Think of the bitterest memory that you have. If a technology to completely erase it from your mind exists, would you seize that opportunity?
“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” is a 2004 critically-acclaimed and award-winning rom-com/sci-fi independent film helmed by French director Michel Gondry. It was topbilled by Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet as estranged and unlikely lovers, the withdrawn John Barish and the peppy, eccentric Clementine Kruczynski. The title of the film was a line taken from Alexander Pope’s poem, “Eloisa to Abelard”.
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.
The main story in this film follows John and Clementine, a couple who always fought and, reaching their tipping point, broke up after their nastiest fight yet. Conveniently, they live at a time when the process of having memories erased is not only possible but also accessible to everyone, so Clementine undergoes the heartbreaking and harsh procedure to forget John. When the latter finds out about this, he, too, decides to undergo the same procedure to forget her. Most of the film was told from John’s perspective, showcasing his struggle on whether to really throw his memories of Clementine or not.
Had “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” been entrusted into the hands of another director, things probably would’ve turned out extremely differently. Gondry gave the film his signature unconventional treatment, most noticeable in the scenes depicting what’s happening inside John’s mind during the process of erasing his memories, and I really couldn’t imagine a better way to portray the character’s weird, dreamy thoughts. Science fiction and (anti-) romance might seem an unlikely combination and something that more often than not one overshadows the other, but Gondry obviously had it all under control here.
And okay, on a romantic note, I guess “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” also sort of addresses the age-old theory that if people really are meant to be together, then nothing can ever prevent them from doing so. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’d had at the very least a fleeting thought about this after seeing the movie!
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