“Nothing fixes a thing so intently in the memory as the wish to forget it.”-Michel Eyquem de Montaigne
“How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d …”–Alexander Pope, Eloisa to Abelard
PLOT: A shy introvert named Joel and a kooky gal named Clementine with ever-changing hair colors meet and fall in love. After a fight Joel tries to reconcile, but discovers Clementine has availed herself of a strange and anachronistic mind-erasing technique to remove all memories of him; in a fit of pique and pain, he decides to undergo the same procedure. But as Joel begins the erasure process, he realizes he doesn’t want to go through with it, and he travels through the landscapes of his memories to find and hold on to the rapidly vanishing Clementine.
- Charlie Kaufman came up with the idea for this fascinating tale and co-wrote the script with the help of director Michel Gondry and obscure Parisian performance artist Pierre Bismuth.
- The title is taken from the classic Alexander Pope poem Eloisa to Abelard, which reflects a number of philosophical and emotional touchstones of the film.
- Before Jim Carrey expressed a desire to play Joel, the likeliest candidate for the part was Nicolas Cage (!)
- The scene where Mark Ruffalo scares Kirsten Dunst is completely genuine: director Gondry asked that before each take that Ruffalo hide in a different spot to really scare the pants off her!
INDELIBLE IMAGE: This bold and invigorating trip into the subconscious has a myriad of off-the-wall images that are sure to stick in your head. From faceless creatures to over-sized environments to entire train stations being drained of its inhabitants due to memory loss, there is a lot of weirdness going on here. But as far as an indelible image, the one I pick is the simple scene in which Joel remembers when he and Clementine snuggle beneath an old ratty blanket and he consoles her after she recounts an intimate and revealing story about a doll she named after herself as a child. As the memory seeps out of his head and Clementine’s body disappears, Joel crawls through the ratty blanket of his imagination begging to be able to hold on to this particular memory.
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Any film birthed from the madcap imagination of Charlie
Original trailer for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Kaufman and surreal visualist Michel Gondry has at least a pretty good shot of being kind of different. But this movie in particular, a film about memories literally being erased from people like they were organic hard drives, really takes Kaufman’s dry strangeness and Gondry’s unhinged wild-eyed wonderment and melds it to a delightful perfection that muses on life while simultaneously compelling us with images of collapsing landscapes and Jim Carrey bathing in a sink.
COMMENTS: Some would say that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a movie about Continue reading 47. ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (2004)