Archive | 5:50 AM

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.