On Monday, Americans across the country witnessed the first total solar eclipse in a generation. To celebrate this rare cosmic event, EW rounded up a list of the most important eclipses in the history of film and TV, to go along with our earlier round-up of the best eclipses in novels.
Ancient cultures revered the sun. Sun gods often led their divine pantheons, and religious ritual depended on the sun. So when a total solar eclipse occurs while Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood) is meant to be sacrificed to the Mayan gods, he’s spared that awful beheading fate. When the sun is used as a stand-in for authority, it can often be used to justify oppression — but the eclipse can disrupt that and allow people a chance at unexpected freedom.
Avatar: The Last Airbender, “Day of the Black Sun”
While three of the elemental cultures in the Avatar world derive their powers from nature, the Fire Nation depends largely on cosmic forces. The passing of a rare comet grants them massive power, which they used to kick off the genocidal war that forms the series’ backdrop. On the other hand, an eclipse leaves them totally powerless. The Day of the Black Sun, therefore, is our heroes’ last chance to defeat the Fire Nation before it’s too late.
It doesn’t work out.
It sometimes feels like anything can happen during an eclipse. In this film adapted from the Stephen King novel, an eclipse is what finally gave Dolores (Kathy Bates) the opportunity to kill her husband and liberate both herself and her daughter Selena (Jennifer Jason Leigh) from his oppressive, abusive grip.
Heroes, “Genesis” and “The Eclipse”
Although many of the superpowered people in Heroes seem to have acquired their powers naturally, like the X-Men, the story only kicks off beneath the dark light of an eclipse. As Hiro (Masi Oka), Claire (Hayden Panettiere), Peter (Milo Ventimiglia), and Niki (Ali Larter) all look up at the black sun, they realize their destinies are greater than they ever imagined.
Two seasons later, the eclipse returns – this time to take away the heroes’ powers for a day and prove not even gods are invulnerable all the time.
Little Shop of Horrors
Most plants need the sun to survive. Perhaps that’s why it’s only during an eclipse that Seymour (Rick Moranis) sees an unusual little plant and takes it home. This plant, of course, feeds on human blood rather than sunlight. Only under the shadow of a black sun would such an anti-plant seem normal.