Director: Agnieszka Holland
Runtime: 111 minutes
TV Rating: TVMA
Total Eclipse is a 1995 film directed by Agnieszka Holland, based on a 1967 play by Christopher Hampton, who also wrote the screenplay. Based on letters and poems, it presents a historically accurate account of the passionate and violent relationship between the two 19th century French poets Paul Verlaine (David Thewlis) and Arthur Rimbaud (Leonardo DiCaprio), at a time of soaring creativity for both of them.
The older Paul Verlaine meets the dead Arthur Rimbaud’s sister, Isabelle, in a café in Paris. Isabelle and her mother want Verlaine to hand over any copies he may still have of Rimbaud’s poems so that they can burn them; they fear the lewdness of his writings. Verlaine reflects on the wild relationship he had had with Rimbaud, beginning when the teenaged Rimbaud had sent his poetry to Verlaine from his home in the provinces in 1871. Verlaine, instantly fascinated, impulsively invites him to his rich father-in-law’s home in Paris, where he lives with his young, pregnant wife. The wild, eccentric Rimbaud displays no sense of manners or decency whatever, scandalising Verlaine’s pretentious, bourgeois in-laws.