TV Party Tonight! #80

TV Party Tonight! #80

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Tuesday, 18 February 2020
DVD/Blu-Ray

The Lighthouse
[Blu-ray]

Pity the Oscars. It’s all people seem to care about when it comes to the recognition of the best the industry has to offer. But the fact of the matter is, the Oscars wouldn’t know a good movie if it bit them on the ass. In other words, the Oscars don’t matter, except when they do. More on that in our next edition of TV Party Tonight!

But the most recent exhibit in the hall of shame for the Oscars is the Lighthouse. Sure it got nominated for Cinematography, but it should have been recognized for much more. I’m both disappointed and relieved that this movie was “overlooked,” however, because it’s too good for mainstream consumption. If that’s a snobby thing to say, so be it.

The Lighthouse’s premise is a little like the Shining. Two men tend to a lighthouse in New England in the 1890s and the isolation starts driving them insane. But it’s this simple plot that is the glue for a movie that is chock full of interesting features. First of all is the look of the movie: dark and dreary and looking like a window into the past. Then there are the performances, particularly by Willem Dafoe who’s portrayal of the elder wickie is haunting and mesmerizing. Then there’s the symbolism itself as the Lighthouse plays with our sense of reality, never really letting its audience feel at ease that we understand what’s going on. This is a movie that, much like one of its scenes, has us asking “what?” over and over again. And it certainly benefits from repeated viewings, where we’re allowed to digest and redigest the events, and reinterpreting exactly what the message is. The Lighthouse is a strange movie in every sense of the word, and one that will split audiences for sure. But it will also distinguish the viewers who want to think about what they’re seeing from those who simply want to turn their brain off.

Owning a physical release of our favorite movies is more relevant now than ever, and especially when it’s got such great special features. The blu-ray edition of the Lighthouse has some deleted scenes, nothing essential, but also an informative making-of and director’s commentary. They are fun to watch, explain several elements the audience might struggle with, and provide an interesting behind the scenes look at how this weird movie got made. It strikes a rare balance of thoroughness and conciseness. This blu ray is highly recommended.

Things we learn from the special features:

It’s never really explained but the movie takes place in Maine in 1890

The lighthouse itself and all the structures were built just for this movie on a rock in Nova Scotia.

The aspect ratio of 1.19:1 was chosen to compliment the filming of vertical structures

In the script, the two characters were referred to simply as Young and Old

Most of the weather in the movie represents the actual weather on shooting day, such as that shot of both protagonists waiting for the ship to come pick them up during the storm

The drink they make when they run out of alcohol is turpentine and honey: an actual drink

Director Robert Eggers thought the movie might be too funny when he saw the final cut. The crew assured him that wasn’t the case.

The Lighthouse
[Blu-ray]

Pity the Oscars. It’s all people seem to care about when it comes to the recognition of the best the industry has to offer. But the fact of the matter is, the Oscars wouldn’t know a good movie if it bit them on the ass. In other words, the Oscars don’t matter, except when they do. More on that in our next edition of TV Party Tonight!

But the most recent exhibit in the hall of shame for the Oscars is the Lighthouse. Sure it got nominated for Cinematography, but it should have been recognized for much more. I’m both disappointed and relieved that this movie was “overlooked,” however, because it’s too good for mainstream consumption. If that’s a snobby thing to say, so be it.

The Lighthouse’s premise is a little like the Shining. Two men tend to a lighthouse in New England in the 1890s and the isolation starts driving them insane. But it’s this simple plot that is the glue for a movie that is chock full of interesting features. First of all is the look of the movie: dark and dreary and looking like a window into the past. Then there are the performances, particularly by Willem Dafoe who’s portrayal of the elder wickie is haunting and mesmerizing. Then there’s the symbolism itself as the Lighthouse plays with our sense of reality, never really letting its audience feel at ease that we understand what’s going on. This is a movie that, much like one of its scenes, has us asking “what?” over and over again. And it certainly benefits from repeated viewings, where we’re allowed to digest and redigest the events, and reinterpreting exactly what the message is. The Lighthouse is a strange movie in every sense of the word, and one that will split audiences for sure. But it will also distinguish the viewers who want to think about what they’re seeing from those who simply want to turn their brain off.

Owning a physical release of our favorite movies is more relevant now than ever, and especially when it’s got such great special features. The blu-ray edition of the Lighthouse has some deleted scenes, nothing essential, but also an informative making-of and director’s commentary. They are fun to watch, explain several elements the audience might struggle with, and provide an interesting behind the scenes look at how this weird movie got made. It strikes a rare balance of thoroughness and conciseness. This blu ray is highly recommended.

Things we learn from the special features:

  • It’s never really explained but the movie takes place in Maine in 1890
  • The lighthouse itself and all the structures were built just for this movie on a rock in Nova Scotia.
  • The aspect ratio of 1.19:1 was chosen to compliment the filming of vertical structures
  • In the script, the two characters were referred to simply as Young and Old
  • Most of the weather in the movie represents the actual weather on shooting day, such as that shot of both protagonists waiting for the ship to come pick them up during the storm
  • The drink they make when they run out of alcohol is turpentine and honey: an actual drink
  • Director Robert Eggers thought the movie might be too funny when he saw the final cut. The crew assured him that wasn’t the case.

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