“Lightships” (2021). Cast: Lois Temel, John Harrigan, Ethan-James Harrigan, Usifu Jalloh, David Monard, Lucy Harrigan, Tereza Lamenicka, Carrie Crookall, Josephine Arden. Director: John Harrigan. Screenplay: John Harrigan. Book: Maryann Rada, Remembrance. Web site. Trailer.
Are we who we think we are? Most of us would probably say “Of course,” but is that statement truly accurate? Indeed, are we the limited, localized selves we’re most familiar with, or is there more to us than meets the eye (or, more precisely, the mind)? There could well be unknown portions of ourselves that are beyond our current comprehension. But what would it be like to find and explore those hidden aspects that could potentially open new worlds of opportunity for us? That’s what the unconventional new metaphysical fantasy “Lightships” is all about.
When Eve (Lois Temel) awakens in an unfamiliar location, she’s perplexed about where she is. She tentatively begins exploring what appears to be some kind of hospital with no staff or other patients. The only distinguishing feature is the walls, which are covered with beautiful and colorful but deflating posters expressing sentiments designed to intentionally sap one’s motivation. After further exploration, she soon discovers she’s in an unattended mental health facility with a handful of others prone to various types of emotionally unrestrained outbursts. But, even with these revelations, she’s thoroughly confused about how she ended up there and what may have prompted her institutionalization.
She attempts to converse with the other patients but makes little progress. There’s Lila (Tereza Lamenicka), who screams relentlessly, particularly when irked by the other patients; Francis (David Monard), whose behavior changes like the wind depending on his interactions with his peers; and Gordon (Usifu Jalloh), a manic, high-spirited sort who frequently breaks into uplifting motivational, spiritual and metaphysical screeds or launches into dancing with wild gyrations and gestures. The only one who seems the least bit grounded is Joy (Lucy Harrigan), who, just as she seems to be making sense, invariably drifts off into esoteric statements that are hard to fathom. Needless to say, Eve feels lost, realizing that, if she’s to determine how she befell this fate, she’ll have to do it on her own.
Not long thereafter, Eve begins getting glimpses of how to proceed, insights delivered through what seem like intuitional messages and psychic bleed-throughs. She receives impressions that she’s supposed to go in search of family members who simply vanished, inklings supplemented by what appear to be flashback images of her interacting with her husband, James (John Harrigan), and son, Orion (Ethan-James Harrigan). She’s also “told” that she can find them by searching the contents of a journal that she has apparently been keeping for some time. But, even with these insights, she’s still unsure of her circumstances, prompting her to wonder if she’s in the midst of a dream or, perhaps, even dead.
As time passes, Eve learns that her fellow patients are undergoing a specialized treatment program in which they’re blindfolded and enter into a special room where they’re given slips of paper with personalized instructions to carry out. It’s unclear where these instructions are coming from, given that the treatment room – like the rest of the facility – has no staff present. Lila, Francis, Gordon and Joy freely participate in the treatment and follow the instructions, but Eve is reluctant to proceed, afraid of what might happen and still unclear about how she ended up in the facility. However, when she sees how the others respond to the treatment, she becomes curious and decides to proceed. But whatever hopes she had are quickly dashed when she reads her personalized instructions, which inform her that she must destroy her journal if she wants to find her lost relatives.
Having developed a certain affinity for these writings, she can’t bring herself to do it. She feels there’s some sort of link between the journal and her missing family members, a connection that grows stronger with additional, longer, more intimate flashbacks. At the same time, though, she also realizes that she must somehow find the courage to follow the instructions, no matter how much she might resist.
In what follows, Eve also begins gaining greater clarity over her circumstances overall. She learns that she, like her peers, is going through a form of evolution, one that’s affecting all of humanity. In particular, she discovers the emergence of her (or, more precisely, our) inherent multidimensional self. Questions regarding whether she’s alive, dead or in a dream become increasingly irrelevant – and revelatory – at the same time. And, when she begins to sense the source of the information that’s helping her and her peers transform, she discovers the biggest revelation of all, one that’s characterized by insights that are more profound than she (or any of us, for that matter) might have been able to appreciate were it not for the onset of this evolutionary process.
If that all sounds somewhat cryptic, you’d be right. To say more would, in part, reveal too much. What’s more, though, the revelations aren’t always definitively fleshed out, something that comes with the territory of multidimensionality and the inherent flexibility that accompanies it, yielding impressions that might sometimes seem somewhat ambiguous. Nevertheless, growing into this new state of mind is groundbreaking, for it enables us to remember our forgotten true nature, to experience existence in a whole new light and to live out multiple lines of probability simultaneously, all depending on whatever we choose to explore. It enables us to break free from the self-imposed prisons we’ve created for ourselves – aptly symbolized here by the metaphorical image of the mental institution – and to move on to greater and more fulfilling expressions of what constitutes reality, a prospect that’s truly out of this world. Of course, for any of this to happen, Eve – like the rest of us – must be open to the possibility and willing to embrace what comes with it.
While Eve’s experience starts out along one particular path – and a somewhat “conventional” one at that – it soon takes a radical left turn and sets her on a completely different trajectory. The switch by itself could be seen as rather disconcerting, but the degree to which it shifts, as she comes to find out, is even more bewildering, especially as it veers into wholly unfamiliar territory. Nevertheless, for what it’s worth, that’s what’s happening, and now she must figure out what to do about it.
