The act of losing a memory… Can we give up on our memories with our eyes wide open? Do you think we could consciously let go of things that build us up? Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind portrays this theme of oblivion to paint a vivid picture of the desperate situation of human beings who are convinced that they can erase their memories.
I think the first time I saw Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was over a year ago and I was amazed by the detailed cinematography of every scene. I remember that I didn’t really realize what was going on as I was watching the film, I couldn’t be more into this absolute masterpiece. And after I finished it, I contemplated on the clever and brilliant originality of this movie. As the title suggests it reflects the emptiness of one’s mind, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”. However, is this emptiness good or bad, or is it worth it?
A film by Michel Gondry, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind stars Jim Carrey in the role of Joel and Kate Winslet in the role of Clementine. The movie switches between timelines which can make it a bit confusing to follow. It consists of and frequently switches between past memories of Joel and Clementine.
Basically the timeline goes; Joel and Clementine meet, they spend some quality time together, and they break up. But, this is not it. Gondry processes these events as frameworks of memories and the memories shift from one another.
After the break up, Clementine decides to erase all of her memories related to Joel so that she doesn’t have any trace of him in her mind. A free spirit, Clementine, acts like there is no tomorrow and she doesn’t think much of other people, and can't recognize Joel when they run into each other. This way, Joel also decides to erase all of their memories in his mind. He applies to the doctor’s office who does this erasing action and he demands all of the objects that remind him of Clementine to create a map of her.
When Joel’s mind erasing action begins while he is asleep at his house, we watch Joel and Clementine’s heart-warming memories as they fade away and disappear respectively. This fading action is because the memories are slowly deleting themselves.
At this point, we see Joel begging for the memories to not go away. From his own words, “Please let me keep this memory, just this one.” I think this scene was one of the most heart-breaking and sentimental scenes of cinematic history. Then, Joel literally holds Clementine’s silhouette and tells her not to leave and he regrets his decision upon losing his memories.
It could be interpreted as he doesn’t want to lose his soulmate Clementine or he doesn’t want to give up on his memories that makes who he actually is.
Joel and Clementine break up and come back to each other
several times, they understand that they are no good to each other, but they are still so suitable for each other which also reveals this movie’s cohesiveness. As Clementine says, “Joel, look at me. You’ll remember me in the morning, and you’ll come to me, and you’ll tell me about us, and we’ll start over.”
However, these regretful times of Joel don't come to no use and he loses his memories of Clementine. At the end, after they learn both of them underwent a procedure to erase each other’s memories, initially hesitating, they decide to stay together.
There is a quote that I am absolutely goosebumps and adore that goes like this: “We met at the wrong time. That’s what I keep telling myself anyway. Maybe one day years from now, we’ll meet in a coffee shop in a far away city somewhere and we could give it another shot.” I think this quote suggests the secret and beauty of love and life that people can build up different memories in diverse timelines. However, their memories shape the life people live.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind addresses the insuppressible power of our memories and that we require them even if we don’t want to or can’t handle their consequences. We don’t choose our memories, but we are stuck with owning them. The moment we cannot bear some of our memories, we should recall the fact that we subtly learned so much from them and maybe not ready to let go of them.
Gibby-Brown, Sckylar, and Sckylar Gibby-Brown. “25 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Quotes from the Complex Film.” Everyday Power, 3 Nov. 2023, everydaypower.com/eternal-sunshine-of-the-spotless-mind-quotes/.