eternal sunshine of the spotless mind – alternate worlds

thurs. 2/23/2017 12:03am

Alternate states of mind can come in various forms, as made evident by our three viewings – it can be induced by inebriation (which may come with strange dreams, another alternate state), scientific methods of hypnosis, or physical memory/brain adjustment (Dream of a Rarebit Fiend [1906], La Jetee [1963], and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind [2004], respectively). This is where the medium of film has a particularly fascinating role; all three of these are not able to be expressed in any other form the way it is able to be through film (particularly through methods of editing)! Take, for example, the genius (possibly groundbreaking, at the time?) superimpositions of our drunken character in the first short. We, the spectators, watch his bed -and himself- go on an epic adventure throughout the city, resulting in a hangover the next day.

La Jetee takes the filmic form and makes it something I’ve never seen before: still images combined with a voiceover, thus making a science-fiction story out of pictures which, in the context of real life, definitely would not have told the same. Finally, in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the most striking scene I recall is that of when our character Joel returns to an experience of when he was but a child. His mother (who’s face we never see) is washing the dishes while singing “O Clementine,” and he and Clementine swim in the sink; this takes place in his mind (in his memory), but at the same time everything begins to erase as the employers in real life attempt to delete this sacred recollection. I was amazed at how the scaling (in terms of sizes of the characters) was edited so perfectly, and that this is a memory that he and Clementine manage to make new experiences in.

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