The Lighthouse

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The Lighthouse (2019) and the nature of Hierarchy.

*This can be argued from either Marxist or Anarchist perspective. As I’m not an anarchist I will present the topic from my perspective but the author is free to analyze with whatever school of thought they see as suitable.

The Robert Eggers film, The Lighthouse stars Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe as two men charged with the upkeep of a lighthouse. Throughout the course of the film the audience is shown the relationship of the two men, which is that of worker and boss. The Worker, Howard (Pattison) is younger and serves at the will of the boss, Wake(Dafoe) who is older.

The division of Labor is shown to be highly unequal as Wake (Dafoe) works considerably less and does considerably easier work than Howard (Pattinson). This is exacerbated by the fact that Wake controls not just how much Howard will be paid at the end of their shift but also if he will even be paid at all. The dynamic is severely unbalanced and rigidly show, the boss is able to control the worker with the threat of starvation.

The film explores other facets of domination, control, and but one key theme is liberation, that is escaping the need to labor and being free to exist. Wake has attained it, Howard seeks to reach that.

This is echoed by the fact Wake, is the only one to work the light. While Howard is forced to toil below. Drawing parallels to the idea of skilled vs. unskilled labor.

Of note, the two men share quite a number of similarities and it can even be said they’re the same man at different points in his life, but then what can be read from the text. The oppressed worker himself becoming an oppressor. Indeed when Howard lashes out at Wake and turns him into a dog, is he in fact liberated?