Young, wild poet Arthur Rimbaud and his mentor Paul Verlaine engage in a fierce, forbidden romance while feeling the effects of a hellish artistic lifestyle.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Isabelle Rimbaud
Félicie Pasotti ...
Isabelle, as a child (as Felicie Pasotti Cabarbaye)
Nita Klein ...
Rimbaud's Mother
James Thierrée ...
Frederic (as James Thiérrée)
Emmanuelle Oppo ...
Vitalie
Denise Chalem ...
Andrzej Seweryn ...
Mr. Maute De Fleurville
Christopher Thompson ...
Carjat
...
Aicard
Christopher Chaplin ...
Charles Cros
...
The Judge
Mathias Jung ...
Andre
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Storyline

In 1871, Paul Verlaine (1844-1896), an established poet, invites boy genius Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891) to live with Paul and his young pregnant wife, Mathiltde, in her father's home in Paris. Rimbaud's uncouth behavior disrupts the household as well as the insular society of French poets, but Verlaine finds the youth invigorating. Stewed in absinthe and resentment, Verlaine abuses Mathiltde; he and Rimbaud become lovers and abandon her. There are reconciliations and partings with Mathiltde and partings and reconciliations with Rimbaud, until an 1873 incident with a pistol sends one of them to prison. Codas dramatize the poets' final meeting and last illnesses. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Touched by Genius. Cursed by Madness. Blinded by Love. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexuality and nudity, language, and some startling violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

3 November 1995 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El fuego y la sombra  »

Box Office

Gross:

$339,889 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

John Malkovich was initially attached to play Verlaine, but pulled out. See more »

Goofs

In the Café Andre where the adult Isabelle Rimbaud meets with Paul Verlaine, the typeface on the window is clearly in Helvetica, a typeface that was not created until 1954. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Paul Verlaine: Sometimes he speaks in a kind of tender dialect of the death which causes repentence, of the unhappy men who certainly exist, of painful tasks and heartrending departures. In the hovels where we got drunk he wept looking at those who surrounded us, the cattle of poverty. He lifted up drunks in the black streets. He had the pity a bad mother has for small children. He moved with the grace of a little girl at catechism. He pretended to know about everything, business, art, medicine. ...
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Connections

Referenced in Entourage: The Scene (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

A courageous and beautiful film that talks about love and pain.
12 May 1999 | by (Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil) – See all my reviews

"Total Eclipses" narrates the romance that is born among the poets Paul Verlaine (David Thewlis, in a courageous and excellent performance, Thewlis plays strong scenes with experience and professionalism) and Arthur Rimbaud (Leonardo Di Caprio, before being thrown to the Hollywood's stardom in "Titanic"). The film documents, without make-ups,Paul Verlaine's slow destruction,a man who is consumed by the love and hate that he fells for Rimbauld.Director Agniezka Holland accomplished a touching and beautiful work,counting with a perfect plasticity that reconstitutes the time and the romance among the two men in a detailed way and without shame, what can,in fact,shock Di Caprio's fans in some delicate moments.Even being a little slow in a lot of parts of the story, "Total Eclipse" is efficient when its seen as a drama that lectures about the difficulty of being homosexual, but besides this topic, it analyzes what happens when people abdicate of their happiness and suffer due to social conventions, and finally it ends up in a intelligent conclusion:that only through the courage and through the love it's possible not only to break such barriers but also to achieve redemption.Director Agnieszka Holland conducts with experience a story that, in the hands of another director, could be reduced into a common and not very innovative denominator, and the lenses of her camera shows, without make-ups and courts to alleviate the impact of the scenes, the whole suffering, the prejudice and the pain that marks the relationship between Rimbaud and Verlaine. The two poets' love is realistically developed by Holland, starting by the friendship, in which the two writers begin to know important things about theirselves and discover that they have a lot in common, in terms that both are unhappy with the path their lives acquired, the doubts, the fears and the frustrations,till the beginning of the romance. The scene in which the first kiss happens, when Rimbauld seduces Verlaine and tries to get closer to him and ease his nervousness,is strong,touching and beautiful,this decisive and provocative part is filmed and written in a sweet and human way. The focus that the production gives to the story, therefore,is natural and realistic, what can scare many people away of the box- offices for the context declaredly homosexual of the story."Total Eclipse" explores and studies the relationship without making concessions and without allowing any demagogy or fear. There are rough scenes such as the one in which Thewlis is tirelessly sodomized by Di Caprio, there are moments of fondness when the two kiss each other,but in the same way the sick and morbid aspect of the relationship is expressed, when, for example, Rimbauld stabs Rimbaud's hand to prove his love.Being a heterosexual, i concluded that, instead of adopting a dogmatic and racist posture, it would be better if i could appreciate the film not as just another plot about two gay guys who are in love but I tried to enlarge my point of view, understanding that the film was, actually, a simple feeble love history marked by the suffering and resignation. Thus, I recommend "Total Eclipse" as an intelligent and efficient drama, a work that deserves to be applauded by its initiative and courage, for the excellent performances and for the safe and kind work by Agnieszka Holland, who tells a love story in a distressing and realist form. "Total Eclipses" i rated for strong sexuality and nudity, language, and some startling violence and it runs 111 minutes.The Cast: David Thewlis, Romane Bohringer and Leonardo Di Caprio.


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