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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

• Director: Michel Gondry
• Writer: Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry, Pierre Bismuth, Charlie Kaufman
• Release Date: 19 March 2004 (USA)
• MPAA Rating: Rated R for language, some drug and sexual content.
• Parents Guide: View content advisory for parents
• Genre: Drama | Romance | Sci-Fi
• Runtime: 108 min
• Box Office #s: Here

Cast Highligts
• Jim Carrey
• Kate Winslet
• Elijah Wood
• Mark Ruffalo
• Tom Wilkinson

A couple undergo a procedure to erase each other from their memories when their relationship turns sour, but it is only through the process of loss that they discover what they had to begin with.

From the Gallery

Trailer

Trivia

  • The title is quoted from the poem “Eloisa to Abelard” by Alexander Pope (1688-1744). This poem was used in Charlie Kaufman’s earlier project Being John Malkovich (1999).
  • Before Jim Carrey expressed interest in playing Joel, Nicolas Cage was considered for the role.
  • The memory-erasing company, Lacuna Inc., takes its name from the Latin word meaning a cavity, hollow, or dip, especially a pool or pond. Transfiguratively, lacuna comes to mean a gap, deficiency, or loss. The term “lacunar infarct” refers to a stroke that involves a small area of the brain responsible for a specific function, or ever a specific memory. Additionally, in papyrology (the study of ancient manuscripts) a lacuna is a hole where part of the text is missing, and which can sometimes be re-constructed.
  • The idea was brought to Michel Gondry by his friend the artist Pierre Bismuth who suggested, “You get a card in the mail that says: someone you know has just erased you from their memory…”
  • A Metro North Commuter Railroad train from the New Haven line (red striped) doubled for the Long Island Railroad (which are blue striped).
  • When Clementine and Joel are in the Montauk beach house, Clementine finds an envelope that says David and Ruth Laskin. David and Ruth are the first names of Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey’s assistants.
  • All of the train shots were shot onboard a real, moving, train.
  • The opening credits appear 18 minutes into the film, at the end of the first reel.
  • The voice whispering Montauk in the movie is actually a combination of Kate Winslet’s voice echoing itself, and the voice of Katy Skjerping, an editor working at the production company Focus Features. Apparently, the young lady was asked to do a quick voice-over, before Winslet arrived, and it was kept in the film.
  • The movie is based on the following quote from an Alexander Pope poem, “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.”
  • Mary’s surname does not appear in the credits, but her nameplate on the reception desk at Dr. Mierzwiak’s practice shows it as Svevo. Stan also says her full name an hour and a half into the film. This very unusual name is clearly a reference to Italian writer Italo Svevo (real name Ettore Schmitz, 1861-1928), who was very interested in the work of Sigmund Freud and is believed to have corresponded with him.
  • A sub-plot involving Joel having a one-night stand with his ex-girlfriend Naomi (Ellen Pompeo) was deleted from the final film.
  • The original screenplay by Charlie Kaufman included a short conversation between Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet) about the album “Rain Dogs” by Tom Waits during one of the opening scenes on the train. During this conversation Joel says he remembers buying the album and liking it, but he can’t remember anything about it. While the dialogue was stripped from the film, during the fast shots of Stan (Mark Ruffalo) showing Joel the items he has brought in that remind him of Clementine a copy of the CD “Rain Dogs” can be seen for just a moment. Also the “blue ruin” reference comes from a lyric on the same album.
  • Despite the fact that Charlie Kaufman’s script and Michel Gondry’s visual concepts were closely followed, the actors were allowed many chances to improvise. Elijah Wood and Mark Ruffalo improvised extensively, and much of the dialog between Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet resulted from videotaped rehearsal sessions during which the two actors became close by sharing tales of their real life relationships and heartbreaks.
  • The computer used during the procedure is actually an Amstrad PPC (Portable Personal Computer) from the early 1990s.
  • The scene where Joel and Clementine watch the circus go through the streets was made up on the spot, as the film crew and cast happened to be working nearby and Michel Gondry decided it could work well in the film. The part where Clementine disappears suddenly is one of Gondry’s favorite moments of the film, as Jim Carrey didn’t know Kate Winslet was going to disappear and Gondry likes it because Carrey’s face appears so saddened. When the sound blanks out in the final film, Carrey is actually saying “Kate?”
  • When Joel goes to Lacuna Inc. for the first time, he looks at cards being printed out with the names Chris Norr and Linda Chen. Chris Norr was a camera operator on the film. Linda R. Chen was an intern and a New York casting assistant.
  • To help promote the movie, a fully functional website was created for Lacuna (http://www.lacunainc.com) purporting to provide memory erasure. The only giveaway is the link to watch Joel Barish “experience the procedure”, which links to the movie’s official site.
