Short Film - Souls of Totality


On recently at Edinburgh International Film Festival, Susan Omand watched the short film Souls of Totality...

Lady 18 (Tatiana Maslany) and Guy 3 (Tom Cullen) have a secret. They are members of a cult that believes if they die during a Solar Eclipse their souls will be taken to paradise. But that’s not their secret… They are also profoundly in love.

I really expected this short film to have a science fiction twist to it. I don’t really know why, maybe because the synopsis feels like it could be a Robert Heinlein or Philip K Dick short story adaptation. However, even without the futuristic twist, this is still an interesting little film with a good leading cast who managed to believably build their characters and attain a level of on-screen chemistry that is rare in a film of this length (18 minutes including credits).

The first thing I must say about it is that the cinematography is gorgeous. The shots are framed in such a way that everything has significance and the focus on the sky, even in the non-eclipse scenes, really enhances the atmosphere of light and dark, openness and oppressiveness, safety and danger. That final shot in the green field with the white towels fluttering in a breeze just took my breath away.

Talking of breath-taking, for the budget of a short film, you can’t really expect miracles in terms of special effects, so the film-makers boldly used the miracles that were already available and filmed the spectacular eclipse sequence in the middle of a REAL solar eclipse! It really made all the difference to that scene because of the integrity of the colours in the sky and that un-replicatable shading that only comes at the covering of the sun. Trying to do it with CGI would have looked too CGI in my opinion, especially done cheaply, so bravo to them for being brave enough to go for a “must shoot in one take” scene.

That’s not to say it was a perfect film though. The way the plot progressed was a bit lumpy and left me with a lot of what I felt were obvious questions (like why did she abandon the car in the middle of the road and run back to the farm, rather than turning the car round and driving back?) and there was the odd little triviality that annoyed me (like why, when coming back from the grocery store, did it look like the 4 bags they were carrying were empty when there should have been bottles and cans in them) but that is by the bye.

All in all then, it was a fair attempt at a solid premise with strong acting and clever effects. And it looked utterly beautiful.



Image - Richard Raymond