Eternal Sunshine of the Not So Spotless Mind: The Portrayal of Psychological Disorders and Alcoholism
The depiction of Michel Gondry’s 2004 film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, is explaining by many through articles such as these by Gary Simmons, Christopher Grau and José van Dijck. Simmons, author of “Memory & Reality in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, mostly focuses on explaining the film. Simmons begins by asking questions geared towards “reducing the complexity of the film” and the film being “a visual feast on the representations of ‘realities’” (114). He goes on to explain the origin of the film’s name—a poem inspired by lovers attempting to forget and realizing in that process, the memories actually grow. Furthermore, before explaining the plot of the film, Simmons discusses the idea that it “plays around with notions of time and space” (115). Grau, author of “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and the Morality of Memory” focuses on the idea that voluntary memory removal is not “foolproof” (120). After explaining the plot, Grau argues the two sides to memory removal—the side that suggests bad memories can still be helpful and the side that suggests bad memories can be harmful. Also discussing Gondry’s film is José van Dijck, author of “Memory Matters in the Digital Age. Van Dijck focuses on addressing topics such as what the “matter” of personal memories is as well as where memory is located. Through the ideas explained in texts such as those by Simmons, Grau and van Dijck on the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I was able to notice topics of my own to analyze from aspects such as dialogue, acting and editing. Therefore, through those three aspects, I plan to analyze the portrayal of alcoholism and psychological disorders within the two main characters.
One of the two psychological disorders displayed throughout Gondry’s film is within Joel, the main male character. Joel seems to suffer from the mood disorder known as depression. This disorder is defined by Laura A. King’s educational book, The Science of Psychology 2, as, “An unrelenting lack of pleasure in life.” (498). There are many different aspects of the film that portray Joel as nothing more than a depressed man just getting through his every day routine—waking up on his sofa couch, finding something to ruin his day like his car scratched by another, getting on the train and going to work. One of these specific aspects is dialogue. The first thing I noticed when viewing Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was the pure sadness in Joel’s voice as he talked throughout the showing of his morning. On top of his straight face and monotone voice, the entire movie opens by his depressing thoughts such as his belief that Valentine’s Day is “a holiday created by greeting card companies to make people feel like crap.” Soon following this, Joel decides to skip work and go to a beach. But once he’s on it, he still is far from content which becomes evident when he says, “It’s goddamn freezing on this beach” and soon follows that by announcing that sand is overrated. There is also an added feeling of the fact that Joel lacks self-esteem (typically evident in depressed individuals) because he wishes he could meet a new woman but figures that will never happen, as he puts it, “seeing that I’m incapable of making eye contact with a woman I don’t know.” An editing technique known as match cutting is evident in these opening scenes from the train station, the beach, etc. This technique adds to the sense of depression within the film as well. Not only does his voice put forth a sad feeling to the film’s viewers, it also connects the dull, decently colorless and lifeless scenes introducing him, which is the goal of match cutting—to connect scenes through a certain action or sound. Without this connection of scenes through the sound of Joel’s voice, the beginning would not provide viewers with such a vast feeling of sadness for the character...
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