Sunday, 18 January 2009

The Lake House

Impossible architecture part 2, The Lake House.


This film made in 2006 and starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock was based on a Korean film Il Mare, and features a lot of metaphor that I rather like.

Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space, especially with the letters in the attic that doesn't exist in the architecture of The Lake House.
Bachelard assigned the attic with analogies to Heaven and dreams, yet from the exterior of The Lake House, the attic doesn't exist, there is a glass roof containing a tree that opens and closes.

The idea that perhaps Kate only ever dreamed of the architect, but the key to the film has something to do with the character of Alex and the fact that his father was the architect, there are parallels to You've Got Mail, Sleepless In Seattle, and Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind, but although reviews criticise the paradox in the time travel timeline, it's the ARCHITECTURE and the memory of a place that seems more relevant to the plot (see Gaston Bachelard).

"A house that has been experienced is not an inert box. Inhabited space transcends geometrical space" writes Gaston.

Interesting notion of the tree that was built into what is essentially a greenhouse, this too was referenced as being part of the psyche of Alex's father.

Another notable aspect of The Lake House is it's position over water, a Taoist place, it has no cellar, which in Bachelard's psychology is associated with dark thoughts, death and horror, cellars occupy the psychological landscape of horror films for that reason. But here there is no cellar, as also noted by Bachelard in Paris skyscrapers, only the lake, and how does the tree grow within a house built on a lake?

There's a reference to Dostoevsky, whose existentialist writings lost on most film reviewers, that are clearly expressed in The Lake House here:

This is interesting, because Dostoyevsky describes Heaven as being a place where sorrow no longer exists, so as such, a house that exists in Heaven would not possess a cellar.

Neither of the couple in the film are seen really living in The Lake House - there's only one scene that springs to mind, when Alex shares a beer with his brother there, and discusses his father's influence.
Other than that, the focus of attention is the mail box, in which the couple exchange letters and communication. So we only experience the house from the outside looking in. And look in we do, because it's made of glass.
But there never appears any evidence of anyone living in The Lake House, even though Alex is meant to be there, he is only ever seen walking to or from the house to post a letter or receive one from Kate.

But of course, he is really existing in a dream, he only dreams of The Lake House; it exists in his mind, in his memory, the tree as narrated by Dostoyevsky.

There's the box of the house itself, the mailbox, and the box in the non-existent attic containing the letters.

The house itself was designed and built for the film and no longer exists, how fitting.

1 comment:

  1. that was beautiful and a deep philosophical look at a great film based on what was a what I hope a great film also (downloading Il Mare right now).