Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind- A Personal Analysis

 Entangled in the story of a relationship gone sour are ideas and possibilities that revolve around memory, melancholy and identity. Temptation and desperation both play equally important roles in the film through the personalities of Joel, Clementine, Mary, Howard, Patrick and Stan. I decided to analyze this exceptional film, through some important points that I found integral to course of the the story:

Is this memory mine? Can it really be erased?

Everybody has memories that they dislike. It is tempting to erase a memory that is detested, but does this memory belong to me and me only? Watching this film, made me realize that a memory doesn’t necessarily belong only to a single person. Characters and personalities are built on memories and so are relationships, between people, objects and places. Even if I were to erase a memory that involved another individual, the memory would still exist in the universe. It will exist in the eyes of the passer-by, with the objects that surrounded me, and with the person that was present with me. I believe that no individual holds any right to erase their memory because a memory simply belongs. Not to one person but to the entire universe. Hence, erasing just a person or a particular space won’t make much of a difference. No matter what, the person and the space will still exist and continue to be a part of the universe. Everything that we interact with will continue to exist in our lives and in our brains with respect to the other. Hence, memories cannot simply disappear.

“You’re erasing her from me…me from her.”

This is Joel’s reaction when he realizes that he no longer wants to erase Clementine from his memory. This line defines perfectly our co-existence. Who are we? What makes us? I believe that every memory is important. The way we react defines our emotional status in a particular situation. As human beings we learn a lot from experience. We educate ourselves every day with new experiences. Experiences become memories. Some experiences are worse than the others, and thinking about them makes us unhappy. We relate to emotions that we once faced and sometimes it is difficult to travel back to the present moment. As an example, if I erase a memory where I have made a terrible mistake, it will not only erase my experience but also hamper my growth. I will go back to an unevolved version of myself. Chances are that I will re-create the same, exact memory, and repeat the same, exact mistake.

So, in the film, when Joel and Clementine are shown to be carrying out the same activities as they were before their memories of each other were erased, I realized that if it wasn’t for the tapes, they would go back to reacting the same way, thus forming a cycle involving the same mistakes and problems.

-“It’s going to be gone soon. What do we do?”

– “Enjoy it”

This is one of the quotes that I felt summed up the meaning of the entire film for me. I believe that situations are inevitable, quoting from my own previously written posts “One moment we exist and in the other we don’t.” We are always in this constant struggle with time. Very often, I find myself predetermining circumstances- wanting situations to end with a result that I calculate. And more often than not, I am confronted with circumstances that I never thought of experiencing. That I never calculated. We are caught unawares. Reactions cannot be planned, feeling cannot be planned and circumstances cannot be predetermined. What is to be, will be. So why struggle when I know that it’s all going to be over soon? Let’s enjoy it. All of it.



You are you and I am me.  

The film depicts the ‘Protagonist’ and ‘Antagonist’ as a relative concept, which is an honest depiction of characters. The good and bad are always seen as relative concepts. What is wrong and what is right? This is observed through Joel and Clementine’s relationship, each blame the other for their own behavior. They love and hate certain qualities in each other. I observed that the bonds in their relationship improve when they accepted each other as two different people. It is important to make mistakes, to like and dislike. Acceptance is what dissolves the other’s antagonistic qualities. To merely exist without judging and blaming- to be.

-“But you will. Ya I know you will think of things and I’ll get bored with you and feel trapped because that’s what happens with me”






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