If you could erase your memories… would you? That’s the question posed by Michel Gondry (no doubt creating new memories on his 57th birthday today) in our Lockdown Rewatch of Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. Gondry collaborated with scribe Charlie Kaufman – who won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for his effort – to create the non-linear story of a recently broken-up couple who have the memories of their relationship wiped. The out-of-love couple are played by Jim Carrey (Joel) and Kate Winslet who was nominated for Best Actress for her role as Clementine. The film plays out in the head of Joel as he travels through his crumbling memories during the memory wiping process, desperately trying to save some fragments of them. Themes of regret, love, loss, nostalgia, and amazing in-camera effects helped make the film an instant hit when it was released in 2004.
But did you know…
1) Before Carrey nabbed the role of Joel, another well known actor was being considered. According to Gondry, “We had approached Nicolas Cage a long time ago, but every independent director who wanted to make a commercial movie asked Nicolas Cage to be in their movie after Leaving Las Vegas, except he would only do one out of ten of these projects.” They ultimately ended up with Carrey, who they thought to be “an unexpected — but good — choice.”
2) Christopher Nolan nearly stopped the film being made. The non-linear story that plays with the ideas of memory is very similar to Nolan’s Memento. Kaufman recalls, “There was a moment when suddenly people started talking about this movie Memento when I totally freaked out. I thought, ‘Oh I can’t do this anymore’ and I called Michel and said, ‘I am not doing it’, then we called Steve Golin and said ‘we’re not doing it’. Steve Golin was very angry and said,’You are doing it! So we did it.”
3) Gondry used a variety of in-camera effects where possible, including forced perspectives, hidden space, and continuity editing. For the scene where the ocean appears to be washing up onto the beach house Gondry had his crew simply build a house on the beach… the ocean did the rest.
In this behind-the-scenes clip, Carrey and Gondry discuss filming in New York City.