Empathizing with Joel Barish in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

One of the most critical factors in creating “good” films is the approach in creating the emotional foundation of a story. Hollywood film producers have always taken interest in depicturing particular scenes in order to make the audience share the emotions, which main characters go through on the screen. Despite the fairly long history of film production, many scholars are still examining the issue of emotional responses to films. One of the investigators, Alex Neill, puts an edge on the question of two different types of emotional responses to the film fiction: empathy and sympathy, in his essay “Empathy and (Film) Fiction”. According to Neill’s theory, which I am going to explore furthermore in my paper, empathy becomes the more valuable feeling expression than sympathy. From my point of view, Michael Gondry’s film, Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind, is a good example, which can possibly embody Neill’s theory on empathetic responses to the film fiction. Thus, the question of whether the audience responds empathetically or sympathetically to this particular film and the value of those emotions can be answered through the close analysis of both the scholar research and the film itself.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a melodrama with the mix of fantastic events happening in real world. This melancholy story shows the audience a typical couple in love, which experiences a tragic crisis in their relations. Typical, depressed and boring “loser”, Joel Barish (Jim Carrey), appears on the break-up with substandard, overemotional and intrusive woman, Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet). She accesses some specific services of little company, which can erase any person or event from the memory, and vanishes all the memories abo...

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... achieved the level of being valuable in understanding the inner approaches of different films. Apparently, both Alex Neill and Michel Gondry construct their projects in the way they can be analyzed together, though leaving the room for the audience to use their imagination and improve their emotional education.

Works Cited

Neill, Alex. “Empathy and (Film) Fiction.” Philosophy of film and motion pictures : an anthology, eds. Noel Carrol and Jinhee Choi. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2006. 247-259. Print.

Gaut, Berys. “Identification and Emotion in Narrative Film.” Passionate Views, eds. Carl R. Plantinga and Greg M. Smith. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press, 1999. 200-216. Print.

Noel Carroll. “Film, Emotion and Genre.” Passionate Views, eds. Carl R. Plantinga and Greg M. Smith. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press, 1999. 21-47. Print.
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