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.”

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