In his apartment, Joel tears open a paper package that holds a small red pill. A sink faucet bursts with water as it fills a clear, empty glass. Joel quickly downs the pill. He makes his way around his apartment, stumbling and turning off the lights. He finally lands on his bed where begins to look around the room through blurred vision. Two men enter with computer equipment and one helmet-like machine. The figures slowly start to fade as the voices of these two men begin to sound distorted and are eventually drowned out completely, yet there is nothing resolved when journey back to the first scene of the movie that follows this scene. Joel wakes up in a
gloom and seems to be lifeless. He's technically awake, but because of this lack of memory there becomes a lack of identity. Joel doesn’t seem to recognize where he is, nor why he woke up in the fashion that he did. The viewer is shown Joel’s lack of identity. This lack of identity stems from the lack of memory. Russell J.A. Kilbourne writes in Cinema, Memory, and Modernitythat the doctor didn't “ask Joel to visualize or narrate” his memories or reminder “but to feel” (pg. 132). With no memory to recognize with, people lose their sense of identity. For every dark memory there is a bright memory that brings out the best of one’s emotions. We choose the best and worst memories to represent events in our lives. Skewed as they may be, it’s what makes up a healthy mind. Gondry does such an excellent job of creating this overall shadow that lurks in every scene of the movie. He weaves in minute details that all wrap together to make a tight idea of memory that is portrayed as a loose and messy stream of conscientiousness. What picture is really being paint here, though? The idea of memory is being toyed with throughout the film. The filming style is a reflection of memory itself. Memory is a completely relative subject in that we remember everything we find important to us. Gondry and Kauffman want us to understand that is vital to use memory, good or bad to help us identify ourselves and live a healthy lifestyle. “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,” writes Alexander Pope. The idea of a spotless mind seems easier, but is it better?
Works Cited Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Dir. Michael Gondry. Writer Charlie Kauffman. Perfs. Jim Carey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood. 2004. Amazon Video. Kilbourne, Russell J.A. “The Crisis of Memory: ‘Traumatic Identity’ in the Contemporary Memory Film.” Cinema, Memory, Modernity. Routledge. New York: Taylor and Francis Group, 2010. Print. Lehrer, Jonah. “The Forgetting Pill.” wired.com. 17 February 2012. 20 March 2016. <http://>. Pope, Alexander. “Eloisa to Abelard.”< >.
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