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What I learned from Watching the Movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

{spoilers ahead!}

Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind tells the story of a yearning love and what one will do when it’s ultimately lost. The movie follows characters Clementine ,played by Kate Winset, and Joel ,played by Jim Carrey’s, complex love journey. After experiencing a painful breakup, Clementine decides to undergo a procedure which allows her to erase memories of her former boyfriend Joel. When Joel gets news of this painful information that along with all the wonderful memories of their relationship will soon be out of reach, he decides to get the same procedure done  to forget her and all their memories as well. As the movie progresses we are able to see them relive these memories and slowly regret ever wanting to erase them. It raises many complex questions such as, is love happiness or is love pain? Is love strong enough to ever forget? Director Michel Gondry does a wonderful job conveying this powerful love story, through flashes of memories accompanied by clips of reality tying the whole movie together, eloquently. The audience is  taken on the painful journey and quest at the attempts to save a forgotten love story. Throughout the movie I was able to understand so many underlying themes that can relate to all of us in some way or aspect of our own lives. 

“Eternal Sunshine” is used as the metaphor for ongoing peace, happiness, and feelings of carelessness. The movie title “Eternal Sunshine of A Spotless Mind” explores the feelings of peace and joy one can experience once their mind is at ease and is empty of all worries. Throughout the film, much of its purpose is to create “spotless minds”, as a way for people to not feel pain by simply forgetting it ever existed. Understanding the beautiful title helped me further understand the meaning of the movie at its core.

Is feeling nothing, better than feeling heartache? 

This was an ongoing question  in my head that the movie definitely brought to mind. Clementine and Joel’s relationship was undoubtedly a whirlwind of love, and mixed emotions, but ultimately when faced with the opportunity to erase it all, the decision was not easy. I think that for Clementine the thought of forgetting Joel meant peace of mind for her, but as for Joel, forgetting Clementine meant erasing his own pain that she brought him instead of healing from it. Though one is able to be erased from the mind, their hearts still recognize each other.

Love & Loss

Love and loss are two recurring themes of this movie that teaches it to all audiences. As the movie unfolds we are met with each of them relieving their memories together and ultimately finding out the reasons why it went wrong. We begin to understand how the experience of love was different for Clementine and for Joel. The movie allowed us to see how so often, we don’t appreciate the love we have in front of us, until there’s a chance that it can be gone or erased forever. Eternal Sunshine of A Spotless Mind does an amazing job conveying how precious love is , and how quickly it can be deprived of. 

Fear and Happiness

Fear and Happiness coexist in this film in the way that one can love someone so much that they fear losing them; sometimes this fear can manifest and ultimately ruin the experience of the love you have for one another. Throughout much of the duration of the film, we grow to understand the reasons why many people desire to undergo this procedure is to forget all the hurt and bad times. However they fail to realize they are erasing all of the moments they remember that brought them so much light and happiness as well. The complex question arises which is: without pain can one ever know what happiness truly feels like?

Memories and Reliving Our Past Selves 

As Joel and Clementine relive the experiences and moments they had together, we also see their efforts to go back in time and change some of the decisions they made as a means to save what was being erased. As the movie concludes, Joel finally opens up and allows Clementine into his deepest thoughts and profound experiences from childhood that ultimately shaped who he is today. As all of those deepest moments are being erased, he comes to terms with it and finds peace in the unknown. He understands one can’t go back and that all he can do is enjoy his memories of Clementine for  one last time before they are gone forever.

There is truly so much to say about this wonderful film. This film is one that makes you want to  rewatch with the hopes of understanding it further. It has allowed me to learn much about the concept of love in and of itself as well as the beauties and pain of it all. A beautiful poem from the film that still remains with me reads, “The world forgetting, by the world forgot. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d”

Zoe Rose

Hampton U '25

Zoë Rose is currently second year Journalism major with an emphasis on English & Creative Writing from Watchung, New Jersey. When she's not writing, she love listening to music, spending time with friends, and doing yoga <3