To many fans, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is one of the most original love stories ever told on film. The movie has gathered a cult following since its release, and many audiences call Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind an essential breakup film.
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Fans can easily get pulled into the film due to its heartbreaking storytelling and emotional performances. However, the sci-fi romance also presents interesting filmmaking elements in its nonlinear narrative and camera trickery. When a cult hit like Eternal Sunshine is birthed, audiences might wonder what events helped make it come together.
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Michel Gondry Came Up With The With A Musician Friend
Most people who have seen Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind would say it is a concept-heavy movie. The film stands on its own merit, but the concept of erasing a loved one from one’s memory is very intriguing. Director Michel Gondry came up with the idea with a friend from his days playing music in the band Oui Oui.
The Guardian reported that Gondry and his friend Pierre Bismuth thought up the concept after Bismuth listened to a friend complain about her boyfriend. He came up with the idea of cards being sent to erased parties, which was used in the film. Gondry brought the concept to Charlie Kaufman, who wrote the script.
It Originally Had A Different Title
The movie has a long title, and fans might be surprised to learn that it was originally meant to be even longer. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is one of Charlie Kaufman’s highest-rated movies. Those who know his work might say he doesn’t compromise originality for accessibility.
As such, Kaufman’s idea for a title was one sure to raise eyebrows. BBC reported that he originally wanted an 18-word title, something that could never fit on a marquee. The title still ended up being rather long, and Kaufman says he “likes that it’s cumbersome.”
Shooting Was Difficult
Interesting filming techniques were used to create effects in the movie, and the result was some challenging shooting days for actors on set. Some of the most memorable scenery from the movie comes from moments shot in Montauk, NY during the winter.
Jim Carrey told SBS some of the cold days of filming would last for 17 hours, creating a difficult environment for the actors. However, Carrey said the experience was fulfilling.
The Director Wanted To Only Use Available Light
In the world of film, available light refers to lighting that doesn’t exist for the purpose of filming. For example, lights that exist in a house in which a scene is shot or natural light are available light sources.
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The American Cinematographer reported that director Michel Gondry was insistent on strictly using available light for the movie. However, the movie’s cinematographer Ellen Kuras didn’t agree and surreptitiously placed additional lighting around the set to circumvent Gondry’s rule.
Cameras Were Always Rolling
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is one of Mark Ruffalo’s highest-rated movies. The actor plays a supporting role as Stan Fink, a technician for Joel Barrish’s memory erasure operation. He revealed to the Daily Beast how constant filming was a part of the experience of making the movie.
The actor said that cameras were perpetually rolling during the making of the film, and actors were often surprised to notice them when they were not filming scenes. 36,000 feet of film were said to be used in each day of filming the movie.
Wheelchairs Were Used For Dollies
Michel Gondry is known for making movies that set themselves apart from the mainstream. Many fans say Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is one of Gondry’s best films. To create the unique quality of the feature, he used unusual filming techniques.
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Ellen Kuras told the American Cinematographer that Gondry wanted to use French New Wave methods involving handheld cameras used in wheelchairs, and other non-traditional ways to get mobile shots. The result isn’t smooth but has a unique quality. No traditional dollies were used in the entire movie.
Naomi’s Scenes Were Cut
Eternal Sunshine diehards will know that Joel’s ex-girlfriend is mentioned a few times during the film. Audiences never see her, but can gather that Joel is meant to have dated her before getting together with Clementine Kruczynski, even dating her when Clem and Joel first meet on the beach.
Fans might be surprised to know that Naomi was originally meant to appear in the movie, being played by Ellen Pompeo. Script Magazine reported that scenes were shot with Pompeo. Charlie Kaufman was determined to include her in the film, but her scenes were cut by production.
Kate Winslet Fainted During The Sink Scene
Michel Gondry has sometimes been criticized by his actors for his challenging direction style. Vanity Fair unpacked some of the actors’ experiences with his way of filmmaking, including star Jim Carrey.
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During a sequence inside Joel’s mind calling back to his days as an infant, an adult Carrey and Winslet appear in a kitchen sink. The two had to stay in the tub for hours, and Winslet fainted while shooting the scene. Gondry still wanted to keep filming, which caused Carrey and Gondry to “[have] words.”
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About The Author
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Alex Gentile is a Senior Writer and Editor at Screen Rant. Having earned a BA in Comparative Literature & Film Studies, he has always had a passion for writing about film with a close analytic voice. However, his academic background hasn’t stopped his writing from growing to a larger spectrum, from pretentious art-house epics to addictive reality TV schlock. He has written independently and for publications, after having fine-tuned his short-form writing by creating descriptions for releases from his independent record label for more than a decade. Alex is drawn to content focused on thrills, whether it be suspense films with substance or pulp TV series with all the drama.
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