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GOCRITIC! Animateka 2022

GoCritic! Review: Lighthouse


- A look at Czech director Filip Kraus's animated short Lighthouse, a semi-finalist at last year's Student Academy Awards, which screened in Animateka's Student Panorama Section

GoCritic! Review: Lighthouse
Lighthouse by Filip Kraus

With its slow-burning pace and suitably shadowy atmosphere, Czech animator Filip Kraus’s Lighthouse paints an effective psychological portrait of regret and redemption. Depicting a man imprisoned in the book-filled lighthouse of a tiny, depopulated island, this eleven-minute short was screened within Animateka’s Student Panorama section, following its selection earlier this year as a semi-finalist at the Student Academy Awards.

Kraus, a FAMU graduate, opens his film with a split-screen presenting three still panels: the back of a hand foregrounded against the silhouette of someone holding an axe; a close-up of the axe; and a crashing wave of blood. Implying a heinous act, this triptych is followed by the depiction of the moderate routine of a man detached from the outside world. Our leading character is detained and thrown into the sea near the island. He has a scar around one eyelid and is the embodiment of a tragic villain.

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The sparkling light of a full moon, deranged stormy nights, and the peaceful atmosphere of afternoons represent the protagonist’s psychological unease. The texture of the weather characterises his mental fluctuations. The lighthouse itself is the epitome of snugness: books, kerosene lamps, a fireplace, orderly arranged firewood, a grandfather clock, all amounting to a cosy lifestyle.

But the protagonist attempts to build a boat to escape. From time to time, he hallucinates and sees an image of his former self, face bloodied and axe in hand. As in Maria Saakyan’s debut film Mayak (2006) - the first Armenian film directed by a woman - Kraus’s lighthouse is a symbol, a place of mysterious encounters and metaphysical images, a Tarkovskian ‘zone’ where one’s psyche becomes reality. His sin is never far away: crouching at the door and lying in wait for him.

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