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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

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Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Old 07-06-05, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Talkin2Phil



1) take an average story
2) tell it in a nonlinear fashion
3) remember to use visual clues, ie hair color, don't want to confuse 'em too much
4) watch the kiddies eat it up
Step 1: Take a great movie
Step 2: Make a bulleted list of things that obvious about the movie
Step 3: Make fun of people who like the movie
Step 4:
Step 5: You've won the arguement!
Old 07-06-05, 02:25 PM
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So... let me get this straight. The only way a story should be told is A-B-C? If filmmaking were just about telling a story, where do you classify avant garde cinema? Garbage? Senseless light and sound?

The nature of the medium predisposes itself to experimentation with timeline and form/structure. Like any artistic tool, the nonlinear narrative can be used for good and evil. Are you even going to try to claim that Rashoman is gimmicky/cheap filmmaking because it uses flashbacks to tell the story? How else would you put the audience in the mind of a man that forgets everything by the time he wakes up each morning if not in reverse? True, Memento's story isn't overwhelming. But if it were, it would have been impossible to understand, because like the character, the viewer must start anew each day. You'd never get from beginning to end... or end to beginning in that instance. Is it a gimmick? Absolutely. When someone tries to do something different with the medium someone's always going to step forward and lambaste the gimmick. Does it make it lazy filmmaking? Absolutely not. But that doesn't mean it isn't. Resting on the laurels of your gimmick is. Eternal Sunshine isn't lazy filmmaking. It's witty. Smart. Funny. And heartfelt. Unlike other so-called gimmick movies, ESofSM doesn't suffer under repeat viewings. I wasn't nearly as enamored with The Usual Suspects after a second viewing and unforunately this is usually the case. But that doesn't mean it isn't a worthwhile experience. You can never take away that initial impression you had when walking out of the theater after your first viewing.

And what about Pulp Fiction? QT's structure according to this thread is also "gimmicky." But I don't know anyone that would argue that PF's story is cheap. Part of the joy of watching it is watching how the non-linear narrative reveals these characters' motivations and interconnected stories. I guarantee it wouldn't have had the same impact told chronologically. Neither would Eternal Sunshine. It's absurd to try to separate form from function. If you don't like it, you don't like it. But to write-it off as cheap filmmaking is lazy filmwatching.

as I wrote this beast, I see we've now mentioned Pulp Fiction. huzzah
Old 07-06-05, 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by fumanstan
So for those that feel that a non-linear structure is simply a gimmick, is there a movie using this style that wouldn't be considered a "gimmick" then and adds to the film?
i think a non linear style is inherently a gimmick, just as a third person limited narrative is a gimmick. the audience is given all the facts, but in the order the director thinks best, so as to maximize the viewer's interest.

i dont see it as an entirely bad thing, but i can certainly understand why people think it's cheap at times. in the end, you are capable of asking the question "was the narrative not compelling enough to be told as it happened, or did the narrative need to be filled with lies and half-truths to be interesting?"
Old 07-06-05, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by jdpatri
So... let me get this straight. The only way a story should be told is A-B-C? If filmmaking were just about telling a story, where do you classify avant garde cinema? Garbage? Senseless light and sound?
no one is arguing absolutes. some nonlinear films work, some don't. i count kaufman's among the latter.
Old 07-06-05, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Cygnet74
confused? no. every story has a beginning, middle and end -- even the non-linear ones. when the ending is used as a pay off, reason for being, or justification for the film's form/structure and not so much about its characters, it loses focus. suddenly you're removed from the drama and left to consider the filmmaking methods in use. i don't think its clever. i think its cheap. and not the least bit confusing.
I don't understand this. It reads more like a rant against "twist" endings than against non-linear structure. Eternal Sunshine didn't have a twist ending.
Old 07-06-05, 02:46 PM
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Personally I liked Eternal Sunshine due to it's "our memories are what makes us who we are" story line, the quality of the acting, and the way the movie was presented.

I didn't find it gimmicky at all.
Old 07-06-05, 03:22 PM
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As for me, I really liked ESotSM, the first time I saw it, I was in the huh crowd too, plus it was after a long day at work and was distracted several times in the theater. I bought it on DVD and have watched it several times since then and love it.

The way I see it the people that really love the movie, take something from it that others may not get. As for me, the movie really hit home personally, whats ironic, when I was at the theater seeing this movie I was with a girl that was a strong part of my life. So when things ended with her, I was feeling the same way, I wanted to erase or forget everything I knew about her so it wouldn't hurt anymore.

