Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind Featurette Shows Off Effects Wizardry You Probably Didn’t Even Notice
Nine years ago in 2004, French director Michel Gondry released a film that was the perfect blend of science fiction and romantic comedy. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was a box office and critical success, grossing $72.2 million worldwide (against a $20 million production budget) and earning Michel Gondry and screenwriters Charlie Kaufman and Pierre Bismuth an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. While Gondry and Kaufman would go onto bigger things with The Science of Sleep and Synecdoche, New York, respectively, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is still considered an instant classic, and the pair’s greatest collaboration.
One of the reasons why Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was so innovative was the amazing visuals. The film follows Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet), a couple who recently broke up. To help get over each other, they undergo a risky procedure to erase their former significant other from their memories. While the treatment works, Joel has a change of heart and goes through a nightmare-ish journey to and cling onto the memories of his past love.
Gondry came from working in music videos so he has a penchant for imagination and visual storytelling in a short time period. He also likes to take images from his dreams and place them into his films or music videos. This is why he was such a good fit for a movie about memory loss and heartbreak. Gondry is a technically savvy director and usually likes to use in-camera tricks like forced perspective and masterful choreography to create his brand of special effects, but when he can’t capture an effect practically, he will turn to CGI.
The way Michel Gondry uses CGI is how a director should, namely using the technology to aid practical effects, but not completely replace them. The above video showcases Gondry’s use of CGI to blend a number of shots into one perfect moment of cinema. It’s refreshing to see Michel Gondry use CGI this way, considering the modern landscape of big-budget science fiction movie-making. While movies such as Star Trek Into Darkness and Pacific Rim are giant spectacles, they can’t match the emotional and visual catharsis Michel Gondry has on display in Eternal Sunshine on the Spotless Mind.
If you haven’t watched Michel Gondry’s work, then I recommend you go to YouTube and search for some of it. His music video and commercial work is top-notch, especially his video for The Chemical Brothers’ “Let Forever Be” and Cibo Matt’s “Sugar Water.”