Quantcast

The Lighthouse (Blu-ray Review)

Now nominated for an Academy Award in the category that kind of feels like a grand victory for this little film, The Lighthouse has arrived on Blu-ray. It released on January 7th (My review copy came afterward) and hopefully will be one seen by those who didn’t have the luxury of it playing in a theater near them. This beautiful black and white film has been hailed as a modern masterpiece by many and it comes from Robert Eggers who delivered another film many like to tout the M-word with, The Witch. The Blu-ray has a short-list of extras, but they all provide a quality intake. The Lighthouse is not for everyone, but is the kind of unique, original, bold, challenging cinema many claim they are wanting nowadays. Whether you’re a fan or you want to take a nice chance, you can do so by ordering it from the (Paid associates account) Amazon link below.

Film

From Robert Eggers, the visionary filmmaker behind the modern horror masterpiece The Witch, comes this hypnotic and hallucinatory tale of two lighthouse keepers (Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson) on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s. As an approaching storm threatens to sweep them from the rock and strange apparitions emerge from the fog, each man begins to suspect that the other has become dangerously unmoored.

Masterpiece or no, its undeniable that Robert Eggers The Lighthouse is an absolute work of art. Sure, all movies are art and those who make them artists, but The Lighthouse transcends just being a movie or a film. The Lighthouse holds up with any great painting, poem, album or fantastic work of literature. There’s no other way around and I hope that descriptor makes sense. We have films that are beautifully photographed or written, but then we have something like this that is on another level.

An obvious statement, frequently needing rebuffed in the modern atmosphere, that film is a visual medium. Its primary advantage/difference above all other of its artistic brethren is the moving picture.  The Lighthouse’s influence is clearly from the silent era, from its pillar box sized film stock to the lighting and blocking used in the film. Even the dialogue is that which could have been a text insert at important moments. The cinematography is the obvious star of the film and the driving force. For much of the opening to the film, there is no dialogue, only environmental ambiance and sound effects. And it really could have gone the whole film that way and likely come to the same success.

A modern take on the silent film is clearly the objective of delivery here and everyone involved pulls it off in spades. The performance of Willem Dafoe perfectly encapsulates the silent film thespian. Its absolutely off the charts and feels genuinely like he was pulled from the 1920s. Pattinson is terrific as well, and bounces off DaFoe easily. When it comes to the silent tribute, perhaps the best moment in the film to display it happens when Robert Pattinson’s Thomas Howard takes to swinging and bludgeoning a seagull repeatedly. The way the film captures Pattinson’s motions and aggression, you can almost feel the illusion of heavier grain, a little faster frame rate and a bit of a bouncy reel.

Overall, The Lighthouse is (rightfully) crafted as a horror film, but I can just help from calling it art. The horror involved in this story definitely pulls from a Lovecraftian influence with its weirdness and use of tentacles. However, the film is more metaphysical and deals with isolation insanity. Its a film that one could be left to wonder if the perspective shown isn’t but an illusion in itself from the perspective of Thomas Howard. The film is littered with some lovely mindf*** imagery that may not enjoy seeing and being affected by. Regardless, its effective.

Whether you enjoy a kind of film like The Lighthouse or not, its a clear achievement as its one that is sure to spark analysis and discussion after the final credit rolls. There is plenty to unload, appreciate or even talk about what bothered you. Divisive gets thrown around as being a “bad” or “troubled” thing when it comes to film nowadays, but I think its the most healthy form of cinematic appreciation we have. With good civil heads involved, you can actually have a nutritional conversation about a film because that film drives a strong feeling from both the positive and negative directions. Its at least evoked debate, discussion and longevity for a film that lets it hang around. That’s far more prosperous than dunking on a bad film or just all carrying the same praise on a consensus good one. Now, I don’t think The Lighthouse was divisive, just that with its release to Blu-ray and streaming, more people who aren’t akin to this kind of film are going to be discovering it and unsure of what they just experienced.

Video

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.20:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: The Lighthouse arrives being shot on  film and looks absolutely beautiful with great crispness, strong details and some of the best black level saturation to be found on the standard Blu-ray format. As I mentioned the film as an absolute work of art, this Blu-ray transfer relishes in that, and any screencap taken would look fine up on a wall or in a gallery collection anywhere. Its pretty brilliant and really helps convey and translate the story at hand.

Depth: With the filmed nature of this, there is a nice quality depth with great foreground and background separation, spaciousness and confidence in each frame. Every actor movement and camera swing is smooth and swift with no issues regarding motion blurring or juddering in rapid sequences.

Black Levels: These inky blacks are deep and a thing of complete beauty. The image is a mastery of definition by way of darkness and shadow, lovingly transferred here in every frame. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: N/A

Flesh Tones: Skin tones have a nice white/gray color to them and fell full and consistent from start to finish. Every little facial detail can bee seen from dirt to freckles.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: The Lighthouse comes with a very fruitful and telling 5.1 track. For fun, the geek in me almost wishes as a bonus there was a mono track or maybe a silent film score version of the film. Luckily though, this 5.1 track is a treat, really pumping up the sound of the ocean, the interior environment sounds and more to pulsate and bring to life every room or the outdoors.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: When effects or score calls for it, this one does land effectively, set to appropriately precise volumes to reflect the onscreen action.

Surround Sound Presentation: A playful track and that makes sure no corner of the room is left unturned or inactive. There is plenty of fun and great accuracy to be had in this mix. Wonderful traveling movement as well as surprises coming from behind.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp, capture every little sound and depth in the actors’ vocal inflection. DaFoe’s voice is really full, well rounded and lively.

Extra

The Lighthouse comes with a digital copy code.

Audio Commentary

  • With Co-Writer & Director Robert Eggers

Deleted Scenes (HD, 5:17)

The Lighthouse: A Dark And Stormy Tale (HD, 37:47) – A look back at the production of the film as well as an examination of the themes and subliminal messaging of the film, complete with cast and crew interviews.

Summary

The Lighthouse is a visual marvel and easily one of 2019’s most glorious achievements. Lionsgate has put together a very good release for it, with a standard Blu-ray being about the best you could ask for and the extras being quite fulfilling though there aren’t many of them included. Hopefully this movie can garner a bigger following here on the home video market that could warrant and more extensive release and maybe a 4K disc down the line.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link.

Share

Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

1 Response to “The Lighthouse (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    Yeah, this was a film you’d love. I knew it.