Chiltern Film Society - February 2021

Stay Away From The Light Our planned schedule is being turned upside down this season, as you would expect. A cancelled film from last November, for example, was moved to the end of January - then January’s films were affected, too...

Our single screening for this month was planned for Wednesday 24th: The Lighthouse. It is a dramatic fantasy horror film, directed by Robert Eggers (who has previously given us The Witch in 2015 and is currently in post- production on The Northman). The Lighthouse stars Robert Pattinson and Willem Defoe, two heavyweights of the screen. The story is set on a remote and mysterious island in New England in the 1890s, where two lighthouse keepers try to stop themselves going insane! As of writing, the film has so far won 29 international awards and been nominated for a further 123, including an Oscar nomination for Best Achievement in Cinematography - the film is in black and white in order to enhance the sinister setting.Of course, the claustrophobic world of the lighthouse means that Hollywood has, over the years, concentrated on the loneliness of the keeper's job and the eeriness of the structures themselves - leading inevitably to dark drama. Perhaps it all began with Michael Powell’s thriller The Phantom Light of 1935, in which a lighthouse keeper has been murdered in mysterious circumstances and, during the ensuing investigation, a Phantom Light keeps appearing at the scene of his death… scary! Films featuring lighthouses do tend to be on the darker side of story-telling - two classic thrillers come to mind: Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island (2010) and John Carpenter’s The Fog (1980).

However, to counterbalance the dark storms with some sunny lightness - how about Disney’s superb Pete’s Dragon from 1977 (the original, not the recent remake)? Anyway - we’re relying on some guidance to show us the way out of these gloomy times. Maybe, The Lighthouse will be just the tonic we need.

Paul Vates – Chiltern Film Society

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