But I kept coming up blank. Why aren't there more solar eclipses in the movies? It's such an exciting visual event. So I polled some blogging friends. We still came up short. This is not a preferential list so much as a list that requires your contribution for completion.
10 (er...8) Movie Eclipses
Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
You don't technically see the eclipse here but it sets the plot in motion, the alien plant using the sun blotting as cover to sneak itself in amongst the the flower district's zinnias in order to catch Seymour's eye. The lyrics are so hilariously innocent in their da doo obviousness. Especially the punchline.
Seymour: He didn't have anything unusual there that day.Yeah, that happens with eclipses, Seymour. I always have to suppress giggles when I watch this movie. The giggling eventually wins out.
Crystal, Ronette & Chiffon: Nope, da-doo,
Seymour: so I was just about to, ya know, walk on by,
Crystal, Ronette & Chiffon: Good for you,
Seymour: when suddenly,
Crystal, Ronette & Chiffon: Da doo
Seymour: and without warning, there was this...
Crystal, Ronette & Chiffon: TOTAL. ECLIPSE. OF. THE. SUN.
Seymour: It got very dark.
Baraka (1992) and Apocalypto (2006)
"It's even on the poster!" Glenn of Stale Popcorn proclaimed ...of course he did. He brought up the stunning all visual no dialogue 90s documentary about life here on planet Earth. Mel Gibson's sadist's confectionary about the ancient Mayans is also so enamored of its astrological event that it must be referenced in logo / poster form.
Dolores Claiborne (1995)
JA from MNPP immediately cited this Stephen King adaptation when I went fishing for examples saying
The entire film - hell, Dolores' entire life - revolves around what goes down during this eclipse. Sometimes I consider this Kathy Bates' finest performance (it's certainly an overlooked one), and nowhere is there more apparent to me than here in this moment when she lets us see a broken woman taking her greatest stand by not moving at all. Bonus points for the scene being shot so astonishingly.
The Werckmeister Harmonies (2000)
This acclaimed Béla Tarr film was Nick's suggestion.
The first, amazing sequence has to do with a funny-sad-weird pantomime of an eclipse.How does one pantomime an eclipse? I'm intrigued now. I know I should have seen and loved Harmonies by now but ever since I read about Sátántángo and the cat torture sequence I have been too wary to approach the filmmakers work. I'll just have to deal with derivations thereof (hi, Gus!) because I can't do movies that can't claim "no animals were harmed".
Pitch Black (2000)
This film was the first to come to my mind. I remember being terrified by the eclipse but not why. My brain is like a sieve so I asked JA if I was remembering this correctly, and he verified that I was...
Once that giant ringed planet blots out the suns the action doesn't let up ever again. There are monsters in that there absence of light and I don't know about you but I'd not so much mind finding myself hunkered down in the dark with a strapping, tank-topped Vin Diesel (at least pre-Pacifier) at my side in such sweaty...JA is always wandering off into a NSFW place isn't he? He can't help himself. Pitch Black came out in 2000. Remember when it looked like Vin Diesel might be an action star for the Aughts in the way that Schwarzenegger and Stallone were for the 80s?
L'Eclisse aka The Eclipse (1962)
Guest blogger Robert suggested this Michelangelo Antonioni classic. I reminded him that there's no eclipse in it.
Dang Antonioni and his metaphors!...he replied. But the list is thin and this is a classic so I say it counts. Antonioni had originally intended to include the literal event. He described his own eclipse experience like so...
I am in Florence to see and film a solar eclipse. Unexpected and intense cold. Silence different from all other silences. Wan light, different from all other lights. And then darkness. Total stillness. All I am capable of thinking is that during an eclipse even feelings probably come to a halt. It is an idea that has vaguely to do with the film I am preparing--more a sensation than an idea, but a sensation which defines the film even when the film is far from being defined. All the work and the shots that came after have always been related back to that idea, or sensation, or premonition. I have never been able to leave it aside.
-from the preface to Six Films
The last ten minutes of this, the best of the 80s fantasy films, is pure magic for epic romance loving moviegoers. Etienne (Rutger Hauer) and Isabeau (Michelle Pfeiffer) have been cursed for years to never touch. By day she soars above him as a hawk and by night he accompanies her in wolf form. Etienne doesn't believe in the prophesied "night without a day, day without a night" that will break the curse. How can such a thing exist? But break the curse this eclipse does. At first they gaze into each other's eyes in rapturous disbelief and joy. Isabeau's ecstatic involuntary gulp of laughter/tears as Etienne lifts her from her feet, basking in her beloved's true physicality for the first time in years gets me every time. Total lump in throat, tears in eyes.
We only came up with 8. Perhaps you can fill out this top 10 in the comments. What other movies find the magic in a 'night without a day and day without a night'?
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