The history of solar eclipses and our human reactions go back into the deep, dark crevices of our very existence on the planet. Ancient Chinese manuscripts attempt to explain the phenomenon with stories of dragons eating the sun. Tribal communities were sure the eclipse meant the end of the world. Medieval etchings show crowds in wild disarray, shouting and dancing in a fervor fueled by a combination of horror and disbelief. Although we have all the scientific data available to dispel myths and magic, our human DNA still dictates associations based more on emotions than on facts.

You may have already heard about the approaching eclipse that will occur on Aug. 21, moving across the United States in an arc that will take it from the coast of Oregon all the way across to South Carolina. According to the eclipse experts (and there are many), if you have no travel plans to visit the places where the total eclipse will occur, you’ll experience little of the magic.

I have to admit, I wasn’t all that excited about this unique event (next one over the U.S. will be in 99 years) until viewing a documentary which is now available to stream. “Totality: The American Eclipse” offers a glimpse into the world of people whose lives have been completely changed by chasing the total eclipse.

Many of them have been all over the world and have intense stories to tell. This tight documentary lasts a little over an hour. If you want to reflect, be inspired by their stories, and understand the approaching eclipse’s impact in clearer terms, see this documentary before Aug. 21.

In all probability, the eclipse will be one of the most televised, tweeted, and filmed events ever because such a huge part of the U.S. population will be effected by “totality.” The individuals interviewed all point out that what we’ll see in our part of Texas holds none of the life-changing enchantment of the total eclipse. For the real deal, find an eclipse map and go.

Each one of the individuals interviewed has personal stories relevant to their “totality” experience. One man becomes emotional relating the story of a whirlwind romance during a 1991 eclipse when he traveled to Baja. Another one mentions feeling an astounding sense of peace at being in exactly the right place at the right time. Yet another one emphasizes how small and insignificant he feels at that precise moment when the moon moves into place and only the glowing corona of the sun appears as darkness falls.

Seeing “Totality: The American Eclipse” won’t change your life, but at the very least, it’ll shed a whole lot of light on this approaching August eclipse. If the documentary inspires you to travel to experience “totality,” then that’ll be another story.


Marilyn Robitaille has been writing film reviews since 1999.