Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) Poster


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Despite the fact that Charlie Kaufman's script and Michel Gondry's visual concepts were closely followed, the cast members were allowed many chances to improvise. Elijah Wood and Mark Ruffalo improvised extensively, and much of the dialogue between Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet resulted from videotaped rehearsal sessions, during which, the two became close by sharing tales of their real-life relationships and heartbreaks.
During the train scene, Kate Winslet punches Jim Carrey. This was not staged nor planned, and Carrey's response is that of genuine surprise.
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 Director 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 liked it because Carrey's face appears so saddened. When the sound blanks out in the final film, Carrey is actually saying "Kate?"
The idea for this film was brought to Michel Gondry by his friend, artist Pierre Bismuth, who suggested, "You get a card in the mail that says: someone you know has just erased you from their memory."
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 the shot and had to quickly sit down in the chair, and vice-versa when he has to stand up.
Initially, throughout the train scene, the music was supposed to fill up the gap during the silence between Joel and Clementine, until Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman suggested to do the opposite. Music was then played when Joel and Clementine talked, and paused when they paused.
When Stan (Mark Ruffalo) scares Mary (Kirsten Dunst), Michel Gondry asked Ruffalo to hide at a different spot each take, to actually scare her.
Virtually all of the most bizarre and fascinating scenes in this movie were created with old fashioned camera, editing, lighting, and prop and 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.
Clementine's hair goes through several color changes, blue, orange, red, green, and brown, which seems to be her natural hair color. This helps the viewer keep track of where her relationship with Joel corresponds to the plot.
Michel Gondry had a unique system of controlling his camera operators while shooting, by use of a headset for himself 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 resulted 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 tape recorded sessions with Kate Winslet, Jim Carrey accidentally wrecked the tape recorder when he got so much into the scene, he threw it across the room.
Kate Winslet mentioned to Empire Magazine this was her own favorite performance.
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. Michel Gondry felt it was better to have Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet reacting to the children playing their characters as it happened.
According to Mark Ruffalo, the scene where Stan (Mark Ruffalo) and Mary (Kirsten Dunst) dance in their underwear over an unconscious Joel (Jim Carrey) was improvised.
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."
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.
The opening credits appear eighteen minutes into the film, at the end of the first reel.
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.
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.
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 even 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.
A subplot involving Joel having a one-night stand with his ex-girlfriend, Naomi (Ellen Pompeo), was deleted from the final cut of the film.
A sex scene with Mark Ruffalo and Kirsten Dunst was shot, but was cut due to length.
The voice whispering "Montauk" in the movie is actually a combination of Kate Winslet's voice echoing and the voice of Katherine Skjerping, an editor working at the Focus Features production company. Apparently, Skjerping was asked to do a quick voice-over before Winslet arrived, and it was kept in the film.
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 on-board a real moving train.
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 poem "Eloisa to Abelard," read within the film as an explanation of its title, was used in Charlie Kaufman's earlier project, Being John Malkovich (1999).
Kate Winslet's different hair colors were achieved through wigs, not dyeing. Since the film wasn't shot in sequence, she sometimes had to have different colors on the same day, so dyeing wasn't practical. Reportedly, the red one was her favorite.
Unnoticed visual effects that were not planned while shooting were used in the movie. In one shot, Clementine is walking on the street while a car falls in the background. The whole background was replaced with a CG-background, including Clementine's other leg which disappeared, so the remaining leg was done with CGI. Another shot done in CGI was the house Clementine and Joel were breaking into, which collapses in a four-second shot.
Before Jim Carrey expressed interest in playing Joel, Nicolas Cage was considered for the role.
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.
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.
Using Clementine's hair color, viewers can keep track of what phase of the relationship they are watching: green for first meeting, red for fantasy scenes, orange for full-on affair, and blue for their post-cleansing re-acquaintance.
The woman with the distorted face in Dr. Mierzwiak's office is Ellen Kuras, the film's Director of Photography.
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 City Casting Assistant.
Voted movie of the year by Empire magazine in 2004.
A lacuna is a "lake" seen on medical imaging as a hole filled with fluid within the brain, after some strokes and seizures. Such tiny "holes" can result in symptoms such as memory, sensory, and motor dysfunction, and are perhaps a reference to the "brain damage" that results from the procedure in the film.
In 2015, the film had a successful theatrical re-release in South Korea.
The small computer hooked up to the memory erasing headset is an old Amstrad PPC 512 or 640, manufactured back in 1988.
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 Hindi (Bollywood) movie Gambler (1971) 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 movie Dil Tujhko Diya (1987), and is sung by Lata Mangeshkar.
Seth Rogen auditioned for the role of Patrick.
The film is included on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list.
The computer used during the procedure is actually an Amstrad PPC (Portable Personal Computer) from the early 1990s.
In the DVD extra "A look inside Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", Kate Winslet is on-set at a beach talking to the camera next to Michel Gondry. He is wearing headphones and possibly cannot hear what she is saying. She says, "I'm telling my Director that he's irreplaceable. What would I do without my little frog?"
Joel's address is given as 159 South Village in Rockville Centre on Long Island. There is a 159 South Village Avenue in Rockville Centre, but it isn't an apartment complex as depicted in the film.
"Thanks" to its Italian title translation ("Se mi lasci ti cancello"), every Italian watching the movie had been expecting a comedy and surely they were disappointed. Instead, the movie is very dramatic and very saddening. The right translation of the title should be "L'eterno splendore d'una mente immacolata".
Josh Flitter plays a young bully that bullies Jim Carrey's character. Coincidentally, Flitter played the title character in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective Jr (2009), while Carrey played the title character in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994) and Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1995).
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There is a song played in the background when Joel has drinks with Clementine for the first time, after erasing his memory. The song is sung by Lata Mangeshkar.
At least one version of the screenplay ends with Clementine and Joel in an endless cycle of erasures and getting back together. In the last scene, an elderly Clementine visits Dr. Mierzwiak, and the screenplay calls for the audience to see a computer screen showing "a list of fifteen dates of previous erasures stretching back fifty years, all of them involving Joel Barish." The actual ending used in the movie ends on a much more upbeat note instead.
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A Metro North Commuter Railroad train from the New Haven line (red striped) doubled for the Long Island Railroad (which are blue striped).
The portable computer on the table appears to be an Amstrad PPC 512/640. Circa 1988, these computers ran at 8 MHz and had 640Kb of memory at most. Amstrad were known for making cheap alternative computers to other manufacturers, in keeping with the apparent operating model of Lacuna.
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When Stan and Mary are talking on the bed with unconscious Joel, Mary says the procedure gives people the chance to "begin again". Mark Ruffalo starred in Begin Again (2013).
Another movie where Kirsten Dunst's character was named Mary. Other films were the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies, though her character's name was Mary Jane.
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.
Was an inspiration for the hit indie video game, To the Moon.
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The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

