Film Analysis: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Essay

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Michel Gondry’s 2004 film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, deals with themes of memory, identity and love. The film focuses on a lonely man named Joel Barish and his progressively dysfunctional relationship with Clementine Kruczynski. As their relationship deteriorates, they both decide individually to get the memories of each other erased from their minds at Lacuna Inc. Throughout the film, Joel demonstrates to the viewer, that although he is thoroughly unhappy, he begins to regret his agreement to the procedure and desperately tries to cling onto the happiest moments of his life. The scene directly before the sequence I have chosen is a memory of the first and only time that Joel was so happy he could “die right now”; lying on the frozen Charles with Clementine. The mise-en-scéne of this sequence is expansive, firstly illustrating the trivial way people regard memory loss, and then contrasts this to the importance of retaining one’s memories; the good and the bad. Joel in this sequence demonstrates to viewers that he cannot run away from his problems by taking the easy remedy, as trying to deny the existence of negative people will never result in happiness, and especially not when it entails the loss of your happiest memories.
The sequence begins by introducing the idea of the removal of Clementine by the program erasing Joel’s memory. Beginning with a high angle shot looking at Joel and Clementine on the floor, of what seems to be the train station, darkness surrounds the two. They are shown under a bright spotlight with undistinguishable businessmen walking around them. The spotlight effect is more obvious as the camera cuts to an extreme long shot of them lying there, which gives the idea that they are small specimen...

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...his growing regret of choosing to wipe his memory, as well as his desperation to stop it. Lacuna Inc. wipes the memories of people, but the procedure does not change the innate tendencies of them. This only results in Joel and Clementine once again meeting and repeating everything in a continuous cycle. With this truth, one can understand how ‘easy fixes’ may seem like the answers to life’s problems, but the sequence exemplifies the enormity of impulsive actions. Unlike Joel, who will continue to visit Lacuna Inc. when things go awry with each new relationship with Clementine, the viewer is given the chance to learn from his actions, and retain the knowledge that one needs times of darkness in order to fully appreciate the moments we take for granted.

Works Cited
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Dir. Michel Gondry. Focus Features. 2004. Film

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