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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally brilliant biopic
Despite poor reviews and disappointing box-office takings, this is an excellent attempt at portraying the turbulent relationship between the poets Rimbaud and Verlaine. The cast all give good performances, and Leo is superb as Rimbaud, as right for the part as Madonna was for Eva Peron. The film does take some liberties with the historical facts (the scene where...
Published on June 7, 2000 by Poor Polidori

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33 of 44 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pseudo Art
Goodness! The way people were speaking about this film, I thought it would be one of those deep, dark, poetic, pathbreaking epics that you come across once in a lifetime. Sadly, it isn't even a half-way decent film, with disappointing performances from both DiCaprio and Thewlis. The direction is shoddy, and the 'dark' sides of the leads aren't very well explored. At...
Published on July 21, 2000


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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally brilliant biopic, June 7, 2000
This review is from: Total Eclipse [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Despite poor reviews and disappointing box-office takings, this is an excellent attempt at portraying the turbulent relationship between the poets Rimbaud and Verlaine. The cast all give good performances, and Leo is superb as Rimbaud, as right for the part as Madonna was for Eva Peron. The film does take some liberties with the historical facts (the scene where Rimbaud is seen urinating at a dinner party is surely made up), but the main purpose of any biopic is to awaken interest in the subjects portrayed and on that level Total Eclipse succeeds admirably. Before watching it, I knew nothing about Rimbaud except that he was a French poet. The day after finishing it, I went immediately to buy a volume of his poetry. The film contains some beautiful landscape shots, as well as harshly realistic views of the Paris slums. The romantic and sex scenes between Leo and David Thewlis are convincing, erotic, and at times painfully moving. Definitely recommended for anyone who is a fan of the poets, the stars or French poetry in general.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BEST OF DI CAPRIO, December 10, 2006
This review is from: Total Eclipse (DVD)
I love Leo and this is the best he ever did. After this splendid movie he decided to go mainstream, away from independent films but this was his apex. It's hard to believe he did this in the era of his "This Boy's Life" for it's the opposite characterization. I have watched this film many times and I enjoy it more each time--his acting while still in his teens is incredibly apt for this strange, eccentric, nihilistic and anti-establishment poet.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Passion, December 17, 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Total Eclipse (DVD)
My great grandmother told me many tales of a distant relative, a poet named Arthur Rimbaud. This film followed quite closely, allowing for some cinematic license, the memories she shared. To those who criticize the film, perhaps you prefer your passion neatly packaged. This film abandons pretense and successfully depicts the heated passion that both fuels genius and consumes it.
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23 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, Leonardo DiCaprio is brilliant, February 25, 2004
This review is from: Total Eclipse (DVD)
This is a great movie and is by far Leonardo DiCaprio best performance yet. He should of won an Oscar for his harrowing portrayal of 19th Century French poet Arthur Rimbaud. Rimbaud was a literary genius at the age of 16, who wrote wonderful and obscure poems about sex and death among other topics.
His intense and volatile relationship with fellow poet Paul Verlaine was often times disturbing and mad. Verlaine had trouble accepting the fact that his friend, confidant and lover was extremely gifted and more successful than he ever was.
Arthur Rimbaud was a merciful and shrewed young man who found pleasure in getting his way all the time and making other people look ridicule (especially the ones he did not like). Verlaine's young wife could not tolerate him and blamed him for making her husband abandon her for long periods of time. Verlaine would always come back to his wife but found Rimbaud so irresistable that he always ended up doing what he wanted and would succumb to his every need be it emotional or sexual. Arthur always knew had to get Paul wrapped up around his finger and got him to do whatever he wanted atleast most of the time.
This film is highlated by great performances from the entire cast and once again it is DiCaprio's remarkable performance that makes this film extremely interesting to watch. I don't think this movie is for everyone especially the ones that only think that a good movie is not good unless someone or something gets blown off. DiCaprio's character goes thru many changes in his appearance especially when he is dying of a terrible disease (I'm sorry but I can't seem to remember which one) his character is both physical and emotional and he plays it with incredible strength and emotion.
If you are a serious movie collector this is a "must have" for your collection. I love everything about this film and is one of my favorite movies ever. I gave it a 5 star rating because that as high as it goes but I would give a 10 rating because it has all the ingredients a great movie suppose to have. Watch this movie and it will leave you breathless. Superb and beautiful all the way through.
