Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) is directed by Michel Gondry and stars Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet. This entire movie’s motif is based around depicting the past and literally revisiting memories. This film is about Jim Carrey’s character, Joel Barnish, who decides to have a procedure to erase the memories of an ex-girlfriend after a falling out in their relationship. It is in his memories he remembers what they used to have and why they fell in love.

In this scene, Joel confronts a memory of his ex-girlfriend, Clementine played by Winslet, and realizes the mistake he’s made of walking out on her, while everything in his memory deteriorates. Everything about this scene, the dialogue, acting, camera angle, special effects all beautifully illustrate Joel’s regret of his relationship while his memory fades away around him. Winslet’s dialogue is acted out as if she was herself when they were on that beach house from before. Her no-chalet attitude of the walls collapsing and floors falling through reinforces the idea that she is just a memory. Joel responds to Clementine with a voice over, but she responds back, because it is all in his head. When she responds, she responds without anger or sadness, but more as a Joel’s narrative for Joel to come to terms with the questions and answers he could never voice.

Everything about the mise-en-scene, from the ocean waves coming into the house, the walls crumbling, to the sand in the car and bedroom, all form into a beautiful dreamlike world. They all work to illustrate the elements that stood out in his memories and what made them special. Even the use of lighting is used in a literal way, to spotlight specific moments from his memory. Winslet’s voice is also echoed when off screen to add to the atmosphere of her just being in his head. The jagged cuts and different angles complement the idea of a memory disintegrating. Every element in this movie has a specific purpose in illustrating Joel’s memory and how he depicts the past, which has proven Michel Gondry’s title as a stylistic genius.

2 responses to “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

  1. Really loved this film, it inspired me to check out the rest of Kaufman’s work. The dreamlike sequences are fantastic, and I think the central two performances are powerful, I ended up caring about them much more than I expected to going into the film. While often I don’t like the characters in Kaufman’s films – they never seem meant to be likable – I thought their relationship was so imaginatively conveyed, and it does take every element of the film into consideration. The acting, the framing, sound editing, the color choices – I’ve always felt they got right the vast majority of the aspects that needed to work in order to pull off such a strange love story.

  2. “Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind“ is still one of my favourite films. I totally agree with Eugene, the way this film is done is absolutely fantastic. I like how memories are fading away but in the end there is the possibility to create new ones, at least is this how I interpreted the ending. Furthermore, it was fun and exciting to see Kate Winslet in a Jim Carrey role and Jim Carrey in a Kate Winslet role. They are both great actors, even outside of their usual character type. Also the film has a beautiful soundtrack, illustrating even more Michel Gondry´s genius in exploring the human mind and their dreams. Finally, I would like to recommend the film “The Science of Sleep“, another great film by Gondry, that deals as well with dreams and how dream and reality can easily interfuse.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s