Scene Analysis – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) is a science fiction comedy drama that heavily focuses on Lacuna Amnesia. The film follows two protagonists Joel and Clementine, who have a difficult breakup and both undertake a procedure to remove their memories of each other to deal with pain and loss. The storyline is very interesting and engaging especially through the filming and editing.

Throughout the film, the audience gets to experience and see the process of Joel removing his memory of Clementine by visiting his memories of his past and him reliving it as the procedure is going on. This makes the movie go back and forth which engages the viewer but also makes them somewhat confused as to where the storyline is going. One particular sequence that I really liked was when Joel relives a memory of him under the covers with Clementine, where she opens up and asks him if he finds her ugly.

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The scene is a close up view underneath a blanket of each protagonists face as they are having a conversation. Each scene flicks back and forth of their faces and to my attention, I notice that Clementines face is subtly blurred in comparison to Joel’s. This might represent that the memory of Clementine is slowly fading away and the memory too. The camera is shot isn’t directly only their faces but rather above, this gives the sensation that audience are intruding into the memory and it is like the audience is revisiting the past rather than living in the moment. The blanket above the heads also give a closure feeling and allows the audience to focus on the present moment rather than distractions. It gives a sense of intimacy as Clementine opens up about her insecurities. The set also reminds me of a safe haven, letting Clementine open up where she feels most safe.

I also find that the positioning and set of the shot is very childlike as they are under the blanket and Clementine is revisiting her childhood. The colours of the shot also support this as it is very yellow due to the blanket, and yellow is somewhat a reminder of childhood and happiness, a juxtaposed with the sad context.

The dialogue throughout the film is quite personal, and it feels more like a narration as its quite close and to themselves. It reminds me of a diary entry that is being released into the air. The sound is a soft guitar which suits the scene very well as it is very calming and sets the scene very well.

The scene soon flashes from Joel and Clementine having a discussion to Joel on top of Clementine having a brief intimate moment, and it is soon layered with more shots over it, where it is soon realised that it is a memory in Joel’s mind and all the flashbacks are coming back. I believe the director had thought this through and wanted the audience to feel like they are in the present moment and get a bit more of an understanding of Clementine as a person but soon it is disrupted. The scene soon then changes into Joel in the bed alone of a mid-shot of his face, pulling the blankets as he tries to hold onto the memory but it is being pulled away from him. This is represented through the colouring as the screen is dark and black, and the only areas of Joel that is seen is due to a flashlight that moves. This portrays that the memory is fading away, and the audience feel as though they are set into his head. The sound also change drastically into a glitchy tone, as he is fighting back to keep the memory. This sets the mood into sadness and a reminder that the memory of Clementine is slowly fading. The dialogue also changes into a narration, where he is talking to himself in a lower whisper saying “Please let me keep this memory. Just this one.” This is even more intimate and it gives a feeling as if the audience is in his mind and thought process. After this the scene changes, implying that memory is gone.

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Throughout the film, there were scenes of sadness and comedy which in its own set the tone. The directors intention was clear that he didn’t want to make the film completely sad about memory loss but also add a touch of humour which keeps the audience engaged. Although the machinery not being real, it gave such a real life feeling that it was an existing tool that was being used in everyday life.

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