Ciaran Hinds

Ciaran Hinds and the audience get spooked in The Eclipse (2009)

Despite the title of this film, it is in NO way associated with anything Stephanie Meyer -and that Twilight series – although it does contain the element of the supernatural.  Its one of those movies that is released only briefly in Melbourne (~three weeks or less) and only at art-housy cinemas such as the Nova on Lygon St, Carlton.  After finding out that the film is an Irish film, taking place over the course of a literary festival – and had ghosts – I quickly decided that I had to see it, but missed my opportunity with its short release.

In the space of a mere month I have now watched it three times – there is something hauntingly beautiful about it.  Set in the small town of Cobh, County Cork, Ireland, Michael Farr (Ciaran Hinds) is an annual volunteer at the International Literary Festival in the town.  Recently widowed, Farr begins having dreams and hallucinations infused with the presence of his wife’s spirit and others who are close to him.  He meets Lina Morrel (Iben Hjejle), a supernatural fiction writer at the festival.  The festival takes place over a few days.  Farr and Morrel form a friendship during the festival over their experiences of contact with ghosts – when you encounter one for the first time, ” your brain splits in two –  one side of you is rejecting what you’re seeing because it doesn’t tally with the ordinary side of reality, and the other side is screaming ‘but this is real!”.  And so the viewer is reminded to deduce whether what Michael has experienced so far are real hauntings.

Notable elements of the movie include the visual setting and the musical score.  Cobh is a picturesque seaport town – quaint and pretty and typical of any image you see in the usual tourist guide brochures for Ireland.  We visit the small cemetary, see sunshine briefly, experience the rain (it is Ireland after all)  in limited but adequate measure to note that this is a film set in Ireland without showing off the usual cultural display.  The setting is breathtakingly picturesque – but the subtle control over imagery saves our breath for ghostly encounters.  Choral hymns – kyrie eleison interject at poignant moments of the film, and the melodic piano theme playing throughout many scenes works to evoke feelings of sadness and calm.  The performance of Ciaran Hinds is brilliant – we empathise with him through every moment of the film.

Part romance, part ghost-story and thriller – the film gently captivates  and haunts.