19 user 12 critic

The Lightship (1985)

A trio of robbers, two brothers and their twisted genius leader, invade a lightship, but don't reckon on the crew fighting back.


Jerzy Skolimowski


Siegfried Lenz (book), William Mai (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview:
Michal Skolimowski ... Alex (as Michael Lyndon)
Klaus Maria Brandauer ... Captain Miller
Tom Bower ... Coop
Robert Costanzo ... Stump
Tim Phillips Tim Phillips ... Thorne
Badja Djola ... Nate
Robert Duvall ... Calvin Caspary
William Forsythe ... Gene
Arliss Howard ... Eddie


Just when US Coast Guard captain Miller takes his teenage son Alex to his lightship off the coast of Virginia, Calvin Caspary and two criminal accomplices, on the run for the police, decide to hijack it. What the crazy trio didn't count on is that this small crew doesn't just keep taking it lying low, they will put up a fight. Alex hides dad's gun and wrestles his his war past and courage. Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The guiding light in a sea of treachery.


Crime | Drama | Thriller


PG-13 | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Reportedly, the screenplay went through three major changes. See more »


[first lines]
Alex: [narrating] My old man was a captain in the Coast Guard. We never saw too much of each other. Most of the time he was away at sea. But this time I was lucky. He made it to my graduation.
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Remade as Das Feuerschiff (2008) See more »

User Reviews

A Lightship For All!
30 August 2014 | by ybnesherSee all my reviews

It is an interesting thriller, with the undertones of a philosophical allegory. The "lightship that doesn't move from its place" is a symbol of the biblical human values ("Don't kill!", for example) and the captain Miller is a guard of these values. As he says, the ship is the light for other ships in the darkness. Many of them crashed on the rocks because they didn't find that light! It explains his rather passive behavior during the conflict between two groups of people on the vessel. Especially interesting is the last scene when mortally wounded captain still forbids to raise the anchor and set the ship free. Even in the face of death he refuses to betray his belief in human values and dignity. The last picture frame in the film is the lightship standing firmly on its permanent place to throw its light for the "seekers in the dark".

The movie has its drawbacks. Several scenes of violence are not convincing and some dialogs sound very artificial. But on the whole it's a good film for a thinking person. Worth watching!

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Release Date:

26 September 1986 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Killers at Sea See more »

Filming Locations:

Schleswig-Holstein, Germany See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

CBS Theatrical Films See more »
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Sound Mix:



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