The "real" Clementine, that is to say not a memory or figment of Joel's imagination, is only in the film for roughly twenty minutes (and is instantly recognizable by her blue hair).
The original script featured a cut beginning and ending sequence that took place in the future. In the end, an older Clementine comes in to have the procedure done, and a look at her screen shows that she's had the procedure done multiple times, and all of them involved Joel. At the end of the script, an older Joel calls Clementine to ask why she hasn't called, but the technicians performing the procedure erase his message. Other cuts in the original script, include a montage of memories people wanted erased, including a soldier seeing his dead friend on a battlefield, and a girl who was raped at a young age. Another subplot dropped from the script, was Mary (Kirsten Dunst) finding out that Howard (Tom Wilkinson) made her get an abortion after they had the affair, resulting in her desire to have her memory wiped.
On the album "Origin" by the band Dayseeker, there is a song called, "Spotless Mind". The song and lyrics is a summarization of the plot and scenes through Joel's perspective. Some lines from the movie are used as lyrics, such as,"I want to call it off", and "Please let me keep this one." The song ends with, "I'll find you when I wake and we'll try again, I'll meet you in Montauk my dear old friend."
The band Circa Survive has a track on their album "Juturna" (2005) titled "Meet Me in Montauk". This is where Joel and Clem meet twice.
An early clue that the start of the film is the end of the story, is the fact Joel says in narration that it's Valentines Day 2004 when he skips work toward the start, but in one of his memories with Clementine, he says it's November 2003.

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