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.

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