Total Eclipse

Jan A.P. Kaczmarek

" In dissecting Total Eclipse, both as a film and musically, there is just a single keyword to describe it; fatality. "

Written by Joep de Bruijn - Review of the regular release

Total Eclipse is a 1995 film directed by Agnieszka Holland. It is a retelling of the impossible love affair between 19th-century French poets Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine. The film stars Leonard Dicaprio and David Thewlis, underscored by brilliant music of composer Jan A.P. Kaczmarek.

Agnieszka Holland collaborated with a variety Polish composers such as Jan Kanty Pawluskiewicz, Zbigniew Preisner, Andrzej Zarycki and five times with Kaczmarek; Washington Square, A Girl Like Me: The Gwen Araujo Story, Shot in the Heart, The Third Miracle and Total Eclipse. Since 2002, she has been consistent in her employment of composer Antoni Lazarkiewicz for each new assignment.

In dissecting Total Eclipse, both as a film and musically, there is just a single keyword to describe it; fatality. From this departure Kaczmarek wrote a score fully embracing this idea to underscore the complicated love affair between the two poets. In order to define this tone he uses a classical mixture of the intimate Wilanow String Quartet, a soprano, solo oboe, the Warsaw Symphony orchestra and the Fisher’s Fidola (a rare kind of zither, known from his Orchestra of the Eighth Day works).

The composer´s engaging musical design allows for a score repeating a few musical themes, through rhythmic compositions, intended to illustrate the explosive love affair, besides slower performed pieces. There´s a lot of reflective, somber material, even in the more playful parts of the score. In extension to the intimate classical approach, the Fisher´s Fidola becomes a valuable estranging element, as well as the use of soprano Marta Boberska, whose voice is also heard in Bliss and Lost Souls.

The consistent depressive tone of fatality is one of kind. Because of varied reasons, music by Polish composers is often stereotyped as sad music, which even if it is partially true, is foremost the thing that attracts me. A majority of the cues are under 2 minutes in length, yet altogether they form this flowing, conceptual musical misery, that never feels fragmented. It makes it impossible to highlight any given cue from this impressive effort. Total Eclipse is one of the best works of Jan A.P. Kaczmarek, written for a rather forgettable film.

1. The Opening (1:28)
2. Trip to Paris (2:22)
3. The Sea Quartet (1:42)
4. Arrival (1:12)
5. Cafe Andre (1:08)
6. Hashish Kiss (2:05)
7. Looking for Rimbaud (1:23)
8. Naked on the Roof (0:52)
9. Cafe Bobino (1:19)
10. Hashish 2 (3:37)
11. Le Dormeur du val (1:56)
12. Coming Home (1:09)
13. Triangle (1:05)
14. Knife (2:02)
15. The Sun (3:05)
16. Mathilde and Verlaine (2:11)
17. Two Trains (02:58)
18. Verlaine Escapes (01:43)
19. Rimbaud Wounded (1:54)
20. Memory (2:11)
21. The Sentence (1:11)
22. Tear (1:50)
23. Cafe Bobino 2 (1:43)
24. The Drunken Boat (1:29)
25. Abyssinian Plateau (3:27)
26. The Death (2:26)
27. Eternity (Finale) (2:53)
28. End Credits (2:38)

Total Duration: 54:59

(written 19-01-2020)
(click to rate this score)  
(total of 3 votes - average 4.83/5)

Released by

Sony Classical (regular release 1995)