analysis of eternal sunshine of the spotless mind

“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”. — Alexander Pope, “Eloisa to Abelard” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a movie written by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Michel Gondry, presents a concept that one is able to erase a significant person, pet, or thing from his or her memory completely if they were so inclined. At times in my life, I have wished there were such a way to accomplish this feat. But after watching “Eternal Sunshine”, I started to think differently. At some point before the movie begins, coming from a chronological point of view (this movie does not share the same point of view), Joel Barish who is the main character, is in love with a woman by the name of Clementine Kruczynski. He sees her after the break-up and she seems to feign ignorance of them ever knowing each other. This inclines Joel to have the scientific procedure of literal ‘brain damage’ to erase the memory of ever knowing her. Throughout Joel’s procedure, he finds himself re-living memories of her, both positive and negative, and realizes he may want to keep these memories, even though many are painful.

Although Joel and Clementine go back and forth through various stages of memories of romance and reality, what seems to be constant is an individual’s desire for love and companionship, and the human drive to keep looking for it, though it may seem hopeless at times. It may also be true that Joel and Clementine, who seem to be such opposites (he is more of an introvert while she is an extrovert and perhaps wild), might be a good match for each other, and so if they keep on meeting they will keep on falling in love over and over again. While some may wish intensely for a way to forget painful memories of boyfriends, girlfriends, pets, family members in one’s past, there is a bittersweet aftertaste to something like a bad break-up or losing a favorite pet: the good memories you shared together, the lessons about life or love you learn, or the appreciation that you shared time with that special something or someone. I, for one, wouldn’t take back any of the experiences I’ve had with any significant figure in my life. If one or more of these figures hadn’t come and go, I wouldn’t quite be the person I am today, and I think that’s what Joel Barish started to feel as he watched both precious and terrible memories of Clementine vanish before his eyes.

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