By Marcus Jarrett (Arizona)
I am clearly not a writer, but I wanted to share my thoughts on The Lighthouse. And all opinions are welcome to help me further understand this crazy movie Holy… sh*t. Okay, so I watched The Lighthouse and I haven’t been too fond of anyone’s interpretation so far, so I felt like I might as well share mine. I literally hate reading and writing, but this movie was so deep I couldn’t help but speak on it.
What Does It All Mean?
Simply put, Robert Pattinson’s character is in purgatory. He murdered the real Winslow, and was sent to live in purgatory for as long as he could last. The island is his final stop before eternal hell. And the island is set up with conditions that are designed specifically for him to lead to his inevitable demise. He is a murderer, and is sentenced to endure the life of a grunt, doing lighthouse chores while being patronized by an old man, until he can handle it no more and murder the old man, touch the light, and advance on to eternity of being eaten alive.
It’s brilliantly f**ked up if you think about it. Everything he is surrounded by is supposed to push him to his unraveling, there’s nothing he can do about it, and it’s only a matter of how long he can last.
So I think that his purgatory was set up for him to fail, and it’s just a matter of how long he can withstand the torture. He was told not to kill a seagull or it’d be bad luck. Then the seagull antagonized him constantly. Mermaids are bad luck, yet his only form of a female fantasy he has to cling on to is a mermaid. Also, he clearly had some sexual issues, and what else would be a perfect torture, other than having a beautiful woman top half, but a disgusting fishy scaly bottom. It was suggested that the previous sailor left it behind, but I’ve got to say it seems like a specifically designed torture method. Lastly, his biggest temptation is the lighthouse itself. He has to do all of the grunt work every day and isn’t allowed up to the light, while watching Howard, worship it every night naked. And when he finally does touch it, he experiences every emotion at its highest, simultaneously, then screams with pain pleasure confusion clarity and madness, and then is sent to his hell of being eaten alive for eternity. He lays in a dried up ocean, no eyes, stomach open, being eaten, and is clearly alive still. I think they made this shot to show he is finally in literal hell. Naked, no need for clothes, unable to die, because he is already dead, being eaten by the “souls of sailors” and you see a sky full of seagulls “souls” up above.
My Interpretation of What’s on the Surface:
On the Surface/My Interpretation
Winslow is at the lighthouse voluntarily for work to earn a wage.
Perfect set up for a prison designed for him to fail. He believes he is there to earn money, so It will keep him motivated to do chores. He has to follow Howard’s orders because Howard controls if he gets paid for his work. It doesn’t matter however because this is purgatory and you can take solace in working here for eternity with no end opposed to being eaten alive by sailor souls for eternity.
Howard is a madman, curses Winslow for insulting his cooking.
Howard is a mastermind, sea god, who is just torturing Winslow. He lets him know his fate to further increase his gloominess on this isolated island. Howard is able to handle the light on a nightly basis, he is powerful, not just a crazy old man.
Winslow’s Snapping Point:
I believe when Winslow finally saw Howard’s books and records he was keeping on him, he finally realized he was in purgatory and just decided to accept his fate of damnation. He read the book and immediately punches a clock. I think it’s to say he realizes there’s no such thing as time where he’s at and that f**king clock on the wall is just there to fool him. He sees that his reviews are all terrible. He was forced to drink and written up for drinking. He slaves day in and day out and takes insults assuming it means he is completing his job. But once he sees it has all been for nothing this far it clicks to him that this is his own personal hell. He comes from the trees and the forests, so what better place than be surrounded by water. He calls out Howard for being a sailor parody. Which is exactly right, Howard is just playing the part of everything Winslow would hate about a person. Winslow realizes this has no end, fully aware of the other option because Howard gave him a clear description of his damnation when he insulted his cooking. So he buries Howard, and goes to touch the light to get the ultimate reward for his eternal horrid destiny.
I think this is what happened because Eggers style. The witches ending only showed her smiling and floating to the sky, but her ending is not happy at all. She got a delicious reward for the eternal damnation of her soul. Just like Winslow, who was sent to this purgatory for murdering the real Winslow.
The Island Itself
Winslow said himself he wanted to settle down up north. With the trees and green lands. So an endless raging sea on a desolate rock is pretty much the exact opposite.
A farting insulting, patronizing smelly old man. Embodying everything Winslow hates deep down. He literally can’t stand him, yet he is stuck there with him in claustrophobic living quarters. Being constantly berated and labored.
The Mermaid Sculpture
Winslow definitely had some sexual issues. So they planted a mermaid toy to be his only form of female fantasy. He has a nasty old man, and a mermaid. So he masturbates to it, but his sexual fantasy is of having sex with a disgusting fishy mermaid bottom. She has a beautiful face but only has a terrifying grimace and screech. His best form of comfort is still a conflicting mental mess. He even breaks down crying while masturbating. Although he did see his murder victims face too so that could have something to do with it.
Being constantly warned not to kill a seabird or it will bring bad luck. The seagull antagonized him constantly throughout the movie. That is pure psychological torture. It stayed within hands reach, while pecking at him and squawking at him every day while he has to do lighthouse chores. The bird was literally there for him to kill and antagonizing him to kill it, but if he kills it he will be damned.
Just like the seagull, he will be damned if he touches the light. The light is like the ultimate temptation accompanied by the ultimate damnation.
Once again this island is just his alternative option to hell. He can remain a man that gets to walk, and talk, eat and drink, speak, think, fantasize, essentially live. However, this life will have no clear pleasure. You can eat, but it will be sh*tty, you can drink, but it will be alcohol or sludge water, you can jerk off but it will be to a screeching fish woman. You can live, but you will work tirelessly in harsh wet conditions. But if you kill a seagull it will get a lot worse here. And if you touch the light, you will be eaten alive in a dried up ocean for eternity. Once Winslow reads Howards book, he figures out his situation, and chooses the light.