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33 of 44 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pseudo Art, July 21, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Total Eclipse (DVD)
Goodness! The way people were speaking about this film, I thought it would be one of those deep, dark, poetic, pathbreaking epics that you come across once in a lifetime. Sadly, it isn't even a half-way decent film, with disappointing performances from both DiCaprio and Thewlis. The direction is shoddy, and the 'dark' sides of the leads aren't very well explored. At times, the pace is lethargic, and even DiCaprio's stunning beauty isn't enough to lift this movie out of its depression.
No doubt the director has approached the subject with a lot of heart. Indeed, the doomed love affair between Verlaine and Rimabaud is intriguing even in this day and age. It must be said that for a film of this sort to work, the chemistry between the lead actors is vital. On this level, thankfully, the film is an absolute success. Few same-sex couples on screen have exhibited the chemistry that Leo and David seem to share. Every scene between them sparkles with electricity, and their falling in love is authentically captured.
This however, is not at all sufficient for 'Total Eclipse' to work. Theres something amiss, and its difficult to say exactly what. Perhaps its the weak script and the misplaced soundtrack. Personally, I found that the director's attempts to age DiCaprio thoroughly hilarious. In these scenes, Caprio (who was 20 at the time) looks like a schoolboy playing Lincoln, and the fake moustache is just too much. Leo is one of those actors who seem destined to remain boyish-looking (like Michael J Fox), and these scenes serve to reiterate that belief.
The film tries to stick to history and facts, but there are sequences that do make you wonder. That apart, the most powerful thing about this movie is the fascinating on-screen chemistry between DiCaprio and Thewlis, though individually, their performances are bland and lacklustre. Its also the film where DiCaprio is at his beautiful best, his almost androgynous frailty is totally bewitching. The sex scenes between the duo make for some compelling viewing. There are two prime love scenes here - the first features the couple's first kiss, and Leonardo DiCaprio's only onscreen gay smooch. It also features footage of Leo completely nude, thats found its way to numerous sites on the Web. However, far from being 'erotic' these scenes are handled with such sensitivity, seldom seen in other films of the genre. The other love scene is already rather notorious among Leo fans, featuring DiCaprio making love, and I really mean making love, to David Thewlis. This scene is mesmerising in its brutality, as Leo plays a top to David Thewlis' passive bottom. Its also compelling to watch how Leo is thoroughly convincing as a gay guy enjoying gay sex - many straight actors engaging in this sort of loveplay on screen have appeared stilted, but this man is incomparable. If theres any reason why you should buy 'Total Eclipse', this is it. Gay fans will note that this is the only recorded instance of Leo engaging in explicit sex, though newer releases of the film see a trimmed down version of the scene.
However, Leo's portrayal of a disturbed poet is unconvincing. His limitations as an actor have been exposed in later films such as 'The Beach', but over here, he appears to be lost. Theres also too much blood and sado-masochism going on, and Leo lacks the experience or talent to pull these sequences off, though Thewlis manages this better. And while the couple look totally in love and besotted with each other, they aren't able to translate this attraction into equally impressive performances.
On the whole, the director has tried to handle a sensitive subject with grace, and believe me, she does succeed. But as a film in its entirety, 'Total Eclipse' falters. This could have been a remarkable movie had the director put Leo and David's superb coupling to good use, but she doesnt. Rather, she resorts to some weak one-liners, pensive close-ups and bits of hot sensuality to retain the viewers interest. For all that, I must confess, that despite its weaknesses (and there are so many!) I have found myself watching this film time and again - is that a sign of a film being good? I suppose different viewers have had different reactions to this film. To me, this is a film with great heart, but with far too many holes to rave about. If you haven't seen it, then do so! For all its flaws, 'Total Eclipse' is essential viewing. Recommended for audiences with an interest in deviant French history.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent film, March 2, 1999
By 
This review is from: Total Eclipse [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Being a French citizen and having studied both Verlaine's and Rimbaud's poetry and personalities at school,I confirm that this film was totally misunderstood and that it didn't deserve to be turned down in the US. David Thewlis' and Leo's performances are absolutely remarkable with a special award for David who portrays Verlaine with rare perfection. But I suppose, people just saw the film as another gay love affair. I highly recommend this film and definately thinks it deserved an Oscar. I have watched it 4 times and am still not tired of it. You may think I recommend this film because I am French. This has nothing to do with it. The actor's performances are astounding and that's enough to make a good film. I would like to say more but it's difficult to express myself in a foreign language.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic Gem In The Early Career Of Leonardo DiCaprio!!, June 16, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Total Eclipse (DVD)
At the same time that Leo DiCaprio was making a segue from
a child actor who played on the last season of the 80's sitcom
"Growing Pains" and doing TV commercials, he was stunning casting
directors and industry insiders with his depth, range and fearlessness
beyond his years to take on roles which set him apart from the pack and
put him on the path for megastardom!
