I’ve had many obscure (or perfectly understandable…you decide) crushes over my lifetime. Sir Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing from the anime Hellsing, Storm from the X-Men cartoon, the dad from Casper, the dad from The Secret Garden, Kristoff from Frozen, and the valkyrie from The Northman, to name but a few.
So it doesn’t phase me to admit I have a thing for the mermaid in Robert Egger’s second film, The Lighthouse. ‘But she wasn’t even on screen for five minutes!’ I hear some of you wildly protest. I know, alright, I know, and it bugs me, even if every scene she featured in was the most masterful of masterful cinematography. Like the valkyrie in The Northman, I wish Egger’s had given more screen time for her to flail about gorgeously on the rocks and scream her siren screams. I’m tempted to write to Eggers and beg him to give her a spin-off film.
I have quite the appetite for film trivia and discovered the mermaid carving used by Robert Pattinson (for those of you who haven’t seen the film – shame on you – Pattinson’s character Ephraim Winslow found a mermaid scrimshaw stuffed into his mattress and masturbated to it) was auctioned by A24 to benefit the NYC Food Bank during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. An anonymous buyer bought it for $110,750. There’s an incredible replica for sale on Etsy at a much more agreeable price.
If you haven’t seen the film, it’s still likely you’ll have heard about the mermaid’s eye-wateringly giant yet weirdly beautiful ‘shark labia’ inspired genitalia.
Robert Eggers had some fascinating stuff to say on IMDB about the backstory of the vagina: “The mermaid on the Starbucks (coffee) cup that has two tails is based on an early mermaid design: Medieval and Renaissance mermaids were always split so that these anima figures of male fantasy could perform their role that had been unfairly thrust upon them by their male imaginers. But no surprise that in the Victorian era, they closed the mermaids up and made them impenetrable. So that single-tail mermaid silhouette has become the archetypal mermaid look for people today, and also what a mermaid would have looked like in the period of the movie. But we still had to figure out how mermaids can copulate and create more mermaids. So, we studied shark genitals.”
I’ll be back to talk more about The Lighthouse at some point; there’s so much in it to dissect and so much more trivia to share, for example, that Willem Dafoe (I’d been calling him William up until yesterday…) learned how to knit for his role. When I was watching the movie for the third time, the first thing that came into my head when I saw him with his needles was ‘I BET he learned to knit just for the few minutes of this scene. What a legend.’