The lighthouse: the brilliance of simplicity
It seems to be high season in the cinemas. For months now there’s been a relentless stream of great movies that you’d better not miss. Joker, The Peanut Butter Falcon, Little Women and Les Misérables, to name just a few. Here we would like to bring to your attention a remarkable movie that really stands out: The Lighthouse.
By design, The Lighthouse is a small movie, with a minimal cast and basically just one location where everything happens. The film tells the story of two men unknown to each other who have to spend four weeks together on a secluded island to keep its lighthouse running. Shot in classic black and white and with an almost square aspect ratio, the cinematography really brings the 19th-century story to life.
The Lighthouse was directed by Robert Eggers who first made waves in 2015 with his directional debut The Witch. If you’ve seen that one, you’re right to expect that The Lighthouse is not a lighthearted and fun movie. For his new film, Robert Eggers teamed up with his brother Max to co-write the story, which was inspired by an unfinished novel by Edgar Allan Poe as well as loosely based on a real tragedy at Small Lighthouse in Wales involving two lighthouse keepers.
The two lead actors Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson genuinely excel. Both give a masterclass in visceral acting, making their enigmatic and capricious characters as stormlike and heavy as the conditions they have to endure on the island. The beautiful cinematography was rightfully nominated for an Oscar, but both men could have easily been nominated too for their respective performances, without raising any eyebrows.
It’s a fantastic feat that Robert Eggers manages to captivate the viewer with a movie that basically just has five elements: the story, its two actors, the location and the weather, and it makes us hungry for his next effort. As Leonardo da Vinci might have said: “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. As designers of basic products, we can surely relate here.