|Eclipse, The (2009)|
|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Monday, 12 July 2010|
"The Eclipse" won several Irish film awards. However, it left me without an afterthought. It just didn't strike a chord with me. Audiences that are in tune with drama meets horror will definitely find interesting moments in this film. Despite its win for Best Script, the writing is very somber and uninteresting. The film can't exactly be watched while muted, but there are times in which I drifted off to another place. The story just couldn't keep my drawn in.
The story takes places in Cobh, a coastal city in Ireland. Over the course of the film a literary festival is taking place. Michael Farr (Ciaran Hinds) plays a shop teacher that volunteers as chauffeur for the literary festival authors, does some amateur writing and raises his two children as a single father whose wife has passed on. Hinds, as always is extremely somber looking. I don't believe he is capable of any other expression.
Shortly after the film opens, Farr begins to see and hear things in the night. These are things of a ghostly nature. At first they start out as nothing more than a shadow or strange vocal sounds. They quickly progress into horrific manifestations. While at the end of the film we do understand why he is having these visions we never understand why the visions are of such a horrific nature. There is simply no cause. Also, I wish filmmakers would stop thinking that just because they insert a gruesome image suddenly amidst a calm sequence that it is terrifying. The film makes use of that technique often, imploring sound design to startle the audience for a moment.
As Farr struggles with these demons he begins to get close to author Lena Morelle (Iben Hjejle) who happens to write books about the supernatural. Lena doesn't like to discuss the topic so unfortunately Farr still doesn't have anyone to talk with about his visions.
Meanwhile, another author, Nicolas Holden (Aidan Quinn), an egomaniac, demands attention from Lena. Lena had a brief affair with the author and puts is trying to leave it in the past. At the same time she is for some unknown reason drawn to this crazy person. The love triangle is certainly not the strongest part of the film, and since it is a major plot, it brings the film to a lower level.
"The Eclipse" is not all bad. It definitely has impact, but seemingly only for a small niche audience. The film works well on an independent filmmaking level but would certainly fail in the mainstream.
"The Eclipse" is presented on Blu-ray with an AVC encode and a funky 2.00:1 aspect ratio. The video quality is top-notch independent film quality. It has strong black levels that swallow all details in the shadows. While the crushing is an issue, the intention of the filmmakers is retained. Colors are intentionally dull and covered in a blue tint. The cinematography and video quality allows for some nice landscape shots of Ireland. Details are nicely resolved in close up shots but begin faltering as the shots become wider. Trees and other finely detailed objects are not as resolved as they could be. Fleshtones are accurate, though pale. Source noise is minimal for an independent film. However, there are some instances of heavy aliasing and banding in the night sky. This is a solid Blu-ray transfer.
The technical presentation of the audio track (DTS-HD 5.1) is sound. However, I have several issues with the original sound design and music that makes the audio track difficult to listen to for me. The music is simply redundant. The same three dissonant notes are played over and over as sort of the main theme. It is immensely distracting for me. The sound design is highly unoriginal. It uses the same "silence before the storm" technique that has been used since the dawn of ghost stories. Does it do it well? Yes. Is it predictable? Absolutely. If you are at all paying attention to the movie then music stings and sound effects will not surprise you in their placement. If you drift from the movie then you might be taken aback. On the flip side, the dynamics are nicely used and LFE support comes in solid when used. Dialogue is upfront and intelligible, despite Hinds' tendency to mumble every word. Surround use is more limited than I would have liked to hear. Many atmospheric opportunities for surround usage went by the wayside. Still, this is a far superior audio track to the majority of independent films.
As to be expected there is not much in the way of special features. Though I did think there was going to be a bit more for this one as it is a multiple award-winning Irish film. Nevertheless, there is nothing more than a "Making of 'The Eclipse'" and an "HDNet: A Look at 'The Eclipse'" featurette. Both are standard and uninspiring.
"The Eclipse" is certainly not for everyone. It has very deep independent roots, meaning that many of the ideas and notions in the film are made by the filmmakers for the filmmakers, leaving the audience feeling out of the loop. However, for those that have an interest in this genre, you may find it enjoyable. Certainly the video and audio qualities will not disappoint in the technical arena.