Newest Reviews
Mighty Wind, A
Man at the Top
Guru the Mad Monk
Life at the Top
Whoopee Boys, The
Set, The
Cyrano de Bergerac
Death Walks in Laredo
Gemini Man
End of the Century
If Beale Street Could Talk
Raining in the Mountain
Day Shall Come, The
Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown
Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, A
Sons of Denmark
Light of My Life
Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The
Jerky Boys, The
Chambre en Ville, Une
Mustang, The
Baie des Anges, La
Ready or Not
Seven Days in May
Hollywood Shuffle
Uncut Gems
Daniel Isn't Real
Presidio, The
Farewell, The
Challenge of the Tiger
Newest Articles
Ozploitation Icon: Interview with Roger Ward
Godzilla Goes to Hollywood
Demy-Wave: The Essential Jacques Demy on Blu-ray
The Makings of a Winner: Play It Cool! on Blu-ray
Sony Channel's Before They Were Famous: A Galaxy of Stars
Start Worrying and Hate the Bomb: Fail-Safe on Blu-ray
Completely Different: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 2 on Blu-ray
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
  Lightship, The Weighty WaitingBuy this film here.
Year: 1986
Director: Jerzy Skolimowski
Stars: Robert Duvall, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Michael Lyndon, Arliss Howard, William Forsythe, Tom Bower, Robert Costanzo, Badja Djola, Tim Phillips
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Alex Miller (Michael Lyndon) is a sixteen-year-old juvenile delinquent who has been escorted to Norfolk docks to see his father (Klaus Maria Brandauer), captain of a lightship. He is left in his father's care, but despises him because of what to Alex looks like inaction and cowardice in the face of life's challenges. Nevertheless, he agrees to be taken aboard the ship for a while so the captain, who he has rarely seen throughout his life, can keep an eye on him. However, when they wake up the next day, they notice a motorboat in trouble off the side of the ship, and try to help - which turns out to be a big mistake...

Set ten years after World War II, and based on an allegorical novel by Siegrfried Lenz about beating the Nazis, The Lightship is one of films that appears to be aching with meaning, but on closer examination rings a little hollow. It is also blessed with a thoroughly bizarre performance by star Robert Duvall who plays the villain, brought aboard with his psychopathic henchmen Eddie (Arliss Howard) and Gene (William Forsythe) who are your ordinary, run of the mill heavies in comparison. Duvall, on the other hand, plays it richly eccentric, affecting a camp demeanour and twittery voice that leads you to contemplate whether he is taking his role entirely seriously.

If Captain Miller represents the personification of the steadfast and immovable lightship, then Duvall is disorder, the approaching storm that is the unstoppable force threatening to shake the ship from its moorings. Once it is established that his Dr Caspary is the bad guy - the crew find weapons hidden on their boat - it is a battle of wills between the men that ensues, with the solid and verging on the stolid Brandauer refusing to budge, not even offering one of the smaller boats the lightship has as a means of escape. After Caspary's men destroy the radio, a lot of hanging around is all that is left for the men.

Yes, there are no women in this film at all, as this is man's business judging by the amount of heads butting together as the personalities clash. Gene is obviously doomed from the second he kills the talking crow belonging to the cook, Nate (Badja Djola), and then to top it all begins hurling racial insults at him, but he doesn't get his comeuppance right away. Like everyone in the story, they are all playing the waiting game, biding their time until they can get even. This includes Alex, who grows to hate his father all the more for his pigheadedness and refusal to fight back.

But Captain Miller is fighting back on his own terms. He's not about to pick up a gun, but he stubbornly refuses to allow Caspary any leeway as the man threatens to raise the anchor and steal the ship for his own purposes. Meanwhile, he and his duo of thugs have to do yet more waiting, in this instance to get picked up by their allies. In fact, there's so much hanging about laced with menacing conversation that in spite of the approaching bad weather, the film remains pretty inert for much of the plot. It all ends with death, but even that speaks of futility, and not the example to Alex that was presumably the intent. If Duvall provides entertainment, it's largely of the novelty kind, and the film winds up being as glowering and worthy of as much meaning as you care to read into it as the storm around the characters. Music by Hans Zimmer.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 2321 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Butch Elliot
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton


Last Updated: