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Lighthouse Film Locations

A guide to lighthouse film locations.  Discover lighthouses featured in films, videos and TV programmes you can visit or stay in!

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I love watching films that feature a lighthouse – of course! But like books featuring lighthouses, I’m also interested to find out where the lighthouse really is.  Is it real?  Is it where it’s supposed to be?  Sometimes it’s not where or what you think it is!

Lighthouse Film Locations

Typically, many are horror stories and include murder or even aliens.  Some are completely far-fetched. And whilst there have been a few real-life murders at lighthouses, it hasn’t happened quite as often as you might be led to believe!  There have been some great lighthouses featured in children’s series. Whatever the setting, they seem to capture the imagination of film writers and are often set in stunning locations. 

Here’s my guide to films where a lighthouse is featured, and some of these you can stay in or nearby.

Lighthouse Film Locations

Drama

Blessed 

Blessed is set on a Scottish Island and features James Nesbitt, Natascha McElhone and Gary Lewis.

Nesbitt plays the role of Peter, a successful city broker. Following the death of his wife and two daughters in a tragic accident, he becomes a recluse and is no longer able to speak.   He takes on the role of a lighthouse keeper on a lonely Scottish island.  There is no contact from the outside world except the monthly boat relief with food supplies.

Isle Ornsay
Isle Ornsay – the location for Blessed

But, one day, his life changes when a small girl is washed up ashore in a lifeboat.  She is the only survivor of a sinking ship which included her father.

The lighthouse film location is Isle Ornsay Lighthouse, on the Isle of Skye.  Whilst the island is cut off by the tide at high water, it is possible to walk to the island with care at low water. 

Watch/Buy Blessed

Where to stay: You can stay in the former lighthouses cottages at Isle Ornsay Lighthouse.

The Light Between Oceans 

The Light Between Oceans is based on the novel of the same name by M L Stedman. The film features Michael Fassbender as Tom Sherbourne, the Lighthouse Keeper and Alicia Vikander as his wife Isabelle. 

The setting is 1918, and Lighthouse Keeper Tom Sherbourne and his wife live on Janus Rock off the coast of Australia.  They try for a family and are unsuccessful. So when a baby is washed ashore with her dead father, they adopt her, and she grows up with them, but they keep secret the fact that she is not theirs.

Cape Campbell Lighthouse
Cape Campbell Lighthouse, New Zealand
Zaqrfv, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

However, years later, they discover the girl’s mother is still alive and are faced with a moral dilemma.

The film was released in 2016, using lighthouse locations in New Zealand and Australia.  The Janus Rock Lighthouse setting was Cape Campbell Lighthouse, Marlborough, New Zealand.

The current Cape Campbell Lighthouse is located on the eastern coast of South Island.  It marks the southern approach to the Cook Straight.  The current lighthouse was built in 1905 to replace an earlier wooden tower built in 1870.

Watch/Buy The Light Between Oceans

Where to Stay: In the former keepers’ cottages at Cape Campbell

Forever Young 

Forever Young, featuring Mel Gibson, filmed in 1992, featured Point Arena Lighthouse in California.

Point Arena Lighthouse
Point Arena Lighthouse

Point Arena Lighthouse has been used for film locations on several occasions. The film Need for Speed, filmed in 2014, also used the lighthouse for the grand finale.

Watch/Buy Forever Young

Where to stay: Former keepers’ apartment at Point Arena Lighthouse

Thriller

A Warning to the Curious 

On Christmas Eve 1972, the first airing of an adaptation of M R James’ 1925 ghost story A Warning to the Curious was aired on TV.  The opening scenes show a prospector digging in the Pinewoods area of Wells-next-the Sea as this man is brutally butchered by a guardian of the Royal Crowns.  The action moves forward 12 years, with the arrival of Mr Paxton, another would-be treasure hunter. Paxton was played by Peter Vaughan and is seen cycling past Happisburgh Lighthouse.

Happisburgh at night
Happisburgh Lighthouse, Norfolk

Happisburgh Lighthouse was featured, and other filming locations included Happisburgh and Wells.

Staying in the fictional village of Seaburgh, Paxton heads off by train to find the treasure…

Where to stay: In the former lighthouse keeper’s cottage at Happisburgh Lighthouse

The Lighthouse 

The 2016 thriller The Lighthouse is inspired by an incident that took place at The Smalls Lighthouse in South Wales.  One of the keepers died whilst on duty at the lighthouse, traumatising his colleague.

Smalls Lighthouse
Smalls Lighthouse

Thomas Howell (played by Michael Jibson) and Thomas Griffiths, played by (Mark Lewis Jones) play the two lighthouse keepers. Stationed at the original Smalls Lighthouse, they become incarcerated due to a storm and slowly lose the plot.

What happened, in reality, was probably not quite so gruesome!

Watch/Buy The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse was produced in 2019 and starred Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson. Confusingly this film is also called The Lighthouse and has a similar inspiration to the 2016 movie.

The story is set in the 1890s, with two lighthouse keepers being confined to their New England Lighthouse following a storm.

The Lighthouse Film Set
Film set for The Lighthouse
Dennis Jarvis from Halifax, Canada, CC BY-SA 2.0,

via Wikimedia Commons

A body is washed up on the shore, and then one of the keepers discovers the head of a previous keeper.  The principal keeper then confesses that he has taken the name of the dead colleague.  Things take a turn for the worse, and a murder is committed.

The film was directed and produced by Robert Eggers and is also inspired by the story of the two lighthouse keepers at The Smalls Lighthouse.  

Cape Forchu Lighthouse
Cape Forchu Lighthouse, Nova Scotia

The lighthouse filming locations were in Nova Scotia at Cape Forchu, but the lighthouse external shots were a film set.

Watch/Buy The Lighthouse

The Vanishing 

Released in 2018, The Vanishing is a story based on the Flannan Isles mystery. In December 1900, all three lighthouse keepers vanished from Flannan Isles Lighthouse and were never found.

The film features Gerard Butler as James Ducat, Peter Mullan as Thomas Marshall and Connor Swindells as Donald McArthur, and the setting is Flannan Isles Lighthouse. 

Flannan Lighthouse
Flannan Isles Lighthouse
Photo: Patrick Tubby

Following a storm, a man and a wooden chest are discovered washed up on the shore.  The man, wrongly assumed to be dead, then turns and attacks Donald, who then retaliates, killing him.  When another boat arrives with the dead man’s crewmates, violence ensues.

Filming did not actually take place at Flannan, but much of the lighthouse locations for the film were at Mull of Galloway Lighthouse. Parts were also filmed at Corsewall, Killantringan and Cloch Lighthouse, and some of the scenes in Port Logan, featured some of the Mull of Galloway staff.

Watch/Buy The Vanishing

Where to stay: Mull of Galloway Lighthouse, Killantringan Lighthouse, or Corsewall Lighthouse.

The Rock

The Rock was produced in 1996 and featured Sean Connery and Nicholas Cage.

Alcatraz
Alcatraz Island

The action-packed thriller sees an elite team of FBI and Special Agents breaking into Alcatraz. A terrorist group have taken tourists hostage and threaten to launch rockets laden with nerve gas.

Alcatraz Lighthouse features in the film.

The Phantom Light

The Phantom Light was produced in 1935 and is set in North Wales. Starring Binnie Hale and Gordon Harker.

The fictional North Stack Lighthouse is said to be haunted. Keeper Sam Higgins arrives and meets Alice Bight. She later arrives at the lighthouse with a man posing as a reporter.  They are really trying to stop wreckers who display a Phantom Light on the headland.  Will they stop the ship from being wrecked before it’s too late?

Beachy Head Lighthouse
Beachy Head Lighthouse

Much of the filming took place in the West Country, although it was set in Wales.  External shots were of Beachy Head Lighthouse.  The optic, a bi-form, is thought to have been from Hartland Point Lighthouse.

Watch/Buy The Phantom Light

The Dark Light

The Dark Light was released in 1951 and is a thriller featuring Albert Lieven, David Greene and Norman Macowan.

When the keepers rescue survivors of a shipwreck, they soon discover that all is not what it seems, as they are really bank robbers on the run.

The filming took place at Nab Lighthouse in The Solent, and there is a clip on YouTube. Unfortunately, the film isn’t readily available.

The Fog 

The Fog is a horror film featuring  Adrienne Barbeau and Jamie Lee Curtis.

A strange fog covers a Californian coastal town, bringing with it the ghosts of shipwrecked victims.

Point Reyes Lighthouse
Point Reyes Lighthouse, California

Some of the scenes were filmed at Point Reyes Lighthouse in California.

Watch/Buy The Fog

Where to stay: The nearest lighthouses offering accommodation are Point Montara Lighthouse and Pigeon Point Lighthouse

Children’s Genre

Fraggle Rock 

The children’s series Fraggle Rock features the muppet-inspired characters of the Fraggles who live with the Doozers, and the lighthouse keeper, played by Fulton Mackay and his dog Sprocket.

St Anthony Lighthouse
St Anthony Lighthouse, Cornwall

The real-life Fraggle Rock lighthouse is St Anthony Lighthouse which guards the harbour at Falmouth, and you can stay there!

Where to stay: You can stay in the former keepers’ cottage at St Anthony Lighthouse

Five Go to Demons Rocks 

There are two different editions of Five Go to Demons Rocks.

Based on the Enid Blyton Famous Five stories, the group end up locked in a lighthouse. 

Hurst Point Lighthouse
Hurst Point Lighthouse, Hampshire

In the 1970 edition, Hurst Point Lighthouse stars as Demons Rocks.  The later edition, filmed in the 1990s, was filmed at St Mary’s Lighthouse, Whitley Bay.

St Marys Lighthouse
St Mary’s Lighthouse, Whitley Bay

Pete’s Dragon

The 1977 film Pete’s Dragon is set in the early 1900s in New England.

Pete runs away from his foster family and wakes up to find Elliott, a large green dragon who can make himself invisible. They visit Passamaquoddy, and Pete is offered shelter at the lighthouse by the keeper’s daughter.  Her fiance was lost at sea, and Elliott is asked to try and find him.

Helen Reddy stars as the keeper’s daughter, and Mickey Rooney is Lampie, the lighthouse keeper.

The lighthouse was built at the Point Buchon Trail in California, in place of Maine, the intended setting.  Disney had to get permission to operate the large beacon to avoid confusion with other lighthouses along the coast.

Watch/Buy Pete’s Dragon

Lighthouse Film Locations on TV

Dr Who 

In the fifth episode of the 12th series of Dr Who starring Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor, West Usk Lighthouse features in the episode Fugitive of the Judoon.

West Usk Lighthouse was featured in an episode of Dr Who, and Flatholm Lighthouse was featured in a Torchwood episode.

West Usk Lighthouse
West Usk Lighthouse, Newport
Photo: Patrick Tubby

Where to stay: In the Lightkeeper’s Watch at West Usk Lighthouse

Vera

A crime drama series based on the series of Vera novels by Ann Cleeves.  Vera Stanhope is a detective based in the northeast of England.

Longstone Lighthouse
Longstone Lighthouse, Northumberland

Some of the episodes feature North and South Shields along the seafront, with the lighthouses and Herd Groyne.  In one episode, Longstone Lighthouse features as the fictional Turnstone Lighthouse.

Shetland

Another TV drama based on Ann Cleeves’ Shetland series. Sumburgh Head Lighthouse features in one of the episodes, as well as Eshaness Lighthouse.

Sumburgh Head Lighthouse
Sumburgh Head Lighthouse, Shetland

Where to stay: Sumburgh Head Lighthouse

Bloodlands

In the final episode of the second series of Bloodlands, set in Northern Ireland, featuring James Nesbitt, St John’s Point Lighthouse in County Down is the setting for the final scene.

St Johns Point Lighthouse
St John’s Point Lighthouse, County Down

Watch/Buy Bloodlands

Where to stay: You can stay in the former keepers’ cottages at St John’s Point Lighthouse.

Put that Light Out!

A Dad’s Army classic! Not a real lighthouse, and not readily available, but keep an eye out for it!

Further Reading

Fraggle Rock Lighthouse and Other Adventures

Discover Lighthouse Books

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In A Lighthouse

Throughout the world, lighthouses are available.