the water tank.

The Drinking Shows the battle between id and ego

Other analysts felt the film was Jungien, with Ego being Older and Id being Younger. The Ego/Older drinks and farts. The Id/Younger is a teetotaler and toils. And it really becomes clear this was an inspiration to the author with the drinking. Remember how Younger was very resistant to it at first, and Older was pushing it on him? Younger acted very repressed in his abstinence. It shows that Younger fabricated Older in his mind as a scape goat for some bad base desires.

Once there’s the calm before the storm, Older finally convinces Younger to drink. It seems once this demon is released, Younger really embraces getting enumbriated. Then they get drunk again and again throughout the rest of the film. And instead of food cached in the dirt, it’s more liquor. And they are so hedonistic that they drink Karosene for the ethanol.

Older is a figment of Younger’s split from reality

Probably the most enlightening scene in the movie is the one where both Older and Younger are drunk. Younger says his name is actually also Tom. Older has previously said his actual name is Thomas Wake (he goes by Wake). The two men have the same name.

We know a primary characteristic of Older is his messed up leg. And he tells several variations of how the leg came to be that way. Then, we are also shown when Younger falls off the scaffold while white-washing the light house and hurts his leg. And a bird pecks at the leg.

When Younger is drunk, both he and Older have this weird exchange where they say, “What?” “What” They say it over and over, sort of mirroring thoughts. I think it’s supposed to be a clue that Older and Younger are the same.

Older’s dialog sounds like poetry. It’s another clue for the audience. Younger has constructed this figment who talks like a book character, Moby Dick? And he has all the power in their relationship, and at the lighthouse. And a big part of Moby Dick is the symbolic struggle for power. Same here.

Impossible desire to overcome nature, gain enlightenment

Aside from telling the viewer that these are not two separate people, this Ahab-like character, of Older, shows the struggle between man and nature, power, and knowledge.

The light is a symbol of forbidden knowledge, enlightenment and pleasure. Older has sole access to it, which peeves Younger. Younger is not a fan of authority. Younger wants his turn, sneaks in to see masturbatory light/sea creature action, considers killing Older to gain entry, and eventually begs for access.

The mermaid figurine and the human-like mermaid show Younger’s desire to “conquer” nature and achieve the pleasure of that knowledge and power. He uses the figure to masturbate, but toward the end of the movie it doesn’t work–he’s left frustrated. He has sexual fantasies of the woman-like mermaid also. But again, he is unable to copulate because her anatomy is fishy. He’s trying to dominate nature, and his failure symbolizes that man can never truly conquer nature.

The waves and the weather of course symbolize the struggle of man vs. nature and a power dynamic man must submit to. Notice just as soon as Younger kills the bird, the weather vain points North. Everything goes awry after this (to the audience).

Escape or rescue from the isolated lighthouse island is also thwarted by nature. The waves are unruly.

The action before the movie started

So who’s in the water tank? Late in the movie, a notebook washes up in the disheveled, water-logged lighthouse living quarters. It has notes about Younger’s poor work performance and indicates the boss does not want to pay him. The audience assumes this boss is Older. And Older is gaslighting and manipulating in order to get Younger to do all the work, then steal his money. But remember, we are seeing everything through Younger’s (altered) perspective.

This book is, I think, the key to the action that happened before the movie started and the audience got to observe. Conversations detail that Younger came to the lighthouse to get away from the logging industry. And Younger tells Older that he has had many jobs, going from one to the next, all his life.

And on another drunken night, Younger “spills his beans” and admits that he left timber because the foreman was killed in an accident. This shows a pattern. WE can assume Younger did not take accountability for his part in this death. And he stole the foreman’s identity (shows deceit). We can understand Younger may hate authority and resent power over him. In his mind, he’s doing excellent work and these authority figures are picking on him. So he kills them, but his mind constructs an alternate reality so he never feels responsible for the murders.

This key unlocks the entire movie. Younger killed his boss at the logging industry, came to the lighthouse and in his mind worked hard, only to be picked on again and his pay withheld. It made him angry and he killed the lighthouse boss.

The severed head, the body in the water tank–is the REAL lighthouse boss. The audience came in after his death so we never met him (alive).

To sum up, MASCULINITY/POWER is the whole theme of the film.

The lighthouse itself is phalic. Younger feels like he’s a housewife submitting to Older’s demands. The pair argue about the cooking (traditionally a female chore). Younger’s masculinity is threatened.

The sexual tension/revulsion between Younger and Older are ever-present when they’re drinking. They dance like lovers, reveal intimate information, and Older lies his head on Younger’s lap. Also, there might be some shadow sex, but maybe I was seeing things… That dynamic, speaks to Younger’s wanting to become one with Older (because deep inside his brain he knows already Older is a part of him). Joining together is therefore attractive because it would rectify such an unnatural mental divergence. But also, Younger can’t take accountability and being one with Older would force him to evaluate his deeds realistically.

The scene where Younger sneaks up to check out what Older is doing in the lighthouse is sexual. Older had already referred to the lighthouse in feminine terms, calling it a woman, and now some weird sexy action is going on. And fish fins are observed, tying the encounter back to the mermaids and the impossible desire to dominate them.

The mermaid masturbation and sex are also about the desire to dominate and the inability to do so. Man cannot dominate over nature. Ahab couldn’t, and trying made him crazy. Same with Younger. He tries to attain this power and sees himself doing masculine tasks, masturbates… But he is still subservient to Older.

Which is why, at the end of the movie, Younger forces Older to bark like a dog and crawl on all fours. Older has emasculated Younger and now must feel the same humiliation, he must pay the price. Then Younger buries Older alive. In burying Older, Younger is burying the truth of his deeds. He is burying the reality of what he’s actually done. This mental split will never be united, Younger is burying the truth forever.

The end references Greek Mythology. I do not have very much knowledge of mythology so this comparison is bare-bones from me, but check out other analysis of this film, because other s thought this was a primary theme of the movie (I don’t). Proteus represents Older, an older prophetic ocean God, or man of the sea as Homer described him. And Prometheus’ (Younger’s) death is foreshadowed. I don’t think the movie fleshes out this theme overall, and it’s not entirely based on mythology, but definitely an inspiration for the author of this screenplay/book/writing.

When Younger does finally get to the light. It’s too much. It overwhelms him and he falls down the stairs where the birds (souls of dead sailors) peck at his body while he’s alive.

Conclusion

I didn’t understand any of this while watching the movie. And the movie was entertaining and spooky and I liked it very much even without knowing quite what happened. So watch it, for sure!

But while I was trying to sleep, my mind was connecting the dots I have laid out here. And this reading makes a lot of sense to me. I think this is the type of movie you don’t understand until the second viewing. I feel like if I watch it now, things would “click” a lot better. I’m going to buy it bc you’d probably notice something new on every viewing.