Anyways enough of my life story, but I just can really relate to the movie in my life as well, thats where it really hits home for me. Plus the overall story and characters were great. And come on lets give some praise for Jim Carrey as well, his performance was awesome!!

Not to go off on another movie, but I loved LiT too, its in my top 5 favorite of all time. I watch it at least every other week.
Old 07-06-05, 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Joe Molotov
Step 1: Take a great movie
Step 2: Make a bulleted list of things that obvious about the movie
Step 3: Make fun of people who like the movie
Step 4:
Step 5: You've won the arguement!



This was a great movie.
Old 07-06-05, 05:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Cygnet74
no one is arguing absolutes. some nonlinear films work, some don't. i count kaufman's among the latter.
Just me. lol

I guess I'm just so taken aback that someone thought that Eternal Sunshine was strictly a gimmick that I figured you were saying that every non-linear film was a failure.
Old 07-06-05, 07:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Cygnet74
sure there are. there are plenty of films where the nonlinear structure does not get in the way of the drama and in most cases, augments it...

The Godfather, Part II (coppola)
Raging Bull (scorsese)
Elephant (van sant)
The Killing (kubrick)
Once Upon a Time in America (leone)
Pulp Fiction (tarantino)
and others...
In that case, it sounds like you're dismissing an audience for enjoying some films that use non-linear storytelling as falling for a simple trick simply because you didn't enjoy them. Saying that people are just "easily impressed" seems like you're just dismissing those who took to heart something like Eternal Sunshine while you didn't.
Old 07-06-05, 07:32 PM
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I thought the non-linear storytelling of Eternal Sunshine almost felt essential and hardly was gimmicky. The fact that the movie is a journey through the mind, it's hard to imagine the film done effectively in the conventional linear manner. Hardly a gimmick. Also, I just have trouble even believing that there's someone who thinks this film doesn't have heart. The characters had so much depth, and the bits of memory just made me relate, connect and fall in love with Joel and Clementine. Hmmph.
Old 07-06-05, 08:02 PM
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The non-linear structure of ESotSM was essential. I cannot fathom the movie played straight. The beginning would have been uninteresting, the middle rushed, and the ending would have had way too much going on and it would have killed the dramatic pay off. The non-linear structure gives the movie balance and the movie is all the better for it. It's not a gimmick; it's an artistic expression.
Old 07-06-05, 10:39 PM
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I also one of the few people who did not enjoy ESOTSM as most people have. The storyline is a really good one. But I didn't enjoy the style of filming it, it's really creative but one that I did not take up to.
Old 07-06-05, 11:02 PM
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I think this thread is non-linear gimmick.

ESOTSM rocked!
Old 07-07-05, 01:51 AM
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Originally Posted by pdinosaur
i think a non linear style is inherently a gimmick, just as a third person limited narrative is a gimmick. the audience is given all the facts, but in the order the director thinks best, so as to maximize the viewer's interest.

i dont see it as an entirely bad thing, but i can certainly understand why people think it's cheap at times. in the end, you are capable of asking the question "was the narrative not compelling enough to be told as it happened, or did the narrative need to be filled with lies and half-truths to be interesting?"
The way this reads, it sounds like you'd dismiss all mysteries as uninteresting. Some stories demand a stucture other than an omnicient, linear form. This isn't a weakness on the story's part, just a different set of ground rules than other stories.
Old 07-07-05, 02:49 AM
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Originally Posted by fumanstan
In that case, it sounds like you're dismissing an audience for enjoying some films that use non-linear storytelling as falling for a simple trick simply because you didn't enjoy them. Saying that people are just "easily impressed" seems like you're just dismissing those who took to heart something like Eternal Sunshine while you didn't.
i didn't enjoy them because either the story was obscured by the non-linear structure or it wasn't very compelling the begin with. so by "easily impressed" i mean to say that the unconventional structure wins over some viewers that would otherwise dismiss the story as nothing special if presented without all the distraction. ESOTSM had some good moments, but i had trouble accessing the characters to the point that they had my empathy. had there been less "flash" and more attention to character, i feel it would have been a better film.

