Whenever I find myself watching
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,
which is often,
I always find new layers to the story.
It is important to note the origins of this film
before its meaning can be fully explored.
The film was written by Charlie Kaufman
at a time which many consider the peak of his career.
A writer not afraid to step outside the conventional
and explore ideas of a more weird and hypothetical nature.
Films like Being John Malkovich and Adaptation had both great success,
whilst being odd ideas compared to the norm.
This is not the first time Kaufman had explored the mind.
As in Being John Malkovich,
he delves into the mind of another.
The film is what I would describe as a circular narrative.
To explain this, we must explore
how the story is told to us.
We begin disorientated, like Joel himself,
and are fed fragments of the relationship whilst not
understanding the timeframe or significance.
Whilst this is occurring,
we meet Clementine as Joel meets her.
supposedly for the first time.
As the film progresses, we realize that they have met before.
And we begin to see the salient points
of their relationship in reverse order.
This gives us understanding.
But as a viewer, our perception of events is distorted,
fragmented like the real story is.
We begin in the modern time after Joel has his memory erased
We meet Clementine supposedly for the first timeIntroduced to the old storyline
Understand they have met beforeReverse order relationship
Ends in breakup
And by the end of the film,
a full loop has been made,
with us now understanding,
how the more recent storyline fits in with the old one.
Joel’s memory erasedBreak-up Meet Clementine
#Change your heart#
#Look around you#
#Change your heart#
#It will astound you#
The final scene shows Joel and Clementine
on the same beach we have seen them on before.
But this time, in the present timeline,
blissfully unaware they have been here before.
This tells us something.
There are other clues as to what this implies as well.
Clementine remembers when lying on the ice
as Patrick recreates Joel’s relationship,
that she has been here before.
There is a suggestion that only some fragment
therefore transcends the procedure.
“- Bye, Joel.””- I love you.”
“Meet me in Montauk.”
Again, the “Meet me in Montauk” scene
shows that Joel’s understanding of
Clementine as a person is so great that
he can predict where to find her based on memory.
And this prediction influences his future decisions,
causing him to run into her once more.
What I mean by all this is that circular narrative is a continuing one.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a story about
two people who are destined to meet,
fall in love, fall apart,
erase each other from their memories,
and then meet again.
Their personalities tell us that they can not be together forever,
as it will always fall apart, a fact they realize.
But they accept this, and are therefore destined
to continue this loop.
This is heightened by the fact
that they can not truly forget one another.
And some fragments transcend the procedure,
such as a place to meet,
and salient points of the relationship
or ideas as basic as attraction to one another.
We can be sure that Joel and Clementine remained together.
But not continually.
As they seemed set to follow a loop of a relationship
before hitting reset and beginning again.
” You erased me. That’s why I’m here.”
” That’s why I’m doing this, the first place.”
“- I’m sorry.”- You. You.”
“You know me. I’m impulsive.”
This is the idea of predestination,
the philosophical concept of determinism.
As Ted Honduras states,
“All our choices, intuitions and actions
are no more than the results of equally necessitated events.”
There is a loose idea of destiny to the film.
an idea that Joel and Clementine are predetermined to continue being together,
but only for short periods.
The impulsive nature of Clementine’s personality
means that she will continue to get the procedure done.
Listen to this extract from Kaufman’s BAFTA Screenwriter speech,
explaining how he feels, when a movie of his comes out.
“So many, there are so many pitfalls
when a movie comes out. That it’s hard.
It’s hard to enjoy it when it comes out.”
“I mean obviously if a movie does well and it’s critically
you know, well-received and I like it.”
“我喜欢它 但我 我仍需要好的回应
“I like it. But I so em, I’m so needful of it.
that kind of response that
I don’t think it doesn’t feel good.
感觉差强人意 你了解 这样…”
It just feels less bad, you know. It’s It…”
“Because it feels really bad.”
“…… when people say mean things, really it feel bad.”
From this, you can really see that
Kaufman and Joel are two very similar people.
In this film, Kaufman is trying to convey something more,
a thing I think is shown most highly
in the quoted features by Alixander Pope.
” How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot?
The world forgetting by the world for God.
Eternal sunshine of a spotless mind.
Each prayer accepted and each wish resigned.”
How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot!
Joel and Clementine are two blameless vestals.
But they are happy.
The mind is most fulfilled in what is spotless,
what is fresh and new and exciting.
The Eternal Sunshine alludes to eternal happiness
which can only be found in that which is spotless, new.
Kaufman is really saying that true happiness
is only found in that which is new for us.
And if new love is all that really maintains,
is it not noble that for the sake of love
the world be forgot.
Eternal Sunshine is to be found in the spotless mind
and spotless Joel and Clementine’s minds, remain.