There was the emotional tour de force of "This Boy's Life", which he starred in
alongside Robert DeNiro and Ellen Barkin and held his own.
Then there was the modern classics "What's Eating Gilbert Grape", "Basketball Diaries"
and others, each which sent his career comet up further and further!

But in 1995, around the same time as he was working on "Basketball Diaries",
he took on the independent project which has become a cult favorite among
his fans and garnered high acclaim among critics and other actors...."Total Eclipse".
In it, he plays the paradigm-shifting 19th Century french poet Arthur Rimbaud,
who between the ages of 16 and 21, set the established poetic world of learned,
elitist, London and Paris literaries ablaze with his originality and lyrical genius!
Young Leo captures this young rebel tortured genius poet who shuns social convention,
mocks the bourgeois establishment, is crude, rude, and seems to respect nothing
or anyone other than what appeals to his whims or emotions at the time.
He was a complete extremist and libertine in every sense of the word.
Upon coming to Paris in 1871, he engages in a passionate, elicit, ultimately doomed
and scandalous homosexual affair with married man....the lesser talent writer,
Paul Verlaine, played admirably by David Thewlis.

Thewlis plays his character as a very torn, conflicted, dissatisfied,
kept, married man who is a failed writer married to a "very patient"
young wife, played well by Romaine Bohringer.
Sullen, inwardly resentful and living under the tyranny of his overbearing
father-in-law, who is supporting both he and their daughter (his wife) and
letting them live in his home, although making it very uncomfortable for Verlaine,
he is seemingly given the kiss of life upon his aquaintance with the rougish Rimbaud.
Their sexual chemistry is instantaneous and magnetic, as well as toxic!
They become fast friends & confidants, then later, passionate lovers.
DiCaprio shows you how fearless and deeply committed he is as an actor
at this very young age and early stage in his career by jumping full throttle
into this role!--The sexual scenes between he and Thewlis are palpable!
Verlaine is fascinated by Rimbaud's just-don't-give-a F attitude and his
"seize the moment" nature, which will later backfire on him, but early in
the film, it seems like an intoxicating elixir of youth and possiblities,
much more intoxicating than the absinthe cocktails that he and Rimbaud throwback
every chance they get! (-: It was like the crack cocaine of it's day!
They make ravenous love, drink, get high, shock & scandalize polite Paris society,
and Verlaine, in an allebriated state, becomes very cruel to his wife and newborn child.
I didn't understand his cruelty towards her, because she was very supportive.
She notices that her husband and Rimbaud are in love, which was a crime
punishable by imprisonment at that time, and she does everything she can to
keep his interest. But what he and Rimbaud share is just too addictive for him
to leave alone, and the two disappear across Europe, with Verlaine paying the way!
Soon he begins to see Rimbaud's darkside, very mercurial and cruel mood-swings,
and their relationship takes on an abusive tint. After a particularly brutal
verbal fight, he leaves Rimbaud in London, but then takes him back a few days later.
Their crazy self-destructive but passionate relationship continues to spiral downwards for
Verlaine, whose wife finally gets tired of his disrespect and divorces him on charges
of immoral conduct and neglect. After his money runs out, so soon does Rimbaud follow.
Rimbaud returns to his family in the countryside of northen France and completes
one last literary masterwork before withdrawing from writing poetry altogether
at the age of 21. He says that he's said all he had to say.
He travels abroad and winds up in Northern Africa, where he engages in heterosexual
relations with several native women, but one in particular who he claims as his mistress.
As for Verlaine, he is not only left heart-broken, but near destitute.
