The Eclipse

Posted on March 25, 2010 at 4:14 pm

Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language and some disturbing images
Profanity: Very strong language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinking, smoking, drug references
Violence/ Scariness: Some fighting with punches, very disturbing supernatural images and jump out at you surprises
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: March 26, 2010

“The Eclipse” is a moody Irish thriller about a recently widowed teacher who is a volunteer at a local literary festival. Michael (a deeply moving Ciarán Hinds) is doing his best to stay strong for his children and his father-in-law, but has not begun to let himself think about how devastated he is by the loss of his wife.
He is assigned to be the driver for one of the authors at the festival, Lena (Iben Hjejle of “High Fidelity”), who writes non-fiction books about encounters with ghosts. The most prominent author at the festival, in more than one sense of the term, is the pugnacious and needy Nicholas Holden (Aidan Quinn). He comes to the festival in part to see Lena, with whom he has a history and hopes for a future.
All of this could work as a straight-forward drama but writer-director Conor McPherson adds a mysterious overlay of the supernatural that seeps into the interactions between the characters. It creates a pervasive tug of dread and uncertainty. The contrast between the forces the characters are struggling with, from the largest emotional conflicts to the smallest domestic tasks, and the forces that are just beyond reach but seem to be reaching for us. McPherson has a gift for silences and superb control of mood. The story explores the prism of liminality. It is not just the ghosts who are stuck between worlds.


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Interview: Conor McPherson and Ciarán Hinds of ‘The Eclipse’

Posted on March 25, 2010 at 7:00 am

IMG_7080.JPG“The Eclipse” is a ghost story for grown-ups, which means that it is story first, ghost second. It is an Irish film about Michael (Ciarán Hinds) a recent widower with two children, who is volunteering at a local literary festival. Two of the festival guests are the arrogant, self-centered Nicholas (Aidan Quinn), a novelist, and the sensitive Lena (Iben Hjejle), author of a popular non-fiction book about ghosts.
I spoke to Hinds and writer/director Conor McPherson about the film.
What do people ask you most about the film?
CM: They want to know exactly what was going on, to answer the questions the movie leaves unanswered.
Yes, Americans are very concrete, very literal. We want everything explained.
CM: When people are out of their comfort zone, it’s more dramatic, more prone to have more entertaining experiences, get into fights. That’s the dramatic instinct, to move people out of what they know and make them deal with it. In theater it’s all through dialogue in traditional plays. In movies, it’s so lovely, you can show him putting dishes in the dishwasher and everybody just knows what’s going on, that his wife is gone and he has to do everything. You still tell some things with dialogue in scenes but we’ve taken some away…
CH: Pared it away, really.
CM: And that’s enough. Film has that magic.
You play a quiet person in this film. How do you as an actor convey all you have to about what he is thinking and experiencing?
CH: He’s just a guy like anybody. We’re all ordinary in a way. We can all be hurt. We can all be unbalanced. We all have feelings. Life can treat us harshly, even shockingly sometimes. He has minor pretensions but he is a woodwork teacher. He works with his hands. He is a practical man. But though he is doing his best with his wife gone he is out of his depth a bit apart from the grief. He’s a real person but you bring elements of emotion to a heightened situation. He just wants to survive and take care.
I loved his interaction with his kids. It felt very real. The frustration and the need to convey a sense that he is in control.
CH: When Lena says she is sorry to hear about his wife he responds, “It was terrible for the kids.” He knows he hasn’t grieved enough but he has to keep a lid on it for the kids. In the end, in the story, he is allowed to let it all out and properly to grieve.
Do you find that now, like Lena in the film, people want to come and tell you their own ghost stories?
CM: At the first screening last April in New York, it turned into a sort of heavy session with people talking about how they lost people and the film made that feeling come back. It’s probably the last thing you think about when you’re making a film is other people’s problems. You’re thinking about your problem, which is making the movie. But you do have a responsibility. You can’t mess around with people’s emotions.
CH: You find people genuinely relating to something or a truth they felt, and that is what you aspire to.
Do you believe in ghosts?
CM: Yes I do, but I don’t know what they are. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one. But if someone said to me, “Last night I saw the ghost of my sibling” or whatever, I wouldn’t say, “That’s impossible,” I’d say, “What was that like?”
CH: I don’t disbelieve.
CM: There’s a very old tradition in Ireland, and as an island at the edge of Europe, for thousands of years with no one knowing what was beyond there, I wonder if a sense of the beyond was internalized into the Irish psyche. We’re very quick to accept the supernatural. And I think Catholicism took root very quickly in Ireland because it’s a very superstitious religion, the holy ghost, the holy spirit, it has a goddess, very visual, the music. For me, philosophically, we don’t know anything anyway. We have this short little life we have to somehow try to get a grip on without understanding anything about the nature of time or existence or the universe or God or infinity. We’re just here for a brief moment and we open up these little eyes and go “What is this?” and then we’re gone! I love stories that frame that: This is what life is about — you don’t have a clue.


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