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Total Eclipse

Agnieszka Holland
UK, France, Belgium 1995 / 111’

In September 1871, a then-unknown teenager named Arthur Rimbaud wrote a letter to Paul Verlaine appending eight poems. Enchanted by the work, the Parisian poet wrote back, "Come as soon as possible, soulmate, I bid you, I am awaiting you."Based on the letters and poems of the two great writers, Total Eclipse retraces the story of their meeting and their stormy love affair, which shook the cultural environment of 19th-century Europe. Based on a screenplay by Christopher Hampton, Agnieszka Holland's film shows love as a powerful force (as destructive as it is inspirational) and how talent can be both a blessing and a curse at the same time. Total Eclipse can be seen as a paean to unbridled creative expression and an important voice with regard to equal rights to love. The two artists and lovers-who are unable to be together but even less able to be apart-are poignantly portrayed by David Thewlis and a young Leonardo DiCaprio.

Adam Kruk

Agnieszka Holland

Agnieszka Holland is a Polish film and stage director, screenwriter, and translator. She has been the president of the European Film Academy since 2014. She began her career in the 1970s when, following her return to Poland after graduating from Prague's FAMU film school, she worked on productions by Krzysztof Zanussi (as an assistant on the set of Illumination) and Andrzej Wajda, with whom she co-founded the Iks film company. She wrote the screenplays for several of Wajda's films, including Rough TreatmentA Love in Germany, and Korczak, as well as for films by other directors, including Jerzy Bogajewicz and Andrzej Zajączkowski. She also worked as a consultant on Krzysztof Kieślowski's Three Colors trilogy. Holland's first original films brought her international acclaim: she captured a FIPRESCI at the Festival in Cannes for Provincial Actors (1978), and Fever was in the running for a Golden Bear at the Berlinale two years later. After making The Lonely Woman and the declaration of martial law, she decided to continue her career in the West (Angry HarvestEuropa, EuropaThe Secret Garden) instead of returning to Poland. Her early style, which combined naturalism with poetry, which has often been described as cold, saturated with irony and anxiety, has evolved over time to become somewhat brighter. Although she continues to take on subjects related to the cruelty and paradoxes of the 20th century, she is often able to extract something more optimistic from them. Having made films that have competed for Oscars, BAFTAs, and Golden Lions in Venice, she has, in recent years, been bringing renewed attention to the television series (including EkipaTremeand Burning Bush).

Selected filmography

1981 Kobieta samotna / A Lonely Woman

1990 Europa, Europa

1995 Całkowite zaćmienie / Total Eclipse

2002 Julia wraca do domu / Julie Walking Home

2011 W ciemności / In Darkness

Cast & Crew

director Agnieszka Holland
screenplay Christopher Hampton
cinematography Giorgos Arvanitis
editing Michael Isabelle Lorente
music Jan A.P. Kaczmarek
cast Leonardo DiCaprio, David Thewlis, Romane Bohringer, Dominique Blanc, Andrzej Seweryn
producer Jean-Pierre Ramsay Levi, Staffan Ahrenberg, Jean-Yves Asselin, Pascale Faubert, Philip Hinchcliffe
production FIT Productions, Portman Productions, Société Française de Production, K2 SA
sales FIT production
language English
colouration colour