How The Lighthouse Director Feels About People Getting Really Into The Movie During Quarantine

Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson in The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse is the kind of independent film a lot of people might not actively seek out, but is nonetheless one of the better movies to be released last year. It’s a slow burn, characters-going-gradually-mad-type of film that meanders between historical fiction and psychedelic fantasy horror. So yeah, it's a wild affair.

Still, during these odd, isolating times, people seem to be really getting into The Lighthouse now that it’s released on VOD. As it so happens, this new fascination hasn’t been lost on director Rober Eggers, even though he doesn’t really pay too close attention to that sort of thing. Recently, Eggers spoke with GQ about the current age of isolation. Here’s what he said:

I’m not on social media, but I am aware there’s a lot of Lighthouse news right now. And I’m glad that we could make something that might be helpful in this strange time. I guess The Lighthouse can be a cautionary tale. I hope everyone was like, 'I will not attempt Lighthouse levels of drinking turpentine.'

For those who need to be caught up, The Lighthouse, starring Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, is about two lighthouse keepers on a mysterious New England island in the 1890s. Over time, the two are gradually driven to madness as they remain isolated for months, with Thomas Howard (Pattinson) having bizarre visions and hallucinations along the way.

Robert Eggers used black-and-white film to shoot The Lighthouse; it was an unusual, yet fascinating approach that lifted a few eyebrows last year. In an interview on the ReelBlend podcast, he spoke at length explaining why he took that approach. Here’s what he said:

The blacks sort of bottom out suddenly in a way that’s very satisfying as a nice microcontrast and toothy grain. And it is kind of flat and primitive, but in a way that helps the crusty, dusty rusty, musty, atmosphere of the movie. And communicates the bleakness and austerity of their lifestyle and this island much better than if we’d shot digital with color.

On top of the old fashioned filming technique, Robert Eggers said last year the movie was miserable to shoot, noting that the cold and rainy weather made the process particularly hard.

In fact, tensions grew so hot on set that Robert Pattinson said he was close to punching Robert Eggers in the face, particularly during one scene. In that scene, Pattinson’s character is walking across the beach, and the actor had to be sprayed by water from a hose, which took multiple takes. Pattinson thought it was some kind of torture. On the flip side, Eggers said he had no idea Pattinson wanted to do that.

Robert Eggers is a relatively new, up-and-coming director, making quite an impression with his feature debut The Witch, another historical drama that slides quickly into horror. It was considered by some to be one of the scariest movies of 2016.

The Lighthouse is available now on VOD. Learn what movies are arriving later this year in our 2020 release schedule.

Jason Ingolfsland