He turns himself over to authorities who subject him to a demoralizing
physical examination to see if he has been both a passive and active member
in homosexual activities or "buggery" as it was known back then.
He is imprisoned for two years and upon his release, tries to find Rimbaud
again to hopefully reconnect their love, but to no avail because Rimbaud has moved on.
Years pass and Rimbaud develops cancer in his leg, has it amputated, then dies
soon after at the young age of 37 in 1891.
But he put 85 years of life experience into that 37 years and his effect
on those he left behind in his time, as well as in music, art and pop culture
100-plus years into the future is immeasurable!
The quintessential tortured anti-social self-destructive genius who walks to his own drummer.
And many since have been lured by his strange lyrical rhythms and poetic
visuals that were far ahead of their time!
His gift was apparently infinite in it's reach!
This is a brilliant biopic and Leo DiCaprio and David Thewlis nailed it! (-:
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TOTAL LEO - TOTAL BRAT, January 29, 2000
By 
azindn (Arizona, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Total Eclipse [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Nineteenth century enfant terrible, Arthur Rimbaud (Leonardo di Caprio) never looked better nor acted so audacious as characterized in Total Eclipse. With Paul Verlaine (David Thewlis), the two men indulge their mutual attraction and hit the road. Their scandalous laison takes the pair from bohemian poverty in Paris to London squalor. Verlaine was already established in the literary world when he met the sixteen year old Rimbaud, for whom he threw away his middle class marriage. Rimbaud as di Caprio portrays him is self-absorbed and unwilling to bow to the literary conventions of Romanticism. Rather, he knows his work stands him apart from the crowd, and with conviction as much as puffery, Rimbaud's stand against the status quo result in disaster for Verlaine. Those who never read the work of Rimbaud may discover his genius. Credit goes to di Caprio's performance which captures the spirit of the age with uncanny brilliance. Only eighteen when the film was shot, the actor was about the same age as Rimbaud, a point not overlooked by director Holland. Her camera's presence often fades as the audience is entertained by the unselfconscious mugging of Leo in the countryside, a technique that recall old home movies of past summer vacations. A superb supporting cast, locations, and historic authenticity of Total Eclipse create a film for audiences of period drama. A worthy addition to a video library. NOTE: The film's homoerotic theme is not for everyone -- particularly enamoured teenies of shipboard romance.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing & Brilliant, July 14, 2001
By 
This review is from: Total Eclipse [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Friends of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan romantic comedies beware! This is a love story, but not your usual Hollywood fare. This pre-Titanic film reminds us that DiCaprio is truly a fine actor, who was willing to take risks for the challenge of a good role. And boy, did he find one here: Arthur Rimbaud. Joining DiCaprio in this tale of 19th century French poets is the brilliant David Thewlis as Paul Verlaine.
There is actually not a single character in this film who is really likable, and that's what separates it from the rest of the pabulum that we tend to get as a daily diet. There are moments that you adore them, then minutes later they couldn't be more loathsome. How like the real world! How like ourselves!
The psychological roller coaster ride of a relationship between two brilliant, but - through their genius - thoroughly disturbed, people is fascinating and never for a second boring.
It's not warm and fuzzy, but it will move you all the same.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow. This one is powerful., October 28, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Total Eclipse [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I'd wanted to see this film for quite a while-yes; I'd heard about it because of Leonardo, but also because I really love Rimbaud's works-and what brilliance! To have written this poetry at only 16! So, I had to do some searching, but when I found it-and saw it- it was worth it. The director did a really sublime job, underplaying just enough while emphasizing other elements, and the way that there was much of Rimbaud's work woven into the script was neat. The actors were wonderful; there was no self-consciousness at all, which I imagine must have been especially hard for Leonardo. But he pulled it off; even infusing the one very active sex scene with Verlaine with believeability. Yes, both actors appear naked, but if one is sensible, this is to be enjoyed. If you are seeing this for the chance to mentally grope Leonardo-well, just imagine you are Verlaine, and there you have it. Enough silliness. This is one of the most touching (no pun intended) and emotional films I've ever seen. I reccommend it with the greatest accolades! If you would like; please get in touch with me. I'd be interested in discussing it. "The only unbearable thing is that nothing is unbearable."
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Total Eclipse
Total Eclipse by Agnieszka Holland (DVD - 1999)
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