Last edited by Cygnet74; 07-07-05 at 02:52 AM.
Old 07-07-05, 03:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Cygnet74
ESOTSM had some good moments, but i had trouble accessing the characters to the point that they had my empathy. had there been less "flash" and more attention to character, i feel it would have been a better film.
The characters relived pivotal moments of their lives via the erased memories. The most recent memories were being erased first since they were fresh. That's also where much of the conflict lay with the characters. As the memories were being erased, the positive aspects of the characters began to take prominence over the more recent negative aspects. Carrey's character rediscovered why he fell in love with Winslet's in the first place and suddenly he changed his mind about the process. He wanted to keep her, good and bad. He didn't want to forget. Ultimately, both of their memories were erased and they had to start over. Would their relationship go better the second time around? Who knows? But it's nice to think they shared an innate connection that brought them together.

Explain to me how this would have worked linearly?

Last edited by RogueScribner; 07-07-05 at 03:13 AM.
Old 07-07-05, 03:41 AM
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Eternal Sunshine gave as much attention to character as it could given the run time.
Old 07-08-05, 03:16 AM
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Indeed. I don't see how Eternal Sunshine could have focused any more on character. It was a character-driven story.
Old 10-16-06, 08:56 PM
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A couple of questions about Eternal Sunshine ....

1- How did Clementine know to meet Joel in Wantagh? While they were erasing his memory, he whispers to Clementine to meet him in Wantagh in his dream. How did she actually know to meet him there though?

2- Why did Clementine tell Patrick (Elijah Woods character) her name was Tangerine?

anyone?
Old 10-16-06, 09:09 PM
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1 - They both had a connection to that place, and both seemed to go there without knowing why. Some sort of leftover memories made them do it, I guess.

2 - I thought he called her Tangerine first, because he had read her letters to Joel, and she freaked out because that was a personal thing that he shouldn't have known yet. Maybe I'm remembering it wrong, though.
Old 10-16-06, 09:44 PM
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1 - It's Montauk, which is on the end of Long Island. They take the LIRR to get to it. That's where both of them meant, which means it was their first memory together, which would make it the last memory erased for each. The memory erasure doesn't seem to be 100% effective, and it stands that the first memory formed, the last erased, may be the strongest and most pervasive. Neither really knew why they were in Montauk at the beginning of the film, just something prompted them to seek it out. It's also suggested that Clementine may have had a similar reaction to Joel, in starting to regret the erasure process as it went back into the good stuff, and may have subconciously tried to re-meet him there, much as the imaginary Clementine did in Joel's dream.

2 - FinkPish points out that Patrick had access to all of Joel's notes about Clementine, and Joel had said that she looked like a tangerine when she died her hair orange. I think her hair might've still been orange when Patrick started dating her post-erasure. He picked it as a pet name for her, an affectionate term. This term didn't freak Clementine out though, and might've endeared him to her for reasons unkown to herself. It was only later things that he said, mainly the verbatim quote of Joel on the ice , that hit a discord with her, as mostly-forgotten memories started nagging at the back of her head. In fact, that quoting by Patrick may be what prompted her to visit Montauk the next day, since it stirred up these memories.

Here's a massive thread about it that probably will explain any other questions you have about the film:
http://forum.dvdtalk.com/showthread.php?t=336753

Last edited by Jay G.; 10-16-06 at 09:46 PM.
Old 10-16-06, 09:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Jay G.
1 - It's Montauk, which is on the end of Long Island. They take the LIRR to get to it. That's where both of them meant, which means it was their first memory together, which would make it the last memory erased for each. The memory erasure doesn't seem to be 100% effective, and it stands that the first memory formed, the last erased, may be the strongest and most pervasive. Neither really knew why they were in Montauk at the beginning of the film, just something prompted them to seek it out. It's also suggested that Clementine may have had a similar reaction to Joel, in starting to regret the erasure process as it went back into the good stuff, and may have subconciously tried to re-meet him there, much as the imaginary Clementine did in Joel's dream.

2 - FinkPish points out that Patrick had access to all of Joel's notes about Clementine, and Joel had said that she looked like a tangerine when she died her hair orange. I think her hair might've still been orange when Patrick started dating her post-erasure. He picked it as a pet name for her, an affectionate term. This term didn't freak Clementine out though, and might've endeared him to her for reasons unkown to herself. It was only later things that he said, mainly the verbatim quote of Joel on the ice , that hit a discord with her, as mostly-forgotten memories started nagging at the back of her head. In fact, that quoting by Patrick may be what prompted her to visit Montauk the next day, since it stirred up these memories.

Here's a massive thread about it that probably will explain any other questions you have about the film:
http://forum.dvdtalk.com/showthread.php?t=336753
Yeah , sorry, Montauk....thanks!

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