  • A lacunae (also spelled lacuna) is a “lake” seen on medical imaging as a hole filled with fluid within the brain after some strokes and seizures. These tiny “holes” can result in symptoms, such as memory, sensory, and motor dysfunction and is perhaps a reference to the “brain damage” that results from the procedure in the film.
  • When Joel is in his head and is visiting his session of the erasing process, no special effects were used to show the two Joels in the one scene. Jim Carrey had to take off his hat and jacket when he was not in shot and had to quickly sit down in the chair and visa-versa when he has to stand up.
  • Virtually all of the most bizarre and fascinating scenes in this movie were created with old fashioned camera, editing, lighting and prop/set tricks. The use of digital effects was very limited. The striking kitchen scene with Joel as a child was created with an elaborate forced perspective set-up similar to some used by Peter Jackson in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
  • The woman with the distorted face in Dr. Mierzwiak’s office is Ellen Kuras, the film’s director of photography.
  • Reporters tried to interview Jim Carrey as the unplanned scene with Joel and Clementine at the street parade was being filmed. If you listen closely, you can hear somebody shout “Speak to me!” at Jim Carrey.
  • When Joel goes to the darkened room of the recording session in his head for the second time, the warped faces of Dr. Mierzwiak and Joel are (according to Michel Gondry) the skin of his knee.
  • Initially throughout the train scene, the music was supposed to fill up the gap during the silence between Joel and Clem until writer Charlie Kaufman suggested to do the opposite. Music was then played when Joel and Clem talked and paused when they paused.
  • When Stan (Mark Ruffalo) scares Mary (Kirsten Dunst), director Michel Gondry asked Mark to hide at a different spot each take to actually scare her.
  • Michel Gondry had a unique system of controlling his camera operators while shooting by use of a headset for Michel and earpieces for the two operators. He would speak to them (in French) while cameras were rolling and the actors were doing their parts, so Gondry could have a say on all angles no matter where the actors were. This results in a large degree of spontaneity, since the actors could decide while in character whether to have an entire conversation sitting on a couch or get up and walk to a window. Kate Winslet said that she felt this freedom enhanced her performance, and that sometimes they would do different takes of the same scene completely differently, based purely on gut feelings for what the characters might have done.
  • In the credits there appears the line “Leksell Sterotactic System courtesy of Electra Intstruments”; this is the bizarre-looking head gear for brain surgery.
  • The audio for the scene in which Joel and Clementine appear as children in Joel’s memory while their adult voices converse was recorded on location, rather than dubbed later in a studio. Director Michel Gondry felt it was better to have Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet reacting to the children playing their characters as it happened.
  • In the scene where Clementine returns to Joel’s house drunk, Joel’s answering machine can be seen in the background. It is a Panasonic Easa-Phone.
  • Unnoticed visual effects where used in the movie, that were not planned while shooting. In one shot Clem is walking on the street, while a car falls in the background. The whole background was replaced with a CG-background, including Clem’s other leg which disappeared, so the remaining leg was done with CGI. Another shot was the house Clem and Joel were breaking into, which collapses in a 4-second shot. All in the shot was done CG.
  • Joel’s address is given as 159 South Village in Rockville Centre on Long Island. There is a 159 South Village Ave in Rockville Centre but it isn’t an apartment complex as depicted in the film.
  • A sex scene with Mark Ruffalo and Kirsten Dunst was shot but was cut due to length.
  • Features Kate Winslet’s own favorite performance. She mentions this in Empire Magazine.
  • In the scene where Clementine invites Joel to her apartment for a drink, one of the songs playing in the background on Clementine’s stereo is from the 1971 Hindi (Bollywood) movie “Gambler” and is sung by Mohammad Rafi. The song after that, which plays immediately after Clementine says “I’m gonna marry you”, is ‘Wada Na Tod’ meaning “Don’t break your promise” in Hindi from the 1987 movie “Dil Tujhko Diya”, and is sung by Lata Mangeshkar.
  • Voted movie of the year by Empire magazine in 2004.

Quotes

Mary: Blessed are the forgetful, for they get the better even of their blunders.
[they click glasses] Mary: Nietzsche. Beyond Good and Evil. Found it in my Bartlett’s.

[Mary reads to Dr. Mierzwiak out of “Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations”; the lines are from Alexander Pope’s poem “Eloisa to Abelard”] Mary: 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.

Mary: That was beautiful to watch, Howard. Like a surgeon or a concert pianist.

[Mary is stoned, and Joel has just gone off the map] Mary: He could wake up all half-baked and, gooey and, and half-baked… mmm, that sounds sooo good. I’m hungry.

Mary: I wanted to understand as much as I could about the procedure as possible… I think it’s important for my job to understand the inner workings of the work that we do, well not that I do, but the work that is done by people where I also work, the work of my colleagues.

Mary: Adults are, like, this mess of sadness and phobias.