Mermaids, mythology, desire and madness in Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse (2019)

Shima Publishing
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Shima, 2022, 16, (2), pp. 197-213
Issue Date:
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Robert Eggers’ 201 9 film The Lighthouse provides an idiosyncratic representation of the mermaid as a Jungian anima in a film that revolves around the homoerotic tension between two lighthouse keepers on a remote, windswept island. While the mermaid theme is essentially a minor aspect of the film, juxtaposed with other mythological motifs, it is significant for the intensity of passions it catalyses in one of the film’s two male leads. Analysing the film, its script and statements of directorial intent, this article first discusses aspects of the interaction of the masculine characters and their relation to mythic figures, before going on to discuss the role and design of the mermaid, and of the sex scene she appears in. Additional consideration is given to the role of music and sound design in building nuance and thematic intensity within the film.
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