As Eve and her cohorts gradually come to discover, they’re undergoing an expansion of their consciousness, and they’re having some trouble settling into it. It’s as if their minds have been wedged into new bodies (as if they can even be called that, at least in the sense as they have traditionally understood the concept), and they’re now attempting to assimilate. But how do they do that?
Perhaps the most beneficial approach would be to look within themselves, to seek to understand what is taking place. And the most effective way they can do that is to examine their beliefs, for they dictate what manifests in their respective realities, the product of conscious creation, the philosophy that governs this process – even in an emerging multidimensional state.
Even though this newly emerging state of existence may be disorienting, Eve and company are gradually learning what the appearance of their multidimensional selves truly makes possible. In fact, it’s not so much a revelation as it is a remembrance of their true nature, one that they (like most of us) have somehow forgotten and are just now beginning to recall. This remembrance thus provides them (and us) with greater options and opportunities for a wider array of creative expression. While coming to appreciate such unrestricted power might seem intimidating, it also provides access to an expanded range and degree of manifestation, in myriad forms and even simultaneously.
Harnessing these abilities successfully clearly takes some practice, as Eve and her colleagues discover. It’s like learning any new skill, and they may approach the prospect tentatively. But, as they become more proficient at it, the closer they come to being able to remove their metaphysical training wheels. They may have some trepidation about this, but, as their intuition reveals to them, they’re clearly ready for it, regardless of the degree to which they realize this. They have the requisite belief framework in place to wield their consciousness and creative abilities in a full-fledged multidimensional context. And it’s time to now put that skill to use.
As they gradually come to understand their new abilities, they begin to appreciate the changes that have taken place within them to make this possible. Most notably this concerns the elimination of fears that have held them back, as well as the dissolution of limiting barriers between the multiple dimensions in which their multifaceted selves already unknowingly dwell. The diverse reactions that the principals experience as they undergo this change offer proof as to the progression of their respective transitions. They experience the unraveling of the old beliefs that no longer work for them and the implementation of new ones that do. In many ways, this comes across like a time of breakdown and chaos, and, to a great degree, that’s true. However, in order for a new paradigm to become established, the old one must pass away to make room for its successor, and that’s precisely what’s happening here.
In many ways, the mental institution is a fitting metaphor to represent this process. It symbolizes the “breakdown” that’s occurring, yet it’s also a “safe” environment for it to take place. The fact that it’s unattended makes sense, too, in that it reflects the fact that this is a process we must each go through on our own, a product of our own creative transition and adjustment. And the motivation-draining posters are prime examples of outmoded beliefs that have been allowed to hang around – be it on the walls of the mental institution or in the realm of our consciousness – for far too long, outliving whatever usefulness they may have had at one time. These elements, taken together, point us in the direction of extricating ourselves from limiting institutions of our own design. That’s a fascinating and exciting prospect, provided we allow ourselves to enjoy it and everything it has to offer. (Something to look forward to, wouldn’t you say?)
While going through this process, one might feel alone, but that’s far from true, provided we know where to look. As the patients enter the unattended treatment room, for example, they might initially perceive it as a lonely void. Yet, when they emerge, they’re provided with individualized instructions about what they can do to help themselves. One might wonder where this advice comes from, given the absence of therapists, but there is the customized guidance nonetheless. These unexplained occurrences in all likelihood reflect the multiple sources of direction potentially available to us – intuitive messages, the wisdom of spirit guides or guardian angels (or whatever other term best suits you), extraterrestrial contact, and even the grace of our divine collaborator. They’re always accessible as long as we’re willing to listen and make use of the information afforded us. Indeed, as conscious creators are well aware, “The Universe leans in your direction,” and this is proof of that. What better loving assistance could we possibly ask for?
The bottom line in all this is that Eve and her colleagues, like much of humanity itself, could well be on the verge of a big step in our evolution. Will we take it? It depends on how willing we are to believe that we’re ready to do so. The transition might be a little bumpy. But, then, the best rollercoaster rides always are.
“Lightships” was handily one of the best offerings from this year’s Brooklyn SciFi Film Festival, where I had the pleasure of screening it. Director John Harrigan’s latest feature is one of the most captivating and unusual releases I have seen in quite some time. Based on the book Remembrance by Maryann Rada, the film explores a myriad of metaphysical concepts that shed new light on what constitutes reality, where we as a species may be headed, the nature of our true self, the essence of death and dreams, and even humanity’s interaction with extraterrestrials. It generally shows more than it tells, images that depict its material metaphorically, many of which are intrinsically poetic, even though some others tend to be excessively abstract and cryptic. There are also some sequences that could have used some judicious editing given their length and sometimes-frustrating character. On balance, however, this ambitious work is to be commended for its audacious experimentation and its willingness to take chances in addressing an array of esoteric notions in insightful, resonant and readily comprehensible ways, something more films and filmmakers should be courageous to try. “Lightships” may take some effort to find, as it has primarily been playing the film festival circuit. However, this inventive offering is worth it, as long as one is willing to approach it with an open mind.
The prospects of a brave new reality are full of wonder, promise and potential. And, as we come to understand our true multidimensional selves, we have that to look forward to. It may mean giving up some things with which we’ve grown comfortable and familiar, but consider what we stand to gain. Embracing a new way of being may have some challenges to overcome, but, given what awaits us, why would we ever turn our backs on the possibility?